On hauling myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m.

photo: taqumi/Creative Commons
Note the Moleskine notebook — my favourite! (photo: taqumi/Creative Commons)

I want to become an early riser, but why, oh why, does it have to be so excruciatingly painful?! I suppose there’s irony in the fact that I’m an early riser no matter what, simply by virtue of the fact that I have two little people who wake up predictably before 7:00 every day, yet here I am wanting to push that back even further. That’s just the price of quiet alone time in my life.

When my alarm goes off at 5:30, my bed has never felt warmer or softer than it does at that very moment. My husband’s body is like a non-stop hot water bottle that emanates heat from the other side and keeps me toasty all night long. It takes every ounce of self-discipline to leave the duvet, pull on some warm clothes, and tiptoe down the creaky stairs, praying that my kids don’t wake up. Once I start the kettle and wash my face, I’m happy to be up, but it’s just getting to that point that’s really hard.

Why do I want to torture myself in this way? Because I accomplish things! My mind is relaxed, open, alert, and there’s total silence all around. Creative thoughts seem to flow more easily early in the morning, as I sip my tea, wrap my legs in a cozy blanket, and meet my deadlines for Parentables first thing, without letting them drag on into the late morning. I also like being up already when my kids get up. Since my baby has recently been weaned, there’s no awkward “keep-the-boob-away-from-him-or-he’ll-want-it” while cuddling in bed.

I really liked this article written by Katie Morton called “Thoughts on Becoming an Early Riser: Plus 4 Tips for Getting Up Early.” She writes how establishing her dream lifestyle requires sacrifice. The rest of the world has to get up when they don’t feel like it, so why wouldn’t she if it makes a big difference in how her day goes? I can relate because I’m lucky enough to do my own thing at home, but still require discipline to make it worthwhile. The fact is, if I don’t get up before the kids to write, then pretty much the only time I get is in the evening, when my brain is noticeably slower and more tired than it is in the morning. Morton offers four excellent tips for getting up early:

1) Get Rid of a Set Bedtime
Allow yourself the flexibility to go to bed when you’re ready to sleep, instead of tossing and turning pointlessly forever. That being said, going to bed at a reasonable hour (i.e. before 11, for me) makes getting up early much easier.

2) Cut Back on Caffeine
Well, I don’t entirely agree. I need my cup of coffee in the morning, but I wait till after breakfast to have it. A hot cup of tea hits the spot first thing.

3) Read before Bed
This makes sense. Studies have shown that looking at screens before bedtime inhibits one’s ability to fall asleep. There’s less of a transition from lights-on to lights-off, and you can also make a dent in your reading list!

4) Nap if you feel the urge
I do this on an almost daily basis — nap when the kids go down at 1 pm. I don’t know what I’d do without that nap. Even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes that I sleep, I feel rejuvenated and energetic enough to face the rest of the afternoon

By writing this post and making my intentions public, there’s a degree of accountability that hopefully will help me stick to my resolution. I want to get up early at least three mornings out of five because it makes me a more creative, efficient adult. We’ll see how it goes…

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13 thoughts on “On hauling myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m.

  1. I regularly get up at 5:30 now and I love the quiet and the sense that anything can happen today. I especially love it at the cottage as I get to see the wildlife either beginning or ending their day. The downside is going to bed so early makes me feel like a kid, but you can’t have it at both ends. Here is a book for your reading pile: A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker. It’s a small book, less that 200 pages. It’s about a man who decides to start getting up long before his family wakes. He lights a fire with a single match and then sits and ruminates about his work, his family, his life. When the book of matches is finished, he goes back to rising at his regular time. It’s a beautiful little gem, very insightful and somehow calming.

  2. I’ve found it easier to get out of bed when I get to bed close to a set time. The theory is that we sleep in approximately 90 minute cycles and we will awake the most rested at the end of the cycle. I use this website to figure out when I should try to sleep. http://sleepyti.me/

    1. Wow, I never knew that. Do you find it actually makes a difference? I think I’d have trouble programming myself to fall asleep at an exact time, more or less, but worth a try! That morning grogginess is no fun at all.

      1. Works for me most of the time. 7.5 hours is perfect. 6 or 9 also work. If I’m woken up in between I feel like a zombie. Bed at 10:30, sleep at 11, wake up at 6:30 feeling awesome. Bedtimes are key.

    2. I’ve herd of this too, but haven’t looked into it myself. I know of a few friends who swear by this and have used the same website. Perhaps I should finally take a peek for myself…

  3. It’s easier for me to get up early (5:30) in the Spring and Summer time, when the sun is shining. I really want to snuggle up in bed when it is dark outside, or rainy. I must have a slight S.A.D. luckily I only have to please a dog, not any small children.

    1. I totally agree that it’s easier in the spring and summer! Sunshine makes such a difference. But in the winter, once I’m up, it feels kind of cozy being along in the dark.

  4. It is such a battle to get myself out of bed, and battle is really putting it lightly! It really is a matter of the devil on one shoulder versus the angel on the other in my bed every single morning! Your so right, when the alarm goes off is coincidentally when I suddenly find the most comfortable spot on my pillow, or when the blankets just happen to completely surround me like a big warm bear hug – how can I just ignore that? That being said, I’ve never once regretted ripping the covers off and getting up early. There is something so beautiful about the early morning, the calm and quiet in my house makes me feel like the entire world is still sleeping.

    Sometimes in the summer we spend time at a cottage with my family. I take advantage of not being the only adult in the house and take off for an early morning run. To be out and about when the sun first comes up – and even better, be at the beach to watch it come up! – is one of the greatest feelings.

    I’m always more productive when I’m up early, which has never made any sense to me. More sleep should give me more energy and therefore make me MORE productive but that really isn’t the way it works. I should really just stop fighting it and quit hitting the snooze….

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