For many years, I had a vague sleeping schedule planned: alarms based on school days during the week, 10am during the weekend. I was neither a crazy morning person nor the late-night owl that most young people are. This worked for me, for a while. When my studies started to get increasingly demanding, I started feeling tired and sleep-derived since the 7-hour sleep was not sufficient anymore. Even if I tried to go to bed earlier, the power of the habit of going to sleep after 11pm was strong. So when I was released from school for my 5-week reading holiday preceding final exams, I made a commitment to wake up at 8am every day, no matter how late I went to bed. That was the start of my journey towards a regular sleeping rhythm.
You might think waking up early every morning is exhausting for someone not used to it. At first, it is. You won’t see or feel the results, whether it is going to bed earlier or waking up more energised, right away and probably not even after a few weeks. It requires a commitment and it does take some self-knowledge to know what works for you when waking up. Personally, I don’t usually have a problem with staying awake after my second alarm, but some people may struggle with it. It can take a bit of trial and error to find the right system for you. I use two alarms, just because I’m not able to drag my brain out of sleep after the first one. You shouldn’t make radical changes up front either: take it slow, adjust your sleeping schedule little by little. I spend over half a year waking up at 8am before I slowly moved towards 7am before starting uni. And surprisingly, I feel better with my current schedule than I did with my 8am one.
After a while of waking up earlier, you might find yourself not only awake earlier than your alarm but actually enjoying it. I became a morning person by accident in the side of finding the right sleep schedule for me. I value my sleep and the energy it gives me, and you probably should be thinking about the important things in your life before starting to experiment with adjusting your schedule: if your nights are spent out with friends rather than in bed watching Netflix (like mine), waking up very early in the morning might not be the best idea for you. Choose a time you think is reasonable for your situation and see how it goes: you might end up loving it and adjusting even more, or you might try it and decide it’s not for you. The most important thing is to be consistent, since you won’t achieve any results by doing it only when you feel like it. Decide on a time, stick with it and actually wake yourself up when your alarm(s) go off.
So what can you gain from having a sleeping schedule? For me, the most significant impact was that I started to have a rhythm to my days beyond sleeping. Now I have regular times for workouts, eating and hobbies, and scheduling academic work around my days is much easier. I started eating healthier, (mostly) dropping my habit of snacking in between meals. With all this came a newfound energy that has made it easier for me to accomplish things on time, which in turn has lead me to have more free time especially during evenings. However, evening socials are hard to get to, since the early wake-up calls also mean increased sleepiness at 6pm and going to sleep before 10pm. All this is very individual and depends on the amount of sleep you need and what you like to do and when. For me, getting enough sleep and maybe missing out on socials is totally worth it because of the energy it gives me and the occasional stunning sunrise you might catch sight of when eating breakfast at 7.30am.