There is a saying that the early bird gets the worm. However, if that reward doesn’t appeal to you, then you should be aware that there are other benefits. Rising early is a great way to put your brain and body to good work and address your personal goals.
Waking up helps you get better quality sleep. Early risers tend to have better sleeping patterns and habits. This means getting at least 7 hours of sleep (depending on the individual) and getting to bed early. A good routine of sleeping early helps establish a habit of waking up earlier and at the same time in the morning.
Here are ten exceptional benefits of getting up early in the morning.
1) You beat the crowd
Ever tried to work out at the end of the workday, only to find yourself spending more time waiting for a machine than using one? If your gym opens at 5 a.m., get there when it opens. Many people will tell you “you’re crazy to get up that early!”
You’ll find that many places, like your gym or a shared computer, are pretty much ghost towns very early in the morning. No waiting in line, no struggling to find a parking space. If you choose to shower at the gym, you can even save on utilities!
It’s not just the gym. Many other places open early as well. Places like the market can be far less crowded in the earlier you go.
2) You get some alone time
These days, solitude can be hard to come by. Work and family commitments may keep you running all day as you take care of everyone else’s stuff. Rising early can give you an hour or so to address your things, or maybe just spend some time to yourself.
Avoid thinking that you have to be productive or have something to show for this time by yourself. The process of centering and calming your mind and heart will not result in a clean kitchen, but they can add years to your life if stress is a factor.
3)You have time for self-care
We know it’s good to meditate, hydrate, exercise, stretch and eat right. Yet, for those of us trying to carve out a life on planet earth, getting all that stuff done doesn’t feel like self-care. It feels like more stuff on our to-do list.
Be prepared to take a stand for your brand of self-care. Want to learn to knit? Take that as self-care time and find a youtube video that makes you laugh. Self-care doesn’t have to mean herbal tea and fine chocolate. Whatever lifts your spirit is self-care, so find something you enjoy or want and go for it!
4) You will make better decisions
We all have behaviors that we’re not proud of. Whether it’s drinking too much, overeating, or vegging out in front of a screen, these behaviors are often the result of decision fatigue. Getting up early, and knowing you need to get to bed early, limits the amount of time that you are in this state.
Simplify your tasks to avoid the option of bad decisions. If barbecue potato chips are the enemy that makes it hard to get on the scale, try doing your grocery shopping very early in the day after a healthy breakfast. You have a much better chance of bringing home healthy items. Don’t force your brain to make decisions when it’s low on sleep or food.
5) You keep things simple
It takes a bit of preparing, but if you wake up and see your gym clothes first thing in the morning, you’ll go to the gym. If you want to start meditating or journaling first, set these things out, so they’re the first thing you pick up.
This helps you plan out the end of your day, so the start of your day is more relaxed. In fact, you may find it easier to get to bed if you have a “wind-down” procedure, such as dimming the lights or avoiding computer or television screens for an hour before bedtime.
6) You have time to eat smart
Even if you’re not a fan of a big breakfast, getting up early will give you time to make a piece of toast, cut up some fruit for a salad or enjoy some yogurt. Even ten extra minutes can help.
You may also find time to run errands to make the end of your day more comfortable. Leaving your house 15 minutes early can help you stop and collect dry cleaning, pick up laundry soap or even order groceries for pickup later. This early morning errand process can also reduce the amount of stuff you need to maintain in your head because you won’t have to remember to take care of it. It’s done!
7) You beat the traffic
If your daily commute gets you wrapped around the axle and all stressed out before work, you just can’t do your best. Try getting on the road 15 minutes early.
In addition to avoiding road rage and stop and go traffic, getting up early may make you a good candidate for public transport or carpool. Let somebody else drive while you read or listen to a great book! This can save you money, reduce your stress level and help the planet.
8) You learn to cut back on caffeine
If you need to get up early, you’ll learn to prepare early. Stop drinking coffee and tea at noon. Step away from the soda machine! Even the diet soda you love is hard on your teeth and body. If you quit caffeine at noon, getting to bed earlier will not be a problem.
Take note that if you are under 40, you may be ingesting caffeine rather late in the day. For many of us over 40, every cup of coffee or glass of soda after 3 p.m. is a loss of sleep at bedtime. Help your aging brain by weaning off late in the day caffeine before you have to.
9) You get uninterrupted time
This will take some focus on your part, because any time you pick up your phone or look at your email, you’re setting yourself up for an interruption. Though, if you plan it right and leave your phone face down until you’ve addressed what you want to get done, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
Another great way to avoid distractions is to work with a timer. A simple kitchen timer, set to 10 minutes, is a great tool to help you meditate. Set it for an hour and enjoy some time to journal, work on your blog or build your online store.
10) You can feel a little superior
OK, this may sound a little snooty. Nevertheless, how many people do you know who hate mornings? How many people have you heard whine and complain about how they have to start the day so early? You can beat that by planning, scheduling, and starting your day focused on your goals.
Don’t pull a martyr and try to get support. Remember, you’re building a better life with those extra minutes. If somebody asks you how you’re accomplishing so much more, getting to work early or just handling life better, then you can explain your secret productivity formula.
So How Do I Start?
1) Planning, planning and more planning
You’re building a new habit, which is the equivalent of forming a new groove in your brain. Once this groove is established, thoughts and behaviors flow smoothly down that path. You don’t have to think about it if the thought process of engaging in the new behavior (getting up early) becomes automatic. Put your gym clothes in your own way, so they’re the first thing you see when you get up.
Prep the coffee pot, so all you have to do is hit the power switch. If you want to write, put together an outline of what you want to write before you go to bed. In fact, your brain may help you out by fleshing out some stories while you sleep!
2) Avoid forcing yourself into early morning decisions
Your brain will want to follow the path of least resistance as you build this new behavior. Don’t give yourself many choices. If your goal is to meditate first thing in the morning and you like to meditate by a candlelight, set out one candle and put the lighter as close to it as safely possible.
I find this a healthy way to meditate. The light helps me focus, and I don’t fall back to sleep. Besides that, a small amount of paranoia about burning down the house keeps me alert enough, even when meditating, to hear the timer when the time is up.
3) Pay attention to your self-talk
If your first thought is “ugh, I hate getting up early,” every time the alarm goes off, this probably won’t work. If instead, you remind yourself that you’re building the life you want and enjoying the fantastic gift of your existence, moving on with your day will be more comfortable.
A simple way to get a grip on your self-talk is to use the phrase, “I am so lucky to live this life,” as soon as you wake up. No complaining, no whining, just lucky. You have a bed and electricity, which puts you ahead of a lot of the world. Celebrate it!
4) No cell phone
If your cell phone wakes you up, put it across the room where you have to get up to collect it and turn it off. Then lay it face down and work on your early morning goals. Do not fall into the world of apps, updates, cat videos and Facebook fights.
This early morning time is a time for you to work on your stuff; your goals, dreams, and plans for the future. Nearly everything on your phone is everybody else’s crap. Should you take time when your brain is tired of watching cat videos? Absolutely. However, when your mind is fresh, put it to work.
5) Get out of bed
There are lots of great ways to affirm your life, celebrate your journey and focus your mind. Every one of them requires that you get out of bed when the alarm goes off. If you disrupt your sleep cycle and do fall back asleep, you will need at least an hour of uninterrupted sleep to pull your brain out of a drowsy state. Do not hit the snooze bar unless you intend to stay in bed for at least another hour. If not, get up.
Mel Robbins, in The 5 Second Rule, suggests a 5-4-3-2-1 countdown. If you act on the countdown, you may find yourself standing up in your pajamas with no memory of turning off the alarm. Whatever it takes to get you out of bed, do it.
What if I hate it?
Not everyone can learn the early morning process. Some folks are just night owls. If that describes you, then an early start isn’t the best option. Do try to spend part of your day in focus, avoid making big decisions early in the morning, and don’t forget that self-care process!
I can’t get 8 hours if I get up early!
Everybody’s body clock is very personal, and I don’t want to recommend an unhealthy sleep pattern. However, many people, particularly as they age, can’t sleep for 8 hours.
Additionally, it’s critically important to keep an eye on the quality of your sleep. Keep the bedroom dark and cool. No screens in the bedroom. If you have to have noise to sleep, get a noise machine or put a goldfish tank with water pump and bubbler in the bedroom. This white noise can help you settle down and get into deep sleep more quickly.
Finally, don’t hit the snooze bar!
Building a healthy and productive life is nearly impossible on a shaky foundation of bad habits. Getting up early in the morning is a great habit! You can ease into the day, wake your brain and body a bit more slowly and put some mental energy and work into the problems you need to address, and more importantly, the goals you plan to achieve.