For the next 100 days, I will get up before dawn.
In Vietnam, this means 5 am.
5 Ante Meridiem.
Just writing that makes me feel sleepy.
Yet here I am on day 2 and, truth be told, I’m kind of enjoying it.
Aside from the odd rooster crowing (who by the way is a total asshole), the rest of the world feels so … peaceful. It is dark, everyone is sleeping… I dig it.
It is also surprisingly easy.
In my ongoing quest to become a morning person I’ve read countless guides on ‘sleep hacking’. I’ve tested methods ranging from low-carb diets to sleep tracking, meditation to Feng Sui, varying pillow height to obnoxious alarm clocks… and although I’ve had some successes, they all feel like they overcomplicate the task.
So I started to strip away my ‘sleep-stack’ and discovered that under all the add-ons, there appears to be a wonderfully simple set of principles.
3 things which when done correctly are making it easy for me.
Here they are:
1. Be mindful before bed
2. Sleep well
3. Use a happy thought to inspire you out of bed.
Although they sound simple, when stacked together these three actions form a powerful set of habits that make it easy to wake up feeling refreshed, inspired and happy to start the day.
Best of all, I’ve found that using this stack I haven’t needed an alarm clock.
I’ll try to explain.
Our bodies have an amazing ability to give us what we need, but in order for it to do this, we have to give it what it needs.
In this case, it means sleep.
The only time you need an alarm clock is when you aren’t getting enough quality sleep.
Also, our bodies have an amazing ability to tell us what we need, the trouble is, we’ve forgotten how to listen to it. We continually drown out our inner voice with TV, Facebook and all manner of other methods of noise. If you’ve ever fallen asleep in front of the tv then you know this all too well.
To combat this, I take 10 minutes before bed to be mindful. Before I try and fall asleep, I close my eyes, focus on breathing and meditate. I let go of the day.
Mindfulness means different things to different people, and I’m not suggesting you need to do as I do. All I am suggesting is that you take a moment to ‘check-in’ and breath-out before bed.
Lastly, I think of a reason to look forward to the next day. It’s all too easy to let a fear be the driving force in our mornings. Waking up because you’re scared of being late for work is a horrible thought to wake up to.
Reclaim your morning by giving yourself something enjoyable to wake up to. For me, it’s the calming silence of sunrise, or having the time to pen posts like this.
Find an activity you love doing in the morning, affix it to your mind in the moments before you fall asleep.
Now I know this sounds overly simplistic, and maybe even a little ‘woo-woo’. But more times than not the best results come from the simplest of changes.
Getting up early might not be a challenge you want to undertake, but as a result of this challenge I’m learning something even more valuable — how to listen to my body.
So here’s a tiny challenge for you: take a quiet moment and ask yourself “What do I need?”
Then listen for a response.
You might be surprised by what you learn.