Firstly, Yes, I did take this picture! I love this clock. It came from Ikea, of all places! I used to use an old fashioned wind up clock, but not anymore. I had read somewhere that it’s bad for your health (or energy?) to sleep next to anything plugged in. However, the ticking and sounding of the alarm make my husband crazy and he can’t sleep in the room with it. So, I traded the clock for him. And, honestly, that’s worked out pretty well for me! Now I use one of those fancy clocks with a million options and I’m pretty seriously addicted to the nap feature! In my sleep I can reset my alarm 3 times for 15 minutes to 2 hours later. I’m in the habit of giving myself at least a 15 minute warning before I get out of bed every day! Once I’m out of bed though, establishing a morning routine is priority number one!
I’m a Night Owl
Back on topic though! As I mentioned in my post, Why You Need a Wake Up Routine and How to Create One, I was VERY averse to this whole concept for a very long time! And, in some ways I still am!
Here’s the thing… sleeping from 2am – 10am doesn’t make you more lazy than sleeping from 10pm – 6am. I know that you might want to argue that sleeping until 10 (or noon) is sleeping the day away. It is not. I typically sleep an average of 8 – 8.5 hours a night. My husband sleeps 8.5 – 9 hours a night. However, no one has EVER given him grief about how much he sleeps! Every night owl reading this is nodding so hard they might fall over!
Telling me to just “get up earlier” is absurd. I think you should just stay up later! My point is that we are all different and on different clocks. There will be a deviation. We shouldn’t all be forced into the same sleep schedule box. That being said, if you need to or want to change your schedule you can… but only because YOU choose to.
How Early is Too Early
I’ve been hearing personal development and self help gurus talk ad nauseum about waking up early and “starting your day right” forever. I’ve even heard pastors speak about the value of morning prayer and devotional time. And, everyone has heard at least one fitness coach espouse the importance of working out in the morning.
Here’s how I interpreted this: despite the fact that I need at least an hour of completely alone, unwind time before I can fall asleep at night and I work from home (with a flexible schedule) I’m supposed to wake up at 7:00am to tackle all of these tasks. That simply doesn’t make sense. But wait… then the time got earlier and earlier! Now I’m hearing 5:30am. This has gotten to ridiculous levels!
I recently read a study that said that said Americans sleep an average of 6.8 hours a night with a bedtime of 11:30. Anything less than 7 hours has serious health risks associated (I’m talking killer disease). By all means though… we should wake up earlier, do our devotional, journaling, work out etc. When I say it that way I’ll bet it sound ridiculous to you too! So, how do people like me set up a morning routine?
Finding the Time That Works for Me
Here’s what I realized! I didn’t actually need to do my morning routine at 5:30 am. There is nothing wrong with my need to wind down at night or the fact that I get a second wind after dinner and that’s when a lot gets accomplished! I just needed to make my morning routine fit into the beginning of my day, whenever that is! So, with this empowering new perspective, I set out to create a morning routine that would work for me! Like all hyper vigilant people I created a prioritized list of wake up routine rituals and marked my monthly calendar to serve as a tracker.
The Beginning of My Morning Routine
What were the first things I added to my morning routine? Washing my face, making my bed and throwing my clothes in the hamper. Pretty basic right? My previous routine was brush teeth & get dressed!
My husband sleeps with a bajillion pillows stacked in a very specific way so I was in the habit of leaving it. Honestly his pillow fort was a good excuse to not deal with the bed. Come to find out, we both prefer a freshly made bed, even if he does have to readjust those pillows. Actually, I’ve gotten so into this process that a) I straighten the sheets as if I’ve completely stripped the bed and b) I often accidentally make the bed on laundry day and then have to unmake it to strip it!
This leads to the point I made in my post about how people are naturally on autopilot in the morning! Seriously, I’m consistently pretty shocked by how much easier it is to add an activity to my morning routine than anywhere else!
Adding Something New
So once I had these basics added into my morning routine I decided to add body brushing. Why? Well, because it’s really good for you and I’m a little vain! I’ve been pining to try it out and see how it effects the appearance of cellulite so that I could blog about it. Oh, and be a hero to my sister who is always complaining about cellulite even though she’s damn near the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen! Sorry, another bunny trail, this is way more common on My Journey posts! So… again, I added it to my calendar and I set up my camera and took some before pictures (that are SO bad, they’ll NEVER see the light of day).
I found that I enjoy body brushing but I get super antsy doing it. It feels like it takes so long and I should be more productive and starting my real day! This happens despite the fact that I am getting up earlier and I have plenty of time. I think it might be because of my schedule flexibility. To make myself feel better about the whole thing I started playing podcasts while I body brush. Now I feel SUPER productive!
This was going very well and I was feeling like I had found a great groove. I was getting ready to add new items in and then 2 HUGE things happened. 1. I started having bad dreams about my friend passing away (and then she did) and 2. My daughter and her family came to visit from Arizona. Yep, you read that right! The worst and best thing literally happened in the same week! I was SO thrown off I could barely think straight.
These terrible dreams and then the emotional roller coaster of grief and my daughter (with fiance & granddaughter) visiting made it impossible to sleep or impossible to wake and VERY challenging to get out of bed. It took me 2 hours to get myself out of bed this morning for example. Here’s the thing… it happens! So I’m not ready to add anything new to my wake up routine. I’ll know when I am. I feel like it’s more important to listen to your body and your instincts than it is to check boxes.
Down the road there are a few things I’d like to add to my routine. And, by the way, they aren’t prioritized. I add them based on what I think will fit most seamlessly with what I already have. I personally would like to add: bible reading and prayer (or worship) 20 min, journal 10 min, & work-out 30 min. Your list could look a lot different from mine and you’d still be doing it perfectly! We’ll see what happens from there. I have toyed with hitting a work out class in the morning instead, so that might be an option for me.
If I add these items my wake up routine will be 105 minutes. Since I have a relatively flexible schedule I can make this work. If I’m up at 8 I can be working between 9:30 and 10 (depending on how long it takes me to make breakfast). I might back it up more or I might make it later. We’ll see.
I do think that I will at some point need to have pretty set and consistent times. Feeling like I’m taking too long makes me anxious and distracted. Knowing I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to makes it easier. Right now I’m happy with what I have so far.
An Unexpected Twist
Now you might be wondering how the heck my routine became an 8 am deal! I didn’t really set out to do this! I found I needed to do a few things at night before bed to make my mornings run smoothly. Who knew that doing those things would actually make me end up in bed earlier?!?! Without meaning to I started to create a bedtime routine too!
While my husband does his bedtime routine I get in the shower, put out my clothes if I need to and brush my teeth. Incidentally I practice Intermittent Fasting (aka Timed Feeding) so I can brush my teeth any time after dinner… I don’t eat after 7. Typically when I’m done with this I head to the living room, wrap up any computer or social media work I have (yes, I am trying to eliminate this), watch a DVRed or Netflix show and work on my to-do list for the next day. I very rarely just watch tv, so I also fold laundry, order my groceries or pay bills during this time.
Then I turn everything off, tidy up and start the dishwasher. Finally, I read 1 chapter in a non-fiction or personal growth book. Once I’m done with that I head to bed. This typically has me in bed before midnight and asleep within 10 minutes! I was super shocked when that happened.
I didn’t set out to have a morning routine! I set out to have a routine to start my day with! It just so happened that creating even a 30 minute routine has changed the way my entire day plays out. It has improved my quality of sleep and my productivity drastically! To be honest I was really surprised. The thing I’m actually most proud of though is my ability to give myself grace. I’m adjusting gradually and I’m being really patient with myself about getting the swing of things. This is my overall focus for my life right now so I’m happy to see it playing out effortlessly!
So… whenever you’re ready to try something new, I highly recommend starting a wake up routine! You don’t have to become a morning person! Maybe your schedule works perfect just the way it is. Going through the process of setting up routines around your sleep schedule will help you listen to your body and instinctively fall into your ideal sleep patterns. And, I hate to admit it but there really is something to what all of those gurus, pastors and fitness folks have been saying all along! It really does impact your whole day!
Do you have a wake up routine? What’s your favorite thing you’ve included in it? Share this post to encourage others to try something new and flex their progress > perfection muscle!