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Question about waking up early for all you early Paleo risers!

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 19, 2012 at 11:44 AM

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this, but I have a question for all you paleo folks who are early risers.

First, for some background info. I actually found out about paleo after researching sleeping problems, because I've always had trouble going to bed early. I would often feel wide awake until 7am! However, since the beginning of August, for the first time in my life I've been implementing better sleep hygiene, and the results have been startlingly effective. I've been able to gradually shift my wake-up time from 2pm to 7:30am thus far without feeling tired!

But my question is, I have seen early risers saying they get up at 4:30 or 5am and love it. So I'm just wondering, how do you do it? I know the sun rises earlier in some parts of the world, but the earliest the sun will ever rise where I live in the midwest is a little before 6am in mid summer, making the beginning of civil twilight about 5:30. So getting up at 4:30 would mean still getting up where it's practially pitch black for about an hour in the summer, and pitch black for maybe 3 hours in the winter. (Stupid daylight savings time doesn't help matters!) I wonder, since there was no electricity, how long before (or after) sunrise the typical caveman awoke. Hm.

Anyway, so how do you guys do it? Don't take that the wrong way; I really respect you guys! Getting up early sounds awesome. The quietness of early morning really appeals to me, and I would love to be able to get up at 4:30am and have all that time and solitude in the morning. It's something I'm going to strive for, but the main issue is that I can't imagine feeling motivated to wake up when it's still pitch-black out. =(

0156dcc25110efb6351e5308fbe57b86

(125)

on August 20, 2012
at 04:07 PM

I avoid all light except my blue-blocking lightbulb at least 2 hours before bed, and the last hour before bed I don't use the computer and just read a book. I usually eat dinner at 6, and go to bed at 11. I *do* wake to an alarm, but it's a peaceful one, of birds chirping in the forest. Though to be honest, I tend to wake up about 7 and a half hours after falling asleep no matter what I do, so I usually wake up about 15 minutes before my alarm and just kind of relax in bed until it goes off. So I guess the alarm is more of a reminder to awake me to get my butt out of bed?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on August 20, 2012
at 12:35 PM

Someone told me once - I was a young adult at the time - that life is much easier when you learn to go to bed on time. That's really it for me. I just don't stay up late. Then it's easy to get up early. For me, anyways.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 19, 2012
at 11:58 PM

Waking up at a certain time just takes discipline. make sure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep and have an alarm clock to wake you up at a certain time. Once that alarm goes off, get up and wake up (for me that means a cold shower). Your body will adjust it's circadian rhythm over the course of about 2 weeks. After that, try waking up on your own on the weekends, and slowly stop using the alarm clock. If you phase your circadian rhythm appropriately, you will definitely be more refreshed when you wake up because you will be coming out of a trough and on the way up.

C0c839648b31512515daaffe8e4e9ad1

(468)

on August 19, 2012
at 06:13 PM

I never thought about training yourself to always wake up on your own. Do you have more information/sources/experience about that? It sounds like a really smart idea. Are you more efficiently productive when this happens? Thank you.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 19, 2012
at 03:47 PM

I've got to be at work by 6:30 and I need a couple hours to myself to get ready for it.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on August 19, 2012
at 01:56 PM

I am not a doctor.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 19, 2012
at 12:35 PM

I personally ATM aim for nine hours a night. I think the six-eight generally espoused is too little. Well either way, it is for me.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 19, 2012
at 12:33 PM

I am quite interested in biphasic sleep. I have been trying to limit light in the evenings, but am still working on my circadain rythmns. But from what ive read, sleeping in two 3-5 hours bouts, seperated by about 1 -2 hours of wakefulness, is the normal human biological pattern. Read here for a synopsis: http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/1109-bustin-the-8-hour-sleep-myth.html I doubt this would fit in well with modern lifestyles well, because that would mean seven to twelves hours from first bedtime to last wakeup.

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13 Answers

3
45ace03a0eff1219943d746cfb1c4197

(3661)

on August 19, 2012
at 01:24 PM

It's simply an internal clock thing for me, I believe. We don't ever set an alarm, but we're usually awake by 4AM. Granted we go to bed earlier than many. The darkness is not an issue for us, neither lack of it when retiring early in the summer, nor hours in the morning when days get shorter. I like slow mornings, which I have most day. I have to be a work by 7:30, so it's wonderful to have the time to work up to it.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 19, 2012
at 03:47 PM

I've got to be at work by 6:30 and I need a couple hours to myself to get ready for it.

1
950efde057e2cc301543059b15f44374

(240)

on August 19, 2012
at 01:41 PM

I do not believe you are either a morning person or a night person. Before cleaning up my diet I was ones that could easily sleep 10 hours or more. Always struggled to get up with an alarm clock. Fast forward about two years. I now wake up naturally after about 7 hours of sleep. Not sure if it is the decreased carbs or the optimization of my Vit D and other hormones. Interesting aside. Our room at home is not pitch black. However, I am writing this while on vacation where the room did happen to be without any morning light at all. Sure enough I woke around the same time. Wide awake in pitch darkness. Really appreciate it since I used to be at the other extreme. My suggestion, don't fight it. Just slowly try to heal/optimize and let your sleep adjust on its own.

1
Ff1dbd6cecad1e69a8234fb2c2c5c5ed

(1409)

on August 19, 2012
at 12:21 PM

As far as I can see, there are morning persons and night owls, plus some lucky in-betweens. I once read a very nice explanation for this phenomenon.

It said that the reason is your inner clock, which often doesn't run on a 24-hour-day, but maybe on 23 or 25 hours. I am a morning person (I get up at 5 even on weekends) and my inner clock runs on less than 24 hours. So I always try to shorten my day by going to bed early and by getting up early.

Of course I lose this fight, but somehow this explanation makes sense to me. I am also more likely to be early for an appointment while my night-owl friends are notoriously late.

I remember that the article said that it is useless to fight your "inner clock" as it is in your genes.

1
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 19, 2012
at 11:59 AM

First, my clan is up by 6am regardless, so sleeping in is not an option. Second, my 20 minute commute becomes an hour and a half if I leave after 6am. So i do it by necessity.

That being said, I actually really enjoy the morning. I drink my coffee in the car on my commute, I get to see the sun rise, I get about an hour and a half of productivity before anyone else gets into the office. On weekend, we are out walking when it is quite and peaceful ( I live just outside of dc and it is never quite and peaceful ). So the rewards of early raising are worth it for me.

How do I do it? No tv after 8, no lights after 830, laying in bed by 9. Automatic coffee maker and a cold shower in the morning. Also, while I have an alarm clock, I never use it -- teaching yourself to wake on your own is critical.

C0c839648b31512515daaffe8e4e9ad1

(468)

on August 19, 2012
at 06:13 PM

I never thought about training yourself to always wake up on your own. Do you have more information/sources/experience about that? It sounds like a really smart idea. Are you more efficiently productive when this happens? Thank you.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 19, 2012
at 11:58 PM

Waking up at a certain time just takes discipline. make sure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep and have an alarm clock to wake you up at a certain time. Once that alarm goes off, get up and wake up (for me that means a cold shower). Your body will adjust it's circadian rhythm over the course of about 2 weeks. After that, try waking up on your own on the weekends, and slowly stop using the alarm clock. If you phase your circadian rhythm appropriately, you will definitely be more refreshed when you wake up because you will be coming out of a trough and on the way up.

0
Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on August 20, 2012
at 03:16 PM

Good question. This is something I used to do, but have found increasingly harder to do because of finishing grad school and moving. But, what I do know is that natural light is a huge help for me. Last night, for instance, it was getting dark around 8 or 9 here, and lo, I was feeling tired. Which of course makes it easier to get up in the morning.

Other things to consider:

  • how much do you use technology (like computer or tv) before bed? This throws off rhythms.
  • how much time do you give yourself between dinner and sleep? In my experience, there should be at least two hours.
  • do you have carbs before bed? That helps with sleep - better sleep, better waking
  • do you wake up to an alarm? If you want to really enjoy waking up early, train your body to do so naturally just before or around civil twilight. Mark Sisson and a few others have articles on this, like here.

0156dcc25110efb6351e5308fbe57b86

(125)

on August 20, 2012
at 04:07 PM

I avoid all light except my blue-blocking lightbulb at least 2 hours before bed, and the last hour before bed I don't use the computer and just read a book. I usually eat dinner at 6, and go to bed at 11. I *do* wake to an alarm, but it's a peaceful one, of birds chirping in the forest. Though to be honest, I tend to wake up about 7 and a half hours after falling asleep no matter what I do, so I usually wake up about 15 minutes before my alarm and just kind of relax in bed until it goes off. So I guess the alarm is more of a reminder to awake me to get my butt out of bed?

0
46c9fbd45b82453f6a2dfe614a853314

on August 20, 2012
at 02:06 PM

I've had to get up by 5 am every week day since I graduated college. I naturally wake up between 4 and 4:30 sans alarm even on the weekends. I do find that the healthier I eat (strictly paleo) that I feel better when I wake up in the morning. When I do a whole30, I don't need coffee and jump our of bed rarin' to go!!!

0
F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on August 19, 2012
at 09:50 PM

I have always been a morning person and I've always used the sun to wake up. It's harder for me to wake up early in the winter and I often have less time to get ready and get to work. I don't like alarm clocks so I just adjust myself. I have more time in summer to ride my bike to work or linger over coffee in the morning. In winter it's just get up, get dressed and go. I get sleepy usually some time in the 8-O'clock hour and am in bed by 9pm. I've been this way all my life. I have no answer for you. I'm incapable of staying up late and sleeping later. It makes me extremely unhappy to do it.

0
A913bf93cf3bb8351481414d1218c441

on August 19, 2012
at 03:40 PM

I used to be (very recently) a major night owl, staying up til 5 am and then sleeping til 3 pm. But ever since I started my whole30 (day 19, woot!), I've just been naturally going to bed around 9 pm and waking up on my own around 6 am. I'm not sure what exactly changed, I never had a lot of caffeine, I still don't limit blue light after dark (trying to work on that though), I don't know, but it's nice. I'm just afraid I'm going to be the one college student who's fully alert in the morning classes and dozing off in my one night class when school starts up next week lol

0
783704d6b31f91d4aebb402f089e082f

on August 19, 2012
at 01:49 PM

For me it tends to be about when I went to bed and how long I've slept more than an actual time. My body runs on right around 7-7 1/2 hours pretty well. So I'm up about that time. I'm on the east coast now and I'm up at 7 everyday, when I get back to the midwest I'm sure that I'll be up at 6 everyday. I'm trying to make myself be better about it, but if I hit the bed by midnight I'm up before my alarm at 7.

0
194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on August 19, 2012
at 01:00 PM

Try eating your last meal before 8PM, and taking 50-100mg of 5HTP with that meal. Once you get into the rhythm you want to be in, you can slowly stop taking 5HTP. I find that going to bed on an empty stomach, even at midnight, will give me a satisfying sleep that leaves me refreshed at sunrise.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on August 19, 2012
at 01:56 PM

I am not a doctor.

0
E0f5cc680bb8ae31c07abeb706d70a15

(370)

on August 19, 2012
at 12:47 PM

I have to be to work by 7:30am during the week, plus I work out in the morning, and consider it of the utmost importance to take the time to cook a delicious breakfast (usually 2 eggs with sauteed peppers and onions, 2 strips of nitrate-free uncured bacon, and some kind of fresh fruit), grind fresh coffee, and start the day with a calm, peaceful meal. Because of this lengthy morning routine, I'm out of bed by 4:50am every weekday morning. That may sound brutal, but it's not difficult at all anymore, my body is adjusted to it. When you go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day, your body adjusts so that not only does it become easier to do this, but you'll find yourself getting tired around the same time every night.

The only drawback to all this is on the weekend when you want to let yourself sleep in, but are wide-awake by 5am because it's what you're used to. Or if you want to go out with friends on a Friday night and find yourself getting tired at 9pm because that's when you go to bed during the week. If I know I'm going to be out late on a weekend night I usually have to chug a coffee before I leave the house so I don't start dozing off like an old maid.

0
4303a65967884e68bfae59817c227351

(1881)

on August 19, 2012
at 12:44 PM

It's easy when you need to go to work. I work at a golf course and on any given day I start between 430-6am. The upside is I'm out of work by 330 at the latest which is really nice. During winters and when I"m on vacation I can force myself to stay up really late and get on a night schedule for a few days, and then a day or two waking up at 415 for work even if I was wide awake until 12 will knock you out when the work day is over. Set the alarm for a few days and it gets way easier as you'll end up falling asleep earlier.

0
C4ed6ba382aed2eefc18e7877999a5de

(1579)

on August 19, 2012
at 11:58 AM

Whenever I wake up that early, it's not a struggle to get out of bed. It usually happens after I've gotten 7 or 8 hours of sleep, and since I tend to go to bed around 10, I will often wake around 5 or 6. I don't have issues sleeping that early though. If I want to go to sleep especially early, I will try to stay active during the day (keeping on my feet, walking around a lot) and having an early dinner. That way, I will be done digesting my food and will be hungry for breakfast when I wake up in the morning.

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