I have rather clear memories of waking up early in the morning to catch the school bus. I would often grumble, almost hating the daily schedule. I also remember my father being up before me, seated at the table with his huge mug of coffee. As he devoured the simmering drink, he would often remark that waking up early was a sign of a man in control of his life. To me, it was just punishment. As time passed, mornings became more lethargic. I loved stealing a few hours to pile up on my sleep.
A few years into this habit, I realized that my life had become surprisingly messed-up. I didn’t have the enthusiasm to attend the office and was always short on time. Going to the gym and playing sports became passé. I decided to revert to my father’s wisdom and within a few weeks, the day-long anxiety was gone. I could manage more things and felt more energetic, despite sleeping for lesser hours!
Now I staunchly believe that an early riser is better equipped to go through the daily grind that is life. I am mentally more prepared to address the challenges at work and feel less lethargic when I wake up early. Even the hunger pangs have become less intense and I don’t need to overdo coffee to concentrate. Famous people like Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway too swore by this habit. I am listing a few tips that will help you to adopt this habit and become an early riser:
Don’t nap during daytime
The human body is conditioned to rest during the night. Some folks tend to sleep during the daytime too. This napping habit can reduce the quality of your night’s sleep. It is also a major hurdle for going to bed at a reasonable time. The later you go to bed, more are the chances of waking up later in the morning. Typical periods of laziness that lead to daytime napping include the post-lunch lethargy. Challenge this habit. Instead of taking a nap after your meal, try to go for a stroll or call-up your friends.
Be ready for a starter’s tribulations
Initially, it is very likely that you will struggle hard. During my first week, I felt very lazy during the daytime. The missed morning sleep made me yawn throughout the day. However, the symptoms eased off and eventually disappeared within a week. The tired feeling and stooping shoulders gave way to being more alert. Give yourself a chance and be prepared for a test week (or two) before you slip into the pattern.
Fix your wake-up time
Ideally, you should wake up and go to bed at a fixed time. However, I have realized that giving some leeway for the going-to-bed slot and being strict about the wake-up time works remarkably well. A few phone calls or wrapping-up your favorite movie might eat into the night. These activities are also essential to help you relax, which in turn will help you sleep better. I recommend that you give yourself a flexibility of 40 minutes or so for going to bed. However, be very particular with your morning alarm. After a few weeks, waking up at the same time turns into a habit. I no longer use the alarm. No matter how tired I was the previous day, I tend to wake-up at the same time!
Make use of morning time liberties
It doesn’t make sense if you wake up early and then spend the extra time watching TV or playing a video game. You should use this time for something more productive—an activity that lifts your spirits. I have allocated this time to a few minutes of deep breathing and meditation. This gives me a bout of energy that lasts for almost the entire day. This also helps to neutralize my anxiety. This is important because waking up early should contribute towards something constructive. Else you will start interpreting it as a wasted effort. If you want to hit the gym or go for a run, use the gift of extra time that waking up early gives you. Other options include making yourself a hearty breakfast, cleaning your room, or tiding the cupboard and arranging clothes for the next day.