It’s been almost 4 years now since I began working to rewrite my bad sleeping habits.
It was around that time that my first son Malik was born, and my personal time began to (really) take a nosedive. I had already been working for years on figuring out what I wanted to do with my life, and then when I found it, committing myself to it. I wanted to give my wife and I, and later our growing family, a “better” life.
But it wasn’t until my first son was born though that I had to heavily reevaluate my life and how I spent my time. That was a real turning point.
For a while, I tried staying up extra late to work on my personal projects. But having a traditional work schedule on top of taking care of my son really made that difficult. A schedule like that was completely against not only my son’s sleep schedule but, as I would later learn, our bodies natural rhythm.
One day, I ran into an old article about Zen Buddhist monks sleep schedules. Knowing little about their day-to-day schedules at the time, I was really interested to find out that they typically had sleep schedules somewhere around 10-11 P.M. to 3-4 A.M.
The article talked a bit about the reasoning, mentioning some things such as the body’s natural rhythm, the fact that apparently experienced meditators seemed to need less sleep, among other things.
What really caught my ear was the bit about it being more conducive to our body’s natural rhythm, and apparently adopting a schedule closer to this rhythm helped us feel happier and be healthier. That was easily one of the two biggest convincing factors to getting me to start waking up early. I didn’t know if it was true, but it convinced me to try.
I also did some calculations, guesstimating what time I’d go to sleep (on average, kids really make this fluctuate) and wake up, and realized I’d actually get more time to myself as well as improve the quality of my sleep by going to bed, as well as waking up, early.
So I set out to do the unthinkable: I, the certified night owl since age 15, would begin waking up early. Fast-forward 4 years and I now wake up between 3-4 A.M. daily. It was a gradual process, chopping off thirty minutes to an hour every couple of months, but it was so worth it.
What began as a way to get some extra time and maybe feel a little more balanced quickly turned into one of the single best decisions of my life. It took a while to shift my schedule over, but my new schedule, even just starting out waking up at 6:30-7 A.M., made me feel great. I felt more alert during the day, my mind felt clearer and more at ease, and the quality of the time I got to myself was much greater.
I wasn’t half asleep for the last hour or two of my personal time, like when I’d stay up late. After a few minutes of shaking off the sleepiness, I was awake and ready to go. And it was so peaceful and quiet in the morning that once I started waking up early I knew I’d never go back.