Posted: 22 Jan 2013 09:11 AM PST
By Leo Babauta
Waking early is one of my favorite things in the world. The morning is quiet as the world hasn’t begun stirring, the perfect time for meditation, writing, exercise and some quiet reading.
Waking early can give you an hour or three of extra time for focus and creativity. While you could do those things later in the day, most people don’t (with exceptions of course).
I haven’t written about waking early for awhile, mostly because my waking time is in constant flux. Some months I enjoy rising with the sun, other times I’ll get up early on purpose for awhile and enjoy the extra quiet time.
I’ve learned a thing or two about how to change your wake-up time with joy, and today I’ll share the most successful techniques in my many experimentations.
The Gradual Method
The best method for changing the time you wake up is to do it gradually — 10-15 minutes earlier for 2-4 days, until you feel used to it, and then repeat. If you get up at 8 a.m. normally, don’t suddenly change it to 6 a.m. Try 7:45 a.m. first.
That might seem too slow to most people, and you’re free to disregard this advice. However, in my many experimentations, the most enjoyable and long-lasting change in sleeping schedules have been slow and gradual.
Sudden changes of an hour earlier or more in your waking time are difficult, and not likely to last. If you get up 1-2 hours earlier, on Day 1, then you’ll have a tough time, and not enjoy it. The next day, you’ll have a big sleep deficit, and it’ll be even tougher (assuming you’re able to do it 2 days in a row). Day 3 is even harder. Eventually you either make it through the tough times (it’ll take at least a week of suffering), or you crash and sleep in late and have to start over or you give up.
Sleeping patterns are difficult to change, and so the gradual method works much better. This is true, by the way, of eating habits, exercise habits, clutter habits and more.
3 Steps to Actually Get Up
So you’ve set your alarm for 10-15 minutes earlier than normal, and maybe got through the first few days, then set it another 10-15 minutes earlier, and soon you’re at 30-45 minutes earlier than usual … but now you have the tendency to hit the snooze alarm and stay in bed (sometimes awake) without getting up.
Here’s how to beat that in 3 steps:
What to Do When You Get Up
First, things not to do with your newfound early-morning time: don’t check email, news, social media, blogs. Don’t waste this new time doing the same thing you always do.
Here are some other things that are better, in my experience:
You can’t just wake up earlier and not sleep earlier. You’ll eventually crash. So here are some tips for getting to sleep earlier:
Here are some of the most common problems in my experience and from readers’ questions:
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