I woke up earlier and earlier each day for five days. Here’s what I found.
Yoga can be a good way to jump-start your morning routine. (Photo courtesy of Audrey Decker)
Many YouTubers I follow have recently been posting their “quarantine morning routines” — usually with the word “productive” somewhere in the video. Some creators that come to mind include Hannah Meloche, Sanne Vloet, Maya Lee and Kayla Kosuga.
While I know their lives aren’t as perfect and productive as social media makes them seem, I aspire to have some amount of this structure. A common thread between these routines is waking up early. So, I decided to wake up earlier for a week and set up a consistent morning routine.
Since we already have so much time stuck in our houses, you might ask, why would I want to create more? At home, my productivity is at an all-time low. I’ve been sleeping in until 1 p.m. and getting absolutely nothing done. While you shouldn’t put undue pressure on yourself in a time like this, I still need some type of structure. The goal is to form habits I like and will stick with.
So each day, I woke up one hour earlier than the last to find that morning-time sweet spot. I stuck to the same 90-minute morning routine every day: make my bed, meditate for ten minutes, journal, do yoga and some art activity — I used children’s book illustrator Carson Ellis’ quarantine art prompts if you want to check them out — all with limited phone use during this time.
Monday: 9 a.m.
Waking up wasn’t too hard the first day. Birds were chirping, the sun was shining and I was excited to try my new routine. The meditation was surprisingly pleasant — I don’t usually meditate, but I did a guided one on the app “Calm.” My yoga practice was peaceful as well. I hadn’t journaled in a while, so I spent a solid hour of my morning pouring my heart into my journal, which was quite cathartic. It was a happy day; I had lots of outdoor time, but I didn’t find much difference in my productivity.
Tuesday: 8 a.m.
Still excited about discovering more hours in the day, I wasn’t sleepy Tuesday morning. Every part of my routine was pleasant, and I enjoyed seeing my parents in the morning. That day I also had some work, and I cranked it all out in the morning after my yoga. I realized putting off work until the afternoon just causes me to put it off until nighttime. I was sleepy by 10:30 p.m., which is crazy early for me. But I listened to my body, shut off my phone and went to sleep early.
Wednesday: 7 a.m.
Surprisingly, I still wasn’t too tired waking up. On the third day, I did get bored of meditating. Even with the guided sessions, I still felt like I was doing it wrong. My yoga practice was consistently enjoyable — shout-out to Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. Wednesday was a productive day, but I felt really tired midday, which is unusual for me. At 9 p.m., my exhaustion hit a wall. As I crawled into bed at 9:30 I thought to myself, when was the last time I went to bed this early? 10 years ago? I also thought, I really don’t want to wake up tomorrow.
Thursday: 6 a.m.
It was difficult getting up at 6 a.m., but by the time I made my bed, I was pretty awake. I had a productive day until about 1 p.m. I had a horrible headache that stuck with me for the rest of the day, probably from lack of sleep. Also, since the day was especially long, I was searching for things to do with myself. If I had more work to do, this would be positive — but in my case, it just led to boredom.
Friday: 5 a.m.
To be completely truthful, I failed to wake up at 5 a.m. I stayed up too late talking to friends and my tiredness overcame the novelty of waking up early. While it’s nice to have more hours in the day, most of our generation stays up late, so you might miss out on some Zoom calls in the name of waking up early. I didn’t have a productive day; maybe because I was discouraged after sleeping in. But journaling, doodling and yoga still made me happy.
Overall, this experiment with my sleeping and morning habits was successful. There’s definitely a middle ground — I don’t believe 5 or 6 a.m. is sustainable for a young person. In hindsight, it would’ve been better to gradually wake up earlier, instead of one week with five different times.
The most noticeable outcome was my happiness throughout the day. I feel the most lonely and sad at night because usually that’s when my friends and I would hang or go out. Maximizing day time and minimizing night time was helpful for my mental health. Also, I realized if I’d already accomplished small things in the morning, I felt motivated to keep doing things throughout the day. It’s a lot easier to keep doing nothing if you already haven’t done anything.
I’m not trying to convince you to wake up at 6 a.m. But if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut right now, try waking up a little earlier. Carve out time for yourself. You may discover you’re a morning person after all.