Why I don’t sleep in anymore (and you shouldn’t either)

I used to have this bad habit of going to bed really late. I’d stay up watching TV or playing video games.

The late nights would of course mean getting up late the next morning.

Some days I would wake up close to lunch. That’s half the day wasted.

It might sound awesome if you normally need to get to work early.

But if you’re like me, you want to achieve much more during the day and if you sleep in, that is not going to happen.

  • You want to work on your health and fitness.
  • You want to have time to spend with your family.
  • You want to have time to work on your business to grow and make a bigger impact.
  • You want time to read books and truly improve yourself.

Good luck doing any of that when you wake up late!

After wasting a few months caught up in this bad routine, I knew I needed to make a change. I’ve experimented with different times for gym, family time, self-improvement and working on my business. And the only time I can get uninterrupted quality work done, is in the mornings.

I knew I needed to wake up early.

Working on important tasks after work is hard. I find that by the evening we are left with very little motivation or energy to achieve anything else. Our plans for exercise or working on a new project are all put on hold for “another day.” Unfortunately, this day never comes.

It comes as no surprise that many of the world’s most successful people have a morning routine.

So I decided to try it for myself.

Why wake up early though?

Many people use their morning to accomplish things that are usually impossible to do later on during the day. While we are still sleeping in bed or hitting the snooze button, these people are scoring daily wins to improve their health, careers and lives.

A few examples of the morning routines of successful people:

Take former PepsiCo CEO and chairman Steve Reinemund for example, who would get to work in the morning ready to run a fortune 500 company all after running four miles, praying and enjoying breakfast with his family. He achieved all this BEFORE going to work. He would get up every morning at 5:00 a.m. and dedicate time to develop his health, spirituality, and spend quality time with his family.

Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur and investor, cofounder and CEO of VaynerMedia uses his mornings to build a healthy relationship with his family. Before arriving at the office, he calls his mother, father or sister, depending on who he spoke with last. He uses this time to simply talk to his family, catch up and see what they’re up to.

Billionaire John DeJoria, co-founder of Patrón tequila and Paul Mitchell hair products, starts every morning with five minutes of quiet reflection and being grateful for what he has. He uses this time to be truly ‘present’, and reflect on life. He then checks his calendar and prepares for his day by tackling the most important tasks first.

Kevin O’Leary, ‘Shark Tank’ investor and chairman of O’Leary Financial wakes up at 5:45 a.m. He spends his morning checking the financial markets followed by exercising for 45 minutes. “Your health is one investment that is guaranteed to pay dividends!” he says. By the time he has reached his office, he is already up to speed with the financial market and has had a good workout session completed.

Why you should do the same – don’t sleep in

There is something special about these people and their success. While most of the world is still sleeping, they are up and making an effort to improve their lives. Successful people realize the importance of early mornings. They use this time to establish strong habits and incorporate a daily routine allowing them to take the steps needed to reach a higher level.

We too can do the same, but first we must realize that obstacles will inevitably creep up on us throughout the day. There will ALWAYS be distractions.

There is a reason why high achievers use their mornings so well. They realize that disruptions will occur in the day and the pressures of work make it difficult to pursue self-development be it in health, spirituality or their careers.

Instead of fighting against the daily disturbances and dips in motivation, wake up early and use the mornings to develop a strong daily routine. Create habits to exercise regularly, pray or meditate, spend time with your family by eating breakfast together, or further your career. Do what is important to you.

The best time to get things done, is in the mornings while the world sleeps.  

How waking up early has helped me

I’ve been getting up early for over two years now. I use the time to work on three things that are important to me.

  1. My health
  2. My business
  3. My personal growth

The first thing I do when I wake up now is read for 10 to 15 minutes. It might not seem like much. But the cumulative effect of doing this for a long time is amazing.

Then I go to the gym and complete a strength training workout.

Doing this before anything else in the day has been crucial for me in maintaining this habit. It’s very easy to get caught up in “work” mode after checking your email or taking a few phone calls.

Once I’m back from the gym I use the time to work on my side projects and business.

All of this before lunch. In the past, I’d be waking up at this time. Nowadays, I achieve so much more.

After lunch I find productivity usually drops. There are more distractions from others around you and focusing on work is harder.

I don’t try to fight it and work for the sake of work.

I now spend the time after lunch with my friends and family doing things I enjoy, guilt free. Because I’ve already done the important stuff in the morning.

So how exactly do you wake up early?

If you’re not used to it, getting up early can be hard. Here are seven tips to help make it easier:

1. Do it gradually.

It is unlikely that you will be get up early all of a sudden if you are not used to it. You need to alter your sleep cycle gradually. To do this, aim to wake up 15 minutes earlier than normal. Try it for a few days, and then slowly increase the time as you begin getting accustomed to waking up earlier.

The key is to develop a new habit of waking up early, and building new habits takes time and patience. This doesn’t mean forming new habits are hard, just do a little bit each day and be consistent in your efforts. Eventually, your efforts will seem natural and easy to do.

2. Give yourself enough time for a good night’s rest.

It may seem obvious but if you want to become a morning person and wake up early, get to bed on time. Your body needs a certain amount of sleep each night, so make sure you go to bed earlier to get those hours of sleep in. Below is a diagram taken from the National Sleep Foundation showing the recommended hours of sleep needed.

If you’re not getting enough hours of sleep, hitting that snooze button is inevitable!

3. Find something to be excited about.

Find something exciting to wake up to. It could be anything:

  • a shower
  • reading a book with a warm cup of coffee
  • a morning walk around the block
  • working on a side project that interests you.

Find anything that will make waking up early an enjoyable experience so that even the thought of getting up early, triggers a feeling of excitement inside you.

4. Establish a ritual before you go to bed.

Just as you should find something exciting to wake up to, find something that helps with your transition to sleep. Again, this could be anything to help you unwind:

  • Reading a novel before bed
  • Prayer/meditation
  • Having a warm shower
  • Drinking a cup of tea

The idea is to establish a ritual. Try to follow the same pattern most nights of the week. I find it much easier to fall asleep after prayer and drinking a cup of chocolate milk!

5. Turn off the lights.

Yes, this includes your:

  • computer/laptop
  • phone screen
  • TV
  • tablets
  • any other gadget or electronic device

According to the National Sleep Foundation, these artificial lights compromise our sleep quality. So even if you do go to bed on time, you may still be getting poor sleep. To counter this, try putting away all your gadgets at least an hour before bedtime. Close the curtains and create a dark environment to help you prepare for sleep.

6. Use sleepyti.me.

This is an excellent tool you can use to make waking up early easier by getting up at the end of sleep cycles. According to the app developer “sleep cycles typically last 90 minutes. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle leaves you feeling tired and groggy, but waking up in between cycles lets you wake up feeling refreshed and alert!”. I have tried sleepyti.me countless times myself and have found it to work wonders. Try it yourself.

7. Live life in the present.

Work can wait. Don’t worry about any unread email or phone calls to make. Take care of yourself and deal with it tomorrow. Take the time to enjoy the present. Truly enjoy and appreciate your time now. While you follow through with your pre-sleep ritual, soak it in enjoy the moment. Leave work for the morning.

Getting up early is hard but worth the effort. If you are looking for success or want to develop an exercise habit, your spirituality or even your connection with your family, get up early and make it possible. Just look at the morning routines of successful people and you will find how they all value this time in the morning to score big wins every single day.

Sleeping in gets you nowhere. Wake up early and make a difference.

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