It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.
Are morning people born or made? In my case it was definitely made. In my early 20s, I rarely went to bed before midnight, and I’d almost always sleep in late. I usually didn’t start hitting my stride each day until late afternoon.
But after a while I couldn’t ignore the high correlation between success and rising early, even in my own life. On those rare occasions where I did get up early, I noticed that my productivity was almost always higher, not just in the morning but all throughout the day. And I also noticed a significant feeling of well-being. So being the proactive goal-achiever I was, I set out to become a habitual early riser. I promptly set my alarm clock for 5AM…
… and the next morning, I got up just before noon.Advertising
I tried again many more times, each time not getting very far with it. I figured I must have been born without the early riser gene. Whenever my alarm went off, my first thought was always to stop that blasted noise and go back to sleep. I tabled this habit for a number of years, but eventually I came across some sleep research that showed me that I was going about this problem the wrong way. Once I applied those ideas, I was able to become an early riser consistently.
It’s hard to become an early riser using the wrong strategy. But with the right strategy, it’s relatively easy.
The most common wrong strategy is this: You assume that if you’re going to get up earlier, you’d better go to bed earlier.
So you figure out how much sleep you’re getting now, and then just shift everything back a few hours. If you now sleep from midnight to 8am, you figure you’ll go to bed at 10pm and get up at 6am instead. Sounds very reasonable, but it will usually fail.Advertising
It seems there are two main schools of thought about sleep patterns. One is that you should go to bed and get up at the same times every day. It’s like having an alarm clock on both ends — you try to sleep the same hours each night. This seems practical for living in modern society. We need predictability in our schedules. And we need to ensure adequate rest.
The second school says you should listen to your body’s needs and go to bed when you’re tired and get up when you naturally wake up.
This approach is rooted in biology. Our bodies should know how much rest we need, so we should listen to them.
Through trial and error, I found out for myself that both of these schools are suboptimal sleep patterns. Both of them are wrong if you care about productivity. Here’s why:
If you sleep set hours, you’ll sometimes go to bed when you aren’t sleepy enough. If it’s taking you more than five minutes to fall asleep each night, you aren’t sleepy enough. You’re wasting time lying in bed awake and not being asleep. Another problem is that you’re assuming you need the same number of hours of sleep every night, which is a false assumption. Your sleep needs vary from day to day.Advertising
If you sleep based on what your body tells you, you’ll probably be sleeping more than you need — in many cases a lot more, like 10-15 hours more per week (the equivalent of a full waking day). A lot of people who sleep this way get 8+ hours of sleep per night, which is usually too much. Also, your mornings may be less predictable if you’re getting up at different times. And because our natural rhythms are sometimes out of tune with the 24-hour clock, you may find that your sleep times begin to drift.
The optimal solution for me has been to combine both approaches.
It’s very simple, and many early risers do this without even thinking about it, but it was a mental breakthrough for me nonetheless. The solution was to go to bed when I’m sleepy (and only when I’m sleepy) and get up with an alarm clock at a fixed time (7 days per week). So I always get up at the same time (in my case 5am), but I go to bed at different times every night.
I go to bed when I’m too sleepy to stay up. My sleepiness test is that if I couldn’t read a book for more than a page or two without drifting off, I’m ready for bed. Most of the time when I go to bed, I’m asleep within three minutes. I lie down, get comfortable, and immediately I’m drifting off. Sometimes I go to bed at 9:30pm; other times I stay up until midnight. Most of the time I go to bed between 10-11pm. If I’m not sleepy, I stay up until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. Reading is an excellent activity to do during this time, since it becomes obvious when I’m too sleepy to read.
When my alarm goes off every morning, I turn it off, stretch for a couple seconds, and sit up. I don’t think about it. I’ve learned that the longer it takes me to get up, the more likely I am to try to sleep in. So I don’t allow myself to have conversations in my head about the benefits of sleeping in once the alarm goes off. Even if I want to sleep in, I always get up right away.Advertising
After a few days of using this approach, I found that my sleep patterns settled into a natural rhythm. If I got too little sleep one night, I’d automatically be sleepier earlier and get more sleep the next night. And if I had lots of energy and wasn’t tired, I’d sleep less. My body learned when to knock me out because it knew I would always get up at the same time and that my wake-up time wasn’t negotiable.
A side effect was that on average, I slept about 90 minutes less per night, but I actually felt more well-rested. I was sleeping almost the entire time I was in bed.
I read that most insomniacs are people who go to bed when they aren’t sleepy. If you aren’t sleepy and find yourself unable to fall asleep quickly, get up and stay awake for a while. Resist sleep until your body begins to release the hormones that rob you of consciousness. If you simply go to bed when you’re sleepy and then get up at a fixed time, you’ll cure your insomnia. The first night you’ll stay up late, but you’ll fall asleep right away. You may be tired that first day from getting up too early and getting only a few hours of sleep the whole night, but you’ll slog through the day and will want to go to bed earlier that second night. After a few days, you’ll settle into a pattern of going to bed at roughly the same time and falling asleep right away.
So if you want to become an early riser (or just exert more control over your sleep patterns), then try this: Go to bed only when you’re too sleepy to stay up, and get up at a fixed time every morning.
How to Become an Early Riser | Steve Pavlina
Last Updated on March 25, 2020
How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life
When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.
So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life
It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.
2. Drink in Moderation
I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity. Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.
3. Reduce Stress in Your Life
Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
4. Watch Less Television
A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t. It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.
Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.
5. Eat Less Red Meat
Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.
If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.
6. Don’t Smoke
This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.
Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity. Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.
8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
9. Be Optimistic
Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists. Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.
10. Own a Pet
Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease. Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.
11. Drink Coffee
Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life. Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.
12. Eat Less
Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.
Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure. Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.
Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.
How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners
14. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease. It may also increase the risk of cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.
15. Laugh Often
Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.
16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun
Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.
17. Cook Your Own Food
When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.
Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.
18. Eat Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.
Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.
20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.
Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health
21. Have Sex
Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease. It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!
More Health Tips
- Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You
- Make These 17 Health Goals Into Daily Habits for Better Overall Wellness
- How to Work Towards a Healthy Life Balance
Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com