• David Strittmatter

Why I always wake up at 7 am

This past week I was really struggling with maintaining my habit to always wake up at 7 am. However, I still managed to stick to my habit despite I was partying more or less three days in a row and doing sports almost every day (which requires you to sleep more).


In this article, I want to tell you why it is so important to me to wake up every day at 7 am, why I still wake up that early despite I went to bed pretty late and what the benefits and downsides of this habit are.


If you win the morning, you win the day


This week was rough: On Thursday I went to sleep at 3 am, on Friday it was at 2 am and on Saturday it was at 1:30 am. I love going out, have fun with my friends, dance in the night club – the worst part about it, though, is that it drains a lot of your energy and productivity for the upcoming day(s).


There is a clear trade-off: Either you sleep as much as you need to be productive, but wake up pretty late when the half of the day is already over; or you wake up as early as usual and be tired and less productive. For a quite amount of time, I have always chosen the latter. But why the hell am I doing this to myself? Waking up early at the weekend is one thing. But why do I wake up after two or three hours of sleep despite I have plenty of time to sleep and no pressure to get something done? The answers to these questions – my dear friend – will be given to you in the following paragraphs.


From trying something new to a great new habit


When I started this habit I did not really think about the great benefits of it. I just wanted to try something new, challenge myself and my discipline to establish a new habit. After reading the power of habit I had become affected by integrating more and more habits into my everyday life, including this. Today, however, I can say that this was not even such a stupid idea.


What to consider when you want to try it


After doing this for a few months I can feel the true benefits of having a constant wake up time and it is totally worth the upside of it. First and foremost, however, it is very important that one can acquire this habit, that one can really make use and harness the extra time you gain from implementing this habit. Always waking up at the same time/early gives you a hell lot more of time to get something done. If you don't really have something to do, something that drives and motivates you to be productive, it is substantially more difficult to get this habit going.


In my case, I do a lot of sports, set myself new goals again and again (currently: YouTube, personal branding stuff, learn for university, read a lot; upcoming when I get bored: make use of open course work of Stanford University, study French again…). And therefore, I can really take full advantage of this habit. Even when I am tired, I am so motivated to wake up and get the day started. In particular, at the beginning of implementing this habit, it is really hard to wake up at the weekend or after a party when you do not have something to do in the morning inspiring/motivating you. Sooo, if you want to try it, first set yourself a task that motivates you so that you can take advantage of the time you gain.


The advantages of always waking up at the same time


Get more out of your day


But now enough talked about the obstacles that prevent you from practicing this habit. Let me tell you something about the advantages. First of all and very briefly, it allows you to get more out of your day. It is quite obvious that you get more out of your day, when you do not oversleep your weekends and other free days. Oversleeping in this context means sleeping more than your body actually needs (six to eight hours). Oversleeping is, in fact, just a waste of productive time. I mean if you really enjoy sleeping a lot and value sleeping more than being conscious and productive, it is the better deal to sleep as much as you love to. However, if you want to get more done, always waking up at the same time will help you to make more out of your precious time.


Reduce the probability of insomnia


Moreover, when you always wake up at the same time, you will cut the probability of not being able to sleep (insomnia) by a huge amount. I cannot even remember the last day I had problems to go to bed and sleep. This consistency has allowed me since I started it to create a steady sleep rhythm what is the basis for coping with insomnia. There were times in my youth when I had great problems with falling asleep because my sleep rhythm was so broken. Making use of this habit, massively helps you to keep up a steady sleep rhythm and, eventually, helps you to prevent sleeplessness.


Sleep less and still be more productive – make use of power naps


There have been a few days I have not made it to get enough sleep at night because of this habit. Alone the past week I could not get more than six hours of sleep three days straight. However, this is no problem at all if you are able to take a nap(s) to refuel your energy. In particular, at the weekends (or students that can wake up during the week whenever they want to), you are usually so flexible that you take some to take a nap.


Naps allow you to recharge your limited energy sources on these days with too little sleep. In the first one or two hours after waking up after a short night, you can be still productive in spite of the sleep shortage. However, to maintain high productivity which rapidly decreases after these first hours, you need to take a nap. After doing so, your body’s energy supply is recharged and you are ready to go to be productive for another several hours.


So all in all, you sleep less (e. g. you sleep 5.5 hours at night + two 30 min power naps instead of getting 7 – 8 hours of sleep at night), buuuut when making use of power naps you are at least as productive as getting 8 hours of sleep. Consequently, you not only have more time to get things done and live your life consciously, but you are still productive when not even more productive as power naps can boost your productivity massively.


After creating a real habit, you will not need any discipline to wake up anymore


Finally, I want to point out that creating and implementing a habit always takes a lot of discipline at first. After several months or even weeks, though, you will not need discipline anymore to follow it. No matter what habit I created – whether cold showers, reading, reflection, running, etc. – at first it took me discipline to do it. But now, after doing it for a longer even time even cold showers take me now discipline anymore. I will just jump in the shower, turn on the cold water and get my cold shower. That’s it. And what is really interesting: If I do not follow my habit, do not go for a run, do not get a cold shower, do not read in the evening, I feel like there something missing and suddenly I have a great need to do it as always and get my cold shower or go for the run. And now, same goes for the 7 am waking up habit. For a few weeks now, I have always had a great need to get out of the bed no matter how little sleep I had. Therefore, I can only tell you that you can really trust the power of habits. It helps you to make this a great success.


After talking so much about the positive aspects of this, I also want to highlight downsides of it.


You need to be able to cope with sleep shortages


My goal is to always hit at least an amount of eight hours of sleep. This means that I need to go to bed at 11 pm what has always been a very good time to go to sleep for me. Going to bed earlier is no problem, too, however, most of the time something gets in my way and prevents me from going to bed earlier. 10:30 pm, though, is my deadline for finishing my last task at hand (doing stuff for college, calls with friends and family, watching videos, writing something, etc). The reason for this is, that I always read at least 15 minutes before going to bed and reflect on the day in writing. I really do not like going to bed later than that as I really rely on sleep.


However, at times social activities hindering me from doing this. Either friends want me to go out, I want to go to a party with friends or other things stopping me to get a proper amount of sleep. Especially, this week that was the case. Although I took my power naps to offset the lack of sleep I had, I still felt very tired after day two of this series of sleep deprivation. I could not manage to maintain a high level of productivity, felt demotivated during the day and was only hyped at night when I was out again. And on the third day, I felt so tired, I almost fell asleep at my neighbors' couch during the early evening when they were hanging. After this third day, I really needed more sleep. So, I woke up on Sunday (day four) at 7 am again, but fell asleep one hour later again for another two hours of sleep and took another nap for 30 minutes at 12 pm again. During this time I was not really productive, however, I went to a beautiful island which is part of San Diego at midday and could really enjoy it since I was fully refueled with energy. I am sure in this case it would have made more sense to sleep longer than 7 am. However, I really do not like to break my habits. Moreover, sticking to the 7 am plan allows me to be even more disciplined and maintain my sleep rhythm.


In conclusion, waking up at 7 am has really great benefits, such as more time for yourself, being more productive on average and reduce the probability of sleeplessness. On the other hand, though, it requires a lot of discipline and endangers productivity at times when you get started. All in all, I really recommend trying it out for a few weeks so you can harness the power of habits and feel the benefits of it.


I really hope you enjoyed this article. In case you have any questions, remarks or feedback, let me know and write me a message per mail or on social media.


All the best,

David



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