“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” — Thomas Dekker
For the last few days, I have been waking up between 4 am and 5 am.
No alarm clock, no snooze button.
I just open my eyes, get out of bed and feel super excited to start my day.
The most amazing part of waking up so early is that during these last few days I was able to complete my high-value activities before my family woke up.
What this meant is that by 7 am I had completed the most important and often challenging tasks of my daily to-do list.
It is hard to describe in words how much pressure waking up early took off my back for the remainder of my day- allowing me to go surfing or boxing or hang out with my family without feeling guilty whatsoever!
All of a sudden, I have days in which I am super productive at work and extremely engaged with my family, giving me lots of joy and satisfaction.
It is definitely a practice I intend to continue…
Now I know you might see the value of getting up earlier, maybe you even tried this in the past.
So let’s get straight to the point:
How can you finally manage to effortlessly wake up early without feeling exhausted and tired?
The answer is so simple:
I know what you are thinking!
“If I wake up earlier I will be sleeping less!”
In fact, one of the biggest challenges high performers have is that they don’t get enough sleep. They think they are so busy that they end up going to bed way too late.
Despite what many of us think, study after study confirms that almost everyone needs at least 7-8 hours of good sleep a day.
And the only way to can wake up earlier and still get 7-8 hours of sleep is by also going to sleep earlier.
Unfortunately, this is where most people struggle.
They think that by going to sleep earlier they will have less time in their already busy schedule. So instead they prefer to sacrifice some of their well-needed sleep by time.
The truth is that being exhausted inhibits our ability to perform at our best. Our body and mind need sleep to fully recover from a long day and process the many experiences we lived through.
It is also the reason we often feel grumpy and annoyed and are not able to be the kind of person we would feel proud about.
In other words, waking up early and getting enough sleep is the magic formula to becoming your best self, both in business and in your personal life.
Let me share with you four steps to finally get a grip of this area in your life:
Step 1: Prioritize sleep
To be successful with this quest, I really need you to change the way you think about sleep.
You must become aware of how important it is for you to get enough sleep. Without appreciating this, I can give you tons of advice and it won’t make a difference.
So take a minute and think of a time when you felt well rested and fully energized — how much more productive and influential were you?
And now think about what happens when you don’t sleep enough:
how does being tired and exhausted affect your work?
And how does feeling grumpy and annoyed affect your personal relationships?
The more clearly you can visualize your energized and vibrant self-vis-à-vis your exhausted and tired self, the easier the remaining steps will become for you!
Step 2: Commit to 8 hours sleep and create a bedtime routine
Eight hours sleep may seem impossible at first. However, if you think about it and make a priority, you will find solutions:
For now, forget about waking up earlier, and instead focus on preventing late nights.
Start by going to sleep half an hour earlier each week, until you finally reach at least 8 hours. You may struggle with this initially — going to sleep isn’t easy, and it is the time of the day you have the least energy left. What really helps is to set up reminders for when you want to retreat to your bedroom and track your sleeping times in a blog. In this way, you will get a sense if you are moving towards getting enough sleep.
In this way, you will get a sense if you are moving towards improving your sleeping times.
Getting enough sleep is only half the deal.
We also want to ensure that we are enjoying quality sleep by introducing a nighttime ritual that gets you feeling more relaxed before bedtime.
After a busy day, it takes a conscious effort to slow down your mind so that you stop thinking about all the things you have experienced during the day. However, it is so worth it because you will sleep much better than ever before.
I would start with going to sleep at the same time every evening and following a similar pre-sleep routine. This could mean brushing your teeth, reading a book on a sofa close to your bed, and then getting into bed at say 10-pm. In this way, you condition your brain to get ready to sleep way before you close your eyes.
At first, this may sound extremely boring. However, once you automatically start waking up feeling more energized and fresh, you will love your new sleeping schedule. And it will help you be so much more productive.
Let me share with my night routine:
Around 7:00-pm: One of us puts our baby to sleep. This takes time as we have a nighttime routine for him as well.
7:45-8:30-pm: Quality time with my wife.
Then I usually take a hot shower.
After my shower, I do a short meditation to calm my mind.
I continue with reading something inspirational.
Once I close my eyes, I reflect on my day and some of its highlights for a few minutes. I also think of five things I am grateful for.
By 9:30-10:00-pm I usually fall asleep.
IMPORTANT TIP: We all have bad nights from time to time. So if you feel exhausted or tired, you may need to give yourself a short break in the afternoon for a power nap.
Step 3: Create your sleep sanctuary
I have a huge projector in my bedroom and used to love falling asleep while watching TV-no wonder that I would often wake up in the middle of the night.
Watching TV definitely affects the way you sleep. But if you must, do it outside your bedroom, and enjoy something lighthearted and funny that will have a positive impact on your sleep.
In addition try to create a pleasant atmosphere in your bedroom that will stimulate rest and sleep, especially before bedtime. This does not need tone complicated.
You can do simple things like having candles in your bedroom, or dim the lights at least an hour before you sleep. To maximize the quality of your sleep, I also suggest you avoid eating in your bedroom, darken the room with curtains and find your ideal sleeping temperature.
Step 4: Define your ideal wake up time.
Say it’s 6 am and you currently wake up at 7:30- then on a weekly basis start waking up 30 minutes earlier.
So in week 1, you would wake up at 7a m.
And you would also go to sleep 30 minutes earlier, so in this case ideally by 11 pm or latest 12 pm.
Within a month you would then hit your ideal wake up time, whilst getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep.
Now I know these steps sound simple, but now the key is to getting started and building some momentum.
So what I would like you to do is re-read step 1, and share with us below why it is so important for you to get enough sleep and at the same time start waking up earlier…
I look forward to reading your comments!