Hello, everyone! It's been a year since I began to wake up at 5 AM and I feel great. Before that, I thought I was an owl and was waking up in the afternoon, but now my day has changed beyond recognition.
Why wake up at 5 AM? The motivation is simple: extra three hours of productive work before 8 AM. We take the hours from 9 PM to 12 AM, the least productive time (as there is no energy left to work on our projects after the main work), and move it to the morning.
As a result, we get an extra year of work for every eight years of our lives. If you are going to live to 80 years, it is an extra seven and a half, or 65,700 hours of hardcore productive work on your projects (not counting the first 20 years of life for obvious reasons).
If you still believe in 10,000 hours required to achieve mastery, you realize it's a sin not to take advantage of that time. And if 24 hours a day is too short for you, here're an extra three hours thanks to the early rise.
Many people think that working at night is the most productive thing ever because no one distracts you. Believe me: it's even better from five to eight in the morning — no one is awake! The body gets in harmony with circadian rhythms, and you reduce the chance of cancer because the so-called night shifts are already recognized by some countries as carcinogens.
Keep in mind: waking up at 5 AM is not for everyone. If it doesn't work for you, it's okay, no one is trying to attack you or your way of life. My only argument is that three hours in the morning are more productive than three hours in the evening. If it's not true for you, everything is still fine, it just means that this article will not suit you. This article is written for people like me, whose three hours in the morning are more productive than three hours in the evening. Thank you for understanding!
Now I know that only the people who really want to get up at 5 AM continued to read this article. Let me confess: I have learned all my theoretical knowledge from the books "Why We Sleep" and "Circadian Code" (I suggest you read both), and the practical knowledge comes from my own experience.
Some pieces of advice from the books worked, some didn't — in the end, I came up with 18 simple rules and tips that will help anyone change their regime and start waking up at 5 AM.
Bonus: I polled 10 people (I know, it's statistically insignificant, but this is all the data I've gathered, take it with a grain of salt) on what helped them most to improve their sleep quality. It's also self-reported, so may be skewed or plain wrong, but I'll add an average value of each advice where available. 0 — didn't help, 5 — helped a lot. I will also add number of respondents who tried each piece of advice and rated it.
So what do you do
- Don't try to rebuild your body overnight. Take the difference between your usual wake up time and five in the morning, divide it by ten, and roll back your alarm daily by this time interval. If you wake up at eight in the morning, pull the alarm back 18 minutes every day until you reach five in the morning. Source. (4.5 — 8 people)
- Go to bed at least eight hours before you wake up. You don't need eight hours of sleep, you need eight hours in bed with your eyes closed. You need to allow your body to sleep for 8 hours, not to actually sleep 8 hours at this stage. Source. (3.7 — 9 people)
- Turn on the blue light filter on all devices at sunset. Source. (4.8 — 6 people)
- Turn on the black and white filter ("Bedtime mode" on Android, "Color Filters" on iOS) on your mobile phone at 8 PM. Source. (4.0 — 2 people)
- Take a hot shower before going to bed (extending the capillaries will help cool down your body). Source. (4.4 — 5 people)
- Before going to bed, fully air the room so that it cools down to 17-18° C (it is easier to fall asleep in a cold room). Source. (4.4 — 7 people)
- Make sure you have ~22°C in your room by the time you wake up (it is easier to wake up in a warm room). Source. (5.0 — 2 people)
- Buy a cheap light bulb that will turn on at 4:30 AM in your room or smart lights that will turn on at 4:30 AM. It is very important to get light exposure when you wake up (and before that). Source. (3.0 — 2 people)
- Sleep in a dark silent room. No TV or music to fall asleep. Darkness and silence. 1-2 hours before bedtime dim all the lights. Source. (N/A)
- Do not drink caffeine in the afternoon (caffeine half-life is eight hours). Tea stronger than white tea often contains more caffeine than coffee. Pop also contains caffeine. Source. (3.9 — 7 people)
- Get a simple tracker that tracks deep sleep phases. Try to prolong the deep sleeping phases. Source. (3.5 — 2 people)
- You can try the Sleep Cycle app or the Sleep as Android app (you don't need extra devices there), but from my experience, their tracking is worse than fitness bands. But you can track how much you snore with the apps: the less you snore, the better is your sleep quality. Source. (4.0 — 2 people)
- Play with the height of the pillow (try higher and lower pillows) and try finding the perfect height the pillow for lengthening deep sleep phases and reducing the amount of snoring. Source. (3.6 — 3 people)
- It is advisable not to consume calories three hours before sleeping (not eating at all, i.e. just drinking water and light teas). Sugar, small snacks, milk are all calories. Source. (3.4 — 5 people)
- Do not exercise two or three hours before bed and do not take a cold shower before bed. Source. (3.9 — 4 people)
- Do not spend time in bed if you cannot sleep. The more you do this, the harder it will be for you to fall asleep. If you can't sleep, get up and do something productive, then when you are tired, go to bed again. Source. (3.2 — 7 people)
- Forget about the snooze button and setting multiple alarms. Every time you wake up with an alarm clock, there is a peak load on your cardiovascular system. Don't wear it out, get up with the first alarm. Source. (4.4 — 7 people)
- Don't drink alcohol in the afternoon. Yes, it's better to drink before noon, then you'll be completely sober by 9 PM. Alcohol can make it seem easier to go to sleep, but it kills any attempt to increase deep sleep. And having no deep sleep is almost the same as not sleeping at all. Source. (5.0 — 2 people)
548 people successfully use this technique
You can apply the tips above and you will start getting up at 5 AM on your own. But our community and I decided to go a bit further and created a Telegram group with a simple rule: write a message when you wake up and when you go to bed.
Essentially it is a simple diary with a social contract to back up your intentions — and a group where we share advice and research on sleep.
And yes, it's just a group of like-minded people, it will never be monetized (groups in Telegram are free), we don't sell anything there, we don't promote anything, and the only benefit for us is having control over our day.
If you have any questions left, feel free to ask them in comments! Well, we're waiting for you in the Telegram group. It's time to start getting up at 5 AM!
Updated on 08-08-2020: added links to scientific research.
Updated on 25-08-2020: I've build a simpler website that you can share with friends and family with less text: fixsleep.link. Enjoy!
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And try out Todorant. It's my main project — a smart todo list that tricks the primitive part of the brain to get things done. It is the only thing that helped me to become as productive as I am right now.