Never let the sun catch you sleeping

Like most people in my profession, I used to love to sleep in. I made a habit of staying up late and subsequently getting up late.

However, once I decided to made deliberate changes in my life, to be more productive and responsible for example, somehow I knew that one of the things I needed to change along with everything else was my sleep schedule.

A post from the Art of Manliness blog eloquently captures the reasons for rising early as well as a clear strategy to accomplish that goal.

Here are the highlights:

Great men were early risers.

If you read the biographies of history’s greatest men, you’ll find that most were early risers. They used each morning to write, read, ponder, and plan for their day.

  • Statesman Daniel Webster would use his extra time in the morning to answer twenty to thirty of the letters he received from constituents and other politicians.
  • Benjamin Franklin would wake every day at 5AM and would use the time to wash, dress, and plan his day’s work.
  • Theodore Roosevelt would rise before dawn so he could get an early start on living his day strenuously.
  • Ernest Hemingway felt he did his best writing in the morning. “There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.” He’d get started at 6AM and write non-stop until noon.
  • Philosopher Immanuel Kant would wake up at 5AM and have a cup of tea. After his tea, he’d smoke his pipe and meditate.
  • Thomas Jefferson felt “it [was] of great importance to use every moment of every day to its fullest,” so he was up before the sun each day. He’d use the time to record the weather, a habit which he kept up his entire life. After recording the temperature and air pressure, Jefferson would start a fire in his study. He’d sit by it with his feet in cold water and mediate about the day’s activities or any scientific hypothesis or political theories he was working on.
  • Benito Juarez, Mexico’s first full-blooded indigenous national to serve as president, woke up before dawn to study. His strict habit of daily thinking and studying gave him the insight and wisdom he needed to restore democracy to Mexico.

I would also add:
Jesus,

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. -Mark 1:35

Benefits of waking up early

  • Increased productivity
  • Increased creativity
  • Decreased stress
  • Increased fitness

I would also add:
Provides a time for silence and quiet reflection.1

How to become an early riser

  • Go to bed earlier
  • Start off small
  • Keep your alarm clock away from your bed
  • Have a routine established
  • Invigorate with cold shower
  • Make a good breakfast
  • Discipline, discipline, discipline2

Getting an alarm clock that monitors sleep cycles and attempts to wake you up during the lightest sleep cycle also helps a lot. There are great apps available for both Android and iPhone that accomplish this with stellar results.

What If I’m a Night Owl?

“Put no trust in the benefits to accrue from early rising, as set forth by the infatuated Franklin …” – Mark Twain

I would first of all urge everyone to make a good faith effort at getting up early in the morning. Before I tried, I never thought I would enjoy the regular routine of getting up early in the morning. However, now that I am in the habit of getting up earlier, I believe there are real tangible benefits to doing so.

That said, however, I recognize that some people just aren’t geared for that. My office is filled with many guys who do their best work in the evenings or at night. It certainly isn’t a character flaw. In fact, some studies show that night owls make more than early birds. Additionally, many great men like Winston Churchill accomplished great things even with an understandably chaotic sleep schedule.

Conclusion

Time is a precious commodity.

In the movie “The Matrix: Reloaded”, Zion city council member Hamann encounters the main character, Neo, deep in the bowels of the city late at night. In their exchange Hamann makes the statement that he spend the first half of his life sleeping, so he wants to be awake as much as possible now.

Because I believe this world is transitory. Our lives but a vapor against the backdrop of eternity. I believe it is worth while to live as many moment as possible consciously as well as intentionally.

  1. This meshes well with JP Moreland’s view of biological biorhythms mentioned in his Kingdom Triangle work. []
  2. Paul said he would beat his body to submit to his will. So we should be able to manage shocking ours to get into a good sleep schedule. []
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