You wake up at 6am… everyday?

Yeah, often even earlier

Oh i couldn’t do that….

That is how every conversation goes when I talk to people about sleep. The funny thing is, I used to be that person. You know the ”I’m a night owl, I work better late in the evenings” person. I did a full 180 on myself and I’ve not had a groggy morning, slow start or tired eyes since, interested?

Lets take a step back. August 2014, seven months ago at the time of writing, I began actively working to improve my sleep. What? Yes. Sleeping doesn’t have to be something that just happens by accident at the end of each day. I made an active decision after listening to an episode of the Seanwes Podcast that mornings could be a powerful asset in my tool-belt, I could use mornings to help me achieve my goals and train new habits. What I discovered was that not only is sleep important but I believe it is the single biggest factor for improving success, physical and mental wellbeing. Thats a pretty big statement.

Okay Sam thats great. But its not for me.

A lot of people tell me they can’t change the way they sleep. That for some reason I must be different to them. That they could never get up early, that they can’t get to sleep before midnight, that they’re not productive in the morning, that they’re a night owl. Guess what? I used to think just like this. I used to be just like you! It’s all lies and a habit you’ve perpetuated over many years of your life. You can change any aspect of your life it just takes some discipline.

A year ago I was in a routine that almost everybody can relate too. I’d stay up late, until 12 midnight or 1am and then I might even watch a tv show so I would usually be getting to sleep around 1am or maybe even 2am. My alarm would sound at 8am sharp, I’d begin hitting snooze a few times before jumping into the shower. Breakfast was optional, before heading out to work before 9am. Sound familiar? It sucked. Mornings were groggy, my eyes were not really open until about 11am. Does the slightest thing wrong in the morning annoy you? Perhaps your sleep could do with a fix up.

time for a change perhaps

If I had not changed something there is no way you would even be reading this right now. I owe all of my progress in health and fitness, productivity and positivity to first working on my sleep.

A little bit of dedication and disciple goes a long way. You can change habits of a lifetime in a short period if you’re willing to start, try things out and adjust along the way. Changes that could have massive impact on your life, that will ripple through the rest of your life.

Why is sleep important? Because everything you try to do is more difficult if you have not already mastered your sleep. If you’re sleep is not optimal your body is not running at peak performance. Every goal you want to achieve becomes more difficult. Sleep is a force multiplier on everything else you do. Go straight in for the most impactful changes first. Once your sleep is on track, everything in life gets easier.

Willing to give it a try?

Quick Tip, have a set bed time, variable wake time. This is opposite to how most people function but is far more intune with how the bodies sleep function works. Sleep Works in cycles, moving from stage 1-5 sleep, the most important thing to know is that on average one of these cycles takes 90minutes to complete. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle is bad news, it is what will cause the brain fog grogginess and endless snooze hitting. Your aim is to be waking up at the end of a cycle, thats where a super handy app comes in. Sleep Cycle is an alarm with a wake up window, not an exact time. It will attempt to wake you up at the end of a cycle when your sleep is the lightest.

To get the most benefit from sleep cycle, you need to get out of bed when it first wakes you up, no snoozes or excuses. Because it has a wake-up window you are going to set it earlier. (If your alarm is normally 8 am set it for between 7-8) Moreover, it might even wake you up with time to spare. The rule to remember is this, if you are not going to get a full 90 minutes sleep do not bother, it will make you feel worse.

Work out the amount of sleep cycles you want. I aim for five cycles at 7.5 hours and give myself 15 minutes to get to sleep. So my average routine is getting into bed and be going (no iPhone or reading that happens before this part) to sleep at 10:15. I set my alarm for between 5:15-6:15. Crazy right! Thing is, now this is so ingrained in my behaviour I can now wake up naturally at 5:30 without any tiredness.

If I could share one piece of advice to you, it would be to trial run a sleep schedule that includes early to bed and early wake ups with the sleep cycle phone app. Be strict with your sleep time, this allows your wake time to be variable and not to rush in the mornings. Stick to it for at least three weeks. No excuses, No exceptions. Just try it, how much do you have to lose, and how much do you have to gain?