How to Wake Up At 5am (and Actually Enjoy It)

How to Wake Up At 5am (and Actually Enjoy It)

I wrote this post with the intention of demonstrating how to wake up at 5am with a smile on your face and a purpose behind your actions. I’m not going to sugar coat it because that’s not my style. The truth is, without proper mental and physical training, waking up at 5am will be a drag.

No one wakes up at 5am just for the heck of it. It usually comes down to 3 types of people who wake up early: 1.) You have sleep or health issues and involuntarily wake up at that time, 2.) your kid or your job jolts you out of bed, or 3.) you are on a personal mission and want to get shit done so you can get more out of your life, whether it be financial, creative, spiritual… Everyone else sleeps as late as possible in the dreamland of complacency.

This article is directed toward the #3 group since I can’t give advice about kids and jobs, and since I am not a doctor or sleep expert I can’t really give much advice to those of you who have trouble sleeping. Although in another life, I probably would’ve gone to medical school. 🙂

There are all kinds of tips and tricks people write about online about how to trick yourself into waking up early, but many of those tips and tricks are very short-lived and superficial. They only work for a little while, if they work at all. Some of those tips might just end up making you irritated and tired.

For example, dumping ice water on your head will wake you up for sure, but are you going to put yourself through that agony every morning? If you said yes, I don’t believe you.

Do You Have to Be a Morning Person to Wake Up Early?

Some people think that in order to wake up at 5am you have to be a morning person (what does that even mean?) or have some kind of genetically blessed circadian rhythm.

Both of those things are complete B.S. and quite frankly, I view them as excuses.

In order to wake up at 5am, all that is required is that you have a personally meaningful reason to get up that early, and that you just get your butt out of bed before your brain starts talking you out of it. That’s all there is to it.

The Secret to Waking Up at 5am

If you want to know the secret behind how to wake up at 5am without resenting it, here it is: It’s called grit.

The 5am wake-up process is a finely tuned series of events that become an automatic habit that you perform every morning without even thinking about it.

In other words, waking up every morning at 5am is a result of good old-fashioned hard work and habit-building – not talent, “becoming a morning person”, or even luck.

grit is how to wake up at 5am

Grit vs. Talent: Which One Will Help You Wake Up at 5am?

In one of my favorite books of all time called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth hits the nail on the head and drives the point home that grit trumps talent every time. If you haven’t heard of this book, you can read the description and find the best price on Amazon by clicking here

Passion + Perseverance = Grit

from Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

The fascinating and surprising backseat role of talent is explained very well in another one of my favorite books by Geoff Colvin called Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.

You and I are not necessarily world-class performers, but we could be if we put in the effort. Let the possibility of that sink in for a second…

Even if we don’t want to be world-class performers, there is still a lot to learn from these extraordinary people that can be applied to the average person (how to wake up at 5am, for example.)

If you haven’t heard of Talent is Overrated, you can read the description and find the best price on Amazon by clicking here.

Grit = How to Wake Up at 5am

Plain and simple, if you want to succeed at anything in life… if you want to learn how to do anything in life… it all comes down to passion and perseverance, which is Duckworth’s blend of traits she says combine to formulate grit. Talent and luck are secondary, and sometimes completely unnecessary for our success.

purpose how to wake up at 5am

Identify Your Purpose

If you have no real reason to get up at 5am, I have news for you: You’re not going to keep it up for very long. You have to have a reason (or purpose) for getting up – AKA a goal, something you are working toward – or at the very least, something you genuinely look forward to doing.

Your first mission as a 5am seeker is to look inside yourself and identify your purpose for waking up so early.

How to wake up at 5am is the easy part (you just get your butt out of bed when the alarm sounds at 5.)

The tricky part is why you should get up at 5am. Focus on the why. Find YOUR why. Don’t worry about why your spouse, family, friends, or somebody like Elon Musk might choose to wake up early. Worry about why you should do it. Tailor the experience to your life and your life only.

work for it - how to get up at 5am

What About Willpower and Motivation?

I mean this with the utmost respect for your willpower: Your willpower is a lying asshole who is never there for you when you need it – kind of like its devious cousin, motivation.

As someone who has failed miserably at trying to wake up early many, many times, I am the first to admit that my willpower and motivation are both complete crap. I definitely do not rely on my willpower or motivation to get me up in the morning, so I recommend that you stop waiting for yours to kick in. Otherwise, you’ll be waiting the rest of your life.

Some Examples of Purpose

Since everyone has a different purpose, you must obviously find your own if you don’t already know it. However, there are some common reasons people get up at 5am that might help get the wheels spinning in your head and spark that fire of passion that is half of the grit recipe.

The perseverance that makes up the second half of grit is what we’ll explore in the second half of this blog post.

Why Get Up Early? Me Time!

Me Time is a fine reason to get up at 5am. There’s nothing wrong with getting up super early to indulge in giving yourself spa treatment or reading a romance novel, if that’s your thing.

Most people never seem to be able to find time to do anything they enjoy, so finding time to watch a favorite TV show, take a relaxing bath, or practice a hobby can all be fantastic reasons to get up at 5am and make life feel like less of a grind.

What do you enjoy doing that you never seem to have time for? It might sound cliché, but I enjoy waking up early to watch the sunrise.

Why Get Up Early? Free Yourself from 9-to-5 Slavery!

Another common (and very legit!) reason to get up at 5am is for entrepreneurial purposes. Most of us have a job and can’t work on our personal hopes and dreams during the workday since we have to dedicate our 9-to-5 hours to making the boss richer… if we want to receive that paycheck and keep a roof over our heads.

Setting aside time to start a business is an excellent reason to get up at 5am. What business ideas have been floating around in your head that you haven’t had time to act on yet?

Why Get Up Early? Get Spiritual!

The other common reason I see people getting up at 5am is for spiritual pursuits. The early morning hours are sacred, quiet and transformative – the perfect time to meditate, pray, practice gratitude, or read religious scriptures.

You might even find that dedicating part or all of your morning routine to spiritual pursuits will change the direction of your entire life for the better and allow business ideas to flow to you more easily.

perseverance how to wake up at 5am

How to Have Perseverance at 5am

There is no shortcut when it comes to having perseverance. It may seem like a constant uphill battle, but you must put in the work and just get out of that bed – especially on the mornings you don’t want to.

The morning you make an exception to sleep longer is the morning you fall off the wagon. And that wagon is difficult to get back on…

Your body will get used to getting up at 5am if you stick with it long enough.

How long will it take to get used to it? Honestly, I don’t know. Everyone is different. The length of time is irrelevant, and the more you worry about it, the longer it’s going to take.

It might take two weeks, or even up to two months, but I can promise you this: You will make a breakthrough. One day soon, you will wake up without feeling so tired and realize you can finally use this time to start on your personal ambitions.

This, my friend, is how to have perseverance, which is the second half of the grit recipe. It’s not a glamorous explanation, but it’s the truth – and the truth will set you free.

Perseverance Means Having a Consistent Bedtime and Getting Enough Sleep

If you intend to wake up at 5am on a consistent basis, it is a must that you keep a consistent bedtime. Just because you got all passionate and gritty doesn’t mean that you suddenly don’t need your rest.

In fact, it is because of your renewed passion for life that you need to get a good night’s sleep more than ever. As the Indian mystic, Sadhguru, says, “If you live well, you will sleep well.” 

Honor your body and go to sleep at a decent hour! Before trying to get too productive in the 5 o’clock hour, make sure you are consistently going to bed at the same time, and that you are consistently getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Until you are able to pull this off, waking up at 5am is pointless.

If your mind and body wake up rested and renewed, you will be able to accomplish your goals easier and enjoy your mornings more. After all, waking up at 5am is not about impressing others – it’s about getting more out of your life and doing the things that the rest of your day doesn’t allow.

Perseverance Means It Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

I’m not gonna lie. The first two weeks of waking up at 5am, even when you are getting your 7 to 9 hours of sleep, are going to be hellish because it is human nature to gravitate toward comfort.

Getting up at 5am when no one is forcing you to do it is going to be outside your comfort zone. Getting out of your warm bed and stepping onto the cold floor is going to be outside your comfort zone. Your brain will do everything in its power to convince you to stay in bed.

Do you want to be warm or do you want to change your life?

Whatever you do, don’t listen to your 5am brain. You are awesome, and you’re on a mission. You have the passion – now put in the work to maintain the perseverance!

The 5 Second Rule

According to Mel Robbins, author of the bestseller The 5 Second Rule (click here to check it out on Amazon) you have about 5 seconds from the time your alarm goes off before your brain starts to try talking you into going back to sleep. Use that 5-second window to your advantage and hop out of bed immediately before consulting with yourself. Just get up now and think later; by doing that, you’ll thank yourself later. 

Perseverance Means Patience and Planning

When you get up, you’re going to feel groggy because your body isn’t used to being awake and productive during that time. This is not the time to hit the ground running with your goals. Patience, grasshopper… Just get up and don’t go back to bed. Make your bed instead. Open the curtains and marvel at the sunrise or the night sky if it’s still dark.

Don’t expect too much of yourself during this period. Use this sketchy period just to start building the habit of getting up and celebrating the fact that you were able to drag yourself out of bed for something simple: a cup of tea or coffee and to watch some YouTube videos, for example.

During this time, maybe do some planning of what you would like to be doing once you break through this training period. Once you make it past the initial discomfort and establish a habit of waking up (and actually getting up) at 5am, you will naturally start to enjoy it – crave it even. You’ll become unstoppable and happier than you’ve ever been.

Bona Fide Tips to Help You Wake Up at 5am

This section is a little bit tongue-in-cheek because at the beginning of this massive blog post I made fun of tips and tricks that people give to help you wake up at 5am. I’ll say it again: I do think most of those tips are silly and don’t help in the long-run.

With that said, here are a few tips that I genuinely think will help get you started on your 5am quest for greatness.

When is More Important than How Much

When you wake up in a sleep cycle is more important than the number of hours you have slept. This has been well-proven by scientists and other sleep experts. When you enter the light REM phase of a sleep cycle is the ideal time to awaken without grogginess.

Theoretically, this means you can get only four hours of sleep, but feel more refreshed than someone else who got a full eight hours if you wake up during the light REM phase and the eight-hour sleeper got jolted in the middle of a deep phase 3 or 4. I don’t recommend getting only four hours of sleep per night, but I think you get the point.

Using a sunrise simulation wake-up light alarm clock (like this one I personally use available on Amazon if you click here) helps to gently awaken you with a simulated sunrise during the golden opportunity of the REM phase. That alarm clock is worth every penny. Ever since I received it as a birthday gift, I have been waking up at 5:30am without being tired or groggy.

Before I got that particular alarm clock, I had experimented with the similar cheaper non-Philips models and they all malfunctioned within a couple of months. I guess I complained to the right person because she bought me the Somneo. I’ve been using it for well over a year with no issues. I love it and can’t speak enough good things about it. 

Hold Yourself Accountable

Don’t let 5am rising be your dirty little secret. Tell somebody about it! Some people are more likely to follow through with getting up at 5am when they share their intentions with another person. Be honest: Are you one of those people? It’s okay if you are – really!

Tell someone close to you, like your spouse or best friend (your dog doesn’t count), that you are committing to getting up at 5am and that you want them to help hold you accountable.

If they are up early, too, it can be helpful to have them check in with you each morning until getting up at 5 becomes an effortless habit that you feel weird NOT doing. Even if they don’t wake up until a bit later, they can still check in with you (or you with them) to make sure you’re still on track.

15 pieces of flair
from the movie Office Space

Add Some Fun Flair

Why be serious when you can have fun? Don’t just have the minimum pieces of flair. Express yourself in the morning! 🙂

Even if you plan to soon be knee-deep in an early morning business project, consider incorporating at least something quick and fun into your routine. We all need a little enjoyment in our lives! All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

passion how to wake up at 5am

Start a Personal Passion Project

Never forget the first part of the grit recipe: passion. You need passion! It does not matter what sort of project or goal you undertake, but you do need to pick something. Work or personal, serious or silly… it matters not. You just need to be passionate about whatever it is.

Chances are, you are completely alienating or ignoring your inner desire to start a business, create art or music, hone your writing skills, practice yoga, practice a sport, hang out with someone, or simply just pursue some sort of secret or not-so-secret ambition. You know it’s true.

It’s time to stop putting your wants and needs on the back burner of your life. The time to get what you want and need is, well… at 5am – before the day gets away from you. 

 The best way to live a life of no regrets is to wake up at 5am and dive into whatever it is you want to do for yourself… for your own personal growth. By feeling more fulfilled on a personal level first thing in the morning before others in your household wake up and before you report to work will enhance your ability to be a good parent, student, business owner, and/or employee. What’s good for you is good for everyone around you. Unless you’re using your 5am to build a business and quit your job – then, well… screw your boss. 🙂

good attitude at 5am in the morning

Maintain a Good Attitude

Let me let you in on another secret I’ve discovered: The thing that will derail your 5am ambitions (heck, your life in general) the quickest is having a bad attitude. Having a bad attitude means you don’t have enough gratitude.

Every day that you wake up and you’re still alive is a day to cherish and celebrate. Every day that you wake up and your loved ones are still alive is a day to cherish and celebrate. Celebrate by waking up early and getting a headstart to make the day even better and make your life even more worth living. 

Laying in bed isn’t living your life. Get your 7 to 9 hours, then get out of bed as soon as possible. Don’t lie there hoping and dreaming – get up and make it all happen.

You don’t have to wake up at 5am. You get to wake up at 5am. Remember that and believe it with all your heart, and you will be successful at fostering a 5am wake-up habit. You are the change you want to see in your life, and it all starts with a good attitude and a thankful heart.

I'm the owner of and an enthusiastic early riser. Let's discuss why that is... and maybe I can make you a believer in magical mornings as well!

One comment

  1. DLH says:

    I completely disagree with all of this. I don’t believe that getting up at 3, 4, or 5 in the morning makes one more virtuous or more accomplished. I can get more done in the evening when the house is quiet and I have a chance to reflect on the past day and the next day coming up.
    I don’t see how one becomes “morally superior” based on the time that he/she wakes up. There are people who are wide awake and raring to go at 3, 4, 5, A.M., and that’s fine. But there are also people who are able to concentrate and accomplish more work in the evening, and that’s fine also.
    I don’t need to purchase an alarm clock, or whatever products you’re selling on this blog to promote a belief in moral superiority. I am not interested in what Ben Franklin thought back 250 years ago when there was very little artificial lighting and people were required to rise several hours before dawn and go to bed at sunset. Times have changed now.

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