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Waking Up Early, Part 3

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I’ve written about my attempts to wake up early before.

Most recently, I promised to take a sleep log, to track trends. Fortunately, I did not intend to try to wake up early, because I didn’t.

Here’s what I learned in the last three weeks:

  • Benadryl messes with your ability to wake up.

moreI got poison ivy all over my leg a few weeks ago, and have been taking antihistamines pretty regularly. I’m not sure the Benadryl directly contributed to making it hard to wake up at 5:30, but I can’t imagine that it helped.

  • It is extremely hard to go to bed early. I spent a week on a family vacation in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, and I had a great time. I also rarely made it to bed before 12:30a. I would try to get out of bed at 6:30 or 7:00, but couldn’t get up until about 8:00, most days. (This is still early in terms of early-20s vacation standards - I did not once sleep in until 9, let alone noon, so I’m counting this as a win. But I’m far from my goal.) Even after my vacation, I still really struggle to get to bed at a good hour.

For example, I am typing this at 10:00 pm. Ideally, by 10:00 pm, I would have not looked at my computer for two hours. Yet here I am. I hope to be in bed in less than an hour, but that still has me not falling asleep until after 11:00 pm. Not good enough.

  • I don’t need to focus on getting up early anymore. I need to master my bedtime. I have very real minimum sleep requirements, and it is foolishness to skimp on sleep, and then being my day at 5:00am. I may be getting only six hours of sleep, and by the time the end of my work day rolls around, I would have been going for twelve hours. That math, while not terrible, is not sustainable.

  • I am a level two sleeper. I can get up early if I have properly rested. Jeff Chrisler sent me this article. It covers how backpackers naturally adapt to being early risers, synching their circadian rhythm with the sun. It’s not rocket science, but it helped me realize that there are some who believe it is physically impossible to wake up early, feeling rested, without being a “morning person”.Well, I can stand here and confidently say, in the words of the great entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki: “Bull shiitake. It’s possible. I did it.”

A level one sleeper is one who, in the words of Josh Thompson is “a ‘night owl’ and cannot comprehend the possibility of being an early riser.” This is, to him, not a lack of will power. It’s a lack of imagination. Note that there is nothing inherently wrong with being a level one sleeper.

So, I didn’t move much in the direction I had hoped, these last two weeks, but I did come to some important realizations, and more importantly, I didn’t completely waste my time. I’m going to spend the next two weeks recording my time up and my time asleep, and I’ll present my findings here to you, my kind, generous, and supremely intelligent readers.

I have a two-part call to action:

  • If you want to be an early(er)-riser, track when you go to bed and when you get up every night for the next two weeks.

  • If you plan on doing step one, tell me. I’ll pester you in a few days to see how you’re doing.