On Dumb Little Man I have mentioned (several times) that I am generally awake each morning at 4AM. While that time may seem inconceivable to most of you, the simple idea of at least waking up earlier in general should be easy to swallow.
From 4-6 AM, I simply get a ton of things done. In fact, I’d argue that I get more done from 4-6 AM than I do from 8-Noon. No matter what I decide to do, it’s uninterrupted simply because no one else is awake and functioning. It’s purely a time for knocking out tasks (work or home related), reading, project work, planning, etc. It’s great.
My life was not always this way, I used to be the guy that stayed up late and woke up with barely enough time to shower before work. So, how did I change that? It’s actually pretty simple, I installed a regimen that I have now followed for years. On average, I believe that I have given myself an extra 5 hours per week or (do the math) an extra 10.8 days per year to get stuff done.
- Lying in bed is not sleeping: 10:00 PM was my previous bedtime. Frankly, I chose that time because that’s when my parents went to bed when I was a kid. I had no real reason for it. What I found was that I would watch the news and then end up lying in bed for an hour pondering and stressing.In my belief, the key to extending your days is to lie down when you simply cannot ponder any longer. If you are drifting off at the computer, while reading, or watching TV, it’s time to get to bed. Your bedtime should and will vary from night to night. Let your body tell you when to sleep as opposed to the following the 8-hour rule. Really, how good is that rule if you a laying in bed awake for an hour?
- Rise and Shine: No matter what time you to go to bed – you’re alarm should go off each morning at the same time, 7 days per week. When I started this self-programming, I chose 4AM and today, regardless of the time I hit the rack, I am up at 4AM without an alarm. I have gone to bed at 2:30 AM on occasion and still gotten up automatically at 4:00 feeling good.
- Sleepy at Noon?: We’ve all heard the some countries encourage lunchtime naps. Well, me too. For lunch, I eat a sandwich and when possible (and only when I feel tired, this is not daily) I take a power nap that lasts all of 20 minutes. Instead of sitting at my desk for lunch, I will hop in the car and head to a forest preserve, behind a strip mall, etc. I eat, and then turn the radio down for a quick nap (set your cell phone alarm). I wake up totally refreshed. It’s actually kind of eerie because the energy I have after this little midday nap easily trumps the energy I had in the morning.
These 3 simple things have created a self-adjusting alarm clock inside my body. Since I wake up at the exact same time each day, my body knows how to adjust. In the evening, it will (through drifting off) tell me to go to bed earlier if in fact I am tired. On the flip side, if my body has the energy, I can write on this site or do whatever until 1AM if I want. This is essentially due to a hormone release that happens internally. I am programmed to be drowsy when I need to be and productive when I don’t.
Think about what you could do with this added 5 hours per week. I am not implying that you have to be up at 4AM, but if in fact you find yourself “trying” to fall asleep or watching TV for hours at night, this may be something for you to try.