This year, I have decided to finish ten 30-days challenges, to improve my overall well being and introduce some good habits, while letting go of some of the bad ones. In May, the challenge was to wake up every morning at 6 AM. I know this must feel a bit ridiculous to those that are early risers or parents or people whose work starts at 7 or they have a long commute to work, etc. However, for me, waking up at 6 AM is a real challenge, since I am more of a night owl.
During college days, I used to study during nights, stay up all the way until the exam in the morning and then sleep throughout the day. I was never a partying type (other than one short period after breaking up with a boyfriend and substituting it with parties every single day of the week for about three months) which is usually the reason people can’t wake up in the morning. I simply prefer to do my working, studying, cleaning, reading, whatever, during the night.
Breaking the vicious circle
After finishing college and starting to work full time, I had to adjust my schedule, since I first had a regular job from 9 to 5, and later on, from 8 to 4. This switch gave me a lot of trouble, I still couldn’t fall a sleep before 2 AM and then had to be at work fully functioning at 9 AM. I was exhausted. Sleeping during the day to make up for lost sleep, gave me headaches and the quantity of coffee I drank just to get through the morning, made me awake late at night. It was a vicious circle.
Introducing small changes
My journey to becoming a morning person really was a long one. I began by slowly lowering the amount of coffee I drank. From 4 cups a day, to just 2. Than, from drinking the second cup whenever I felt (like, at 7 PM), to no later than 3 PM. These small changes made it easier to fall a sleep, but still, no sooner than 1 AM. Then I started exercising every two days, which made me really exhausted in the evening and also helped me fall a sleep sooner. Soon, I began to wake up naturally around 9, instead of 10 which was usual for me for so long. Also, having to catch a ferry at 9 AM to go to my work on an island, I had to leave the house at 8 AM. All of this helped me to introduce a habit of waking up earlier.
Joining 6 AM club
It took me couple of years to wake up 2 hours earlier than my usual natural wake up time. I listed reasons why I wanted to change my natural body rhythm in the post about May challenge. Couple of days in, I already see great benefits to joining the 6 AM club. I still hate waking up every single morning, my first thoughts are usually “why am I doing this to myself”, “what is wrong with me”, “can I please go back to bed”, etc. But, here’s where the benefits kick in. So, read on to see the 5 reasons why waking up earlier is a great challenge to try out!
5 things waking up earlier thought me
#1 I HAVE MORE TIME FOR MYSELF
You can argue that I can have more time for myself later in the day, since I don’t sleep less because of waking up earlier, I just sleep at different times. But, this doesn’t work for me, and I suppose especially not for parents and busy professionals. Having alone time before everyone else wakes up and before you start your regular day is like a stolen time – it is your personal time, nobody will send you messages at 6 AM, or ask anything of you, expect you to cook, do something, etc.
#2 THERE IS TIME FOR EVERYTHING
Continuing on the #1, day to day activities seem to take a lot of time, and adding work to that, day just slips through my fingers. At the end of the day, I either don’t have any more time or energy to dedicate to my hobbies, reading or whatever interests me at the time. Now, I have my coffee and breakfast by 6.30 AM, I stretch by 7 AM, watch news (I am a big news junkie), then I do what I want – write blog posts, read books or magazines, bake, scroll Instagram… Of course I am aware that this is probably only possible for childless people and that this post would be totally different if I had kids. But, the point is to improve my own life, and hopefully inspire you to try something similar, with or without kids, but according to your possibilities. So, I hope you read on.
#3 I ACTUALLY CAN EXERCISE DAILY
My excuse for not being active was always the lack of time or energy. Now, the second thing I do in a day (after coffee, of course), is some stretching or exercise. I want to start a two week abs challenge by Chloe Ting (what’s with all the challenges?!), so this is a great time to do them. Even if I have to catch a ferry at 9 AM, I still have time to do the challenge before the day wears me down. All the blogs I have read about making time for working out was always so unrealistic for me, but, look at me now! P.S. I’ll post my results if they’re good 😀
#4 NO CHANGE WILL HAPPEN OVER NIGHT, LITERALLY
I wrote this blog post during my May challenge, and what I can tell you know is that the beginner’s enthusiasm lasted for about 6 days. Lack of sleep quickly caught on (since I still can’t fall a sleep before midnight, at the earliest), and I find it harder and harder to get up in the morning. The idea of this being a challenge is what helps me – I can’t just give up, I want that reward! So, I keep pushing on, hoping the change will happen. And I couldn’t wait for May 31st to turn off the alarm and just see when I’ll wake up naturally. May 31st was also my birthday, so the first gift I was hoping get is the gift of sleep. What actually happened was I had two nights which when I went to sleep really late (past 3 AM) so I missed two mornings. I still count this challenge as a win, since I did wake up at 6 AM altogether 29 times, in May.
#5 MORNING RITUALS MAKES ME HAPPY
What I enjoy most are the tiny morning rituals – coffee, breakfast, reading, scrolling through social media, taking care of plants, growing food actually, talking to my boyfriend (topic ranging from meteorology, experimental cinema, marketing strategies and whatnot), etc. Even if I don’t sleep well (still waking up around 6 AM, in June, but not going to bed much sooner than midnight), I do eat better, and have more relaxed day, in the end.
This wasn’t an easy challenge, but I made it through, more or less. I skipped the first Saturday of fresh flowers which was my reward (cause I didn’t do all 30 days, but 29), but I did end up with a much better reward – a slowly introduced new positive habit. Pros outweigh cons so much, I think I’ll make this my regular waking up time. On weekdays, that is.