A 19 year old asked me, how can I start waking up earlier? (I wake up at 10 AM every morning he explained to me.) I told him that at 19 you need more sleep (8–9 hours a night) than a 70 year old (6–7 hours a night) so you have to respect your physical need for extra sleep. Also, your body tends to wake up at a certain time no matter what time you go to bed. My father used to get up at 6 AM to go to work five days a week, and on weekends, he would wake up at 6 AM too. For you, your body is used to getting up at 10 AM.
So you also have to respect the fact that your body holds onto these patterns of sleep and if you want to change them, you’ll have to do it gradually. You could try going to bed a half hour earlier every night for a week or even a month in order to get used to a new, slightly earlier, wake up time. Repeat this pattern of going to bed earlier and earlier until you get to where you want to be.
There a lot of famous people who attribute much of their success to the habit of getting up early (usually around 5 AM) from Ben Franklin to Richard Branson. It was Franklin who wrote the famous limerick: Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. But it also helps to have something that you LOVE to do, to get you motivated to get up that early in the morning. For me, I LOVE to write. So I can’t wait to get up and spend a couple of hours writing first thing in the morning.
Stephen Covey, author of the best-selling self-help book, The Seven Habits of Effective People, wrote that finding uninterrupted blocks of time - where you can really focus on things that are important to you (like writing is for me) - is the key to success. Getting up at 5 AM almost guarantees that your first two hours of the day are going to be uninterrupted time. You can use that time for getting exercise, meditating, doing your homework, educating yourself, starting a business, or working on a long term project like writing a book. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to focus and concentrate first thing in the morning - after getting a good night’s sleep - once you get used to this schedule.
Covey also wrote about stealing minutes and hours from time-waster activities and shifting that time to doing things that are important to you. I accomplished this very simply when I realized how much time I was wasting watching TV: I decided I would turn the TV off at 9 PM and go to bed. (For you, time-waster activities could be any number of things from playing video games to spending time on social media to texting or talking on the phone.) You might decide that going to bed at 10 AM makes more sense for you or whatever time works to help you start waking up earlier.
On most nights I notice that I start yawning and feeling sleepy around 9 PM, and, in the old days, I would typically fight through that sleepy stage and stay up until around midnight when I started getting sleepy again. Now I don’t fight that first bout of sleepiness. Those first couple of yawns in the evening are always a signal that it’s time to turn off the TV and go to sleep. (Sure, every once in a while, I stay up late, but I don’t make a habit of it.)
As I said, I’m a writer, so what I do in the morning with my uninterrupted time is write. After I work for a couple of hours (I wrote this article from 5 AM - 7AM) I still have time to go to gym and get back well before a 9AM start for work. That trip to the gym helps set the stage for my body to be tired and in need of sleep when 9 PM rolls around again.
One last bit of advice: don’t drink coffee or caffeinated beverages after lunch time.
Get more information like this in your email: sign up for our newsletter