That’s how early I was waking up and hitting the pavement to run. Every morning…
It was crazy, to be honest.
But I was extremely motivated for an upcoming 5k that I was competing in and it was giving me huge drive to be up, and running, before work.
Eventually, I was able to run my 5k and still maintain my early routine, but around Christmas I got sick… Which basically reset my sleep schedule and made it extremely difficult to start waking up early.
Now I’m back on the path to waking up early and I want to share the tips that are working for me and how you can implement them into your own routine, if you also want to become an early riser.
1. Make It Automatic
Have you ever heard of Pavlov? Maybe you’ve heard of Pavlov’s dogs? If you haven’t, Pavlov was a Russian scientist who, in the 1890’s, conducted a small test, and learned that he could train his dogs to do things, just by playing a particular sound.
His test showed that he could ring a bell, show a dog a treat, and the dog would salivate in anticipation of getting that treat. After a few rounds of this, Pavlov could then remove the treat from the equation, simply ring the bell, and the dog would still salivate, despite there being no treat.
Now, we’re not dogs, but understanding that we can train our bodies using similar methods, can help us to become early risers. What we are aiming to do is train our bodies, so that when it hears the sound of the alarm clock, we immediately get out of bed.
We start this process by setting our alarm clock for the normal time that we already wake up. So if you typically wake up at 7 AM, and rush to get to work. That’s okay. We want to start training our bodies with the normal time we already wake up, even if we are always in a rush.
It’s very important that we start where we already are. Don’t try to be wishful and think, “Oh I’ll start at 6:45 today” when you haven’t even been getting up at 6:45 since pre-covid….
Set your alarm for when you already, normally, get out of bed.
Now when that alarm goes off, before you turn the alarm off. Jump out of bed. Literally, get out of bed the second that alarm goes off. This shouldn’t be too terribly difficult if you’ve set your alarm for the correct time you already, naturally get out of bed, so… again…be sure you’re setting the correct time.
The key element here is that when your body hears that alarm sound, it’s response is to get out of bed quickly. What we’re essentially doing is training our bodies response to the sound of the alarm, similar to Pavlov training his dogs to salivate, at the ring of a bell.
2. Make It Small, but Always More Challenging
Along with training our bodies we also need to progressively move our wake up time towards our target time. So if we want to train our bodies to wake up at 5:45 AM, we need to start working in that direction. The trick to doing this is actually understanding how our minds tend to work as we aim for a goal.
When we set goals, we naturally tend to think, “What’s the truest way to reach my goal?” but this also tends to include, “What’s the fastest way?“
Our minds naturally want to find the most efficient path to reaching our goal, so that we can obtain that goal, and benefit from it, but this is also where we make our mistake.
What I’ve seen happen in myself, and other people, is that we tend to get caught up in getting to our goal. It overwhelms the actual process to getting to that goal, and the moment anything happens that looks like it might not be as easy to reach your goal as you thought, things start to fall apart.
BUT, there’s a way around this and it’s as simple as not worrying about how quickly you are getting to your goal. When we’re talking about waking up early, and our target time is 5:45 AM, we should not be taking 15 minute jumps on when our alarm goes off, compared to when we typically wake up. We should instead slowly, over-time, move our alarm clock backwards.
This small process, of making these tiny incremental changes, along with training your body to react to the sound of your alarm clock, will train you to wake up early.
I’m currently dialing my alarm clock back 5 minutes everyday as I work towards my goal time. I’m sure I will have a day where I miss or I will reach a time where it seems like I can’t wake up.
When that happens, I’ll adjust my alarm clock back 1 minute to my last successful wake up time instead. Then I’ll slowly adjust back by 1 minute, until I feel like I’ve overcome that more challenging spot in the process. Then I’ll go back to adjusting by 5 minutes.
The idea is that we want to make these tiny steps every day. We don’t want to try and rush to reach our wake up time. People rush to reach their goals all the time. It’s why fad diets are a thing and why they don’t work. Don’t rush. Let the process roll out overtime and put more focus on just always make a small improvement and you’ll get there.