Have you ever been inspired by the beauty of the early morning and wished you could see it every day? Yes, me too.
I remember those occasions when I was younger and was forced to get up early – to catch a flight or go fishing with my Dad – and thinking, “wow, it’s so peaceful. I am so productive. I should do this everyday”. There’s something about the morning stillness, the rising sun, the day not being quite fully formed that conjures a sense of opportunity and inner calm that is impossible to capture at any other moment in the day.
But alas, converting this enthusiasm into action on a regular basis is a lot more difficult than it sounds. For most people anyway.
Over the years, but particularly in the last few years, I have experimented with rising early. As I’m someone who naturally needs quite a lot of sleep, I’ve learnt much about the things that make it easier and more difficult to get out of bed in the morning. There are obviously lots of thing that make it harder - 17 glasses of champagne or a 4am finish probably won’t propel you out of bed at dawn – so I’d like to share my tips and learnings to help mobilise the dormant early riser in all of you.
In my experience, regularly waking up early (and in a good state) relies on three things: motivation; health and diet; and a few little tricks.
For me, if I know exactly why I’m getting up early, the process is phenomenally easier. So set your goals and break them down into chunks that fit into the time you have in the morning. Try to be very specific: what exactly are you going to do when you get up? This doesn’t mean thinking, “I’ll start getting up earlier so that I can learn French”. It requires pinning down exactly what you will do when you get up. In the ’learning French’ example, it might be doing some initial research into online French courses or learning one set of numbers or verbs that morning.
I also find it helpful to think about the things you could be doing with your morning. If you’re anything like me, there are a thousand things on my to-do list at any one time, but making my motivation something new and exciting can really inspire me. You’ve heard us talk about morning pages, breakfast dates, meditation and the wonderful ramble – all potential morning pursuits and all incredibly fulfilling. Get thinking about that thing you’ve always wanted to do – perhaps the morning is the time to conquer it once and for all?
Health and diet
The best sleep I ever get is when I’m healthy and relaxed. Clearly, the list of things you can do to improve your health is infinite and personal, so I’m not going to tell you how to do that. But there are a few specific things that I’ve found make a disproportionate difference when it comes to waking up early and easily:
- Don’t eat too late: your body needs time to digest food. Leaving at least two, ideally three, hours between when I eat dinner and when I go to bed makes it easier to get to sleep and wake up.
- Easy on late-night carbs: for someone who loves a big carb load at night, this one was a huge discovery for me. When I eat complex carbohydrates like white rice or pasta at night, I invariably wake up feeling sluggish. Opting for proteins and vegetables/salads at night makes for more restful sleep.
- Sleepy tea: you know I love my tea. I also love my sleepy teas before bed. Cammomile is the bomb, but there are some beautiful sleep tea blends out there. So effective are they, that when one Bulbette recently fed another Bulbette a sleep tea during the day, she (OK, it was me) was falling alseep during the next important business meeting. Good for night time / not so good during the day.
- Steer clear of coffee, red wine and chocolate: this terrific trifecta is delicious, but these are the worst culprits for sleep disruption.
- Find out what works for you: ultimately it’s a personal thing, but I found that reading up on sleep helped me to understand my own body and what suits me. Books like The Depression Cure taught me about our circadian rhythms and the impact of sunlight. A long-term love affair with detoxes, cleanses and natural medicine taught me to listen to my body.
Tips and tricks
Most of the tips and tricks are required for when that alarm actually goes off. It’s mostly psychological, but it’s amazing what you can convince yourself of at dawn if you’re not prepared.
- Drink a glass of water: this is a fairly new one I’ve been trying and it really does help. Put a whole glass of water next to your bed before you go to sleep. As soon as your alarm goes off – before you’ve stopped to think about anything – drink the whole glass. Doing such a simple act gets your brain working and apparently it kick-starts your metabolism and wakes you up faster.
- Ban the snooze: simply agree to yourself that you’ll no longer use the snooze button. Ever. I used to be a massive snooze loser (which drove my better half insane) but now I never use it. Ever.
- Write your to-do list the night before: This is a simple idea that really helps me to get to sleep as soon as I get into bed. I don’t lie there thinking over what I need to do tomorrow – I do what I’m there to do. Sleep.
- Keep a sleep routine: If you go to bed and get up at the same time every day, your body will thank you, not punish you. Obviously it’s preferable to go to bed before 11pm, but routine is the thing that makes it the easiest of all.
(Written by Sarah)