This is the story of my 30-day Wake Up at 5 am challenge, all wrapped up with everything you need to know to decide if waking up at 5 am is right for you.
Benefits of Waking Up at 5 am
I don’t know; maybe you are reading this and wondering why the heck wake up at 5 am. It turns out that waking up at 5 am has many benefits:
- Getting an early start is empowering. The act of being proactive to get a head start lets your brain know that you mean business.
- You will have enough time to establish a morning routine. When you can barely grab a quick breakfast before you get to work, you don’t get to choose how you spend your time before work—an extra 2 or even 3 hours before work is enough to create a life-changing morning routine.
- You will enjoy more productive hours. If we’re honest, most of us will admit that we spend the evening hours watching Netflix or scrolling social media. However, mornings tend to be more productive for most people.
- The quality of your sleep will improve. The benefits are twofold: you will notice you sleep more deeply as your body has to make up for fewer hours, and the hours before midnight are important for setting the rhythm of sleep throughout the night.
You may have heard that the number of hours of sleep you get before midnight impact your body’s healing and human growth hormone secretion. I know I had. According to this study, it turns out that when you sleep (whether during the day or at night) doesn’t impact how much human growth hormone your body produces. However, staying up at night may make you more resistant to insulin and predispose you to weight gain.
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Pros and Cons of Waking Up at 5 am
Waking up at 5 am isn’t just flowers and butterflies. Living your life in a different time zone than most other human beings around you has pros and cons.
Wake Up at 5 am: Pros
The main advantage of waking up before everyone else is summarized in one word: quiet. Want to go for a quick jog? It’s going to be quiet. Need to run some errands? The stores are quiet. Want to get stuff done at home? The house is quiet. You will enjoy fewer distractions, and it will become easier to accomplish much.
Wake Up at 5 am: Cons
On the flip side, this will also mean that it may become harder to enjoy spending time with your loved ones. While friends and family members might be ready to enjoy some free time together in the evening, you may find that you need to make it to bed by 8 pm to get enough sleep to accommodate your early start. Also, depending on your previous sleep schedule, becoming accustomed to waking up this early can take time. More time than you would like!
Is Waking Up at 5 am Healthy?
Which brings us to the next question: Is waking up at 5 am healthy? Well, it depends! Are you managing to get enough sleep? Because if you are having a hard time going to bed before 9 pm, you will not get enough sleep, and your health will suffer. Your productivity will suffer too.
It is possible that whether you thrive or dive when you wake up at 5 am depends on your biological nature. According to Dr. Michael Breus, each of us functions best at different times. He separates us into four different Chronotypes:
- Lions: early risers
- Bears: most common sleep pattern.
- Dolphins: never sleep well.
- Wolves: most productive during night hours.
However, according to Nature Communications, an early rising time could reduce your risks of mental health problems. Furthermore, when you wake up at 5 am, you may find that you start making better food choices, according to The Obesity Society.
For example, even if you believe you are a wolf, you may consider experimenting with an earlier bedtime and seeing what happens. Whenever you make lifestyle choices, remember that’s what they are choices. To figure out what works best for you, it’s good to try different things.
My 30-Day Wake Up at 5 am Challenge
Before I give you some advice on how to wake up at 5 am, let me share my experience. I did a 30-Day Wake Up at 5 am Challenge in November and learned a few things!
It wasn’t my first time committing to waking up at 5 am. The main difference was: I wanted to do 30-Days straight, so no weekends off! I had been “sleeping in” till about 6 or 6:30 am since the beginning of August, and I wasn’t used to waking up at 5 am anymore.
How It Went
Honestly, it sucked! The whole thing!
The first week, I was living on adrenaline and couldn’t sleep. One night, I didn’t go to sleep til after midnight. I hate waking up to the sound of my alarm, so I would often wake up in the middle of the night and check the time. I would almost wake up at least 10 minutes before my alarm.
The second week, I was starting to notice my productivity decrease. I was tired! I still struggled to wake up at night, although it settled with some good nights. I woke up at 6 one morning to make up for the lost sleep and work up at 4:15 another morning because I was having difficulty adjusting. I was sick another morning, so I woke up after 6 am.
The third week was probably my best sleep. I slept most nights blissfully and woke up with my alarm. I prioritized early bedtime because I knew I was running a sleep deficit.
I skipped most of the week in the fourth week because a few family members and I got sick with the flu. I woke up at 5 am from Monday to Friday the following week and decided that was the pattern I would keep.
How to Wake Up at 5 am
Now, you might wonder how to wake up at 5 am daily. It might feel like an impossible task! The difficulty of adjusting to a 5 am wake-up time may vary depending on what time you have been waking up for most of your life. Remember, you can do anything, and your body has tremendous adaptation powers.
Here are some ways to facilitate the process:
- Start gradually: Wake up an hour earlier for 2-3 days, Then add another hour until you have reached 5 am.
- Go to bed early: In the early phase, getting enough sleep will be challenging because you won’t be able to sleep early enough. Wind down earlier until you are tired to go to sleep early.
- Avoid bright lights in the evening: switch those natural light bulbs for a yellow or red light.
- Get outside daily: Spending time outdoors may improve your sleep.
- Exercise: Moving your body improves your circadian rhythm.
- Eat well: Nutrient-dense foods paired with a well-selected eating window (eating during daylight hours).
- Don’t drink more than 2-3 cups of coffee a day: As you age, you may find that your sleep quality benefits from cutting back to only one cup daily.
These tips focus on improving your sleep and supporting your circadian rhythm no matter your waking time. The main takeaway for waking up at 5 am are to wake up earlier and gradually sleep earlier.
Please read How to Improve Sleep During Perimenopause for more sleep help and What to Eat on Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss to learn more about nutrient-dense foods.
What Time Should You Go to Bed to Wake Up at 5 am?
I think that’s my favorite section of the whole article because, during my 30-day wake-up at 5 am challenge, my main struggle was getting enough sleep. The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. If you wake up at 5 am, you must sleep by 10 pm at the latest (preferably around 9 pm). I don’t know about you, but I don’t fall asleep the moment I go to bed. I need to read a book and wind down. I would have to go to bed at 8 pm or so to get enough sleep, and I found it very difficult! The way to solve this issue is to sleep in on the weekends.
I have had the 5 am schedule for months before, and it wasn’t nearly as difficult simply because I could catch up on my sleep during the weekend. That is my one major recommendation: Take one or two days off each week to catch up on your sleep.
5 am Morning Routine
One major benefit of waking up at 5 am is the extra time available to create a morning routine. You will create your routine as you experiment and find what works best. Many love to include journaling, meditation, or reading in their morning routine. For me, waking up at 5 am is more of a necessity than a choice. I kept my morning routine simple to allow me to do everything I needed to get done before my children woke up. Here are some elements of my morning routine:
- Drink a tall glass of water.
- Have a coffee.
- Work on the computer. I typically work for 30 minutes to one hour while drinking my coffee.
- Exercise. I do yoga anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour each morning, preferably before most of my children are up.
- Get some more work done. Sometimes, I even get some extra time to work after yoga as my kids are getting their breakfast and getting ready for the day.
Getting those key elements done early consistently significantly affects how the rest of my day goes. No matter what morning routine you choose that it is what you will discover too. Your morning routine sets the tone for the rest of your day. It reduces your burden and makes you feel productive.
Wake Up at 5 am Video
What do you think? After reading this article, do you want to wake up at 5 am? Are the benefits of improving your productivity and being in control of your time rather than letting time control you worth the minor inconvenience of going to bed before everyone else? I certainly think so! It has been a life changer for me. Even though my 30-day challenge was extremely difficult because, yes, life gets in the way, and I didn’t sleep in during the weekend, I still cherished those extra hours of quiet each morning, and they made it all worth it.