Why I spent a week getting up at 5am

I want to start this by saying I am not a morning person, I don’t jump out of bed with a smile and skip into the kitchen to make breakfast and have a cup of coffee (does anyone?).

When I wake up in the morning at 5am it’s not pretty, I glare as my alarm, stumble out of bed and down the hall to make a glorious, life saving, only thing that can wake me up, cup of coffee. 5am and I are not happy chappy friends… We have a love/hate relationship.

So why Gemma, did you spend a week getting up at 5am if all these things are true? You may be asking.

The simple, short and non-contextual answer would be that I started reading the happiness project by Gretchn Ruben. In summary the book is about her own personal experience in making a concerted effort to figure out and integrate into her life more of what makes her happy. It’s not a how to guide so much as inspiration and ideas on what you could do yourself.

If you don’t feel like reading the long version of that you can skip right down to what I discovered in my week of early mornings, the longer version goes like this:

Once I started to think about what made me happy and what did not, I realised that the long list of things I enjoyed doing very rarely happened anymore. Many of them where hobbies and activities I did in high school and university that just kind of died off once I started full time work. I looked at the list and found myself thinking ‘I just don’t have time’.

I don’t have time to write or create recipes, I don’t have time to draw and I don’t have time to see my friends and family more often. Sound familiar?

Having made come to that conclusion I then left it for a few months. No time is pretty much the ultimate excuse, you can’t add more hours to the day so why bother?

Then about two weeks ago I decided that next year I want to run a marathon ,preferably this one. The only problem with this (apart from the fact that at the moment I can run, at most 5km) is that I cannot run in the morning. Morning exercise makes me feel sick and I only just manage to do Yoga for an hour three times a week at that time of day.

I realized that at least once a week I was going to have to start getting used to morning runs, I was going to have to find away around how much I sucked at it. I also found myself thinking about my time issue again, because a slowly increasing running schedule was going to eat into that for sure. How was I ever going to start that blog I had been pining after (yes the one your reading)?

And so 5am wake ups where born.

I told myself that I would try it for a week and see how I felt, here is what I found:

1. It has become my time for self-indulgance: No-one else is awake at this time of morning (gee I wonder why), I can sit here and write for an hour, drinking my coffee without feeling guilty for ignoring my housemate or partner. There is also no-one around to sit next to me and try and have conversation while I am in the middle of writing or drawing. I don’t have to pretend like I am happy to talk right now.
It might sound selfish but it means that later in the day I am not stressing or annoyed about the things I wanted to do and feel like I don’t have time for e.g. writing a blog post on waking up at 5am.

2. Consistency makes life easy:  I mentioned before that I have yoga 3 mornings a week, it is at a studio nearby and while I love it, when I was only getting up early on those three days it was very, very hard and I often missed class. It is a yoga morning as I write this and I am relaxed, eating breakfast and not grumpy and half asleep. My energy levels have also been much more constant this week rather then great one day and terrible the next.

3. Happier at work: I don’t always look forward to work, it is after all the biggest contributor to my no-time situation. Having the opportunity to do something I enjoy before getting to work really improves my mood and makes me more productive as a whole.

4. Suddenly I have time: Obviously I am going to bed quite early for this little experiment so I don’t think I have extra hours but I am finding that in the evening I use time differently. I watch tv with my boyfriend and cook dinner, or maybe I will have to do grocery shopping or have a coffee date with a friend. Despite going to bed earlier all of these things are still happening and so I felt like I had more time  when really I was just using the day better.

5: The Morning Ritual: The first thing I did every morning this week was wake up and have a big cup or glorious black coffee while I wrote. It was beautiful. Maybe over time it will change and I will experiment with oil pulling or mediation, maybe I will go for a walk or read a book. Being able to start the day with something relaxing and enjoyable rather then jumping out of bed and running around to get ready for work is perfect. It’s addicitve. It’s worth getting up at 5am for the rest of my life.

In summary I guess my relationship with 5am is improving a little, maybe we can even be friends.

So do you think you will try waking up at 5am any time soon? Or are there other experiments you would like to try so you can improve your life just a little?

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6 thoughts on “Why I spent a week getting up at 5am

  1. Good job! I have been waking up at 5am for some time and after a while, you’ll start to add things to your morning ritual (now I have exercise, oil massage, drinking tea while reading and than writing). Watching the sunrise is always a beautiful experience, often sacred to those early-birds 🙂

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