Out here in Wyoming we get more done by 10 A.M than those right-coasters do darn near all day. We pride ourselves on a exhausting work ethic and getting the most out of our bodies from sun up to sun down. Granted, sometimes we get full as a tick the night before and up sleeping in until 7 but for the most part we have to make sure to tip-toe as to not wake up the roosters. There are a heap of benefits to being an early riser, and here’s some lessons you can take to be cracking eggs before the crack of dawn.
Use Natural Light to Your Advantage
It’s pretty easy to sleep in when you’ve converted your room to a virtual cave. Dark sashes on the windows pulled tight makes it so you might not have an idea on whether it’s high noon or quarter ’til midnight outside. One way to get on the trail to waking up early is to use the natural light of the morning to your advantage. This can be accomplished by hanging either lighter curtains or just leaving them open when you turn in for the night but either way you won’t be able to hit snooze on the bright Wyoming sun.
Work Towards a Certain Time
Just as if you were addicted to sunflower seeds, it’s hard to gold cold turkey when giving them up. The same premise exists no matter what you’re working for in life – it takes actual work. It’s dang near impossible to go from rolling out of your bedroll at 11 A.M to trying to wake up at 5:30 and if you do you’ll look like the walking dead all morning. For the best success, work your way to an earlier wake up time so your body can adjust.
Try an App
Now personally I think today’s kids are spending way to much time on their phones, laptops, and tablet do-hickeys but it turns out those little apps can really be helpful in getting you out of bed in the A.M. There are programs to download that make you stand up before the alarm shuts off or that wake you up at the perfect time because your phone senses your optimum sleep cycle ending. Personally my dog Rusty who needs to go outside at 4:00 in the morning to go to the bathroom is the only app I need.
Have a De-Stressing Morning Activity Plan
Hunters leave the roost at about 3 in the morning because they want to get out into a good spot by daybreak. The reason their bodies let them wake up that early is because they want to not because they have to. Similarly if your first activity out of bed is to clean the house or do paperwork your brain will shut down but if it’s watching the morning news, having a cup of coffee, and reading the paper it’s easier to hop out of bed. Plan a stress free activity first thing in the morning that’s something to look forward to.
Go To Bed Earlier
It’s pretty much a no-brainer but the more sleep and rest you have the easier it will be to wake up early and you’ll function a lot better. It might be hard to go to bed too early but it’s possible if you use up more energy during the day (physical work, exercise) and clear your head at night (meditation, relaxation). Your body needs a set amount of sleep and for many of us that’s easier to compromise by going to bed earlier rather than sleeping in later in the morning.
Find the Right Alarm For Your Brain
Along the same lines of those phone apps that let force you to get on with your day are a varied amounts of alarm clocks and ringers. Depending on your body you might react better to a blaring noise that sounds like an air raid siren or a soft melodic tune that slowly shakes the cobwebs off your system. Be aware that experts say a slow, gradual greeting to the morning is often more productive (and safer) than the thundering sound of 19 bison coming through your wall but everybody reacts a little different.
Realize That the Snooze Button Is a Waste
Just like you can’t keep milking a cow after it’s empty to get more dairy product, sleeping past a certain length of time doesn’t have any additional productivity values and can actually hinder your mood. After your body has gone through it’s ideal REM sleep period you might as well just wake up. Sure you might naturally fell groggy and you still might be a little cranky but your body is going to be just as healthy either way so you might as well get on with your day.
Maintain the Schedule Through the Weekend
I’ve known plenty of people in my life that I call “5-Dayers” which means they completely shut it down on the weekend. It’s not uncommon running into them on a Monday morning and while explaining your active weekend they just respond, “I slept all weekend.” They’re not lying either as when 5-dayers head out on Friday night and say “see you Monday” they really mean they aren’t going to get out of bed for the next 50-60 hours. If you want to maintain the positive gains you’ve got in waking up early, avoid the temptation to sleep in until noon on the weekends or days off.
Understand the Benefits of Being an Early Riser
The benefits of waking up early are much more than an old wives tale. Studies show that people that associate themselves as ‘morning people’ are better planners, get better grades, are more proactive, and are more optimistic among other traits. That seems pretty easy to see why as those who get up early have resisted the urge of their body telling them to sleep and instead are doing something about it. Early morning on the ranch is definitely more peaceful and constructive and getting out of your bedroll at a decent hour simply gives you more daylight to be productive.
Granted there are some writers who would famously drink a bottle of scotch then start their workday at 7 PM to be more productive but most of us would be fear and loathing of a schedule like that. The majority benefits from an earlier wake-up so give it a shot.