As someone who has always been an early riser, and by that anytime between 3am and 5am, I find the conceptualisation of a 5am club interesting. When I was growing up, I recall phrases such as ‘the early bird catches the worm’ and ‘early to bed, early to rise’, so I can only assume that waking up early has historically always been reflected as being advantageous for productivity and health.
Yogis practice sun salutations as part of every asana practice, and traditionally yoga, which has been around for thousands of years, is practiced before sun rise or just as the sun rises. My reference to yoga is in the complete sense and not just the asana practice. This further seems to assure me that rising early is not a new craze at all but a discipline which seems to have been brought to our attention and made popular. The name that springs to mind here is Robin Sharma, he of ‘The Monk who drove a Ferrari’ fame. So if the benefits of rising early has its roots situated in history, then what is my concern? Firstly it is the fact that the word ‘club’ has been linked to a pattern of sleeping and waking! This makes it exclusive or something we ‘should’ attain and also a ’man-made’ concept. There also seems to be a trend to associate waking at 5am with becoming financially wealthier and being more successful. This worries me because I feel it is feeding into a modern cultural believe that by doing one thing we can attain fame and fortune effortlessly and immediately!
Let’s start with some important but simple facts about what our bodies and our minds need. These are not listed in any specific order:
Food; good, whole, unprocessed foods, which should be eaten at the right times, this includes water and liquid)
Sleep and Rest: how much may vary between each of us.
Exercise, Movement and activity
Stillness: meditation or calm
Love and social interaction.
Our bodies have many similarities but I believe that they are unique. Having read and listened to blogs by Dr Tim Spector, I feel even more strongly that one day we will realise this and begin to shift how we understand our bodies and minds and so look after ourselves. Listening to people over the years talk about sleep and waking, I have realised that people classify themselves as early risers or night owls. I know people in both ‘camps’ who are efficient, productive and successful. I have also noticed, in my own observations of myself, friends and family, sleep and waking patterns change and are rarely fixed. This rhythm seems to change as we progress through life from babies through to later years of life. It also changes with other factors such as menopause, PMT and stress. Being aware of these factors and acknowledging these patterns is important to our well-being. I have covered tips and effective strategies on sleep in a previous blog post so I won’t go in to this here.
I also feel we need to be aware of when we are most productive; at night or before everyone rises in the morning or in the middle of the day? Is one time better for us than another? I am not convinced it is. I feel that we need to focus around enhancing the productivity in those periods as opposed to changing our whole rhythm. So is waking up at 5am going to make you more successful? Not directly! Let me tell you why.
If we decide to wake at 5am, we are setting a goal, having a target and making a plan. We will plan what to do in those few extra hours. Now planning and setting goals is a direct strategy to becoming successful and being more productive. Utilising our time effectively and prioritising.
Waking at 5 am is a habit which will need to be formed by consistent practice over a period months, up to 3 months according to some reports. The acts of forming a habit, being consistent, persistent, and disciplined in our approach, are traits which you will find in people who are successful.
Being a member of a ‘club’ is a way of having accountability. Accountability, is an important step towards success.
These three factors will be evident in all successful people.
Now if you have decided you want to start waking up at 5am then here are my tips for success:
- Acknowledge your current rhythm and begin by making a 3 month plan on how you will implement change.
- Change needs to be gradual and consistent.
- Start off by waking 30 minutes earlier than you normally do; one week for each 30 minutes and increase until you achieve the 5 am wake up.
- Set an alarm. DO NOT PRESS SNOOZE.
- Physically get out of bed, wash your face and do not return to your bed. Go into another room.
- In your plan have daily activities you wish to do. Preferable nothing which involves a laptop and initially not one which focuses on meditation or something which may send you to sleep. Going to the gym, yoga or a walk are great.
- GO TO BED EARLY. This is so important. Again as you wake 30 minutes earlier, go to bed, 20-30 minutes earlier too. You do not want to become sleep deprived as this will be detrimental to your health.
- Have a bed time routine and a wake time routine. Same things every day.
- Allow yourself at least 3 months to form the habit and remember it’s about persistent consistency.
- Once you feel confident about your 5am starts, that’s when I would recommend brings in aspects such a meditation and mindfulness.
- Your eating patterns may change so be mindful and aware of this.
- You may become sleepy during the initial change. If you can then have a 30 minute nap in the day. If this is not possible then you will have to ride it out. Again this is the point where you may consider if waking early is actually beneficial or are you just swapping productivity times from afternoon to morning so really achieving status quo.