For almost 30 years, I have never considered myself a morning person. I detested getting up early, and the rare times I had to wake up before 6 a.m. felt like torture. I have also struggled with getting enough sleep in general. I self-diagnosed myself as an insomniac when I was in high school — I used to lie in bed for hours, checking the clock, letting anxiety build as I realized I had to be up in four hours and had not even fallen asleep yet. This continued into college, and I even got on a prescription for about a year to help with it.
Fast forward to my 20s, and the insomnia would flare up every now and again. It got especially bad after I had my twins. I was already not sleeping with twin newborns, and then I couldn’t fall asleep even when I had the opportunity to (likely because of anxiety). This snowballed and led to an exhaustion-induced depression, which I had to get on an SSRI for. All of this background is to explain that sleep was precious to me, like really precious. The idea of getting up before I absolutely had to seemed insane and pointless.
Then about two years ago I made a career change. I wanted to do something I enjoyed that was also flexible, so I got into fitness. The idea was to try to work around my husband’s work schedule, so we could take turns watching our kids. An opportunity came up for me to coach some group fitness classes at 5:30 in the morning. It sounded absolutely awful to me, but the schedule was quite perfect — I could be home before my husband needed to leave for work.
The first few weeks of getting up that early were rough! My body felt really off. It reminded me how I felt in college when I pulled the occasional all-nighter. But after about a month, my body regulated and I felt fine. Actually, I was feeling really good! I would get home about 30 minutes before my kids were awake. I’d make a cup of coffee and have a little time to myself. I also started making my kids really good breakfasts. Choosing to get up earlier seemed to help me be more intentional and productive throughout my day. It was amazing to me that something I never thought I could or wanted to do, became easy and a really positive thing in my life. And the best part of all is that I was sleeping really well! By 9 p.m., I was ready to go to bed and was asleep within minutes. No more popping melatonin like it was candy!
I no longer have to be to work at 5 in the morning, but I finally consider myself a morning person and love to get an early morning workout in if it works with my husband’s schedule. He’s actually jumped on the early-morning bandwagon as well and often goes into work at 4:30 a.m. He’s able to get so much done in the morning before his workday officially starts, which allows him to spend more time with us in the evenings. He was inspired to wake up earlier after reading about how people like George W. Bush, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Cook attributed much of their success and productivity to getting up before 5 a.m.
I get that it’s not for everyone. I know there are real reasons like hormone imbalances, mental illness, and young children that make getting up early especially horrific. But if you’ve never considered trying to become a morning person — I’m telling you, you are missing out! There is so much productivity, quiet moments, and coffee you get to enjoy while it is still warm in those early hours. So, give those mornings a try! What have you got to lose… besides maybe a little bit of sleep?