We spend one-third (⅓) of our lives sleeping. There is a good reason why we spend such a big chunk of our lives in sleep.
During sleep, we not only recover and heal physically but also mentally. Our mind filters out, reorganized, saves and deletes all tons of data we take in when we are awake.
This is the reason why 3-4 days of total sleep deprivation can cause a person to act crazy and even hallucinate.
Since it is such an important part of our lives and contributes greatly in optimal performance both mentally and physically, we must take our sleeping routine into careful consideration so that we can make the most out of it.
The reason I chose to write this article is that I had sleep schedule problems myself most of my life.
As a kid, I went to an afternoon school. Much of my childhood I slept around 3 am and woke up at 11 am. Then later on in college life, I was forced to wake up early.
Further down the road when I chose to work independently and be my own boss, I had the freedom to sleep and wake up whenever I want. Honestly, that did not turn out well as my sleep schedule became very irregular and inconsistent.
Because my natural sleep cycle (also known as “Circadian Rhythm”) became totally messed up, I was really hurting my productivity and badly influencing the overall quality of life.
Hence I had to put a lot of conscious effort to fix my sleep cycle and bring it back to where it naturally should be, and I learned quite a few things along the way which I’m about to share with you, so you too can take charge of your sleep schedule.
Best Sleep Schedule For Maximum Productivity
Often people say that the best time for productivity is different for everyone. Some people are night owls and some are naturally a morning person.
Personally, since I have lived a good chunk of my life being a night owl and then consciously switched to being a morning person, I don’t quite agree with this view.
In my experience, the best productive hours are the early morning hours.
The time of dawn is the best time to cultivate spirituality. To connect with one’s self and with God. To think, meditate, read, and write.
For many of us, this is the only time in the entire day that we can spend with ourselves and allow deep thinking and reflection to happen.
If you are in a particularly creative field, this is the best time to unleash your creativity. Believe me, the creative tasks that normally take you 4-6 hours, you might get them done in 2-3 early morning hours.
The key, however, is to make a consistent routine of waking up and sleeping early.
You might not experience the benefits of waking up early the first few times you wake up. In fact, when I tell people to wake up early for maximum productivity, the first excuse they put forth is that “Even if I do wake up early, I’ll feel very sleepy and lazy.”
Of COURSE, YOU WILL!
You haven’t made it a habit yet. The key is to fix your sleep cycle (circadian rhythm) so that it resets back to its natural state. That will only happen when you sleep and wake up consistently on a specific time for a few weeks until you retrain your mind to sleep and wake up early.
What is Circadian Rhythm?
Do you daily fall asleep and wake up around a specific time?
Is there a certain time when you feel tired and drowsy, and want to go to bed? On the other hand, is there a time period of the day when you feel fresh and alert?
That’s your circadian rhythm.
Circadian Rhythm is simply your sleep/wake cycle. At what times of the day do your mind and body feels the need to sleep and when to wake up and be alert.
It is also referred to as our “Biological Clock” because it functions like a clock within our body knowing exactly when to be active and when to rest.
One of the factors that hugely affect our biological clock is exposure to light.
Before electricity and artificial lighting, the only bright light source humans had was the sun. So the sleep cycle of most of the people was synced with the cycle of the sun. They used to set and rise with the sun.
That is the routine nature intended for us and that’s how we are designed to be. Being in sync with nature is the most harmonious thing you can do for your mental, physical, and spiritual health and well-being.
Today with the advent of artificial lighting, our natural rhythm has messed up. The artificial lights trick and confuse our minds into thinking that it’s still daytime.
And since we spend most of the night time with artificial lights on, we get a very small amount of time in the dark, until the sun rises and its daytime again.
Note that, resting in complete darkness is essential for our health and well-being. We do not get quality rest if we sleep during the daytime.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Many people believe in the 8 Hour Sleep rule. They sacrifice the opportunity to wake up early in the morning just because they are worried about not getting enough sleep.
Instead of focusing on “how many hours of sleep I got”, focus on the Quality of Sleep.
An average person needs somewhere around 6-7 hours of good quality sleep.
If your routine is physically very demanding and your lifestyle revolves around physically challenging tasks or if you are an athlete or you work-out hard, then you might keep your sleeping hours around 7-8 hour mark.
But again the focus must be the “Quality” of sleep and tips I’m going to share with you below will not only help you sleep early but also improve the quality of your sleep.
Benefits of Sleeping Early and Rising with the Sun
If you are reading this article and wish to improve your sleep schedule, you must already be aware of some of the basic benefits of sleeping and waking up early.
- You get a peaceful, uninterrupted time for yourself.
- Dawn is the time when the pace of the world is slow and calm, allowing you the perfect time to mentally slow yourself down and connect with your spiritual self.
- You get the most valuable time of the day to unleash your thinking capabilities and creativity.
- You get several hours added to your day. More time to get more things done.
- If you work independently, you might get much of your work done in the morning and then take off early to spend more time with family and friends, or other hobbies.
- Since early morning hours are the blessed hours, the work you put in is naturally multiplied many folds (barakah).
7 Proven Tips to Help You Sleep Early and Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
The time that you wake up at majorly depends on what time you go to bed at night.
One of the most common complaints I get is “I find it difficult to fall asleep early, I tried going to bed early several times but I just couldn’t fall asleep.”
Well yes, this is one of the obstacles you must overcome.
Personally, I too faced the same challenge of not being able to fall asleep early until I did some research and tried and tested many things of which I’ll share with you the ones that are scientifically proven and helped me fix my sleep schedule.
I have made these tips regular habits in my daily life and I encourage you to do the same.
1) Stop Any Caffeine Intake 8 Hours Before Your Intended Sleeping Time
Studies have shown that caffeine can remain in your system for around 8-9 hours keeping your brain alert.
You might still fall asleep after a couple of hours of having your tea/coffee, the problem is, caffeine will still be running through your blood which may not let you fall deeper into sleep, thus drastically affecting the overall quality of your sleep.
To improve the quality of your sleep so that you get the most benefit out of your sleeping hours and wake up fresh in the morning, make sure you reduce your overall caffeine intake and especially avoid it 8 hours before your intended sleeping time.
2) Dim Your Surrounding Lights After Sunset
The lights around us directly affect our circadian rhythm (sleep cycle).
Bright lights trick our brain into thinking that it’s still daytime so that it stays awake and alert.
On exposure to artificial light, certain chemicals are released in our brain that reduces sleep and keeps us awake.
If you want to align your routine with nature, dim the lighting around you after sunset. Turn off a few lights and reduce the brightness of your phone/computer/television screen.
Additionally, whitish/bluish light influences our brain to be more alert, while dim yellowish light soothes and relaxes your brain so that you feel sleepy. If you observe nature, you’ll mostly notice that the sky is more bluish in the morning and often yellowish/orange in the evening.
There are apps for this on android/iPhone like “Twilight” that automatically reduces the brightness of your screen after sunset and give it a yellowish tint. If you use Windows 10 on your computer, it has a built-in feature called “Night Light”. Look it up.
3) Stop Using Your Phone And Social Media At Least 2 Hours Before Sleep Time
So many people use their phone in bed just before going to sleep not realizing how badly it’s affecting their overall sleep quality.
Our phones and use of social media gets our mind into overdrive. It’s important that you reduce your brain activity and wind down at least a couple of hours before sleep so that you get a good quality deep sleep.
Messages and notification can wait till tomorrow. You don’t have to respond to everyone immediately. Value your mental and physical health.
Relax and just let go of the urge to check your phone. The best thing is to either switch it off completely or put it on airplane mode.
4) Only Use Your Bed For Sleep
Most of us like to eat, watch TV, work, study or just chill on our beds all the time. If you are having sleep problems, STOP DOING THAT.
Reserve your bed ONLY FOR SLEEPING, so that your mind gets programmed to relax and fall asleep whenever you hit the pillow.
5) Have Bed-Time Rituals To Prepare Your Mind And Body For Sleep
Don’t just go to bed abruptly, prepare yourself for it.
Have certain bed-time rituals that’ll help you relax and get in the mood for sleep.
A few good examples would be:
- Take a warm relaxing bath
- Make ablution (wudu)
- Relax and slow your body movements down (avoid any physically or mentally active/challenging task)
- Begin to talk softly
- Have some warm milk
- Clean and prepare your bed for sleep
- Lessen your interaction with other people
- Read an easy, relaxing kind of book
6) Don’t Take Any Naps Once You Wake Up
Generally it’s good to take a 15-20 mins power nap at noon hours, however initially when you are trying to make a habit of sleeping early, I would highly recommend that you DON’T.
No matter how much sleep you’re feeling, wait for your intended bed-time. Else it will be harder to fall asleep early for those who usually have trouble falling asleep, or do not have the habit of sleeping early.
7) Don’t Skip Weekends
For most people, their usual routine goes out of the window on the weekends. Hanging out late with friends, dinner with family, movie nights, etc.
As you are in the process of building up this habit of sleeping early, you must remain consistent for the first 4-5 weeks.
I’m not saying that you don’t enjoy your weekends, just do it in the day time. It’s just a matter of a few weeks until you make a consistent habit of sleeping and waking up early and it becomes your second nature.
Once your sleep cycle gets on track and you develop a consistent pattern of going early to bed and early to rise, you can take things a bit lighter.
Having said that, be sure to still be mindful of your schedule on weekends even after you have made it a habit to sleep and get up early, and stick to your morning schedule.
Being a morning person and utilizing the early hours can add incredible value to the quality of your life. I always encourage people to give it a shot and try this morning schedule for a few weeks.
You’ll be absolutely amazed at how it’ll transform your life for the better and enhance your overall productivity.
Apply these 7 tips for the next 10-15 days and let me know about your experience in the comments below.
A writer by calling, a life coach by passion, an artist by nature. Someone who has dedicated his life to exploring deep human potentials, spirituality, and timeless wisdoms of life with a hunger to share those experiences and knowledge to help others find meaning and improve the quality of their lives.