If you live in one of the 70 countries that change their clocks midyear for Daylight Saving Time, chances are you have developed an opinion about the time change—be it positive, negative, or neutral. While I am not necessarily thrilled about shorter days, I can say that I eagerly anticipate this time, because it feels like a fresh start. I get to peel back the layers of routines that no longer serve me and launch myself into habits that propel me closer to my grander goals, much of which require an investment of time. The key habit that I want to adopt during this time is waking up at 5 a.m.
To preface, I usually wake up around 6:30-7 a.m. Waking up in this time frame leaves me feeling more rushed than I would like and more often than not, I find myself having to choose between exercising, fostering a positive mindset, making progress on my writing goals and getting to work on time. By waking up at 5 a.m., I gain additional time that I can use to invest in myself before I head out into the world.
The fall time change is an ideal time to make this change, because for the first week or two of this time change, our bodies are still used to the summer clock, meaning that 9 p.m. feels like 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. feels like 6 a.m. This makes getting in bed and waking up earlier an easier process than it would be at any other time of the year, which is why I am using this as an opportunity to ease myself into waking up at 5 a.m. Here are a few things that I am doing to make this shift to an earlier start a consistent part of my routine.
Have a strong why
In order for me to stick to something, I have to know why I am doing it. This “why” is what motivates me to do sometimes challenging things in order to reach a greater goal. Waking up at 5 a.m. is appealing to me, because it gives me an extra window of time to dedicate toward self-care and building a writing career. After 8 a.m., I have other obligations like work, school, and a 5-year-old son that require my attention. If I do not carve out a couple of hours first thing in the morning to meditate, do yoga and write, chances are, this will not happen for the rest of the day. The reason I want to wake up at 5 a.m. is because doing so creates space for me to work towards my grander goals—when I sleep in, I miss out on a prime opportunity to grow as a person and as a writer. This why is what will pull me through the dark, cold mornings when I want nothing more than to sleep in another couple of hours.
Waking up at 5 a.m. begins the night before. If I do not get enough sleep, waking up early becomes counterproductive, as I feel exhausted the rest of the day and am essentially damaging my health in the name of productivity.
Whenever I want to begin waking up earlier, I start out by picking a reasonable bedtime and allowing myself an 8.5-9 hour window between the time I am in bed and when my alarm goes off in the morning. For the first couple of weeks, I tend to sleep for the full 8.5-9 hours. If I am consistent with this, eventually I begin to feel more rested and start to naturally wake up earlier. For now, I am aiming to get in bed between 9 and 9:30 with a consistent 6 a.m. wake up call. In 1 week, I will move my wake up time to 5:30 a.m. and the week after that I will start waking up at 5 a.m.
Put in place a relaxing evening routine
To make this process easier, I start winding down around 6 p.m. My ideal evening routine can be broken up into two parts, what I do before I get my son, Roman, in bed and what I do after he is asleep. Before Roman is in bed, I like to go for a walk/run around the block while he rides his scooter to get out any extra energy and connect with nature. Then I will do a quick house pickup for peace of mind before winding down with some yin yoga while Roman does kids’ yoga videos. Once Roman is in bed, I will (ideally) take a hot Epsom salt bath, journal about the day, and read before calling it a night.
Get creative with lighting
One of the challenges of waking up so early after the fall time change, is the fact that it is dark until around 6:30 a.m. This makes moving through my morning routine more difficult than it would be if the sun was already out. Not to mention, my body is slower to rise without the presence of the sun to give it the signal that it’s time to wake up. This seems like a relatively simple fix as I could just turn on the lights and go about my morning. The only thing is, I find fluorescent lights to be aggravating, especially before 6 a.m. What I have been doing instead is using a combination of candles, a humidifier and my fireplace to light up my living room and simultaneously set the tone for a gentle wake-up routine.
Establish a morning routine
What I do within the first hour or two of waking up sets the tone for the rest of the day, so it is essential that I am spending this time in a way that lights me up. Not to mention, one of my primary reasons for wanting to wake up at 5 a.m. has to do with my desire to propel myself closer to my grander goals. By putting in place a solid morning routine, I can prep my mind, body, and soul for the day ahead and establish a consistent writing practice that will inch me closer to becoming a published author.
This is what my morning routine looks like as of late: I meditate for 15 minutes and move through a 15-30 minute yoga flow before settling on the couch with 1 liter of warm lemon water and my laptop to write for one hour. I either work on blog posts, like this one, or I chip away at my own creative projects. After I finish writing, if I have the time—i.e if my family is still asleep or I have some time before I need to head off to work—I will do a 20 minute hypnosis to reprogram any limiting beliefs circulating through my subconscious mind. This routine takes about 2 hours and primes me beautifully for the rest of the day.
It is important to note that waking up at 5 a.m. is not for everyone. Some people do their best work in the evening hours, or may work later hours and require a later wake up call to make this happen. By all means, do whatever your schedule and sanity permits. For me, waking up at 5 a.m. gives me extra time to use for self care and creativity. If you are also wanting more time to invest in yourself before answering to the demands of the external world, right now may be an ideal time to do it, as the time change will make it easier for your body to adapt to the shift.
Also by Amanda: How To Make A Knockout DIY Salad Dressing, Every Time
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Danielle MacInnes and BABY via Unsplash