Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How To Get Up Earlier: An Honest Guide

I am not a morning person. I have never been a morning person. Even my future husband doesn't try too hard to communicate with me in any meaningful way before 8am and a cup of coffee. I've always envied those people who get up at 6am to go for a run or write part of their novel or whatever it is that morning people do, but over the years, I've rolled over and hit the snooze button whilst thinking 'fuck this' more times than I can count, enabled by the fact that I work a 30s stagger from my bedroom. Don't be mistaken, I'm not the kind of person who can't get up and is eternally running late. When it comes to work or events I really hate to be late and I'll get up for something I perceive necessary, but otherwise, where is that snooze button?!

My journey to becoming an early earlier riser started by accident. This was an attempt that did not start out with a specific purpose, but because of some trades people needing to be on site at the house a good hour before I'm normally out of bed. Like I said, I can get up if I absolutely have to... That same weekend, I also had to forgo my usual lay-in. I'm rarely awake before 9am on a weekend and Tom & I like to enjoy a leisurely start that mostly starts with coffee in bed. And so I found myself just over a week later, realising I had a golden opportunity to keep the momentum going, because I'd already done the hard bit- I'd gotten up at least an hour earlier than normal on 10 consecutive days including a weekend... maybe I was already some of the way to breaking my snooze habit? I always remembered that snippet of research (Maltz in 1950s apparently) that says it takes 21 days to form a habit. 10 days put me something approaching halfway there. Turns out Maltz said it takes 'at least 21 days' and so I'm embarking on a full month to see if I can make the morning thing work for me, here's what I've learned so far through this and previous attempts...

1. You can't do more with less... go to bed earlier
If you're getting up an hour earlier but still going to bed at the same time as before, you'll feel tired and shitty. You're not just getting up earlier, you're asking your body to do more on less sleep. I don't find going to bed earlier an especial hardship but if you struggle, try setting reminders on your phone to turn off tech and start a wind-down routine.

2. Sleeping in sports bras is hella uncomfortable

If your reason for changing your routine is to fit in a work out, lots of articles (seriously, I've read hundreds about how to get up earlier/become a morning exerciser/be a morning person/start each day at 0430...) recommend sleeping in your sports kit. These people have clearly never worn my high support sports bras which are akin to medieval torture racks and whilst my boobs thank me for that when I'm pounding the pavements, the rest of me does not when I'm trying kick back and catch some zzzzzz. If willpower is your issue, just being 'ready' probably isn't going to help you anyway. It doesn't matter how many times I've laid my kit out for something the night before (something I do regardless of what time the alarm is set for), it's not what prevents me from having 9* more minutes.
*and by 9 I mean 45-60.

3. Natural light is not your friend in June

Leaving blinds open is fine if you're aiming for an 0400 start, less so if you're going 0600 or later. All that daylight that helps you wake up naturally, nice and everything but not *that* early.

4. Gimme a reason

Not being rushed, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading my book... none of these things are enough motivation for me to drag my behind from my cosy warm nest of sleep.This attempt started with a need to be up and at it before assorted tradespeople arrived on site each morning. Just 'wanting' to get up earlier has never been enough to get me started but I'm now into week three and on the days we haven't had tradies in the house, I've found it much less difficult to get up and get on with plans of my own creation. For the first weekend of the little experiment, I already had early doors plans, but for the following ones, I made some, this brings me to my next, last and most important gem....

5. Don't skip out the weekends

I think this is probably where I have had the most failure over the years. To me, the weekend is all about leisurely coffee, a book in bed, the ability to snooze off a hangover and a distinct lack of an alarm clock. And these are things I hope will return occasionally over time but whilst you're trying to ingrain this habit, you're essentially undoing all your good work if you don't carry it through the weekend. Waking up at the same time every day helps your body to regulate it's sleep patterns, if you stop doing that for 2 days out of 7, that's almost one third of the week. If you have a significant other who shares your bed, I strongly suggest you enlist them in your weekend morning plans by the way. Turned out Tom quite enjoyed having the extra hours in the day once I kicked him out of bed as well as dragging my own reluctant behind out of our cosy, warm and inviting bed.

So, to conclude- becoming a morning person is not as simple as just setting your alarm a few minutes earlier, but for even the most serial of snoozers like me, it is doable with a bit of planning. Pay for a full week of early morning fitness classes, commit to being at work half an hour earlier, book appointments for earlier times, but most of all- don't expect miracles and be prepared to stick with it for a few weeks for it to feel a bit more 'normal'.


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