Waking Up in the Dark

Waking Up at 4am in the Morning

I have been struggling this past year trying to make time for a lot of things: exercising, working, developing my portfolio, time for family and friends, down time or myself, etc. Despite my efforts, I would not be able to fit everything I would like to do in a single day. One priority would replace another priority, resulting in unfinished projects or partially developed habits. Something had to change. So I decided to drastically change my schedule in order to fit everything. Here is my initial impression of waking up at 4am in the morning.


Early Rising is as Much a Mental Process as Physical Process

During the summer, the bright mornings made it easy to get up. The light just woke me up and I knew that it was another day. In winter, the days are dark in the morning. When it is still night, I want to keep sleeping. But in order to get myself up, I would place my phone (and alarm) by the other end of my bed or place it on the dresser, so that I would have to physically get up to turn off my alarm. I struggled turning the snooze button or waiting for my second or third alarms. But after a couple of days I got into the rhythm.

After waking up and a quick trip to the bathroom, I started my half hour workout. Starting small, I am still developing a habit of consistency with my workouts. So far, it is going well. Warming up, strengthening and stretching my body in the morning physically prepares me for the day. I feel different throughout the day. Since I am sitting down during work, exercising helps me become more aware of my body and keeping better posture. I occasionally stretch at work, just to keep my body nimble.

During the week, getting up to work is great incentive to get up early. After this first week of waking up early, exercising and starting work early, I found time in my afternoons to work on personal projects, meet with friends and spend time with family. I was worried that this would change on the weekends. But by this past weekend, waking up early was getting a little easier.

Something that I have learned when starting a habit is to keep going. It is exhausting at first, but it gets easier and soon it is a habit for your body and mind. Waking up early and going through a full day or work and activities has definitely affected my sleep. I sleep earlier and deeper now. I used to be so anxious that I missed something during the day, or could have made time for other tasks. Although I am still not perfect and I can manage my time better, there is now a sense of satisfaction when I sleep, that I have done the best I could for the day.


Time for Yourself

After reflecting on it, I realize that making time for yourself is important - as important as waking up early in my case. My sleeping pattern, my health and fitness are gradually changing. I can see and feel the results. I feel stronger, less stressed and motivated. I have been able to work through projects that were on the back burner, and set plans and meetings.

The progress is not all about work. Making time to volunteer and help with chores around the house fit well into my schedule without too much worry. But circumstances always seem to challenge us when we are trying something new. I do feel tired and my mind loses focus at times. I do my best in following through as well as planning ahead. So if you are still struggling with that, do not worry, we all do. But the small changes we make will be for the better. Pushing past your comfort zone will only make your comfort zone bigger. In time, you will gain the confidence to do anything you set your mind to - even getting up in the morning on a cold winter’s day. ■

Patricia Atienza