Today’s guest post comes from Cubert over at abandoned cubicle. Cubert is a mid 40s cube jockey who plans to be free in 2020 to focus on real estate side projects, blogging, and being “Dad.” He lives in the early retirement mecca of Minneapolis, with his wife and two kids. Oh, and he still dreams of maybe moving to the Front Range one day to hike often, drink the finest beer, and confidently wear flannel in public.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to get your list of to-do’s done just about each and every day? Does it drive you crazy to see other people succeed more quickly and proficiently at the same endeavors you attempt, whether it’s physical fitness, finance, or, I dunno, writing?
Back in mid-July, around the time I resuscitated my blog from a three-month coma, I started the habit of waking up at 5AM every day. Not just Monday through Friday, mind you. Nope. Every. Single. Day. What I soon discovered was not only how easy it was to focus on my writing and the blog, but how much better I function at work and around my family.
I’m certainly no pioneer in this radical practice. J. Money featured a series on Benjamin Franklin a while back that got me at least thinking about the idea. Course, at the time I’m like, no fucking way… But, here I am now, writing this sentence at 5:46AM local time.
My curiosity is asking:
“is it possible to quantify the benefits (or costs) of waking at such a godforsaken early hour?”
Let’s find out!
Disclaimer: I’m not a sleep scientist or M.D. of any sort. Let’s see if our friend, the Physician on Fire can offer up some clarifying advice in the comments, should I go astray here…
Less Night Peeing, More Blogging, Less TV and More “Opportunities”
The first benefit I noticed is that I went from getting up once every night to pee, down to almost never. Isn’t that odd? Well it’s true. I admit that every so often, if I indulge in two of those sweet Old Fashioned cocktails, a middle-of-the-night pee break might still occur despite the 5AM habit.
On the writing front, the quantification is, shall we say less cloudy, and more black and white. Before shifting my wake up from 6:30 to 5:00, I averaged <0.25 posts produced per week. Since the new habit, the average has shot up to 2.3 posts produced per week. And that’s not including guest posts.
Here’s the kicker. The sleepless nights, you know… where it takes for-freakin’ ever to fall asleep? Those have practically melted away. If you’re not tired by the time 9PM rolls around each night, something’s amiss. Before the early wake-up, I had at least one, if not two nights each week where I’d lie there waiting an hour or more for the sandman to put me down.
On average, I’d need at least a half hour to wind down until I could zonk out. Now I’m lucky if I last 5 minutes before fading away. I think it has a lot to do with the next topic on the list…
Television, bless you child.
Before I went all Benjamin Franklin on my daily routine, I easily consumed about two and a half hours of television each night. We don’t have cable, but with an Apple TV, YouTube, and Netflix, the options are endless. I’d succumb to watching the replay of the PBS News Hour to see how F’ed up the day in Washington D.C. went. I was over-stimulated, courtesy of that damned, beautiful flat screen.
Since the new routine of hitting the sack at 9PM, I’m down to one single hour of boob tube every day: a 50% reduction. The only “news” we watch now is from late show monologues, courtesy of YouTube. The comedy takes the edge off. I’m lucky if I don’t fall asleep on the couch by 8:45 most nights.
Want to cut your TV habit in half or more? Get up an hour earlier every day.
On the Love Front
This is the aspect of the early wake-up that may not necessarily apply to you. See, my wife had already grooved-in her own 5AM wake-up habit a few years back, in order to find time in her busy day to work out. I thought, “Man, I could never do it. Too dark out there. Too cold. Sleep goooood.”
Now that I’ve made the switch and aligned my schedule with hers, I’ve noticed some subtle but very real improvements in our relationship. It’s just plain nice to go to bed at the same time. You get to chit-chat just a bit more about something interesting from your day. And it makes for, well, greater opportunities.
Granted, date nights are interesting. The sitter laughs when we return before 9, ready to call it a night. Old people…
You can’t quantify love. But for us, the benefits of an aligned schedule have been a measured improvement!
If you don’t believe me…
If I haven’t sold you on the idea of waking up at 5AM, consider slowly ratcheting back your schedule. Maybe try 15 minute increments, month by month, until you get there. At first you’ll be groggy as hell, but you should have some exciting project or task to get you amped up (along with that first cup of coffee.) Remember, the idea isn’t to reduce the hours of sleep each night. You will need to hit the hay earlier to offset the new wakeup time.
If you’re like me, you’ll sleep like a baby and start having more vivid dreams. Good luck to you. And if you need a little more convincing on this habit, check out this worthwhile read, here.
Mr. 1500 note: I too wake up early. If I sleep until 6am, I’ve overslept. And this was not a choice. Our kids are early risers. We have to force them to stay in bed past 5:30.
With that said, waking up early is amazing. I go for walks before the world wakes up or pound out some words on the keyboard. I highly recommend it.
And thanks for the great post today Cubert!
Join the 10s who have signed up already!
Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.
*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.