Throughout my sophomore year, I was proud of going to bed at 9:30 PM and waking up at 5:30 AM. However, I started to have more homework and tests in my junior year. Once proud of being an early bird, I noticed I was being a hypocrite. I was telling my peers that I would sleep early and wake up early but I didn’t follow that principle anymore. Over time, I started to transition into sleeping at 11:30 PM and waking up at 7:30 AM. Although I still got 8 hours of sleep, I didn’t feel good about myself. For instance, I would wake up on the weekends and notice it was 8 AM. The sun already rose and I was still dreaming half of the time. The precious time of solitude and silence that I used to have was gone. Tired of this vicious cycle, I decided to make a radical move: go back to my old sleep schedule.
Before explaining how to develop this habit, I will address why waking up early is better than waking up late. I acknowledge that some people have different circadian cycles, so I understand that an early schedule is unhealthy for them. Still, it doesn’t hurt to try new habits. To start off, think about what you do an hour or two before you sleep. For me, that would be reading random articles and forum posts. For others, it may be watching TV shows or scrolling social media. Activities like these are, but they only make you stay up later and waste time. From a weekday perspective, it is better if you sleep early instead of studying for a test when you feel tired. Although you can finish studying all in one night, you don’t have enough energy to study efficiently. Therefore, why not go to bed early and then wake up early? By waking up early, you are able to have alone time by working on an important project that can get crossed off on your to-do list.
While some entrepreneurs may be adamant that one should wake up at a certain time (e.g. 5:00 AM), the ideal time (4:30 AM-6:30 AM) is based on one’s needs. To achieve this goal, gradually adjust your sleep schedule. It is not possible to drastically sleep 2 hours earlier. Instead, sleep 15 minutes earlier each day and within a week you will reach your goal. An effective yet simple method to sleep earlier is to not use any electronics an hour before you sleep. For me, I used the downtime function from screen time on iPhone to shut down all apps except for emergency ones (e.g. phone, message, etc.) at 9 PM. For my computer, I decided to define 8:30-9 PM as the time interval when I should log off. If the urge is irresistible, you should charge your phone in the room because there is no need to communicate with others late at night. Put your computer in another room so it prevents you from accessing it right in front of you.
Once you start sleeping early, the challenge is waking up early. It is easy to snooze the alarm and keep sleeping, but this problem can be combated by thinking of a motivational quote. If I don’t feel motivated to wake up early, I write down this quote before I sleep: today I will do things that others won’t so tomorrow I can do things others can’t. Sometimes, I would say the quote right after I woke up to force myself to live by the quote. Another factor that motivated me to wake up was that I viewed the hours before sunrise as an opportunity. When I am tempted to go back to my covers, I think back to why I woke up early. I chose to wake up early by choice because I can establish a productive routine, helping me set the right mindset for the rest of the day. I woke up early not to waste time on the computer, but to work on something that I would have procrastinated on in the future.
As I gradually adopted my old sleep schedule, I started to see new benefits. On the weekends, I was able to wake up at 7 AM. Despite the fact it was only a 1-hour difference, I was the first one to wake up in the family so it was a nice reminder that I had a head start. By sleeping an hour or two earlier, I was less likely to spend my winding down hours scrolling through the internet. Even if I would occasionally spend my time on academics on Friday or Saturday night, my brain was already half asleep. Also, it feels amazing to see the sunrise outside my window.
In general, waking up early is beneficial because it forces you to sleep early by getting off distracting activities. Also, using your early waking hours encourages you to pursue independent activities. This gives rise to good habits such as exercising, writing, reading, etc. By doing so, your time management will change for the better.