I must admit 25 years ago I was a night owl, and on most weekends I became nocturnal.
Let me set the scene.
It was the extravagant 1980’s. Big hair, big shoulder pads and big parties. Every weekend had a dress up party or a nightclub to visit. I worked in advertising. Need I say more.
Dancing all night meant I wasn’t home till 2am, so wasn’t up until late morning or early afternoon. I admit it was embarrassing to wish my neighbours, “Good morning!” only for them to sigh, “It’s the afternoon” with a disapproving glare.
However … this habit of staying up late ended with the arrival of my son.
My beautiful baby boy was up every morning at 5.30am. Seriously I was going insane.
We were living in London at the time, and I thought it was ludicrous to be turning all the lights on to give him his breakfast. I tried everything; everything to get him to sleep or nap until 7am (my normal) until I relented, and began training myself to be up early too.
That was fifteen years ago and now I’m an early bird convert. And yes I still have to rise with the sun because my beautiful boy has 6.45am tennis training all year round (sigh).
Changing from night owl to early bird has given me the opportunity to reflect on the benefits of getting up early, and they are numerous.
#1 Waking up early helped me lose weight
When I stayed up late, I’d pretty much eat for most of the night. At a nightclub it’s a 9pm dinner. Then the following day I’d eat two meals. I’d be starving myself and then gorging on food. This tricked my body into stockpiling fat and weight. Today I eat three meals a day, which means I maintain the right glucose levels for concentration and energy. I also stop eating after 7pm (when I’m least active).
#2 Waking up early helped me concentrate
Rushing in the morning is a sure fire way to forget things and leave you feeling flustered. Since starting my business, my new ritual is up at 5.45am for meditation, shower and then downstairs to get breakfast ready. Whilst my son is still soundly asleep, not only am I getting his school lunch ready, but I can start to plan my day.
#3 Waking up early helped me to be more productive
When I was in the process of writing my book, Stuck in a Rut: How to rescue yourself and live your truth, by 8.am after breakfast, I’d be hanging out the washing, checking a few emails and then walking my dog in the park. I’d hit the laptop from 9am-1pm and then call it a day. It’s a wonderful feeling when you can accomplish so much at the start of your day but it takes planning and focus.
#4 Waking up early soothes the soul
On my 50th birthday I had to drive my son to school to catch the ski coach. My grumbles about the cold soon gave way to watching in awe the changing colours of the sky. The best part of the day is in the morning. If you’ve never watched the sun rise, it’s a joyous feeling.
#5 Waking up early improved my wellbeing.
I found if I exercise in the morning, I feel energised, more positive and alert for my business meeting, clients and marketing. There are other times to exercise besides the early morning, of course, but being a farmer, I’m more likely to find excuses why I can’t exercise if it’s later in the day.
Whilst my change from night owl to farmer was sudden and painful, here are my top tips for easing your way into becoming an earlier riser.
Tip #1 What’s the goal here? What’s the value for you in getting up early? Get clear on your why so that you can write down the benefits and keep reminding yourself.
Tip #2 Investigate and document your evening habits. Are you staying up late to watch a show that you can record or surf the net? If it’s your time to be free from distractions, can you negotiate with the family another time for this.
Tip#3 Ease into it starting with 30 minute wind backs. Try 30 minutes for say a week and then add another 30 minutes until you get to your target.
Tip#4 Don’t have a snooze setting on your alarm. When the clock goes off, get yourself up. Maybe you could put your alarm out of arm’s reach, because once you’re vertical, you’re up.
Tip #5 A big believer in rituals, routines and time management strategies, I find that rewarding yourself after completing a task encourages you to repeat it. After the gym, I’d always reward myself with a magazine and coffee.
If you’re a night owl, don’t beat yourself up about it because changing your sleep routine takes time.
Start experimenting with your habits, priorities, schedules and biorhythms. Remember all the things that help you to feel better during your day i.e. a positive attitude and good stamina, will also help you to wind down and sleep better each night.
Fiona Craig is a life coach, psychotherapist and published author of the award winning book, “Stuck in a Rut – How to rescue yourself & live your truth” helping women get unstuck from their life rut and onto finding their dream life. Her transformational coaching package helps her clients remove the fear, worry and guilt to confidently take the steps towards creating the life they want to live.
Fiona has been interviewed by The Australian Women’s Weekly, and The New Daily, and written articles for I Am Woman Magazine, Women’s Fitness magazine, Girlfriend Magazine, Career One, Sunday Life Magazine (Fairfax), Collective Magazine, Herald Sun Melbourne, plus several blogs and online publications. You can learn more about working with Fiona at lifebalancecoach.com.au or call 0405 433 217.