“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin

Today I wanted to talk about the fact of waking up early. Maybe it might seem like a boring topic to discuss at first, but in fact, it is a subject which you can find plenty of literature on. In addition, it might not seem appealing to you, but really, read this and give it a try. What do you have to lose ?

First, I would like to say that I have never been a lark. I have always had the need for an alarm clock – even several – to be sure I would get up. Several times, I have fallen back asleep to the point that I was late to school or to appointments. Several times (almost every day I must admit) I snoozed, and snoozed, which left me with one more hour in bed, but not a real hour of sleep, which was in fact really counterproductive. I thought getting up early was just not my thing because I was tired in the morning. The fact that I saw some of my friends being able to wake up at 7 or 8am without an alarm clock amazed me. I wish I could do that too I often thought to myself. But I kept on snoozing every morning of school, and slept in until 10-11ish on the weekends.

Leaving high school and its rather strict schedules, I found myself with much less lectures and seminars to attend to, and much more free time to study by myself. Of course, instead of trying to keep to a rather balanced schedule by getting up at a reasonable hour to get in some work – 8 or 9am -, I decided to get rid of alarm clocks and let myself sleep as long as I wanted. Student life and parties certainly did not help with that. In fact, I thought that if I was sleeping so much, it was because my body needed it. The problem is that is can quickly become a vicious circle : by getting up late, I was going to bed later and later, which in turn made me wake up at the time of lunch rather than breakfast.

Thanks to my resolution to work out more often, and also because of the increasing amount of work I had to do for school, I managed to get back to a more stable sleep schedule around three years ago. But during the holidays and on weekends I was still letting myself sleep. However one day I realized that it might not be as healthy for my body as I thought. Indeed, several newspapers started to talk about sleep cycles around a year ago maybe, and I learned that waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends, was better for the body because it means that the body can get used to it, it becomes a habit. It allows to have a regular sleep schedule and by not sleeping in on weekends, we prevent ourselves from messing up our circadian rhythm, which is our internal clock. In addition, I also learned that getting too much sleep can also have negative effects on your health and makes you more tired (which is really paradoxical).

After that, I decided that I would try to be more consistent with the hour which I should wake up at, and I gave it a try. I first put my alarm around 8-8:30am, to progressively go down to 7am today. I still have days when I snooze until almost 8am, but I also have days when I feel like 6 or 6:30am would be better. It is not easy at first I must say, but I realized that once I am out of bed, I am fine. I am not that tired, and if I am, it is nothing my morning shower and lemon & ginger infused water cannot beat.

It is crazy the way an early morning can change your day. Suddenly, you have more time to study, but also to workout or even to relax. Remember that book you started a few months ago without being able to finish it because you were too busy ? Well now you have a few extra hours to your day to read it. Personally, I like to use my morning to reflect and set my intentions for the day. First I journal, then I take time to make my breakfast, and start studying or tackling the nagging task(s) on my to do list that day. Sometimes I work out, and then get ready for the day.

It is Mark Twain who advised his readers to eat a frog first thing in the morning – his exact words were “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Indeed, the morning is the ideal time to work on your big daily/annoying task so that you can get it out of the way and go on feeling lighter and productive. It really is a boost for your confidence and your energy because the shadow of this undone task lurking in your mind disappear as soon as it is done. Plus, it allows you to get more done because your morning productivity is setting the example for the rest of your activities during the rest of your day. As Lemont Snicket put it, “Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.”

I cannot described how waking up early has changed my life. It has really helped me to stay on top of things, to stress less, to be more productive, and even to be healthier. This extra morning time gave me the opportunity to develop new habits, such as drinking a warm lemon and ginger infused water as soon as I get up, or journaling. It is also thanks to this extra time that I am able to work on my blog, manage my inbox, and catch up with the news and my favorite blogs. More than productivity, this new time windows provided me with the much needed realization that my life does not have to revolve around school and domestic chores : my mornings are now mine, and I can use them as I wish to develop personal projects. In brief, having become an early riser has made me happier. And this list of benefits is non exhaustive ; the possibilities are endless. Only good can come out of this, I assure you.

Still not convinced ? Forbes magazine – among many others – highlighted how being an early riser can help you have better grades, be more proactive, be able to anticipate problems, to be better planner, get better sleep, be more optimistic, experience easier commutes, benefit from a quite hour (or even several) for work, but also for more personal or family time too. Quite enticing, don’t you think ? Isn’t it getting harder and harder for you to come up with convincing counter arguments ? You know what you have to do now ! And if the transition is too brutal for you, why don’t you try to wake up 15 or 30 minutes earlier each week until you have reached your ideal time ? Let me know how that worked out for you !

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