I've started waking up at 5 a.m. after years of sleeping in, and it's easier than expected thanks to a critical mental shift

susie mooreSusie Moore

  • Susie Moore is an entrepreneur and life coach who runs her own business. After years of sleeping until 8 a.m. or later, she started waking up at 5 a.m. every day.
  • When people hear she's getting up three hours earlier than ever before, they always ask: Isn't it torture?
  • According to Moore, it's easy to adapt to setting the alarm earlier; it's hard to adapt your thinking to realize that it's possible.
  • She says some days are harder than others, but she thinks hard decisions like getting up early make for an easier day, and an easier life, overall.

When people hear I've started waking up at 5 a.m. every day after years of sleeping until 8 a.m. or later, they always seem to have the same question:

"Isn't it like… daily… torture?"

And I get it! Because I thought that, too - just weeks ago.

A 5 a.m. alarm conjures images of pain, being attacked by an intruder - the "brrrrrriiiinnnnng!!!!!" of an alarm clock - in those juicy, deep sleep hours (only to open your eyes to utter darkness and the stiff breeze of 30°F outside).

The answer is yes, well, kinda. Meaning ... it was. Initially.

But there's an old quote I like from Mark Matteson: "Good habits are hard to form and easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to form and hard to live with."

I think of it like this: hard decisions, easier life. Easy decisions, harder life.

And a hard decision doesn't create an easy life overnight. But with just a few days in a new groove, you realize you're surprisingly adaptable. We humans are. It's our thinking that's the most rigid, and I've come to believe that the mindset of thinking it's possible is harder to change than the new time punched into your alarm clock. In "The 5AM Club," author Robin Sharma calls it "mind over mattress."

Read More: 6 bad mental habits everyone should unlearn, according to a life coach who teaches people to be happier

So yes - some days more than others it's a hard decision to not snooze through to 6 a.m. or later, or to just wake up whenever you want. But with the structure and discipline of an earlier bedtime, it becomes a habit just like anything else (going to work, taking a shower, ordering your favorite sandwich at the same place).

Despite no after-parties for me, the ease that follows with this new habit keeps paying off in multiple ways which keeps me hooked:

  1. Endless hours in the day to complete whatever you want. What would you do with additional hours in your day?
  2. A sense of calm because "not getting the to-do list done!" is a major cause of daily stress.
  3. Time to yourself without anyone calling, texting, or talking to you (introverts rejoice)!
  4. Magical space to goal-set, meditate, read, reflect, do yoga … something just for you.
  5. Getting in a workout class and what Sharma calls a "second wind" workout - like an hour-long walk in the park late afternoon. This is a major shift, personally. Following through on any workout is a win for me.
  6. A feeling of being self-directed. Who cares if other people stay up late? Nothing good happens after 10 p.m.
  7. Satisfaction that you're using your best brain. Some studies suggest that your brain is actually bigger in the morning. Personally, I don't do any great or creative work even after lunchtime. Be honest, night owl - are you really creating that masterpiece after 7 p.m.?
  8. A feeling of control. Self-control in one area of your life really boosts self-esteem! And control feels good.

And you know what doesn't feel good? Being out of control.

Given that how we spend our days is essentially how we live our lives, an unintentional day (added up with lots more unintentional days) can start to feel like torture. Like being powerless.

So when people ask if getting up three hours earlier than usual is torture, my answer now is, "Not anymore! It's oddly quite a relief."

Susie Moore is a life coach and author based in New York City who has been featured on the Today show and Forbes. Sign up for her free weekly confidence tips via her website.

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