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I tried to wake up at 6AM every morning for a week: Here’s what I learned

Spoiler: The week involved dark eye bags and a whole lot of caffeine


So there’s this challenge trending around the Interweb called the 5 AM challenge. As the name would indicate, participants must wake up at the ungodly hour of dawn for one week. If you are a barista or baker as many of my friends are, perhaps you’re rolling your eyes (“5 AM? Try 3 AM!”) But for the rest of us mere mortals, this challenge may come as a shock to the system. For many, the reasoning behind this trend is a fuller, more productive day. As an individual that takes a whole lot of afternoon classes, I often snooze away happily until 11:30 AM. But then again, most of my day is gone and I often go about the rest of my afternoon lazily, cursing myself when I’ve reached an evening and have accomplished little to nothing. So when my two friends perked up when I was talking about this, we made an agreement to try waking up at 6 AM (we were slightly more realistic) from Sunday to Saturday to see what it did for our productivity and mental wellbeing. Here’s what I have learned so far:

1. This challenge is much easier when you are doing it with friends

I’ll be honest, I am not a very disciplined person. For diets, I cave and order pizza. For assignments, I procrastinate. For Netflix, I marathon through a season in a week. I went into this expecting full failure and was pleasantly surprised when I was able to drag myself out of bed at 6 AM nearly every morning (more on that ahead). So what motivated me? Honestly, it was the fact that I knew two of my friends were struggling to drag themselves out of bed as well, and that they’d be sending little sun emojis to our group chat at 6:01 AM. Plus, ranting and complaining about the struggle, and sharing our experience with each other has been fun and a great motivator for me.


2. This challenge can be a great incentive for productivity, or it can be additional day hours to waste

In my friend Hana’s experience, she was very productive and was able to add in healthy breakfasts and exercise to her mornings. For myself, I found some of the days very productive with tidying my apartment and having a head start on the day. But I also found that other mornings I would just sit and scroll through social media rather than using the extra hours in a useful way. I have taken that it is important to prioritize what you would like done ahead of time (breakfast? Extra time to get cute? A study session?) and to get right to it. There is time for social media scrolling or watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. after you’ve gotten some of your important tasks out of the way!

3. An early bedtime is very important

That might seem like a given, however getting an early night’s sleep has proven to be more challenging than actually waking up for me. Previously, going to bed at 2 AM was pretty normal, but by sleeping in until 10 or 11 that had not been an issue. The first two nights, I did not go to bed until 2  AM so it was not a fun couple of days. It was hard to focus and required a lot of caffeine to get through lectures. The following two nights I went to bed slightly earlier (at around midnight) which was better, but I was still sleep deprived. That may be why on Day Five (today), I woke up at 6 AM but then proceeded to crawl back into bed and snooze until 1 PM…

Not great, I know. But I am feeling fresh and more clear-headed, determined to continue this challenge with a 10:30 PM bedtime.


4. Take away: would I do this challenge again?

Absolutely, in fact, one of my friends and I are planning to continue this challenge. After this week, I will be extending it to 6:30 AM so I can get my eight hours in more easily. Moving forward, I would recommend this challenge to my fellow Snooze hitters and procrastinators with two pieces of advice: prioritize your tasks (know what you want to get out of this challenge and when you wake, just do it!) and getting to bed early enough if you’d like to be a clearheaded, productivity machine versus a foggy headed, caffeinated zombie.


Maybe if you’re extremely ambitious, maybe you’ll even try the 5 AM challenge. Good luck!

Nadia is a fifth year Communications student at Simon Fraser University who enjoys writing and editing. She has a special place in her heart for exploring Vancouver, great books, and food that isn't good for her.
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