How to Become an Early Riser and Love it, even if you’re a Night Owl.

In the last post, we talked about how waking up earlier puts us back in life’s driving seat;

  • It gives us precious time to work on goals.
  • It sets us up to have a kick-ass day.
  • With Jedi-like focus, you get your best work done.
  • No more after-work decisions.

If you’re still not convinced, take a look at some famous early-risers…

Richard Branson, George Washington, Barack and Michelle Obama, Christopher Columbus, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson. Plus the CEOs of Apple, Disney, Starbucks, Twitter and Pepsi to name just a few.

And of course, the countless athletes that get up at 5am to train everyday.

If it works for them, why not for you too?

So, let’s say you’re now interested.

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Mornings. So Zen.

How do we go about waking up earlier?

I mean, it’s horrible… isn’t it?

Well, here’s some top tips not only for becoming an early riser, but how to love early mornings too.

Let’s go.

 

Start Small. Wake up a little bit earlier every week.

Doing this gradually is the way to go. If make too big a change too soon, your body’s just gonna tell you to sod off.

Start slow and start small.

Aim for waking up 15 minutes earlier than usual. Maybe half an hour. After 1-2 weeks, when your body adjusts, then wake up a bit earlier.

Again, don’t try and wake up at 5am if you’re used to getting up at 8. It won’t work.

Why? Your body’s rhythm, or body clock, will be messed up big time.  Your body clock  makes you tired at night, and wakes you up in the morning. It can change, but only with enough time.

For example, say you’re used to going to bed at 12pm, and getting up at 7am. You decide to get up at 5am.

Your body clock will still tell you “Hey, it’s 12pm, time to go to bed.”

But then you get up at 5am, “Woah! What are you trying to pull here?!” 

There’s no way that your body’s gonna be ready to roll at 5am.

It’s the same idea with jet lag. Your body clock has no chance, and takes days to recover.

By only waking up 15-30 minutes earlier, your body clock won’t be completely out of sync, and adjusts more easily.

Which leads to…

Consistency is key.

Make sure you go to bed, and set your alarm for the same time every day.

If it’s sporadic, it won’t work. You’re body clock won’t adjust.

Start small, be consistent. 15 to 30 minutes every 1-2 weeks.

Choose your Alarm.

There’s 2 ways we can play the early-rising game….

  1. Gentle-awakening.

Idea: you’re slowly roused from your slumber. Note: Slowly.

How: Use a gradual alarm, which very slowly increases in volume. You can programme them to start 20-30 minutes before waking up.

The result? You barely notice it. In a good way. Because it’s gradual, you think you wake up before your alarm. It’s weird, and it’s great.

There’s no jarring alarm that jolts you awake. You wake up relaxed, feeling totally zen. Awesome!

There’s other variations too;

Light alarm: Slowly brightens the light in the room. The idea being it mimics the sun rise. Back when we didn’t have those lightbulb things, humans got up when the sun did. Very au natural. Either go for an app version on your phone, or buy a special alarm like this.

Smell alarm: Yeah, it exists. You pop in a smell cartridge, set a pre-arranged time, and off you go. Wake up to the smell of freshly baked croissants, cut grass or…money.

Might be a bit of an anti-climax when there’s no croissants in the kitchen though.

 

  1. “GET THE HELL UP!”

Going to the opposite end of the spectrum then.

Idea: You’re going to get up. Whether you like it or not.

How: Choose an incredibly annoying/violent/intellectually challenging alarm clock, that doesn’t take no for an answer.

With this method, the skies the limit in terms of alarm clocks;

  • Flying alarm clock – catch the flying key.
  • “Sonic Bomb” – Comes with a “makes-you-deaf” warning.
  • Piggy bank alarm clock. – You have to put money in before it stops.
  • Shoot-target-with-laser gun alarm.
  • Defuse dynamite alarm.
  • Money shredding alarm.
  • Just check out this page. They’re all so cool!

You’ve got app options too, like the Take-a-picture-of-a-random-object-in-your-house-alarm app. Does exactly what it says on the tin. Alarm goes off, you get given an object, and you go find it, take a picture, and the alarm stops.

Which works best?

I’ve used both approaches. In highschool, I had The Killers “When you were Young” song that blasted out every morning from my phone. If you know the start, it’s pretty… sudden. It got me up, but it wasn’t that fun.

I prefer using a sleep cycle alarm, because you barely notice it. It’s great, and you wake up feeling a zen-like calm, rather than being attacked or having to defuse a bomb.

 

Top Tips for Waking Up post-alarm. 

So, you’ve got an alarm in mind.

From here, you’re morning can go a number of ways…

Identify your problem, then try out a solution:

  • Problem: Once awake, you can’t get out of bed.

Solutions:

  1. Listen to Pump-up music.

This works for me every single time. If I’m feeling tired, and my bed’s too cosy, I reach out for my Ipod, plug in my earphones, and blast out some bad-ass pump up tunes.

Personal playlist; Eminem “Lose Yourself”, Kanye West “Power”, Alesso “Calling”.

Choose a playlist that REALLY gets you fired up. It’ll properly wake you up PLUS motivate you to start doing stuff.

Try it! Ipod next to your bed and a pump-up playlist at the ready.

 

  1. If you’re using a “gentle” alarm, have an aggressive back-up.

Call in the reinforcements. If you don’t wake up, your £20 gets shredded or you get soaked with water. Blunt and effective.

  1. Put your alarm in your “next-step” place.

Why do you want to get up in the morning? Maybe it’s to go running, study, or write an article.

Put the alarm in your running shoes, next to your lap top, on your books….

There’s two benefits here. First, your alarm isn’t next to your bed. So you have to get out of bed. Second, it automatically gets you into your morning routine.

Whatever your first task is in the morning, put your alarm there. If you eat breakfast first, put your alarm in the kitchen. If you drink coffee first, put it next to the coffee machine.

  1. Get an impatient dog.

Nothing like man’s best friend to lick you in the face, whine, and generally stop you from drifting back into slumber.

Quite possibly the only alarm clock that you have to take for a walk before it lets up.

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  • Problem: Hate getting up.

Solution

  1. Give yourself something to look forward to.

For example, you can buy cheap coffee machines that you can program to make you a brew automatically.

Last year, I programmed the machine to make coffee for 5 am. When my alarm went off, I could smell the damn good coffee, and I’d look forward to getting out of bed for it. Again, multiple benefits.

White ceramic cup of fresh espresso with foam in the coffee machine.

  • The smell of coffee help waked me up, and enticed me to the kitchen.
  • The coffee machine was on the table, which was where I studied. Easy to start studying.
  • Coffee woke me up.
  • Any hot drink is warm and comforting, so it’s basically your bed. Basically…

Another tactic is cooking up something delicious the night before, and saving some in the fridge, so you’ve got a sumptuous breakfast waiting for you in the morning.

  1. Make it easy for yourself. Prepare everything the night before.

Tidy your room the night before, so the ONLY thing you can see when you wake up is the reason you got up in the first place.

Ex. Goal: Running. Tidy your room – only thing you see: Running gear.

Goal: Studying. Only thing you see: Organised desk with books and pencils ready to go.

We’re awake. Now what?

We’re physically up and about now. Your mission now, should you choose to accept it – to zap your brain into gear.

Cold Shower.

Works well in conjunction with pre-shower pump-up music. 30 seconds and BOOM. Makes you feel like a Gladiator.

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Man Enough?

 

Get outside.

Inhale the cold freshness. Invigorating.

Exercise. Think Tabatans.

Any exercise works. If you’re not training for something, I’d recommend Tabatans.

What the heck is a Tabatan? 4 minutes of pain: 20 seconds of all-out exercise, 10 seconds rest, 8 times.

There’s great Tabatan timer apps for your phone (I use this.), and you can do Tabatans for basically anything. Press-ups, chin-ups, sit-ups, crunches, burpees, stair-climbers….

It’s only 4 minutes, but you’ll be knackered (in a good, wake-me up kinda way) and ready to take on the day.

Listen to a morning radio show. (That starts at the same time as you get up).

When I got up early in high school, I would go up to the loft to go on the rowing machine. Every morning, I’d fire up the radio for Chris Moyle’s’ breakfast Show.

Every time 6:30am rolled around, you’d here the same Chris Moyle’s show jingle, and you’d hear the same presenters talking. Not only was it funny, but you felt like part of a team. You had some company.

 

“Make a deal” tactic: If you start, you can go back to bed.

Idea: As long as you start doing XYZ, you get the option to go back to bed.

Say you’re goal in the morning is 10 sets of 10 press ups. The deal… If you do the 1st set, then you can go back to bed.

Or if it’s running, then you only have to lace up your shoes and step outside, then you can go back to bed.

Or Studying; do 10 mins, then you can go back to bed.

The idea is that once you’ve overcome the initial inertia to take action, you’ll continue on to do the action anyway. How many times do we dread doing something, then 10 minutes after we start, we don’t want to stop?

Get Enough Sleep

If you’re consistently waking up earlier, and still going to bed late, then something’s got to give.

Experiment, and find your optimum sleeping time. Then make sure you’re getting that many hours of sleep every night.

Needless to say, if you’re waking up knackered every morning, and you’re shattered going into work every day, then the benefits of waking up early go down the drain.

Get enough sleep.

Draw the line at a time by which you HAVE to be in be. Never go past that time. Maybe it’s 11pm. Make that concrete. Be in bed by 11pm every time. No later. Aim for 10:45, but never later than 11:00. Keep to it like a doctor’s appointment. (If you keep doctor’s appointments..)

 

Take-away: Top tips to becoming an early riser.

  1. Choose an alarm. Gentle-awakening or defuse a bomb. Up to you.
  2. Start small, wake up a bit earlier every week.
  3. Be consistent. Then keep waking up earlier until your desired time.

Top Tips;

Problem: Can’t get out of bed.

  • Listen to pump-up music. Put your Ipod next to your bed.
  • Have an aggressive alarm back-up.
  • Put your alarm in your “next-step” place. Not next to your bed.
  • Get an impatient dog.

Problem: Hate getting up. “I still hate mornings!”

  • Give yourself something to look forward to. (Coffee, tea, delicious food, cosy clothes)
  • Make it easy for yourself. The only thing you see when you wake up is your trainers etc.

OK, I’m up. Now what?

  • Cold Shower.
  • Get outside.
  • Tabatans!
  • Listen to a morning radio show.

Make yourself a deal; as long as you start, you can go back to bed.

Finally, get enough sleep! Know how many hours work best for you.

 

So that’s it. Give it a go!

If you’re already an early-riser, how do YOU do it? What’s your go-to tactic? Drop us a comment!

 

As always,

Dream Big Start Small!

Iain

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