Look after your body and your body will wake you up when you want.
Let me be very honest with you, it was not easy. I am a coder by profession and my brain seems to work better in the calm of the late nights. In fact, it is same with a lot of coders. Go read this post at hacker news: At what time of day do famous programmers work?!
Regardless, I have my reasons and they are quite fair. I happen to be heading a team of devs who are based in India and I happen to be stuck in my home in South London. If I start working by normal hours, 9am, I would be bidding them goodbye after the stand-up. So, instead of my team spending their evenings working, I thought it would be better for me to start early. Well, early as in, getting up at about 3:30am or 4am and start working at 5am.
So, we have a problem and a very viable solution. Only blocker was, as I said, I have been coder for past few years and love working late.
Let's brute force it, sleep early and wake up early. That did not seem to work for several reasons. Not able to sleep early was probably the biggest one. I was not able to sleep early was because I woke up late. And you know why I woke up late...
Just wake up!
So this seemed to work for a bit. For about 3-4 weeks to be precise. I was sleeping at 11 pm and waking up at around 3:30 am. All alarm induced. My body and mind soon started suffering. Body first and then mind, really! The first symptom of my body suffering was, I would just sleep wherever. Sometimes while watching news and sometimes while working. The suffering of my mind was more delayed but when it showed up, it took a while for me to observe. The fact that me and wifey started having fights after 16 years of a relationship sums it up.
Time to find a better solution.
I needed a plan and I had to cleanse my mind and recover my sleep, so I went back to sleeping normally for a bit. By normal, I mean, sleeping before 10 pm and waking up after 4:30 am. I also started a few good habits, like drinking warm tea before sleeping and drinking a massive pint of warm water first thing after waking up. One more bit that I started doing was taking vitamin and mineral supplements. Just the standard multivitamin tablet TBH. It took me about 2 weeks for me to wake up at these times without an alarm, and that was my goal. Wake up naturally with a fresh mind. Once, that happened, it was time to experiment again. I tried sleeping at 9 pm and waking up at 3:30 am another day and to my surprise I woke up only a few minutes before the alarm started poking me. It was partly because of my excitement and partly because my body has had enough sleep. It was pure bliss to see my body respond so well to my mind.
So here's my step by step process to start waking up early!
Step 1 - Day 1 to 6
1. Fix a time to sleep and wake up 10 pm and 6 am is a good start.
2. Drink some herbal tea or warm water before sleeping. I would sip the tea with lights off and relax. Only go to bed when I was sleepy. This would be for a good 15 minutes. Love Pukka tea's (Peace and Turmeric is my fav!)
3. Start taking vitamin and mineral supplements. This is only to make sure you body is happy.
4. Set the alarm and wake up.
5. Drink a big jug of warm water right after you wake up.
6. Stretch and do Surya Namaskar
Step 2 - Day 6 to 8
1. Try losing the alarm and waking up on time. Put the alarm for 6:15 am and disable it after you wake up. Or even better, put a silent alarm of only lights and enjoy the light while you are drinking that warm water.
2. Prolong the time you relax before going to bed. This is in preparation for the next step.
Step 3 - Day 9 to 12
1. Sleep 30 minutes earlier than you would and see if you wake up 30 minutes earlier.
2. If you don't then please repeat step 1 until you get to this point.
If you do get up earlier then your body is in sync with you and would wake your mind up when you want.
I am now very very comfortable with my sleeping pattern and wake up really fresh with a lot of enthusiasm and hope for the day regardless of how my previous day was.
In the next part I will discuss WHY to become a morning person and what positive and negative changes I have observed.
Good luck with your experiments. :)