Let me just clarify that waking up at 4 AM every single day for the rest of your life is impossible. You´d have to be an extreme control freak and utter discipline machine to actually get this done, which might turn into something counterproductive in the long run if you don´t get your sleep right. Hustle culture promotes the idea that success only comes if you wake up at freakishly early hours, I disagree. I´ll shortly explain why I´m writing this at 4:37 AM. At least it´s Monday, that day of the week where you can reset your goals, your mental state and give it all you got. Ironically, this weekend while talking to a friend of mine (who´s also a coach and nutrition advisor), told me the day he chooses to wake up the latest is on Monday, so you see, everyone has their own method of living, there is no right or wrong, as long as it works for you. For me personally, waking up early has tremendous benefits, especially if I manage to get my head on the pillow by 9 pm and fall asleep by 10. Living with ADHD, sleep is hard to come by some days, I´ve struggled with severe insomnia many nights due to racing thoughts and bad habits. At the end of this post I´ll give away small hacks and tricks to manage getting to bed early so that you can actually enjoy an early morning before the sun rises without feeling like you´re about to die.
Sleep is actually necessary, don´t skip it.
There´s a lot of people who skip out on their sleep schedule. There intense drive to achieve their goals and their tenacity can be admiring, however these people inevitably hit a severe burnout point or sacrifice other things just as important as work and money. Your mental health is a reflection of your habits and how you treat your body, without proper sleep your personal relationships and the relationship with yourself if likely to suffer over the long run. In a 2003 study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Medical School found that reaction times and performance on cognitive tasks plummet for those getting four hours of sleep and those getting six hours of sleep.In the study, 48 healthy adults, aged 21 to 38, had their sleep chronically restricted. Those who slept less than six hours a night “produced cognitive performance deficits equivalent to up to 2 nights of total sleep deprivation.” In 1999, researchers at the University of Chicago monitored a group who slept only four hours a night — a common amount for those who wake up very early — for six days in a row. That group quickly developed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, higher blood pressure and produced half the usual amount of antibodies to a flu vaccine. There are a handful of people who can function adequately on a shorter sleep duration than the average person, but it’s very, very rare. Missing even two hours here, an hour there, then having a wildly different sleep pattern over the weekend, is the gateway drug to chronic sleep deprivation. Fatigue, irritability and overall mental confusion are the dangers and symptoms of such deprivation. But you may be able to adjust your schedule. If you are not a morning lark but want to be one, you would need to wake at that 5 a.m. every day, including weekends, and expose yourself to bright light, ideally blue light, for 15 to 20 minutes upon waking. Going back to the problem with intense hustle culture, we look at sleep as an obstacle to our productivity and performance rather than as a means to long term success and mental stability. Thankfully this post is written with the intention to us finding a balance between recovering our mind and body, resting, and getting what every man struggles to find more of: time. This bring me to my first benefit.
We all want more of it. Life´s more valuable asset. The human species is an impressive species. We´ve been able to create thriving societies. Sky-scraping buildings, cutting edge medicine and technology, we also managed to create what might be my personal favorite tool of all time, the internet. I say we as if I had some sort of role in the creation of all of these things when in actuality my contribution to this society is nothing compared to what other human beings have actually provided. Nevertheless, I´m satisfied with how I´m currently adding value to other humans through writing and my job as a personal trainer and DJ / Music Producer. You don´t have to win a Noble Prize to feel you´re actually adding value to the world, as long as you add value to yourself, you´ll eventually create it in others. This is why we feel we lack time, because we´re in such a hurry to become overachievers, successful and admired people that in order to get there we must do a shit ton of things. So where do we actually find the time? We create it. I feel infinitely more creative as soon as I wake up. My mind is refreshed and sometimes still carrying vivid images of dreams that were playing in my sleep state. I wake up and instantly write these ideas down in my journal or get down to writing, without giving it two thoughts. Writing is hard for me, I´ve started and quit many times, even though I profoundly love it and consider myself a pretty talented writer, I´ve struggled to find the time where I can actually sit down and write complete posts. Posts that actually go somewhere and aren´t just garbage words coming out of my mind. When I started writing I would always get stuck with writing about my feelings and the same “journal entry” style which would leave me bored and unsatisfied. Thankfully I came across medium and noticed that there´s many different ways of writing. You can write about anything. Habits, music, health, family, relationships, spirituality, technology, career and vocation, sports, addictions, food, culture, neurology, pathology, sleep. It´s endless, the amount of information you can learn about and re-script as your own, that´s the beauty of it. Since I was a little boy I used to be a morning dude. Even though I struggled a little bit, I would hear my parents alarm clock ring at 5:30 AM to wake my sisters and I for school. Classes started at 7:30 but we lived about 45 minutes away from school, we had to have breakfast to have energy to pay attention, get dressed, finish homework, etc. Waking up before we could even see the sun suddenly became a habit. This continued all throughout middle school, high school and my three years at college. While I was at college I had the chance to create my schedule how I wanted, one semester I chose to stop waking up early and enroll all my classes in the afternoon, it was the worst decision I ever made. I regretted not waking up early and checking off my class schedule by 3 PM instead of having to literally take night school and finish at 9:00 PM. I would feel groggy and irritated from not being able to enjoy my day because I was literally stuck inside a classroom, so when I got home I gave myself permission to stay up late doing all the things I wanted to do instead of going to class which led to me being awake until 2 AM. I noticed that the next morning I would take twice as long to get out of bed, even though I had gotten complete eight hours of sleep, the sun was already up and I felt like I had wasted time I could have used to go to the gym, write, play music, or simply watch the sun rise and meditate. Once again, everyone has their own internal clock which they need to figure out and respect. But if you ever want to feel the satisfaction of having super productive day and plenty of time to create and plan, get to bed early and set an alarm before sunrise, you´ll start to see just how much you can actually get done.
- Waking Up Early Gave Me More Time To Exercise
Countless studies have shown that the best time to work out is in the mornings. Your body’s cortisol is higher in the mornings, meaning you’re more alert. You also lose weight faster if you work out before breakfast. The endorphin rush you get when exercising in the morning provides you will all the motivation you need to start your day the best way possible. Of course, some people like to hit the gym later in the day which is completely valid, but try to get a 45 minute high intensity workout early in the morning and watch how your energy levels spike to the roof. As a personal fitness coach, I wake up every day excited to get my workout in the to have the opportunity to share my knowledge acquired throughout many years of athletic experience and reading with others. Sometimes our days are so packed and full of meetings, calls and to do´s that we´re left with zero energy to get a workout in. That´s why people abuse of pre-workout supplements and coffee shots when in reality they aren´t necessary. A proper warm up and a big glass of water will go very long ways. It is essential that you drink water as soon as you wake up, your body has been in a state of dehydration the whole time you were asleep. You might feel very hungry first thing in the morning, but before you decide to eat anything try hydrating first, maybe pop a couple of Omega-3 tablets as a supplement, and get to work boy.
- You get to experience life in its purest form.
Waking up before the sun rises gives the day a feeling you can´t really explain. You wake up. It´s still dark outside, the birds aren´t even chirping. Only the sound of crickets and a slight breeze is what you can hear. This is nature at its finest (unless you live in NYC or someplace similar, well you´re fucked). Try to experience what it´s like going camping or visiting someplace where you can get some quiet time. Beat the sunrise, wake up early and simply cherish the sensations you feel as you sip on a cup of tea or **coffee.
- Waking up early means you get to go home early.**
This is a big one for me. I´m not a big fan of staying up late and feeling the need to stretch work times until late at night, or even until evening. I like to finish my work tasks by 5 PM and have the rest of the day to take a walk, read a book, visit friends, or simply stop doing, and just be. Of course, this isn´t possible every day, some days you might just have to work a bit longer and harder, it´s the habit and the attempt that count. You´ll realize it´s perfectly possible to schedule most -if not all- of your tasks to be finished before 7 PM. Our smartphones are great, however since our generation is now so used to basically living with it stuck to our faces 24/7, we have permanently damaged our eyes and fucked up with our sleep cycles after so many years of waking up and going to sleep with our phones literally next to our pillows. It´s important to build a habit of purposely staying away from electronic devices at least an hour before bed in order to send messages to our body saying “it´s time to go to bed” not “it´s time to stay awake to finish this Youtube video”.
Life isn´t perfect. Humans are nowhere near perfect. You can´t expect every day to be the perfect productivity-early rising-bird chirping-rainbow meadowed-happy yappy day. It´s all about consistency, the more you practice, the more you´ll get it. Sometimes even our practice can´t prevent us from making mistakes, from falling off the wagon. However we can build a self-awareness so sharp and keen to these days so that when we have them we won´t be too hard on ourselves. We can adjust and adapt to how our body feels that day and plan for the next. Eat properly, get some exercise or at least some breath work in (I´ll write about this soon), meditate, journal and stay away from these small dopamine claws that are everywhere, in our phones, laptops and TV.
Thank you for reading, if you´re not an early riser I hope this post inspires you to try it out for yourself. And too all my early birds, keep it up, enjoy your mornings and seize the day!