What I learnt from waking up at 4AM
For the past many years, I had got comfortable waking up after 9 am to prepare for work to begin from 11 am. Very rarely did I have to wake up early except for the BNI Breakfast Networking meeting which were the 5 am slog. On most occasions, I would come back home and plonk myself on the bed and get another hour of sleep before beginning the day at 11 am.
All this changed five months ago, when I decided that I will try to scale back on my wake-up time to reach the target of 4 am. Trust me when I say this, it was painful physically and exhausting mentally to steal back time from my lazy routine. But with the list of things that I can do now, it’s the best changes I’ve made for myself since ever.
HIT THE BED EARLY
I tried for few weeks to wake up early, but it didn’t work. My body kept rejecting the fresher timelines and I soon realised, the reason was that I was still sleeping after midnight so the body wasn’t getting it’s minimum 6 hours of sleep. I made a plan to not stay awake beyond 11 pm and even aim to be in bed by 9.30 pm so I can sleep by 10 pm.
SLEEP BETTER & LOSE WEIGHT
A good side effect of all of these things, is that the brain through your body regulates your sleep, body temperature, hormones, blood pressure and organ activity better. It improves your sleep pattern and your snoring – sleep deprivation stops. You achieve deeper state of sleep which helps relax your body and repair the damage from the working of the day. Your liver and your kidney work better as well, helping your bowel movements and they also reduce fat and remove more toxins from your body.
CHANGE YOUR MORNING RITUAL HABITS
My next approach was NOT to use the alarm but use self-consciousness to wake myself up on time. I tried this by scaling back 15 mins every week which works out to be approx. 1 hour every month. Once I woke up, I made sure I got out of bed and straight into the shower. It might be different things for others, but for me, when the water hits my face and body, I feel like I have finally woken up.
Another two things I did to help refresh my brain was to ignore my mobile for the first 2 hours after waking up and use my opposite hand to brush my teeth and comb my hair. I’ve read that these simple exercises done every day boost your productivity, as they light up different parts of your brain, and this extra neuron activity helps the brain stay sharp.
TAKE TIME TO PRAY OR MEDITATE
Waking up before dawn allows me the luxury to take 10 to 15 minutes to do my morning prayers. It helps me calm myself spiritually and focus on the day ahead. If you’re not religious, then you can meditate or do yoga or something to help your inner self seek balance.
WATCH THE SUNRISE
There are fewer things that are as enjoyable and nourishing to the soul than to see the sun rise. If you can put this amazing spectacle in your sights every morning, then it fills you up with optimism, hope, positive energy and appreciation for the world we live in, and the nature around us.
The morning breeze, the chirping of birds and the palette of colours will make you energised from the inside out. On the days it’s raining or wet, it gives you a different mood as well, but always new.
I don’t have the motivation (as yet) to go for an hour’s run or a swim in the morning, but what I can do is SKIP with my ultra-slick skipping rope. I take time to do 5 sets of 3 mins skipping every morning. It helps me get into a sweat and I mix it with some barbell and dumbbell curls or some stretching as well. Just enough to move the body and get it ready for the day ahead.
EAT HEALTHY – JUICE & FRUIT SALAD
Eating right is a big part of a lifestyle change focused on health. I am an keen juicer so I make my 2 glasses of fresh juice every morning to start my day with clean nutrition. If I have more time, then I’ll make a good sized bowl of fruit salad with the seasonal produce. When it’s a super busy day planned ahead, I’ll change to a muesli yogurt fruit bowl. I avoid anything heavy, fried or cooked as the first meal of the day.
PLAN YOUR DAY
From a productivity point of view, waking up helps me plan my day. Surely I cannot plan everything to work exactly as I planned, but it takes away the feeling of being rushed. I allow myself extra time for things, and use time wisely. Avoid playing with the mobile during the day has helped me do more without getting my eyes tired.
Hope my little insights give strength to the quote, “Early to Bed, Early to Rise, Makes a Man Healthy, Wealthy and Wise”. I’m definitely healthier but the wisdom and the wealth is yet to come, but till that happens, I’m enjoying the feeling of being fresh and ready.