Switching to a consistent sleep schedule has been the biggest win that I’ve had over the past year. It is interesting that such as small change has had a positive impact on my life. Waking up early comes naturally to me and I’ve started exercising regularly which has led me to make healthier food choices — life is good!
An energy drink in the afternoon is no longer needed to help me get through the day.
This has also cascaded into my professional life as my productivity is up and my creativity has skyrocketed. And I’ve done this while still having the time in the evenings to meet up with family and friends.
Today, I’ll share with you the framework that I use to maintain a social life and still wake up early. It will work for you whether you already wake up early or are just getting started.
The days before…
You can think of sleep as a sort of Investment Retirement Account (IRA). As you make consistent deposits from a portion of each paycheck that you receive, then your portfolio grows over time from the power of compounding. This is why financial experts recommend that you start saving for retirement early so your money has time to work for you.
Each consistent night of sleep is like a deposit so when you have good sleep hygiene and go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning, then this schedule helps your body know when it is time to power down for bedtime and when to wake up so you are ready for the day.
Have you ever noticed how you felt rested and refreshed after a good night of sleep?
Now think of a time where you had a few rough days and nights — maybe you were sick from the flu and didn’t sleep well that week. You probably were sluggish and miserable until you got better and then you started sleeping normally again. This is why you can’t “catch up” on sleep by simply sleeping all day when you are sleep deprived. The best way to fix this issue is to move back to a consistent sleep schedule where you go to bed at the same time each night and then rise at the same time each morning. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night — adjust in your favor so you get a little more sleep than you need. Remember that you are building up consistent deposits which will help you bounce back quickly from a late evening out with friends and family.
The Sleep Cycle app is highly rated and can help you create a consistent sleep routine. It senses your sleep cycle using your mobile phone and it gently wakes you up at the right time so you feel rested. This app helped jump start my habit of going to bed the same time and waking up the same time each morning. Click on one of the buttons below to download the app for your mobile phone and get it set up so you are familiar with it.
As a heads up, when the app is tracking your sleep, then your phone will need to be plugged into the charger and be positioned near the top of your bed where your pillows are. A bedside table works well for this. Sleep Cycle will come in handy the night you socialize with family and friends.
The day of
When you wake up in the morning, think about the upcoming event later that day and choose a reasonable bedtime for yourself. This is the time that you should be in bed so be sure to include travel time. Then continue with your daily routine as normal. Several hours before you need to head out, take a short nap of about 20 — 30 minutes. You can use the nap feature to from Pzizz get a power nap in. There is something about the man speaking softly and the ambient music that helps me fall asleep quickly to get a nap in as needed. Try out Pzizz by clicking on the button below for your mobile phone:
Your nap will help you get some energy for the evening without needing coffee or a caffeinated drink. If consumed late in the day then these can affect your sleep in a negative way so where possible, go for a nap. Use a sleep mask (blocks out light) and a good pair of headphones (muffles the sound around you) to improve the effectiveness of the naps.
As you are on your way to meet up, then remind yourself of the reasonable bedtime that you chose earlier that morning. Let’s say that you are planning to have dinner and a few drinks with some friends and are in bed around 11 pm, then you can still wake up early the next morning. However, if you bar hop and stay out till closing time, then you’ll have a difficult time getting up and you might be on the “struggle bus” for the rest of the day. Know your limits and be realistic in choosing a time to be in bed.
When you arrive home, have a small meal, and be sure to drink water and then drink a little more just before bed. The latter is even more important if you’ve had one too many drinks while out that night.
Right before you go to bed, get Sleep Cycle running. Remember that the location and a power source are important as the app will monitor your sleep in real-time.
- Plug in your phone to a charger near the top of your bed where your pillows are
- Open Sleep Cycle on your phone
- Choose a wake-up time (try to get close to 7 to 8 hours)
- Activate the app and place it near your bed such as on a bedside table
- Think about something that you are looking forward to doing the next day and go to sleep
Sleep Cycle uses the microphone in your mobile phone to track your sleep and intelligently wakes you with an alarm when you are in between sleep cycles. The end result is that you wake up feeling alert and refreshed instead of that groggy-headed feeling and you’ll hopefully be excited to get your day started.
The day after
Once you hear the alarm from the Sleep Cycle app, then get out of bed immediately and drink some water. The first 10 seconds after you open your eyes will be critical as your morning sets the tone for your day. Be decisive! Get out of bed and make your bed. Making your bed will be your first victory for the day and it will reduce the chance of you climbing back into bed and sleeping in. Once you are moving, then use that momentum to carry on with your day. You may feel sluggish and it is okay to feel this way. You can minimize the feeling by getting in some light exercise in the morning or in the early afternoon.
If you are working that day or have obligations to take care of, then don’t be tempted to come home after and fall asleep. Instead, use Sleep Cycle or Pzizz on your phone to get a short nap in so you can have some energy to get through the rest of your day. Then go to bed at your regular bedtime and wake up early the next morning.
The first time that you go through the motions, you may stumble at a certain step or two. Be understanding that it happens and create a better plan for next time. One area where I’ve stumbled more than a few times is sticking with my chosen bedtime. Here is a quick story that has likely happened to you and people you know.
You want to meet up for an early dinner and just have “a few drinks.” Everyone is having an awesome time and the evening turns into an even more fun night of bar hopping and then things spiral further and your reasonable bedtime is tossed aside. Instead of getting home at a decent time, you’ll arrive home early the next morning and you won’t be getting up early as the snooze button will be your best friend. And to top it off, you’ll be on the struggle bus for the entire day.
Expect things to not go perfectly as planned the first few times and try again. You’ll learn more about yourself and better understand your limits (if having some cocktails). Pick yourself up when you fail, make a better plan, and you’ll be able to enjoy time in the evenings and at night with friends and family and still be a member of the early risers club.