I am the furthest thing from a morning person. Not exactly sure why, but I’ve always been a night owl. I heard an old wives’ tale that if you were born in the middle of the night, you’ll be a night owl, and vice versa. I was born shortly after midnight, so perhaps there is some truth to that.
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During my selfish bachelor years, I came and went as I pleased, stayed late at the office, got home around 9pm for dinner, watched sports highlights and then went back to work typically until about 3 o’clock in the morning. I loved that schedule. It worked for me. My creative juices flowed at night. But that doesn’t fly when you have a wife, kids and a dog that could double for a small pony. Keeping that lifestyle would probably result in an unpleasant personal life and my kids growing up with a surrogate dad. So I’ve had to change.
Unfortunately, if you’re like me, you’re going to have to rewire your internal clock to become a morning person; because as much as you may hate waking up early, you’ll love the results it brings as an entrepreneur and aspiring individual. And if you don’t run your day, it’ll end up running you. The only way to get ahead on a daily basis is to get your ass out of bed early, otherwise unnecessary stress and anxiety will follow you throughout the day as you try and play catch up.
So from one night owl to another, here’s how I’ve trained myself to wake up early…
9 Tips to Help You Wake Up Early
Don’t drink alcohol, not even a glass of wine, during the work week
Many of us like to enjoy a well-deserved brewskie or glass of wine to relax at the end of a long work day. Although the initial effect of the drink may be relaxing, the impact it has a couple hours later is counterproductive to getting to bed early for a good night’s sleep.
Michael J Breus of Psychology Today wrote that a study from Brown University discovered “the timing of drinking appeared to make a difference in the effects of alcohol. In their results, drinking in the evening and before bedtime is associated with significant stimulating effects, compared to other times of day.”
Get to bed early
This one sounds ridiculously obvious, and it should be. Yet very few people follow it because it is hard. General Robert E. Lee wrote that every hour of sleep you get before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight.
Physically getting to bed before 10pm was actually one of the hardest adjustments for me in becoming an early riser. It took me nearly two months to start falling asleep around 10pm.
Read a book to help fall asleep
At first, it will be very hard for a night owl to fall asleep around 10pm. But one practice that made it easier for me was to read a book in bed – not a tablet, magazine, or cell phone. In other words, no smut or electronics.
Try reading a novel – something that requires a physical bookmark. This helps your mind forget about all the stuff that happened during the day and what you’ll have to deal with tomorrow. Reading a book in bed allows you to go into fantasy land of sorts while in a relaxed state. When I started this practice, it took me about 20 pages to fall asleep. Now, 3 to 4 pages and I’m out like a light.
A cup of caffeine-free, chamomile tea helps
About an hour before bed, I like to have a cup of tea with my wife. Although not a proven science, I find that a chamomile, caffeine-free tea helps me relax and get into sleep mode. Now that it has become routine, I think my body associates drinking tea with bed time. So whether it’s physiological or just mental, it works. Give it a shot.
Bring a full glass of water to bed, and drink it immediately upon waking up in the morning
This is a trick from a friend of mine (Chad Howse – check out his site here), and it works amazingly well. When that alarm goes off and it’s still dark outside, it can be painfully hard to get out of bed and start moving those feet. Having a full glass of water on your night stand, ready to drink before doing anything else, gives you that shot of energy needed to push through those dreaded first 5 minutes of the morning.
Chris Bailey of ‘A Life of Productivity’ writes “Drinking a large, cool glass of water after you wake up has been shown to fire up your metabolism by a whopping 24% for 90 minutes!”
Don’t bring any electronics to bed
This was a tough one for me. I used to love listening to my favorite podcasts while lying in bed. But electronics, including TV’s (which is why my wife and I don’t have one in our bedroom), are stimulants. They’ll keep you awake far longer than you should be.
Remind yourself — every day — that your competition is waking up early
Although purely psychological, this one really helps me. It keeps a fire under my ass. Successful people rise early, and that includes my competition. Wake up early to gain a step on the competition; and recognize that if you don’t, you’re probably falling behind.
[Tweet “Early to Bed, Early to rise; makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. #BenjaminFranklinquote”]
Maintain your sleep and wake up time on the weekend
We are creatures of habit. If you stay up until the early hours in the morning on Saturday, getting back on your disciplined sleep schedule during the work week will be painful and difficult. Consistency is key.
Have sex before sleeping
If this needs explanation, try it.
In poetic fashion Benjamin Franklin once wrote “Early to Bed, Early to rise; makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Waking up early for entrepreneurs is critically important, particularly those of us who aren’t single and can’t come and go as we please. By waking up before sun rise, you get the step on everyone else. That in itself should be enough motivation.
Incorporate these wake up tips into your life and I guarantee they’ll help you become an early riser. The key is developing the discipline, and that’s probably the toughest part. But if it can work for a night owl like me, it can work for you.