For as long as I can remember, we’ve been fed this idea that 5am morning routines are what make millionaires millionaires. That productivity giants all have one thing in common-this unique gift of waking up early and crack the day while the rest of us snore a few more hours only to wake up exhausted, desperately needing a jolt of caffeine.
While I definitely think not everyone is suited for a 5am lifestyle, I do believe there’s something to waking up and making the most of sunlight hours. A few weeks ago, my supervisor and I were kind of talking about feeling tired and having that Monday morning slump. Her spiel reminded me of the idea of our circadian rhythms and how following them can actually make us feel less tired. I Googled a bit, found an app, and then promptly deleted it when I found it was a free trial.
I didn’t have the app for long but I gathered enough information to start an experiment. One which I am detailing the findings here.
Before I started my experiment, I went to bed after 12, closer to 1 am and I would use my alarm to get up around 8am to get ready for my 9am Marketing internship. (Yay for remote work!) Now I go to bed around 11 pm (sometimes closer to 12 if I spent too long looking at screens) and wake up around 7:30 WITHOUT feeling exhausted.
If you do anything, DO THIS: go to bed at the same time every night.
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I know what you’re thinking. I wanted you to spill the secret to waking up early and instead you try to pull a fast one on me.
Hold on! In order for you to get more knowledgeable about your circadian rhythms, you have to allow yourself to get into the same rhythm of going to bed at the same time nightly. It’s the only way you’ll know how many hours of sleep you need.
And here comes the *secret*
Don’t set an alarm.
This shocks people. It seems counterintuitive. If I want to get up early, shouldn’t I put an alarm so my body knows when to get up?
Here’s the kicker: your body already knows when to get up. Your body knows how much sleep you need for your memory, for repair, and for rest. By setting your alarm, you give your body a timetable that it doesn’t naturally adhere to. Your alarm time might be in the middle of a sleep cycle, causing you to feel groggy. You feel groggy because your sleep was disrupted. It didn’t conclude naturally.
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If you’re skeptical, I can only offer you my experience.
I stopped using an alarm on June 25 and haven’t used one for sleep since. My body wakes up around the same time. My New Year’s goal was to get up around 7am and I changed it to 8am. But now I’m naturally waking up around 7:30 without any extreme effort.
You’ll have to test this out and see how your body responds. Maybe you need more sleep and so you go to bed by 10 and wake up around 7. Or if you want to wake up around 5am, you’ll have to switch your sleep schedule to be earlier.
Some tips for waking up early
Spend some nights without an alarm
Do this on a Friday night so you don’t accidentally miss out on an early work meeting. If you have a long weekend, take some time to do this. You may end up sleeping the first night because you were catching up on sleep, but a few nights later, you wake up early.
Research what time you’d like to wake up and when you should go to bed. Then without setting an alarm, wake up the next day and compare your reality to your desired expectation. You may find you wake up earlier than you expected.
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Expect to go in and out of sleep
I was most surprised by this aspect of not using an alarm. My sleep is still deep as I still feel well rested but I definitely find myself awake at 5am or 6:30. I find it super easy to fall back asleep at those moments, but keep this in mind if you have insomnia or any other sleep condition that would conflict with this.
Prepare for bed accordingly
You may be used to setting your alarm for bed but this experiment has different requirements. If you struggle with falling asleep, you should definitely use an app/website like sleepti.me to figure out when you should get to bed for an optimal sleep experience. Make sure you don’t get woken up because this will not give you accurate information.
I’ve been really enjoying not needing an alarm to wake me up. I wish I had thought of it sooner. It’s only been a few weeks of waking up early using this method and I don’t wake up tired anymore. It doesn’t feel difficult to get out of bed and tackle the day.
This is definitely a trial and error experience, but I had fun with this experiment and will probably continue it until I go back to school in August. I’m not sure how well I would trust waking up early (or even around the same time) if you go to bed sporadically like I do at school.
Let me know if you try waking up early without an alarm and what your thoughts are! Have you heard of this concept before or is this something new? I’d love to read your comments below!!!
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