Do you know this feeling of hearing the sound of your alarm go off, and you think the world is going to crash onto your head. You stretch your arm, somehow manage to get hold of your phone and switch the snooze button, before falling asleep again.
And then you finally open your eyes and it is an hour or more past your intended wake up time?
Well, that is how my average morning used to look like until I discovered a very simple 2-step process that has transformed my life. Now, waking up at 5 am gives me no troubles at all, and I often complete my most valuable tasks before many people eat breakfast.
Before I share with you how I transformed from being a night owl to becoming an early riser, let’s speak for a moment about the obvious part:
What is it you really want?
Before you can start a new habit, you need to be clear what your new habit should look like. You can find out, by answering these simple questions:
- By what time do I want to ideally wake up, every morning?
- How much sleep do I need to function at your best?
- At what time would I need to go to bed in order to get the ideal amount of sleep and what up at my desired time?
In my case, I really wanted to wake up at 5:00 AM in the morning.
I knew that if I could get a few high-value activities done before 10 am, it would take so much pressure off the rest of my day, allowing me to be more present and relaxed.
In addition, I remembered that whenever I would go to bed early, the quality of my sleep would be so much better, allowing me to wake up feeling energized and excited about my day.
My goal was to be in bed by the latest 10 pm.
Before you continue reading, please go through the three questions above, and give yourself 7-8 hours of sleep when calculating your ideal bedtime.
Okay, that was the easy part.
I can hear you already moaning about going to sleep earlier, and how that there is no way you would even consider going to bed before midnight!
This is why you need to go through the following two-step process:
Step 1: Know your WHY:
First of all, you really need to know why we are willing to torture ourselves with waking up earlier and what the outcome is that we are trying to achieve.
Without a good WHY, you are right there is no way you will try to change your sleeping patterns, especially since you might become the joke of all your friends.
What is the benefit of going to bed by 10 pm?
In my case, it was because I wanted the freedom of getting a lot of high-value activities done early on and then creating valuable time for myself and for my family. I also knew I would feel so much more energized and focused if I would go to sleep regularly before 10 pm, which would not only make me more productive but also a more patient and relaxed person!
In other words, I realized that to live a high-performance lifestyle, I would need to do what some of the world’s top performers do, even if that would go counter to the sleeping drills of ordinary people. I had a clear impression of how much better I would feel getting my eight hours of quality sleep, and experiencing a super productive morning that would set the tone for the rest of my day!
I also knew it would come at a price- friends would mock me for not coming out at night, call me boring and pull faces whenever I would leave home early.
But I made my calculations, and came to the conclusion that the benefits exceeded the price I would be paying!
Take a moment and think WHY waking up earlier would mean so much for you, and what price you are willing to pay, for this upgrade.
Step 2: Create your bedtime routine
Ok, once you have a clear WHY you are ready for step 2.
We now want to create a bedtime ritual that will dramatically improve our sleep and our well-being. This means going to sleep at the same time, every weekday, and dedicate a few minutes beforehand to slow down get us into a sleepy mood.
Here is how you do this:
Start off, with planning to go to bed only 30 minutes earlier, and waking up 30 minutes earlier as well. That means if you are used to going to sleep at midnight and usually wake up at 8 am, try going to bed by 11:30 pm and waking up at 7:30 am.
Do this for a week, and then gradually add another 30 minutes until you hit your ideal sleeping time. In this way, the whole process becomes more manageable.
Next, let’s speak about what you should be doing the last 30-60 minutes before you sleep.
Most people get into what I call the “browsing loop”, which looks something like this:
They go to bed and want to sleep, but before they do, they check their phone one more time for emails and text messages. Once they have answered everyone, they take a final look at social media. By now, they have all sorts of thoughts and worries swirling inside their head.
And that’s when the loop really starts- there is always just one more thing we want to check out, and this is how hours can pass without us even noticing.
And then, when we finally decide to put our phone away, our brain is still racing with all sorts of thoughts.
Does this sound familiar?
If so, then just by cutting out this browsing loop, you could probably hit your ideal sleeping time and improve the quality of rest you get.
So that begs the question:
Why do we need to browse before we go to sleep?
The answer is quite simple.
Browsing is a great way to keep us away from our own thinking, and from being alone with ourselves!
This might sound odd but think about it:
What do most people do between moments throughout the day?
They check their phones and keep themselves busy as if there would be something wrong with just enjoying a few moments of silence.
The thought of doing nothing just seems terrifying to most of us!
And this means also keeping ourselves distracted before we go to sleep.
I can tell you that once I realized this, I understood how important it would be for me to do something relaxing and quiet before switching off the lights at night.
So here is what I did:
- I put my phone on airplane mode by 9 pm.
- I took a hot shower.
- I spent time doing something relaxing, like reading a book. Now I enjoy hanging out with my wife.
- Then I do a short meditation just before going to sleep.
When I do those things, it’s amazing how much I enjoy my bedtime routine, and how quickly I fall asleep.
Now, this might sound overwhelming, but you really don’t need a complicated bedtime routine.
Here is how I would start:
Create a 10- minute routine that includes closing down your phone and doing some kind of short meditation to slow down your thinking and help you feel more relaxed.
It’s that simple.
So now it’s your turn:
Take a moment now, and share with me below what your 10-minute bedtime routine will look like.