I am not a morning person. I admire early birds and their determination to rise with the sun, but I’ve never had the motivation for that. I’ve always been a night owl, and I really enjoy the nighttime. I had the habit of exercising and binge-watching series at dark hours. However, I was starting to feel that going to sleep at 2am and waking up almost at 11:00am was clearly unhealthy. I wanted to start waking up a little bit earlier, so I needed to go to sleep early as well. As a way to fix my sleeping cycle, I decided to challenge myself by waking up every day, for a week, at 5:30am, and going to bed at 10:30pm. At the end of the week, the lesson I learned and the actions I took afterward left me surprised.
The first day, I was kind of excited. Not because I was going to wake up at five in the morning, but because I was doing something different in my life. So, as soon as the alarm chimed, I rose up pretty quickly and began my morning routine. The night before, I had already planned out my whole week in my agenda. I knew exactly what I was going to do throughout the entire day. I may not be a morning person, but I’m a freak when it comes to planning and organizing. I prepared myself by watching YouTube videos of people giving advice on how to wake up at 5am. I watched the Amazing Benefits of Waking Up at 5AM and Ten Surprisingly Easy Tips to Waking Up at 5AM, but there were so many other options as well. I highly recommend planning your days to have something to look forward to.
After doing a bit of research, I decided to incorporate some morning and before-bed routines to enhance my week. Each morning, I was going to alternate between ten minutes of jogging, meditation, or yoga. The first day I went for a quick jog. That was the only day of the week that I did that activity. I don’t really like jogging, since I find it a bit monotonous. If it wasn’t for the music coming from my speakers, I wouldn’t be able to move around the block. Also, I did a very lazy stretch beforehand and, while jogging, my legs felt very sore and stayed like that throughout the day. It seemed like a good and classy idea at first (I even wore a cute outfit to get motivated!), but at the end, I think I was better off without it; or, if I was to do it again, I should at least start with a decent stretch.
Yoga was my favorite morning routine. Meditation was relaxing as well, since it’s a key component of yoga. On the second day, I did yoga. I took out my mat and rolled it open on the wet grass. The sun wasn’t in sight yet, so I opened up my laptop and had a morning yoga video ready to go. The chill, the morning-dew, and the sun slowly showing itself between the mountains was beautiful. A ten-minute yoga session to stretch your whole body from the stiffness of a night’s rest can be truly impactful.
At night, I also incorporated a simpler sleeping routine: reading. I read every single day; but usually during daytime, not at night. I decided to read before bedtime because it relaxes your brain and it can actually help you fall asleep easier, in addition to a myriad of other benefits.
[bf_image id="rtksgmk76v4655zkb6kwfjs"] The one thing that really worried me about waking up this early was my eating pattern and how it would be completely altered. I’ve always been susceptible to low blood sugar when I don’t eat during long periods of time. I was concerned to start my day jogging without having a decent breakfast first. Luckily, my body kept well-grounded during that day and the entire week. As a matter of fact, I think my eating hours started to make more sense than before. I was having breakfast around 8:00am, lunch at 12:00pm, and dinner at 5pm, more or less. Before the challenge, I was basically having breakfast/brunch at 12:00pm, lunch at 5pm, and dinner at 8pm.
During the day, I was productive. Throughout the entire week, I managed to do everything on my task list. Before the challenge, some of the things that I had assigned myself had to be moved to another day, due to lack of time and motivation. It seemed right that waking up early helped me engage in more things. I also felt that I was more stress-free. I could even take casual breaks without the anxiety that I was wasting my time, ‘cause I had all the time I needed.
However, not everything was bright and well. I always felt sleepy at a certain moment during the day, every day. I had to take a power nap on five of the seven days of the week, because my body felt too heavy and my eyelids could not bear the feeling too, and this comes from someone who really dislikes taking power naps. It has been said that taking power naps is healthy, but I feel useless whenever I do.
Moreover, as the days passed, I realized every day was a little bit harder to wake up at 5am. I thought it was going to be easier! There were even two days that I hit the snooze button so much I woke up at 6am… As soon as I reached the middle of the week, I started to count down the days. I was eager to go to sleep and wake up whenever I wanted to. In all honesty, I was done with waking up at 5amーbut I wasn’t done with waking up early.
I didn’t really like waking up at 5:30am nor going to sleep at 10:30pm. For some people, it’s life changing; but even if I was getting things done, I felt beat up every single day. 5am doesn’t go with me. However, 8:00am works perfectly well, in my case.
After the challenge, the urge of waking up early and going to sleep early stuck with me. I went to bed at 11:30pm and woke up at 8:00am. I was sleeping more hours than I was doing during the challenge, and I was also sleeping a healthy amount of hours. I also stuck with the morning routines. I practiced yoga in the morning every day, and at night I read away. During the challenge, I always felt that starting to do everything one or two hours later didn’t make much of a difference, and I was right. Waking up early, but later than 5am, helped me make it through the whole day without getting sleepy and needing to nap. In other words, I wouldn’t have to take any more naps.
Engaging in this challenge really helped me fix and find my ideal sleeping schedule. Although I’ll miss enjoying watching the sunrise, from its milky twilight to its first golden hour, I have found a routine and a healthy cycle that works for me. Are you up for the challenge? You might be surprised with the changes it can make to your lifestyle!