New Habit: Waking Up Early

I’ll begin this brand-new blog with a post in which I discuss something I don’t necessarily do well, but something I’m trying to make a habit:

Waking up early.

How early?

5 a.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. on weekends.

Gross, I know.

I must add that I have never been referred to by anyone as a “morning person” and don’t under normal circumstances consider myself to be one. I never pulled an all-nighter in any school- or work-related situation, but for most of my college-and-beyond life, I’d probably say that I’m much more of a night owl than an early bird.

So about this 5 a.m. thing.

It may be common knowledge by now that many people who are considered successful (for example, CEOs) tend to be early risers. Research also shows that people who wake up earlier tend to be more optimistic and more emotionally prepared for the day ahead. Using that time to exercise also releases those feel-good endorphins and allows a person to knock out a workout that may otherwise be pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. It seems that having an hour or more of uninterrupted time at the beginning of the day can also be a really restorative experience–whether or not you meditate, experiencing the sort of quiet found in the early hours of the day, even for only a few moments, can put you in a positive frame of mind.

In recent years, I’ve learned how glorious it is to get enough sleep during the workweek and not accumulate an enormous sleep debt to pay off on weekends–I don’t need to drag myself out of bed if I go to bed at a relatively decent hour. I also noticed in graduate school that I could accomplish a lot of work–both initial research, drafting, and final revisions to term papers–by dragging my ass to the library, or at least to my personal computer, at an ungodly hour (which sometimes happened to be at 5 a.m.). Plus, I’d rather exercise in the morning rather than after work, when it feels like more of a task than an important component of my life.

In short, the empirical research, anecdotes and personal experiences on the topic adds up to a substantial pile of evidence in support of getting out of bed 45 minutes earlier on a workday. Just 45 minutes.

This new approach to life–how I start each day–is a habit, a behavior that takes time to form. Today, for example, I did in fact drag myself out of bed at 7 a.m., a full two hours later than I had intended. (However, this was a conscious, albeit groggy-minded, decision I made after having a rough night’s sleep and knowing that I didn’t need to rush to the office.)

However, I’m still committed to turning this positive change into a lasting habit. So what if today was a bust? There’s always tomorrow.

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