Why I Wake Up at 5am

Is your middle name over-committed? Mine too. I can’t tell you how many times my momhas warned me not to burn the candle at both ends, but with two very different degree programs in the works, a fraternity e-board position, an a cappella group, Honors protocol and all the music I want to write, it’s rare that I don’t have a busy day.

Last semester was overwhelming in more ways than one, and for the first time in my life, I had a hard time balancing everything. Looking back, I realized I spent an embarrassing amount of time talking about how I didn’t have time for self-care, exercise, my original musical, etc. So, this semester, I decided to make time.

My class load got a little lighter, but my responsibilities elsewhere have stayed just as demanding. The real change? Just about every day, I wake up at 5am. “Why on Earth would you ever?!” is the typical response when I tell people that, but hear me out.

When my alarm goes off, I roll out of bed, put my contacts in, wash my face, brush my teeth and make my bed. After the first ten minutes of crippling exhaustion, I’m wide-awake and ready for the gym (sometimes, if I have homework, I’ll change into my gym clothes, get my work done and then go workout).

There’s no excuse not to workout anymore-it’s built into my morning. I mean, what else am I going to do at 6am? Sleep is not the right answer. Normally, my workout lasts an hour and I get the gym in my apartment complex all to myself, which is amazing since I’m the most self-conscious gym rat ever.

When I walk back home, shower, eat and get ready for the day, it’s usually only 7:30-8am. My earliest class is at 10am, so I’ve got two extra hours to work on the musical I’m writing, apply for internships, do a facemask, clean my closet, warm up my voice… anything I feel like I need to get done.

Sometimes I don’t make it to bed at a decent time, like most college students, and so I can’t quite scrape myself out of bed before 7am. I definitely have days where my body needs more sleep and I need to listen to it. The sad truth is, though, because I’ve experienced the magic of an early morning, “sleeping in” leaves me feeling crunched for time and unaccomplished. I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s ever felt this way. Over the last year, I’ve realized how fleeting time is, how short the days are and how unsatisfied I feel when I don’t use my time wisely.

Sound like you? Here’s the challenge: get yourself to bed around 10-10:30pm. Set your alarm for five and don’t give yourself any excuse to hit snooze. Do all of the things you wish you would’ve done yesterday in the 3-5 extra hours you’ve just given yourself. Go to early morning yoga (I highly recommend the $5 Hot Yoga class at Yoga on Main ever Tuesday/Thursday), make a to-do list, write morning pages, dress up for no reason--you have time for all those things, you just have to give it to yourself. Getting up early isn’t a chore for me anymore. Early mornings that are just for me help me start the day in the right mindset, grab ahold of my day and make the absolute most of it.

In the last couple months, I’ve experienced the finite nature of life first-hand, and while that might be scary, it’s also motivating. Give yourself all the time you’ve already been given; you won’t regret it.