If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I don't do mornings. Never have and probably never will. But I decided to try to change my life for a week and wake up early to work out before starting my day, and I'm not going to lie — it sucked. I normally set my alarm for 7:30 a.m. every day, so rising at 6:15 (which I understand is nothing to cry over) was painful for me to say the least. Did I yell at Alexa when she woke me up? Maybe. Did I fail on my first morning and go back to sleep? It's hard to say. What I do know, however, is that one area of my life did, in fact, improve when I started my day with exercise: sleep.
In the three weeks leading up to hell week, I was not getting a good night's rest whatsoever. I was having trouble falling asleep (even smoking weed before bed didn't do the trick as it normally does) and as soon as I did manage to drift off, I'd wake up several times throughout the night. This very much affected my work day: my brain felt sluggish, I was irritable, and I had no energy. But things took a turn on day one (ahem, day two) of my week of morning workouts. I surprisingly had enough energy to get me through the day and I was plenty exhausted by the time I got home to set me up for a restful sleep.
Around 8 p.m. each night, I was ready to knock out. Keep in mind that sleeping late and waking up early to work out could actually be counterproductive. So make sure you're getting your full eight hours to prevent hormone disruption and inflammation. I also slept through the entire night, making the following morning slightly less awful than what it would've otherwise been. This continued for the rest of the week and surprisingly, even after.
Although I'm currently back on my usual workout schedule (in the evenings or late afternoon), my sleeping pattern has actually remained fairly consistent. I'm back to getting sleepy at my normal bedtime, around 10 p.m., but I've continued to enjoy uninterrupted sleep. It's almost like those early workouts gave my body the reset it needed. Exercising before work definitely has its benefits — including freeing up the rest of your day — but I don't see myself returning to that life anytime soon.
And if you plan on trying this yourself, I suggest easing into things rather than jumping straight into a new schedule. This seven-day wake-up program for example was designed specifically to ease the transition. If I were to do this all over again, I would definitely take baby steps first. Here are two tips that are (almost) guaranteed to get you out of bed each morning:
- Enlist a buddy! If I didn't have someone to hold me accountable, I honestly wouldn't have showed up to class. I suck at mornings, but I am not a flake. The fact that a colleague signed up for the same class one morning forced me to hold up my end. Do the same and have a friend join you.
- Book a class. Again, it's all about accountability. I got my ass to class to avoid having to pay a penalty fee for not showing up and wasting a good workout. This was key for me.