The alarm goes off, and as I reluctantly grab my phone to turn off the noise, I make the split second decision we all make in the morning. Do I hit snooze?
I decide that my crazy ass does in fact want to be awake, but not necessarily get up. So I grab my remote, conveniently placed right near my bedside, and autopilot my way to ESPN. The monotony of SportsCenter will keep me up. At least until I get bored enough to actually get out of bed.
Surprisingly SportsCenter is not airing, but a live match of the Australian Open is on. Andy Murray vs Roger Federer. I realize this makes sense, as it is 5:30am on the East Coast. As I sit here watching two great athletes battle in the Australian Open, I wonder why the hell I decided to set my alarm to 5:30am EST this morning. Not only that, but why did I decide to stay up that early when I don’t have to be in to work until 9:00am?
A little background on me for a sec. I have always been an early riser. Growing up, my parents would wake up at ungodly hours to work out in the morning. I never thought it was that weird, although I did realize that it was not the norm, at least compared to my friend’s parents. As I got a little older and into high school, I was still never one to sleep that late into the day on weekends. A childhood growing up playing sports will do that to you, getting ready for early games and practices. Even in college, I only really felt it necessary to sleep in after I consumed so many combinations of Keystone Lights and Jager Bombs that if I tried moved the pounding in my head would send me right back to bed. I always preferred to workout and go to the gym early rather than wait after class, and this trend continued after I graduated and joined the working world.
It was during this time I realized why my parents were so persistent with their early morning routines. First, they valued being healthy and an active lifestyle. Maybe more important that though, they valued family, and when you work a full day and have four kids, the only possible time you may have to work out is early in the morning.
Even though I do not have a family to support (shit, I still lived at home for a while after school!), I understand the value of free time. I would much rather suck it up early and get my workout in before my commute to work, giving me time to chill out and relax after a long day. This way I can enjoy a nice meal, or do things I love like go to rugby practice. And no, I do not count rugby practice as a personal workout. They are separate, but explaining this craziness deserves another blog post altogether.
Okay, so I get up early to go to the gym. Big deal, plenty of people do that. However this reason alone does not fully explain why I continually set my alarm before the sun comes up. I don’t know much about the science behind waking up early, and it would do no good for me to go on about Circadian rhythms. There is something wired into me that associates early rising with success. Every article I seem to read about entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and leaders in general is that they all are willing to give up sleep to strive for excellence. To paraphrase one of my favorite motivational videos, I believe that if you do not give up sleep, you may miss the opportunity to be successful.
As crazy as it sounds for some people, early mornings are when my mind is sharp and thoughts the most clear. I am more willing to read, write, or workout. It is gratifying to know that you can accomplish more before 8:00am than some do all day. But that is just the start, because after my mind and body are stimulated in the morning, I seem to have way more energy then if I had slept in.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not the only way to get things done or be successful. In fact, some highly successful individuals may argue the opposite. The real takeaway from this is to find your own sweet-spot. When are you most productive, and how can you get the most out of those moments? What propels you to get your day off on the right track? Even though I am the rare breed that seems to stay up late and get up early, the power of sleep cannot be denied. I always make it a point to be well rested before a big rugby game, interview, or important day of work. For me this is mostly accomplished by preparing mentally and making sure I get to bed at a reasonable hour. Getting to bed earlier then usually still allows me to wake up early with ease, and eat a power-breakfast of sorts to get my energy going.
So there it is. Waking up early allows me to start my day off when I am most productive, and get a head start on my goals. Oh yea, Roger Federer won the tennis match. It has been said he likes to get 11-12 hours of sleep to be at peak performance.
– John Tublin