How to Become an Early Riser

I have been experimenting with 5 a.m. wake ups for September. There were a few reasons behind this, the main one being I have a lot of things to organise before I travel again.

You see I am back with my family for seven weeks and then I’m going to India and Australia for at least one year. When I came home in June for four weeks I realised I slipped back into old sleeping habits from my childhood.

I was never a morning person up until two years ago. I had serious problems waking up in the morning when I was in secondary school. I even missed a lot of days from school because I was too lazy to get up! Lazy I know. Mornings were this horrible time that I dreaded.

Over the past two years I have learned to love my mornings and it is now my favourite part of the day. There’s something special about that time between 5 and 7 from darkness to light.

When I got home last June I slipped into a routine of going to bed late and sleeping late. Waking up before 9 was a struggle and then my day would feel a bit off. I would spend the morning beating myself up about being lazy and then grind through the rest of the day. When I returned home in early September I decided to set a little challenge and start waking up at 5am.

Why 5 a.m. you ask?

I wanted it to be a challenge and have continuously heard from successful people that waking at 5 is a game changer. I also wanted to restart my Vipassana practice where you meditate for 1 hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. I didn’t do the evening session.

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“Join The 5 a.m Club. Your most valuable hours are 5am-8am. They have the least interruptions.”     

– Robin Sharma

The benefits of becoming an early riser:

The main benefit of waking early is having time for myself and having a feeling of control over my life. I don’t know about you but the days that I have to rush in the morning never turn out too good.  How you start your day often dictates your day.

If your days are like that, your weeks tend to be like that. If your weeks are like that guess what? Your years tend to be like that and so on.It’s hard to believe the knock on effect of taking control of the morning has across your life. Having this new-found time in the morning for “self-care” is transformative. If I wake early and have time to meditate and exercise everything else seems to fall into place.

Morning Routine:

05:00 Wake up
05:30 — 06:30 Meditate
07:00 — 08:00 Gym / Yoga
08:30 Breakfast

Now you can see that no matter what happens I have already had a great day and achieved a huge amount before 9am. Compare this to waking at the last-minute, scrambling to dress, shower and drive to work grabbing a coffee on the way. By the time you make it to work you still haven’t woken up properly and don’t feel ready to start the day.

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Things that helped me become an early riser:

Have something to look forward to. In his fantastic TED talk, Sam Bern lists having something to look forward to as one of the essential ingredients to happiness in life. Make sure you have a good reason to get up. It might be to read a book, exercise or learn a language. It should be a gift you are giving to yourself. If you look at it like a chore, the motivation to wake up won’t last long.

Go to sleep earlier. This one is huge. The first few days of early starts I was exhausted. It wasn’t until my father asked what time I was actually sleeping at that it hit me. I was going to bed just before 11. Now I am in bed before 10 and I wake much fresher.

Put your alarm out of reach. Get out of bed, turn off your alarm and leave the room. Don’t rationalise going back to bed because you will always choose the easy option. Once I am up and out of the room I am up. I feel rough for a few minutes and then I’m delighted that I woke up on time.

Give yourself time. Depending on your current sleep routine, this could be incredibly challenging. Realise that the first 10 days will be unbearable, the next 10 days will be comfortable and the last 10 days will enjoyable.

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Learn from your mistakes. Another point of view I like to take with this is that waking up is a skill. So over the course of the month there were days I hit snooze and overslept. What helped was looking at why I did this instead of getting annoyed at myself. So adopting a growth mindset and using all the information as data.

Plan your morning the night before. I got this point from Pat Flynn. Have everything laid out so you’re not thinking about what to do when you wake up. The first few days of 5 am wake ups you realise that extra 2 hours is a long time. It may be your only 2 uninterrupted hours during the day.

Ideas for your morning routine:

I got these ideas from Hal Elrod’s “Miracle Morning”. Hal calls these Lifesavers.

S – Silence – meditation.

A – Affirmations help to affirm that which we’re capable of.

V – Visualisation – we want to see what we need to bring into our lives.

E – Exercise is a natural antidepressant. I recommend 5 minutes of sun salutations.

R – Reading – I recommend non fiction in the morning and fiction at night.

S – Scribing – Write down what you’re excited about in your life.

A solid morning routine is something anyone can do but the first step is taking responsibility. This is the one part of your day you can own so why not start waking earlier and doing the things you have stopped doing because of time constraints.


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