Look at the following quotes and tell me they don’t motivate you to become an early riser:
- “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” — Aristotle
- “The time just before dawn contains the most energy of all hours of the day. This has helped me become an early riser and an early doer . . . When I wake to see that it’s light out already, I feel the world has started without me.” — Terri Guillemets
- “The early morning has gold in its mouth.” – Benjamin Franklin
Are you ready to commit to becoming an early riser? If so, this post will help you get started. Below you’ll discover seven things to stop doing to become an early riser.
1. Stop Mindlessly Watching TV Late At Night. Obviously, if you stay up late watching TV you’ll have a tough time getting up the next morning. And, let’s face it, it’s easy to zone out in front of the TV and let yourself binge watch your favorite TV shows late at night (I’m currently being tempted by “Sons of Anarchy”).
With the new season of “House of Cards” being released soon, it’s more important than ever to set limits on your TV time. To stop mindlessly watching TV late at night, establish a specific window of time during which you’ll allow yourself to watch TV, and limit your viewing time to that window. This probably means the following:
- You’re going to have to be more selective when it comes to choosing which TV shows you’re going to follow. Just follow the shows you truly love.
- In addition, you’ll have to force yourself to wait for the resolution of the cliff hanger of your favorite shows until the next day, even if the next episode of the show is already available (tough, I know).
Follow this same strategy if your late night addiction is playing video games, playing games on Facebook, or even reading vampire novels.
2. Stop Working Late at Night. A lot of people tell themselves that they’re most productive at night, and that they have their best ideas at 3:00 a.m. If you fall into this category, your late-night work habit is probably the major obstacle that you’re facing on your journey to becoming an early riser.
One strategy you can try is to give yourself a 9:00 a.m. challenge. The challenge is to spend 90 minutes working on your most important task of the day before 9:00 a.m. This challenge does two things for you:
- It gives you a deadline. Procrastinators are often productive at night because they’re being pushed by the deadline of having to finish their task for the day before they’re too tired to work any longer. They can use this same strategy for being productive in the morning by setting a 9:00 a.m. deadline for their most important task.
- In addition, it’s very likely that by taking this challenge you’ll discover that—like most people–you’re more productive in the mornings rather than late at night.
3. Stop Sitting In Front of Your Computer Until Your Bedtime. You should turn off your computer and all electronic devices in the hours before your bedtime. The artificial light that electronic devices emit—which is called blue light–keeps you alert and suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.
Aim to turn off all of your electronic devices two hours before bedtime. If you simply have to use your smartphone, tablet or computer close to your bedtime, try doing the following:
- Turn down the brightness, ensuring that the device is at least 12 inches from your eyes.
- Use an app that dims the lighting on your screen at night. One option is f.lux.
- Use amber-tinted glasses that block blue light.
4. Stop Drinking Caffeine After Noon. Caffeine is a stimulant, and it disrupts sleep. A study conducted by researchers at Michigan’s Henry Ford Hospital’s Sleep Disorders & Research Center and Wayne State College of Medicine sheds some light on the time at which you need to stop drinking caffeine in order to get a good night’s sleep.
The researchers found that caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed reduced total nightly sleep amounts by more than 1 hour. That is, even if you fall asleep at the time you want to after having consumed caffeine in the afternoon, the quality of your sleep will be affected. To avoid sleep disruption, do the following:
- Stick to a 2 o’clock cut off. Drinking caffeine can be a good thing. It can give you energy and make you more alert. However, you should drink caffeine at the right time. Try to restrict your caffeine consumption to the morning hours. If you do have a midday cup of coffee, drink it before 2 p.m.
- Ease up on the caffeine as the morning progresses. Start the day with your most highly caffeinated beverage and ease up on the caffeine as the morning goes on. For example, have a strong cup of coffee in the morning but then have tea for your mid-morning coffee break.
5. Stop Relying on Willpower Alone. When you rely on willpower, which is a limited resource, you’re pushing yourself to carry out a specific action. However, when there’s something that you really want to do, intrinsic motivation will help you to carry out the task. And there’s no shortage of intrinsic motivation.
If you don’t have something to look forward to as soon as you wake up in the morning, only sheer willpower will get you out of bed. However, scheduling something you look forward to early in the morning will practically pull you out of bed. Here are some things you can consider doing first thing when you wake up to make sure that you’ll be bounding out of bed:
- Have everything you need on hand to prepare your favorite breakfast (delicious food will get me out of bed any day).
- Enroll in an early exercise class that you love, such as Zumba or a hula hoop class.
- Schedule your favorite activity in the early morning, such as writing, drawing, or going out to walk in the countryside and take photos.
- Work on a passion project first thing.
6. Stop Trying to Force Yourself to Go to Sleep at the Same Time Every Night. You should definitely aim to be ready for bed by the same time every night. However, don’t go to bed until you’re sleepy. If you’re waking up at the same time every morning, the time at which you start to get drowsy at night will vary depending on how tired you are that day. Look at the following:
- On days in which you had more to do than usual, or if you didn’t sleep well the night before, you’ll naturally want to go to sleep earlier at night.
- On days in which you’re less tired you’ll naturally want to go to sleep later at night.
To sum up: get up at the same time every day, and be ready to retire at the same time every night, but don’t go to bed until you’re tired.
7. Stop Hitting the Snooze Button. Everything that’s been explained so far is simply preparation for the key moment in becoming an early riser: the moment in which your alarm rings. What do you do when your alarm goes off? Do you get up immediately, or do you hit the snooze button and stay in bed?
If you hit the snooze button you’re not only missing your target wake-up time, you’re also restarting your sleep cycle. This means that when the alarm goes off a second time it’s very likely that you’ll be at an earlier and deeper part of your sleep cycle, which will make it even more difficult for you to get up.
Here are some strategies you can use to stop hitting the snooze button:
- Put your alarm on the other side of the room so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off. An alternative is to put one alarm next to your bed, and another, louder alarm that will ring a minute later across the room.
- Set your coffee maker to start brewing your coffee just before your alarm rings so that you wake up to the smell of coffee. The arousing aroma of coffee will activate your brain and help you wake up.
- Get an alarm that forces you to do something, such as an Android alarm that makes you get up and scan an item so that it will turn off. There’s also an iPhone alarm that makes you do math.
- Use an outlet timer for your lamp so that you have light shining in your face right when you wake up.
In order to become an early riser, stop doing the things which prevent you from getting up early in the morning. That is, stop doing the seven things explained above. Live your best life by becoming an early riser.
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