Let me start off by saying, I’m not a morning person! I used to sleep late, reading or watching movies till midnight, and wake up long after sunrise. I’m a blogger/freelancer who works from home and that gives me the flexibility to plan my own schedule.
I love sleeping in, but one thing I noticed about waking up at 8 am is the day flies by so quickly! By the time I know it, it’s noon and half the day is gone.
When I decided to do a 21-day challenge for each month of 2021, I asked for suggestions on Instagram. One friend suggested I try the 5 am challenge. I was hesitant at first, but I was intrigued by the idea of having more time to myself in the early hours of the morning. So, I decided to join the 5 am club for 21 days to judge for myself whether it’s truly the life-changing habit everyone says it is.
Resetting your sleep schedule
The most difficult part of this challenge for me was sleeping early. I’m a night owl and going to bed by 10 pm took some getting used to. I kind of sprung it onto my system, which in retrospect, isn’t the smartest thing to do. As a result, I was a little groggy for the first few days of the challenge.
No matter what time I fell asleep, I forced myself to wake up at 5 am. Eventually, my body would get tired by 10 pm, and falling asleep became easier.
However, running on 3 to 4 hours of sleep when you have an important day ahead of you isn’t ideal. Instead, I suggest starting small. Try waking up 20 to 30 minutes earlier each week until you find your sweet spot. This helps you to gradually reset your sleep schedule without shocking your system.
My 5 am morning routine
My morning routine throughout this 21-day challenge looked something like this:
5 – 6 am
Wake up and make coffee. My husband wakes up at 5 am as well, so we enjoy breakfast together before he heads to work.
6 – 6.15 am
I meditate using the Headspace app. I start with a mental body scan before shifting my attention to the breath. If you want to start meditating, check out my 21-day meditation challenge blog post for some pointers.
6.15 – 7 am
Do some reading. Quiet mornings are the perfect time to get lost in a good book or two.
7 – 8 am
I spend one hour learning something new about blogging. I read articles online, watch videos, and take courses on blogging to better myself and my website. Recently, I went through a course on Pinterest strategies, and I’m excited to give them a try!
8 – 9 am
Go for a 30-minute walk. I used to go for walks in the evening, but now I’m hooked to morning walks! I love that I get to complete my workout early on and start the day with a win. Morning walks really boost my mood and set me up for a good day ahead. Plus, I get to soak in some morning sunlight which promotes the production of melatonin and improves sleep at night!
9 – 10 am
I take a shower and get started with work!
Benefits of waking up at 5 am
Having joined the 5 am club for 21 days, here are some of the benefits I noticed:
Waking up early gives you more time to enjoy a hearty breakfast. When you’re rushing out the door for work, you’re likely to skip breakfast and binge on unhealthy snacks before lunchtime.
You can get your workout done first thing in the morning. If you’re like me, and you low-key dread exercise, getting it done early on when you’re more motivated and energetic really helps. Having to work out later in the day when I’m tired often takes added willpower, and I’m more likely to skip a day.
You can kick off the day with some quiet me-time before other family members are up. Spend a little time on self-care. Meditate, write in a journal, read a book – do something to nourish yourself before you start tending to others.
You don’t need to rush. This is by far one of the best benefits I’ve enjoyed from the 5 am challenge. I used to wake up at 8 am and my entire day would feel rushed. Waking up earlier allows me to do things at a slower pace, and it feels nice. I have a solid 3 to 4 hours in the morning before work to take care of me.
Should you join the 5 am club?
What I’ve realized is I don’t have to wake up as early as 5 am. Even waking up at 6 or 6.30 am would give me enough time to do all the things I want to do in the morning before tackling my daily to-do list.
Yes, the 5 am club is a popular concept, but that doesn’t mean you have to wake up at exactly 5 am to change your life for the better. Sure, give it a try and see how it works for you.
But if you’re constantly feeling groggy or feeling bad for interrupting your partner’s sleep, then reset your alarm to your preferred time. You could even wake up just a half-hour earlier. Do some light stretches, enjoy breakfast, and see how that feels.
My only advice is this: don’t knock it till you try it! Before this challenge, I was convinced that I’m not a morning person. I didn’t think I would enjoy a few extra hours in the morning as much as I do. Although I won’t be waking up at exactly 5 am moving forward, this has been a real eye-opener for me.
The 5 am club may be popular, but it’s not the only one you can join. There’s also the 6 am club, 6.30 am club…8 am club, whatever works best for you!
Tips for waking up early
If you want to wake up earlier, here are a few tips to get you started:
Learn from my mistakes! Going all in and trying to change your sleep schedule drastically may not be the best idea. Instead, try waking up 20 to 30 minutes earlier every week and allow your body to slowly adapt to the change.
If you want to wake up early, the most important thing you’ve got to do is go to bed early as well. Ideally, you should be in bed around 9 or 10 pm. Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling tired the next day. Create a relaxing nighttime routine that prepares you for sleep.
Half an hour before your bedtime, charge your phone as far away as possible from the bed, take a nice hot shower, change into your PJs, and get into bed. Chat with your partner or read a book before drifting off to sleep.
I don’t know whether it’s my body feeling tired or the increased exposure to morning sunlight, but a week into the challenge, I started knocking out pretty early. Prior to this, I would have some difficulty falling asleep, but since I joined the 5 am club, I started falling asleep quite easily. It’s amazing how a few changes in your life can have spillover effects on so many other things!
Set your alarm and keep it at a distance
When your alarm clock is on your bedside table, it becomes too easy to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep. Keeping it across the room forces you to get up to turn off your alarm. Once you’re up, don’t turn back! Head straight to the kitchen and grab yourself a cup of joe to kickstart your engine.
Prep breakfast and lay out your clothes the day before
Waking up early can be difficult at times, so stack the odds in your favour. Do what you can the night before to make your morning more manageable. Plus, a make-ahead breakfast gives you something to look forward to when you wake up in the morning.
Do something you enjoy
In addition to an enjoyable breakfast, do things that you enjoy. If you love reading, spend some time with a good book. If you love nature, go for a walk outdoors. If you plan to tackle emails or some other tasks you don’t particularly enjoy, you’ll be less motivated to rise early.
All in all, this 21-day challenge has been the most difficult yet satisfying so far. It gave me an opportunity to learn something new about myself – I have a small morning bird within me! If you’ve been thinking about joining the 5 am club, give it a go. It might just change your perspective!
For more tips on building new habits, check out my other 21-day challenges.