Never Let the Sun Catch You Sleeping: Why and How to Become an Early Riser

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Early to
bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
~ Benjamin Franklin

As a boy, waking
up early was something I associated with being a man. I figured
once you became a man, it was a rule that you had to wake up before
sunrise. My dad would be up at 5:30 drinking
his coffee
and reading the paper. During hunting season, he
was often out the door at 5AM to patrol for hunters. When we visited
my grandpa in New Mexico, I remember the scent of coffee wafting
into the guest room at pitch-black o’clock and the sound of the
screen door shutting as my grandpa headed out to take care of the
chores on his small ranch.

It
seemed like all the men around me as a boy never let the sun catch
them in bed. They were men of action who had things to
do and people to see. They couldn’t dilly dally under the covers.

Now, I’ll admit
that I love sleep. A lot. But I know I’ve wasted hours of my life
that I can’t get back because I kept hitting the snooze button on
my alarm. I’ve made an effort these past few years to wake up early
so I can accomplish more during the day and complete the goals I’ve
set out for myself so I can become a better man.

Below I share
a few of things I’ve learned during my quest to become an early
riser.

Great
Men Who Were Early Risers

If you read
the biographies of history’s greatest men, you’ll find that most
were early risers. They used each morning to write, read, ponder,
and plan for their day.

  • Statesman
    Daniel Webster would use his extra time in the morning to answer
    twenty to thirty of the letters he received from constituents
    and other politicians.
  • Benjamin
    Franklin
    would wake every day at 5AM and would use the time
    to wash, dress, and plan his day’s work.
  • Theodore
    Roosevelt would rise before dawn so he could get an early start
    on living his day strenuously.
  • Ernest Hemingway
    felt he did his best writing in the morning. “There is no one
    to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work
    and warm as you write.” He’d get started at 6AM and write non-stop
    until noon.
  • Philosopher
    Immanuel Kant would wake up at 5AM and have a cup of tea. After
    his tea, he’d smoke his pipe and meditate.
  • Thomas Jefferson
    felt “it [was] of great importance to use every moment of every
    day to its fullest,” so he was up before the sun each day. He’d
    use the time to record the weather, a habit which he kept up his
    entire life. After recording the temperature and air pressure,
    Jefferson would start a fire in his study. He’d sit by it with
    his feet in cold water and mediate about the day’s activities
    or any scientific hypothesis or political theories he was working
    on.
  • Benito Juarez,
    Mexico’s first full-blooded indigenous national to serve as president,
    woke up before dawn to study. His strict habit of daily thinking
    and studying gave him the insight and wisdom he needed to restore
    democracy to Mexico.

I could keep
going with this list, but I think you get the idea.

Benefits of
Waking Up Early

Increased
productivity. The world is a much quieter place at 6AM
in the morning. The kiddos are probably still asleep and businesses
haven’t opened yet. You can use this time to get a head start on
the day. Plan out your day, work on your side business, catch up
on emails, exercise, or take care of those annoying administrative
things that tend to get overlooked during the workday.

A lot of people
ask me how I managed to run AoM while going to law school, working
a part-time job, writing a book, etc. Much of it came down to pure
hustle
and lots of help from Kate. But my success with the blog also came
from waking up early and spending the first few hours of the day
working on AoM. I was able to get all my writing done in the morning
so I could spend the rest of the day concentrating on my studies.
Now that I have a full-time job, I continue to wake up at about
5:30AM and write blog posts for the Art of Manliness before starting
in on my day job.

Increased
creativity. Many writers and artists find they’re the most
creative first thing in the morning. It’s when your mind is fresh.
I’ve learned to organize my days so that I work on tasks that require
the greatest creativity — like writing – at the very beginning
of the day. I’ll write late at night if I have to, but I’ve found
I usually spew out crap that I have to re-write the next morning.

Decreased
stress. This can happen two ways. One, you get more done
during the day with your extra time, thereby freeing your mind of
psychological clutter. The other way waking up early can decrease
stress is if you use the early hours to meditate and think. Many
of the great early risers from history didn’t use their extra time
in the morning for toil and labor, but rather for quiet contemplation.
You could use the time to flesh out your thoughts in a personal
journal. If you’re a spiritual person, you could use the time for
prayer and scripture study. Studies have shown that these activities,
done on a consistent basis, can reduce stress and increase alertness.

Increased
fitness. If you’re tired of your gut, but don’t have time
for a workout during the day, or find that your motivation to go
to the gym evaporates after work, set the alarm clock an hour earlier
and exercise first thing in the morning. An early morning workout
will leave you feeling full of vim and vigor and ready to take on
the rest of the day. And it’s a truly satisfying feeling to know
you’ve already gotten it out of the way.

Read
the rest of the article

September
8, 2010

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