As heavily sleep-deprived teenagers, many of us mindlessly take the opportunity to sleep in or catch an extra hour of sleep whenever possible. Sleeping quickly becomes a privilege when you enter high school and persevere throughout college. We often associate weekends with nights and Monday mornings with the repeated repetition of our horrible 6 am alarm clocks. Ugh. Many of us just can’t understand those who wake up at 5am: why would you want to sacrifice precious hours of sleep to watch the sunrise?
Believe me, before I started this new routine for myself, I was the same. However, after starting this routine, I am unable to wake up at 8am and sleep on weekends.
Now I can’t wait to get up early, which was unlike me.
Let me explore with you here how this routine has affected all aspects of my life.
Now, being a junior in high school with four APs and heavy extracurricular activities, I understand the pressing need to stay up and study deep into the night hours. Sometimes, unintentionally, we may find ourselves scrolling through Instagram and suddenly four hours have passed and we are forced to cram. Believe me, we’ve all been there! Here’s the problem: even though many of us think that stuffing information into our heads before going to sleep is beneficial, not only is it bad for our mental health, it doesn’t work. In psychology, we call this the serial position effect, which means that when you cram in the late hours of the night, you’re most likely to remember only the first and last thing you studied and forget the rest.
Instead, I study for each test subject for two hours (with breaks), sleep at 10:30-11am, and level up the next morning at 5am. Not only were my test scores significantly better, but I also didn’t drink coffee because I wasn’t constantly tired, which made my skin look much clearer. Also, I found that I was able to retain more information in class, which was helpful for my studying. This method requires you to be a decent planner and allocate your time well, which is simple if you can write yourself a schedule and try to stick to it.
My mental well-being
I had never been a morning person before, but this new lifestyle made me enjoy the super quiet times I was able to have alone with myself in the morning. When your home is most likely quiet, you can actually hear yourself thinking and refocusing your energies! Silence can actually be so peaceful, giving you time to do what you want without being too distracted by your family.
Especially, for those of us who are artists, on days when I didn’t have tests I needed to study/revise for, I found myself using this morning for creative pursuits such as writing, painting and working on other things that I was passionate about. The result was that by doing the arts and focusing on things I was passionate about, I found myself happier and motivated to get rid of my academic responsibilities and focus on my creative side.
Overall, my mood was much better, I was much more outgoing, and I was just happier.
Because I felt happier in my personal life, I was able to radiate that happiness and project it to my peers at school, which was certainly important considering the stress school can project on all of us. Mental well-being is the cornerstone of a successful person, so achieving it has helped me succeed in many aspects of my life, from relationships to academic perfection. In short, this time gave me so much flexibility that I could work out, meditate, or just watch some Netflix or Disney+ to start my day (bonus points if you watch Good Luck Charlie).
my physical health
When I gave myself (unhurried) time in the morning to work out and then eat a hearty breakfast or whip up a protein shake, I not only felt energized, but also more energized (which made me feel better). also helped to stay happy during the day). This morning hour gives you a variety of options, from creative endeavors to working out (cardio, HIIT, toning workouts, strength training).
I chose to go for walks often or just lift weights and work on muscle sculpting in the morning. Not only does it release endorphins, but working out boosts dopamine, which helps you focus in school. By starting your morning early with a workout, your metabolism is fired up (which can also help with weight loss) and you’re left with an appetite AND time to prepare a hearty, hearty breakfast.
By the time you get to school, you’ll already feel like you’ve accomplished so much, which will reward you for continuing and deepening the accomplishments you can accomplish in a day. For me personally, the best part of running or walking early in the morning was that there was no one there yet, so a simple morning jog or walk was so quiet (bonus points if you have an amazing playlist).
my social life
Typically, most Fridays I find myself so exhausted and ready to go to sleep to make up for the lack of sleep I would have had during the week. I feel completely exhausted and like I just ran a marathon that was a junior’s week in high school. The long week filled with tests, quizzes, and homework would finally come to a halt, and I would feel like I could finally catch some sleep and fix my interrupted sleep schedule. Most of the time when many of my friends asked me out, I was so exhausted from lack of sleep that I asked them if we could do Saturday or Sunday instead. It was also detrimental because it made people think that I didn’t want to date them or that I was procrastinating before dating someone, which could give them the wrong idea.
Because my new lifestyle gave me a sense of energy and gave me a sense of continuity in my life, I no longer felt super drained by the week. I felt ready to dive into the weekend. Somehow, I felt my “social battery” had been recharged, which definitely made me more social and wanted to hang out with more people on Friday nights. It allowed me to have a much better balance between school and my social life, which made me feel that the difficulties in school were also worth it since I could balance them over the weekend. Most weekends, I choose not to hang around too long and get home by 11:30 a.m., so I can wake up at 5 a.m., or 5:30 a.m. at the latest.
I know this can be difficult for some of us, but it takes patience and willpower. You won’t see any change on day one, so give it some time!