5 Tips for Waking Up at 5 AM

I am not naturally a morning person.

I’m also not really a night owl. Mostly, I just like to sleep. My dream job (no pun intended) would probably be sleep-testing mattresses–but I suspect that might not actually be a job.

Over the past couple of weeks, work has been insanely busy. I hit my limit of how late I could reasonably stay, but I still had a crap-ton more work to get done each day. Since I couldn’t really stay any later, I was left with one choice: add hours to the start of my day.

To give you a sense of just how odd that is for me, peep this certificate my coworker gave me the first day that I was in the office before him:


Man, what a smartass.

Anyway, making his pre-Gerry work arrival happen while still getting in my morning meditation and yoga meant that I had to get up at 5. Effing. AM.

The first few days were predictably a drag. But in week 2, a funny thing happened: I started to actually like getting up early. I mean, the actual getting out of bed part still sucked (my bed is outrageously comfortable), but once I was up and moving around, I was kind of happy. One day, I even willingly got up before 5 o’clock. Didn’t have to be in even earlier, just wanted the extra time to have a leisurely breakfast before heading out.

Who even am I?

Even though I started the habit for work, I’m planning to keep it for me, even after things settle down (hopefully sometime near the end of March, FML). Despite the work craziness, the new routine has made me feel a lot less rushed and even a little less anxious.

Here are five things that have made the transition a little easier.

Go to bed earlier

I mean, this is probably obvious, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to get up early if you’ve had enough sleep. Through trial and error, I’ve figured out that 7 hours is pretty ideal for me, so I try to get to bed by 10 PM every night. This means starting to wind down at 9 and then aiming to be under the covers by 9:45. The first couple nights, I felt like the oldest person ever, but now that I’m feeling the benefits of my earlier wake-up time, I’m pretty ok with it.

Invest in a light therapy alarm clock

There are few things I hate more than being jolted awake by some annoying sound first thing in the morning. This clock, on the other hand, gently wakes me up using light and peaceful bird sounds. Even though it’s still dark as hell out at 5 AM, the light from the clock tricks my morning brain into thinking that the sun has come up. I turn it to the brightest setting for maximum effect. For reference, the brightness in this picture is only 60% (the full brightness was super hard to photograph).

2018-02-27 09.34.09 1.jpg

Put a second alarm clock further away

Although this clock is really effective at waking me up, I still have to force myself to get up and out of bed. I set the alarm on my Google Home for one minute after the light therapy alarm so that I have to get out of bed and go to the living room to turn it off.

Set things up the night before

I know this step is not in the right place chronologically, but I’m placing it here so that you get a better idea of my routine.

Okay, so my light alarm has gone off, and then the one in the living room. When I walk out to turn it off, my workout clothes are right there next to it on the side table, and my yoga mat is already laid out for me. This means that I either have to admit defeat, roll it up, and put it away, or do at least a couple sun salutations to make myself feel better. (Just ignoring the mat and leaving it out for some reason isn’t an option for me. I know that it would drive me crazy to come home to the mat on the floor, just like I can’t leave for the day without straightening the pillows on my couch.)

Treat yourself

I feel like this tip is in pretty much every post I write, but it’s a good one and it bears repeating: you’re awesome and you deserve nice things. I’m not (necessarily) talking about expensive things or unhealthy things, just things that you enjoy. Some days, the treat I need is having that extra time after yoga to watch a YouTube video while I drink my coffee. Other days it’s reading a chapter of a book I’m really enjoying or doing my dishes from the night before (ok that one’s not really a treat at the time, but it’s a lot nicer to come home to a clean kitchen after work). This whole getting up early thing is a lot easier when there’s something you enjoy at the other side of it, rather than just work you’re doing for someone else (uh, sorry boss).

Those are my five tips. Do you have any? Want to tell me how extra I am for needing two alarm clocks to get out of bed? I welcome your thoughts in the comments!

  1. Love these tips, especially the one about setting up what you need in the morning the night before. I’ve been trying to get up early lately too so that I can have a bit of alone time. Otherwise, it just doesn’t happen, and I really need that time to refuel. Being sick got in the way of things in January and early February, but now that I’m feeling like myself again, I’m getting back into the practice. The only problem is, the earlier I get up, the earlier *my kids* seem to get up. They normally wake around 7:15 or 7:30, but today they both clambered down the stairs, big smiles on their faces, at 6:50 (I was up at 6:30). It’s like they could just sense that I was up. I still had some alone time, but not the half hour that I was hoping for.

    My brother-in-law has been doing the “Miracle Morning” this year, based on the book by Hal Elrod, and he swears it’s awesome. Have you heard of it?



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