Overrated? What? Hell no. This is the most productive I’ve ever been.
In this article, I’ll be going through 8 key items/tricks anyone can implement in their life to help them wake up early.
For the past 4 months, I’ve been putting all my attention towards perfecting my sleep. I’ve found a sh*t ton of tricks and lifestyle changes anyone can implement to help them wake up early and sleep longer at the same time.
If you’re the type of person who says that they’re more productive during the evening/night. Read the Fallacy of late-night productivity section under the 4. DeepWork section.
1. Stay consistent
2. Create your morning routine as the path of least resistance
3. Make waking up early fun
4. Plan DeepWork in the morning NOT during the night
5. Be active during the day
6. Do not sleep in, even an hour, that one day
7. Track your sleep
8. Know yourself
The overarching rule in all of these tips is consistency. I tried waking up early during weekdays and sleeping in during weekends. Trust me, it doesn’t work. I don’t care who you are, you need so much mental energy to get yourself back into the early mornings after a weekend of sleeping.
And the days I slept in, I didn’t have the same energy levels as I would’ve if woke up early. The whole day was usually a waste; the brain fog was huge, couldn’t get the same productivity levels as usual.
Don’t take my word for it, research shows this.
One such study, published in the journal Scientific Reports in 2017, found that the more consistent your sleeping patterns are, the better your academic performance will be.
2. Path of least resistance
If you want to make waking up early in the morning consistent, you need to make the path of least resistance not going to bed.
Our brains are hardwired to take the path of least resistance, it’s an evolutionary instinct, and it makes sense.
A lot of people will interpret this fact as, if you want to succeed, you need to take the path of most resistance. I agree with Churchill on this one.
Victory will never be found by taking the path of least resistance.
— Winston Churchill
It’s completely true, but there is a flip side to this. You can abuse your brain’s natural tendency, taking the path of least resistance, to stay consistent in tasks like waking up early or going to the gym first thing in the morning.
I know people who sleep in their gym clothes so that when they wake up, there is much less resistance to going to the gym.
The same principle can be applied to waking up early.
What I do is, charge my phone at my desk during the night. This kills two birds with one stone. I don’t get distracted while trying to go to sleep, and I don’t just snooze my alarm in the morning and go right back to sleep.
Now I need to panically run towards the alarm and turn it off. The moment I turn it off I know exactly what I need to do.
I don’t need to think about it, since it’s exactly the same every single morning. To cultivate the path of least resistance I’ve created a morning routine, which I stick to religiously.
This gives me time to wake up properly before needing to think.
A good morning routine is vital for waking up early. It solves many of the problems.
3. Make it fun
It would be impossible to wake up early if I didn’t enjoy my morning routine. When I first started, I already implemented things that I liked in my morning routine; like cooking lunch and meditating.
This way I had something to look forward to when going to bed.
After a while, the fact that no one is awake and I had the morning to myself was the main enjoyment to look forward to.
Important note: Don’t plan something unproductive like watching YouTube or Netflix in the morning. Even though you might enjoy it, it isn’t something that you only do in the morning, and it doesn’t have a positive influence on you. Something neutral like cooking breakfast is great.
If you make it dreadful to wake up in the morning, it’ll be hell. But don’t make it all fun.
The morning is perfect for building your discipline. Start building habits that you don’t necessarily enjoy doing but know that they’re good for you.
After a while, you’ll start to enjoy it.
Since you’re the most focused in the morning, plan at least an hour of DeepWork in your morning routine.
This is the time when you do the most brain intensive tasks without any distractions.
This way you can plan the more braindead work for later in the day.
Now, you will be productive for at least an hour every day no matter what.
And this part can change from day today. It’ll change depending on your responsibilities. So what I do is plan what to do during the DeepWork section the day before.
This way I don’t need to think about what to do in the morning. That’s the path of least resistance again ;)
The fallacy of late-night productivity
A lot of people surprisingly come with the excuse of “I work better during the night. So what’s the harm in staying up late and waking up late.”
Well sure, you can keep it up when you’re young. Your energy levels are insane. But it slowly deteriorates your body and mind.
Research shows that the timing of sleep may be just as important as how many hours we sleep.
While waking up late on occasion probably won’t have a major impact on your brain, ongoing disrupted sleep can cause problems over time.
There may be a buildup of amyloid protein in the brain, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, one study showed that night owls were 2.5 times more likely to have type 2 diabetes than early risers.
Changes in your sleep cycle also may lead to cognitive and behavioural issues like diminished focus, vigilance, attention, motor skills, and memory.
These symptoms can in turn result in workplace errors, reduced efficiency, or even accidents — according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Think about it, children naturally go to bed early and wake up early. It’s something intrinsic about them.
Yet, when we grow older, we forcefully, maybe unconsciously, stay up late and wake up late.
Also, sleep and testosterone are deeply interconnected.
Your testosterone levels increase as you sleep and decrease the longer you’re awake.
One study found that after 8 eight days of 5.5 hours of sleep or less each night, participants showed a 10–15% decrease in testosterone production on average.
Okay but is a decrease in testosterone that bad? Uhh yes, it is!
What are the benefits of healthy testosterone levels?
- Healthy heart and blood.
- Less fat, more muscle.
- Stronger bones.
- Better verbal memory, spatial abilities, or mathematical reasoning.
- Better libido.
- Improved mood.
This is not only for men by the way.
Women experience the same symptoms as men: a diminished sex drive, lethargy, and a tougher time maintaining muscle mass.
Shortly said, just go sleep.
5. Be active
I’m not advocating for the rise and grind mentality if that means you’re not sleeping enough. You need 8 to 9 hours of sleep to stay healthy.
When I first started, it was very hard for me to fall asleep at 8 pm.
The biggest contributor to me falling asleep faster was being tired, physically and mentally. Sounds so obvious but most people don’t do enough during their day.
Do sh*t during the day. Go to the gym, read a lot, learn a lot, go for a run, work a lot, be social.
At the end of the day, when you have conquered the world and achieved a sh*t ton, you’ll feel tired. You’ll yearn for your bed.
The yearning for it makes you fall asleep almost instantly.
But that only works if you don’t chill in your bed during the day. The second you enter your bed, you go to sleep. That way your brain associates sleep with your bed.
Also no screens, none. Maybe read a book if it helps to fall asleep. But definitely no phone near your bed.
6. The no sleep dilemma
Okay, so you have two options.
You know you will never make it to bed in time that day, what do you do? Either sleep in that extra hour or so, or still wake up early, but most likely you’ll be sleep deprived that day.
If you chose the former option, think again. The next day, since you slept in, it’ll be nearly impossible to fall asleep early. So then you face the exact same dilemma two days in a row.
The only way of stopping this is by choosing the second option. Wake up early, doesn’t matter how much sleep you get.
The next day you will be tired, so most likely you’ll fall asleep instantly.
And let's be honest, those days when you’re sleep-deprived, you can still do some work. Maybe you won’t perform as well, but you’ll perform well enough for one day.
And during the morning you won’t notice a big performance difference. The concentration levels are about the same.
So just plan the DeepWork for the morning and then the braindead activities for later in the day.
Also, let’s be honest. On the days that you do sleep in, you’ll most likely feel shitty the whole day; some levels of brain fog, little to no motivation to do anything productive etc.
I usually go to bed a couple of hours before on those kinds of days, when I’m very tired. That way, the next day, I will have slept anywhere between 8 to 10 hours.
On those kinds of days, I’m very productive as you can imagine. That’s the time when you catch up on all the things you didn’t do the day before.
7. Track your sleep
Something very simple but an overlooked aspect of sleep, is tracking it. The only way you’ll get to know your sleeping habits is by tracking them.
Then you can see for example that every time you have exercised, you fall asleep 30 minutes faster. Or that when you have had a drink before bed, your deep sleep levels drop intensely.
This way every time you want to do something, you can fully take into account the sleep-related consequences of your actions. And then negotiate with yourself if it’s worth it.
8. Know yourself
This might be the most important trick of them all. If you know yourself well. You know exactly what kinds of tricks you play on yourself to avoid waking up early.
For example, I know that I can’t sleep with clothes on. So the first thing I do is put on clothes.
Some people specially make their bed immediately after waking up. They fold their blanket and put it on the foot side of the bed under the pillows.
They know that they can’t sleep without a blanket.
And this way it would take effort to go back to bed. And since your brain will follow the path of least resistance, and if you have a good morning routine, which doesn’t have any resistance, you will follow the routine instead of going back to bed.
I negotiate with myself on a daily basis. Now, sleep is fully in my control. By implementing all the tricks mentioned above, I can sleep longer when I want to. And on days when I’m willing to sleep less, I can do so.
If this was helpful in anyway clap for me :)
You can always contact me through my website if you want more info on anything. I’ll happily help :)
I send out monthly newsletters on what I’m working on and how my self-improvement journey is going. I talked about how I’ll be tackling waking up early there before even considering this article.