Have you ever wished that you could be a morning person? Wake up at 5 am, do your meditation, workout and be at your desk at 7:30 am and work on your passion project for a focussed 3 hours?
If yes, then let me tell you how I managed to wake up at 5 am every day for 21 days.
It is said that to form a habit you need to do it for 21 days straight. That is precisely the reason, I got up every day at 5 am for twenty-one days.
Here is my story and how I did it.
I never thought I could do it. I have always been very sleepy. In my teen’s I always remember all I did was sleep all night and all day. I slept so much that I would forget to do my homework and every day I would be reprimanded by my tuition teacher and made to feel guilty like hell.
Ridiculing the concept of 5 am
So when I came across the concept of the 5 AM Club I made fun of the entire thing. I thought it was only meant for billionaires. How could we ordinary mortals be able to get into a quiet zone and slip under the sheets by 9 pm or have dinner before 7 pm?
But this lockdown made all that possible. Since I work from home and don’t have any place to go. I am in complete control of my routine. Since washing dishes is a big pain, I stick to two meals a day plan.
Apps are now an indispensable part of our lives. I have used the following apps to achieve my goal of waking up at 5 am every day. I will briefly explain how these apps help.
If there is just one app you want to choose from this bunch of recommendations then Alarmy is the one you should go for. Alarmy rings like no other alarm, once you dismiss it, it asks you to solve some puzzle or math. I choose math, it wakes up my brain.
Breath is essential. Breathe app has some breathing exercises which help you feel awake.
Hands down the best yoga app in the market. They were so sweet, that when I told them their app is expensive, they just gave me a free 6 months trial. That’s compassion with business.
I hate to admit, but I cannot fall asleep without meditation or soothing music. Somedays I can fall to sleep in 10 minutes, some days it takes an hour. But I need soothing music, and I have tried the various apps and the Balance app is the best out there.
What time should you go to bed?
Myth — An adult body needs 7 hours of sleep every day.
I think we don’t understand our bodies and sleep well enough to conclude. It is a known fact that if you eat less you need to restless. Sleep means resting. So, rest can be done, standing, sitting, or listening to music. It is an art on how to relax while not fast asleep. I am averaging about 5 hours of sleep every day. Worse is 3 hours and the best is 6.5 hours. The day I sleep for only 3 hours, I tend to take several 20 mins naps. I use the Balance app and time those naps. The app wakes me up after 20 mins. A couple of naps works well.
So don’t worry about how much sleep you get, but try to have a very early dinner. I sometimes have my dinner before 5 pm. But my digestion is sluggish. I need 5 hours to break before dinner to fall asleep by 10 pm.
Remember the famous industrialist B K Birla said
“ An hour of sleep before midnight is as good as two hours of sleep post-midnight”.
Setting up an intent the night before
If you set the intention of what you want to do first thing in the morning the night before, it works better and you automatically wake up. I have realised if I set up the intent the previous night, I wake up at 4 am instead of 5 am. This is not particularly great as I get only 3/4 hours of sleep.
Now that you have your bedtime sorted out, let us see how to wake up and stay awake
Tips to make you feel awake
Below are some tips to wake you up. Sometimes the body and the mind needs a bit of help!
The first thing I do after I dismiss the alarm is to rub my hands vigorously and then touch the warm hands to my face. I got this tip from Sadguru.
Rubbing both hands activates your nerves. Yes, something like that. It just works.
I use the breathe app to wake up my mind. Around 5.10 am I do the breathing exercises for 2 mins. It is 6 seconds inhale (nose) and 2 seconds exhale (mouth). It makes you feel much more alert.
Tidy up your bed
I am not so good at this, but doing the bed as soon as possible is a great way to again tell your mind that sleep is over and the day has begun.
Drinking warm water
Now you need to get your plumbing system working. Drink warm water as soon as possible as you wake up. I drink about 500/750ml but if you can drink more, go for it.
Doing the first thing which excites you the most
This varies for me every day. Someday I am so excited about some work I need to finish, that I wake up and sit on my desk and work for 2 hours straight. Somedays I just feel like going out for a walk and listening to some interesting podcasts. Some days when the body feels rather stiff and too tired for a walk outdoors, I start with yoga using my downdog app.
Benefits of waking up at 5 am
In case you still want more motivation, below I am listing some benefits I have experienced by waking up at 5 am.
Increase in willpower
There are many things out of our control in our lives. This creates a lot of dread and is a constant source of stress. In such times, you need to do whatever is in your control to counterbalance the “out of control” feeling.
Overcoming your inertia is a great way of developing willpower.
Peace of mind
This is the most important reason I choose to wake up at 5 am.
I used to generally feel sleepy even when I used to wake up at 7:30 am or 8 am. I used to feel a certain kind of “brain fog” thing. The feeling would sometimes last the entire day. It was like going through the entire day in a sleep-deprived state. Ironically, sleeping less and waking up at 5 am and completely got rid of my ‘brain fog”. I am so struck by this, that I think this topic alone should be researched.
No more “Time Famine”
When I used to wake up late, I always felt that I was chasing my to-do list from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. Now with a few more hours, the constant dread of “time famine” has disappeared. In case you are feeling overwhelmed this waking up habit will work wonders for you.
Half sleep half awake meditative state
Also, when you are somedays in a half sleep-wake state, it helps you visualise your actions and solutions. It is a passive way of working out the issues in your head before you get down to nuts and bolts. I highly recommend the visualisation technique to avoid wasteful activities.
Waking up at 5 am creates a buffer time
There was a day I got sick. I couldn’t sleep until 3 am. I knew there was no point waking up at 5 am, I needed to rest. I changed the alarm to 7 am and went back to sleep.
Now imagine if your regular waking up time is 7:30 am or 8 am and you fall sick the previous night and cannot sleep. But still, you need to wake up and get to work. You have no buffer time, so you wake up tired and either you skip on your work commitment or go to work tired and irritated.
Buffer time is created at both ends because now you are in a habit of sleeping a couple of hours early and wake a couple of hours early. You can cheat at both ends. Though I generally cheat on my ‘going to bedtime” and don’t mess with the 5 am wake-up time.
Waking up at 4 am
Now, I thought I had made it. But Youtube keeps recommending me videos on the benefits of waking up at 4 am. Should I do it? Ridiculous!!!! No fucking way!!!
One last tip — If your body and mind are not ready for this don’t do it. I feel it has come to me very effortlessly. So I advise caution.
Drop me a line if you need help on waking up at 5 am.