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How to Become an Advanced Early Riser: Part 4

Early Riser

Changing lifelong habits can be very difficult. Training myself out of being the night owl that I’ve been since birth is something that is now 46-years ingrained into my soul. To be completely honest, I’m more than skeptical about this (or any) help to sleep program, because I’ve tried so many things. But it’s one of those nagging I-just-know-my-life-would-be-so-much-better-if-only things that I just can’t give up on. So I’m sincerely trying to implement this program along with some other sleeping aids.

My goal setting philosophy is that breaking goals down into laughably simple bits, is a great motivator. When the steps are so easy that we’d feel silly not doing them, it gives us a chance to make quick progress which can motivate and move us to the bigger, harder actions. That’s the very reason so many diet programs have a “quick start” feature. Get some pounds off the scale early and people will be more likely to stick with the program.

So, today I’m skimming through the 12 practical modules I need to work on and finding those that are easiest to check off. Let’s get down to business.

Module 3: Avoiding Energy Raising Activities 3 Hours Before Bed

This module won’t be super simple. Mostly because I prefer to work out at night — because I’m actually awake and have energy. But I think I can manage to schedule my workouts to be completed by 8:30. This will still put me in line for an 11:30 bedtime.

Once I’m getting up early, morning exercise won’t seem like such an overwhelming proposition. I hope.

Mostly, I’ll just think of 8:30 on as my slowdown time, instead of party time (like I usually do). That sounds like a good time to stop eating as well.

Module 9: Grabbing the Sunlight

This module taught me some valuable things about sunglasses. I love sunglasses. They look great and they cover up the lack of makeup when I run outside. But I’m convinced that at most times of the day, I need the sun more than I need vanity. (Gulp!)

Aitchison doesn’t give a specific recommendation — just that we keep a log (included in the success log) and that we try to get more. In addition to leaving the sunglasses off during most of the day, I’m going to try to incorporate 15 minutes outside each day. Not easy when it’s below freezing, but I’ll add that when I can.

Lastly, we recently unpacked the sleep therapy light I bought a few years ago. I’m going to put that on my office desk and leave it on for at least an hour each day while I work.

Module 10: Micro-Naps: The Secret Ingredient

I really like naps — in theory. But in real life they present the same problem I have with sleeping at night. I can’t turn off my brain and I can’t stop thinking about all that needs to be done in order to relax enough to get to sleep.

I am definitely not going to try Aitchison’s novel sleep-in-the-office-bathroom approach. Seriously? Ew! But I am ready to try this again. I’ll force myself to lie down for 20 minutes, once or twice a day. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll report back later.

Module 11: The World’s Most Accepted Drug

This module discusses the side effects of drinking caffeinated beverages.

I don’t drink coffee or tea at all. This was part of my religious upbringing and conviction. But it’s something that I’ve also seen a great physical benefit. I’m not dependent on a consumed stimulant to wake me up or keep me going or modify my mood. It’s a rather liberating thing.

On occasion I do drink caffeinated diet colas (generally when I’m drinking a soda and no other diet soda is offered). Keeping caffein intake well under control is already part of my dietary plan. Most of this module is already part of my regular routine.

When I’m not on a weight loss plan that prohibits it, I like to have a big mug of hot cocoa some mornings (especially in the winter). Aitchison erroneously claims that chocolate has caffeine. It doesn’t. Instead it has a structurally related methylxanthines called theobromine. While the two stimulants do have widely disparate effects, chocolate still can have an impact on sleep. So for the purposes of this course, it’s a good thing to moderate.

I don’t consume much of any stimulant, but in order to complete this module, I will make sure I don’t consume cocoa or caffeinated sodas in the evening. Aitchison doesn’t give a specific guideline on this, but I’m going to avoid all stimulant drinks from 4:00 pm on each night.

Do you struggle with any of these issues? How have you overcome these trials?

How to Become an Advanced Early Riser

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Riley Harrison February 28, 2011, 10:01 am

    Good Morning,
    I’m an early riser by nature and average about 6 hours of sleep a night. I no longer worry what time i go to bed or awake in the morning. Essentially I just go to bed when I’m tired and jump out of bed when I know that I’m done sleeping. I focus more on what to do when I’m awake and getting off to a good start in the morning. And my life style affords me the opportunity to nap whenever I feel it is needed. As I get older I find acceptance a wonderful virtue. Wish you the best.

    Riley Harrison recently posted…GOAL SETTING THAT WORKS part 3My Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2011, 11:04 am

    Riley, that sounds absolutely ideal! Unfortunately, with six kids and many schedules, we don’t have the luxury of getting up when it feels good. (Wow, that would be amazing!) We have places to be, etc., that require certain hours.

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your ideal sleep experience!

  • Anna February 28, 2011, 2:17 pm

    I’m addicted to coffee so for me it’s a problem – I can’t wake up without a cup of coffee, I can’t start working without a cup of coffee, I can’t go to bed without the last cup of coffee. My heart sometimes beats faster than usual and I do understand that it’s time to cut down on coffee but …. not now.
    So far I have limited myself to 5 cups daily. Hope it will help to improve my health and some sleeping habits.

  • LoveChic March 1, 2011, 11:40 pm

    I know the power of naps and when I was sitting with a baby I used to have a nap each time she went to bed but now my working day is so hectic that if I have some time to sit and have a cup of coffee in silence – that’s super!
    By the way, when i used to have a nap during the day, I did sleep well at night.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 2, 2011, 8:45 am

    Anna, you are not alone. I hear this all the time. My oldest daughter’s (wonderful!) kindergarten teacher came to class one day and said to the kids, “Do not talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.” That was the day I realized some people really have it bad!

    Let us know if the limit helps you at all. One of the course suggestions was to stop such stimulants at least three hours before bed, but caffeine (if I remember correctly) stays in the bloodstream for quite some time.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Update to WordPress 31 for FreeMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith March 2, 2011, 8:46 am

    I still haven’t tried the nap. 🙁 Hopefully I will implement that today. There’s just always so much to do!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Update to WordPress 31 for FreeMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith March 4, 2011, 8:04 pm

    So you feel sorry for me! 🙂 I need it! It’s not a great thing, but I’m resolving to do better this coming week than I did this past week.

  • Darcee Yates March 4, 2011, 7:04 pm

    Sleep is such a mystery. I have gratefully been part of the group that could sleep anywhere, anytime for most of my life. However, about a month ago I had a whole week of sleeplessness. Don’t know where it came from but I’m very glad it didn’t last. I would literally lie awake all night, lifting my head from my pillow to check the clock at midnight, 1, 2, 3 and 4 a.m. finally falling asleep just before I had to get up. Miserable. And then the problem went away. And I sleep again. I think it was just an exercise in learning compassion for all my sleepless friends.

  • john March 10, 2011, 7:23 am

    HI All,

    I am also a very early riser. Waking up early for me is very easy as I have a good routine, I like to wake up early and go sleep at a reasonable time , which allows me to rise early. Also when you are working for quite som time you get into that routine besides I find it healthy to wake up and go 2 bed early

  • Alison Moore Smith March 10, 2011, 1:25 pm

    Early to bed, early to rise
    Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise

    You seem to have incorporated that in your life. I hope to as well, John!

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