Make a Wake Up Schedule

Time © by alancleaver_2000

Sleep and exercise is going well, I get up at 6.28 and later today I am going swimming 2.000 meters. Soon I will have to work on my diet habits because much to often I have to decide what to cook when I get hungry and by then it’s too late and I just eat whatever I find in the refrigerator.

6.28 am – that’s an odd time to wake up you might think? Well, there is a reason for that; I started my sleeping habits by setting the alarm clock to wake me up at 6.00 am but I realised that was not good. I just could not get out of bed at that time of day. I think it has got something to do with my geographical location. I live in Denmark and today the sun rises at 8.43 am and it sets at 4.17 pm, so getting up at 6 o’clock feels like in the middle of the night and for some reason we ‘Norsemen’ seem to need more sleep in winter than in the summer.

The sun rises about two minutes earlier each day and I thought it would be nice to get up about 6.00 am in the summer, hence I set the clock to wake me up two minutes earlier every Monday. This way my body gets used to getting up earlier and I get a bit more sleep during winter.

You can use this technique no matter where you live in the world. If you have trouble getting up early then start out by deciding a good time to get up (e.g. 6.00 am). Find out when you usually wake up; if you wake up at 9.00 am then set the clock to wake you up at 8.00 am. If you feel good about getting up at 8.00 then set it to 7.00 am.

If 7.00 am is hard for you then you should start getting up at 7.30 am and then accustom your body to get up earlier by setting the alarm clock two minutes earlier every week until you reach your goal.

Make a schedule that shows your progress and then you will reach your goal and get up at 6.00 am. It could look something like this:

Wake up schedule

Goal: 6.00 am

January 6.30 am – 6.24 am

Week 1: 6.30 am

Week 2: 6.28 am

Week 3: 6.26 am

Week 4: 6.24 am

February 6.22 am – 6.16 am

March 6.14 am – 6.08 am

April 6.06 am – 6.00 am

May 6.00 am!

Good Habit 1: Sensational Sleep

Physiological habit sleep © Erik Back 2011

This is the first article in a series of good habits that are based on my model “The Hierarchy of Habits”. At the foundation of the pyramid you find the physiological habits and today is about sleep.

Sleep research

Sleep is the most important habit of your life. If you do not sleep at all then you risk death; it is as simple as that. If you only sleep very little you will live but you will have a terrible life. I have seen relationships break because of lack of sleep; I have seen even more people get permanently sick because of lack of sleep.

Research show that you need 7-8 hours of sleep and if you do not get the sleep you need your cognitive performance will not remain intact. You will not be thinking as clear as you could. At 6 hours sleep or less research show that you will regenerate over time; your life span will be shortened.

You can read the research result that was published in 2003 here. If you would like a less academic text you can read an article from The New York Times here.

How I got a better sleeping habit

For a few months I have had only very little sleep, about 5-6 hours every night sometimes I managed to get a nap in the middle of the day. In the beginning it was not a problem with less sleep but lately I have had problems performing during the day. I forget things and have difficulties being positive. I realised that I had to work on my sleeping habits.

I wanted to get a stable sleeping pattern to get enough sleep and to bring balance into my sleeping habits; this is what I do:

I get up at 6.30 (6.30am) every morning. I started out getting up at 6.00 (6am) but that was too early, maybe because it is winter and dark most of the day (I live in Denmark and right now we only have about 7 hours of daylight)

I go to bed around 22.00 (10pm) in the evening, sometimes later, but I aim at ten o’clock. This results in approximately eight hours of sleep.

I take a nap during the day if I have the opportunity to do so. I never allow myself to nap more than 45 minutes. I have always had a biphasic sleeping pattern; I do not know if that is good or bad but most research seem to prove that a nap is a healthy habit as long as you take the nap between 13.00 and 15.00 (1pm – 3pm).