I have spent the last two years coaching 500 people online to wake up early. After coaching the same thing over and over again for a while the patterns started emerging. It became pretty clear which strategies work and which are just a myth.
If you want to be successful with a habit, one of the vital things is to have the right beliefs and mindsets. If your beliefs are outdated or just plain wrong, you’re not going to go very far.
Here are some of the most common myths about the early riser habit.
1. You Will Get More Hours In The Day
People don’t want to get up early, they just want more time. Well, waking up early doesn’t magically create a few extra hours in the day. They have to come from somewhere, and that usually happens with having an earlier bedtime.
To be an early riser, the first step is to get enough sleep.
I’ve also heard about those amazing entrepreneurs that pride themselves for sleeping 4 hours/day and still being productive. But out of the 500 clients that I’ve coached, nobody has been able to make it consistently without getting at least 7 hours of sleep.
So if you’re really serious about this habit, you have to re-adjust your priorities. You can’t have it all, sorry Freddy.
So if it’s all just about shifting the sleeping hours to earlier, what’s the point?
The real benefit is that you can use your willpower in the morning, while you’re still fresh to get a lot more done than you would in the evening. You would get some quiet time without being interrupted because everybody else is sleeping.
2. Early Riser is Genetic
Limiting Belief #1 — being an early riser is just a gift or an inborn talent.
I agree that you might be more inclined to be a night owl rather than an early riser from birth. But so what? Are you going to use that as an excuse?
Waking up early is just another habit. Just like exercise, healthy diet or meditation. A habit might be easier for some people and harder for others, but in the end, it’s all the same. If you put some effort and energy into it, it’s possible to do it despite your genetics.
I spent the first 20 years of my life sleeping through most of my mornings. And even if I managed to get my ass out of bed, I would still spend the morning in a comatose stupor.
I was able to recover from that dire situation, why not you? More than a 100+ success stories on my testimonial page are also proof that this is totally possible for “genetic night owls” as well.
Don’t limit yourself with the “genetics” excuse.
3. Being An Early Riser Is A Single Habit
Most people look at a habit as one singular activity. Whether it’s meditation, exercise or a healthy diet, we think of them as a single task that we have to do every day.
In reality, building a habit is more complex than that. To really have a habit you have to learn a lot of small skills associated with it. Take exercise for example. To really exercise effectively, you have to:
- Find a gym
- Get exercise clothes
- Learn how to warm up
- Learn proper form for different exercises
- Learn how to rest and recover
Each of these skills or tasks will make it easier to do the exercise habit.
Just like exercising, being an early riser doesn’t just mean waking up early every day. There are a few vital habits that you have to master to be an early riser long term.
Here are the most important ones:
- Get a good alarm clock
- Learn how to go to bed on time
- Create a daily bedtime routine
- Create a daily morning routine
- Get out of bed when the alarm goes off (the first time)
- Optimize your sleep
Working on each of these individually will make it easier to maintain the early riser habit. And the more of them you disregard the harder it’s going to be.
4. Going Cold Turkey Is Better
Say you want to start waking up at 5 AM every morning. The first instinct is to go batshit crazy and set the alarm for 5 AM on the next morning.
Go cold turkey right? No need to procrastinate… Well, that’s just like going to the gym for the first time and trying to bench 500 lbs. Good luck with that.
The main reason that doesn’t work out well is that the body has rhythms. The Circadian rhythm to be exact. And to shift that rhythm and to be able to wake up earlier takes time. You can’t do it overnight and expect to feel good on the next morning.
So what’s the solution?
Do it gradually. Move your bedtime and wake-up time with a few minutes every day, instead of going for your ideal schedule right away. That will give your body a chance to adjust to the schedule.
5. Weekends Are For Catching Up On Sleep
As we said, the body has a circadian rhythm, which doesn’t particularly care if it’s a weekend or not. It likes consistency. The more consistent you are with the sleep schedule every day, the better it will work.
Going to bed late on weekends is like scrambling your circadian rhythm’s brains every 7 days. Why would you be so mean to your own circadian rhythm?
If you build this habit correctly and you get enough sleep every day, you won’t have the need to sleep in on weekends anyway.
Of course, when you get used to it and wake up at the same time for a month or two, you can make a few exceptions. Just like it takes time to change your wake-up time to earlier, it will take some time to ruin it once it’s been established. So once you’re good at this, don’t worry about ruining your schedule with one or two late nights.
6. You Can Do This Alone
Another huge mistake we often make is trying to go it alone.
Even if you could do that, why would you even want to? It’s a waste of willpower. It’s very easy to procrastinate and go back to your old routine when there’s nobody checking up on you.
You can do it much more easily with the help of friends and family. Here are a few great ways to get accountability and build this habit more easily:
- Get an accountability buddy
- Post it on your social networks
- Ask your Mom to check in with you every morning
- Put some money down and commit on stickk.com
You can even hire an online coach to hold you accountable and help you with some tips. Here’s a list of waking up early coaches on coach.me, including yours truly.
7. You Can Rely On Willpower And Discipline
Willpower is unreliable. You get a huge boost one day, but you might be in a slump on the next. Since you need consistency to build habits, relying on just your willpower isn’t going to cut it.
You have to use that willpower to improve your conditions and routines, so when the going gets tough, you have something to support you.
For example, how about scheduling an early meeting or appointment every morning, so that if you sleep in, you’ll be late? If you don’t like being late, you’ll be forced to get your ass out of bed to make it on time.
If you’re setting up a condition to force you to be up early, make it more painful than getting out of bed. Make it something you can’t get out of. For example:
- Commit $100 to stickk.com to an anti-charity. If you don’t wake up, your money will be sent to somebody you don’t like automatically.
- Commit on Facebook that you’ll post a photo every morning with waking up early. If you fail, all your friends will know you didn’t do it.
- Commit to going for a jog with a friend early every morning. If you don’t wake up, you’ll leave your buddy hanging in the morning.
8. You Don’t Need An Alarm
You love your alarm, right? It’s the most pleasant sound that you hear all day!
No? Oh well…
Kidding aside, the alarm is probably the worst thing for a night owl. It’s like garlic to a vampire. We want to get as far away from it as possible. I was one, so I know.
It doesn’t have to be that bad, however. Only if you don’t go batshit crazy with the wake-up time. Setting it up just for 5–10 minutes earlier will make it much easier to deal with grogginess in the morning. And one day, who knows? You might even like it.
When you’re first starting out, you can’t really rely on your body to wake you up early in the morning. It’s like giving your body cigarettes for 20 years and then expecting to not have cravings for a smoke when you quit.
It doesn’t work that way. Your body needs training first, and the alarm is a great training tool.
And if the traditional sound alarm doesn’t work for you, try a few different options:
- Vibrating alarms – most commonly these are wristbands such as FitBits.
- Light alarms – in addition to sound, these also simulate the light from a sunrise
- Smart alarms – these track your sleeping cycles and wake you up when you’re in light sleep, meaning you are less groggy upon waking.
This article is mostly about what not to do if you want to be an early riser. If you want to learn more about what actually works, check out the Become An Early Riser In 28 Days course that I created.
It’s a step by step plan that you can follow every day. I tested the same process with 500+ clients on coach.me. If you complete all 28 steps from the plans, you will be an early riser.