There’s something magnetic about the 5am club; a community of members who greet their day within the very early hours of the morning. Come midday, and they always seem to have every task checked off their list in a manner of perfect preparedness.
Late sleepers and night owls may long to join their ranks, among those who get to enjoy the beauty of sunrise every single day.
We’ve all made attempts at trying to straighten out our sleep cycle. Even with the absolute promise of an early night, those sneaky Netflix episodes and social media reels always seem to get their way, and before you know it, you’re groggily and timidly stretching for that snooze button; longing for a few hours more.
Indeed, there are so many wonderful benefits to waking up early in the morning, and they’re not as far from reach as you might first think.
As gurus of sleep and experts of wellbeing, today SMUG will show you how to climb and conquer the 5am club, and together we’ll explore its benefits, how to overcome its tribulations, and most importantly, how you can become a better all-round morning person.
The Other Side of the Clock
Early-morning demands creep up all the time. Sometimes there’s a flight to catch, young children to attend to or a day ahead that you absolutely must prepare for. And whenever these demands come calling, the struggle of greeting them is all too real.
There are lots of reasons why some people hate mornings, but above all else, it really only ever comes down to your sleep cycle.
The body’s clock - when it sleeps and wakes up - is run by what’s called the circadian rhythm. We got in touch with this rhythm through the fascinating insight provided by one of our most recent blogs, which you can check out here.
The circadian rhythm is largely light reactive, which is why it’s best to go to sleep in as dark an environment as possible and to flood your eyes with as much natural light as possible when trying to wake up.
This reception to light, which goes back to the human body’s primordial instinct to follow the cycle of the sun and moon, is also incredibly time-dependent, and even more so within the busy modern schedules of today.
If you’re a night owl or someone who’s typically awake towards the later hours of the night, of course it’s going to be a struggle to suddenly wake up bright and early at 5am. But if you’re meeting that alarm every day, it’s going to slowly become more of a habit than a challenge.
With all that being said, there still remains a tremendous amount of outside influence contributing to your early-morning struggle.
What’s Keeping you in Bed?
So, aside from sunlight exposure and the addressing of sleep schedules, here’s a brief round-up of some of the things we’d most avoid when trying to become a member of the 5am club:
Stress, depression and anxiety are all reasons you might be struggling to sleep, and negative emotions have been closely linked to daytime sleepiness and nighttime insomnia.
Caffeine and other Stimulant
There are a lot of things out there that hate good sleep. Caffeine is top of the list, but lesser-known sleep-deprivers include smoking, blue light from digital devices and consuming processed foods; which all cause the circadian rhythm to slow.
Poor Sleep Environment
Sleep hygiene is a really big part of being able to get to sleep on time, and the styles and settings in which we approach sleep should be just right.
Noone's sleeping pattern is the same, which is why sleeping next to somebody isn’t always the best option.
Waking up at sunrise
Now that we’ve covered the don'ts, we’re going to dive into the dos. The best way to begin a routine that follows an earlier schedule is to gradually build up to it. Waking up an hour or so earlier each time the alarm goes off will help to ease you into the experience.
If you’re anticipating an early start and don’t have much time to prepare, you can always try out a hard restart the morning before. Before you go to sleep, set an alarm to go off at the time you desire. When it sounds, do everything you can to meet that alarm; resisting that tempting snooze button with every fibre of your sleepy being.
A good trick for meeting alarms is actually to place them on the other side of the room, out of arm’s distance from the bed if possible. This means that its blearing can only be silenced when you physically leave the bed.
This reminds us that sleep is about so much more than just the day-to-day struggle, and that maintaining a sleep schedule and circadian rhythm that starts among the first few stray beams of sunlight must become more of a change of habit and a change of heart.
Those who rise early sleep early too, and this pattern can only really be effective within the recommended eight hours of sleep an adult needs if the day around it is demanding enough to encourage the need to sleep.
Exercise, social interaction and healthy meal plans are all ways to welcome a positive and happy sleep as they promote the cycle of the circadian rhythm and cause the body to consume higher stores of energy.
The Early Bird Catches the Worm
Waking up at 5am will hopefully be more of a possibility than a dream now, but why exactly would you want to join this club? And what are the benefits of an extra-early morning?
Having access to a couple of hours to yourself before the rest of the world joins the day will give you just the right amount of breathing time to address the most pressing concerns on your schedule in peace and quiet. This might include:
Preparing a Proper Breakfast
The first meal of the day is always the most important, so having a moment each morning to renournish the body and mind can never be overstated. This time can also be used to prepare meals that you’ll enjoy throughout the day too.
Catching up on Exercise
Working out and exercise greatly benefits cognitive function and productivity, and an early-morning session lets you feel and enjoy all these benefits throughout the rest of the day. Early exercise makes you more alert during the day and helps you wind down in the evening, contributing to good sleep hygiene.
Mental Health Exercises
When a shecule is pressed for time, it can be difficult to book in a mental health session. However, an earlier start will help you to prioritise and address your feelings before the day gets going. The early morning is a fantastic time to journal and think without interruption - a clear morning and a clearer mind.
If you’re a night owl, you’ll probably be very familiar with trying to get things done and dusted throughout the later hours of the night. But when you’re trying to complete the same tasks with a night of good sleep behind you, instead of in front of you, you’ll have better mind to finish and address these miscellaneous tasks without having to battle with elements of tiredness.
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