For years, I used to wake up early, before sunrise, with an alarm clock.
The main driver behind that was the need to get up and drive to work, which was typically in the city.
I also held early rising jobs before college, such as working in bagel stores at 5 AM.
Even before that, I remember my father and grandfather getting up early to go to work as a young kid.
This – being ‘the kind of guy who gets up early’ – became part of my identity, part of my ego. It became a personality trait that I would sometimes brag about. Perhaps brag is a strong word but, bragging is bragging, no matter how subtly you do it.
Later on I discovered Jocko Wilink and his 4:30 AM, ‘rise before the enemy’ Navy SEAL mentality, which now has tens of thousands of followers, some of whom even post their wake times on social media each morning.
Wow! A whole tribe of early risers, just like me!
Except lately I have found it to be much healthier, for me, to detach from all of that.
Identification with rising early [or insert any thing] is no different than the identification with certain kinds of diets that I regularly warn against.
Do I still love the morning? Absolutely!
Do I still believe there’s something natural about rising with the Sun and going to bed with the Moon (Circadian rhythms)? Yes, we did not evolve to stay up all night long.
But do I need to wake up early just because … I feel the need to wake up early?
I need to wake up when my body is rested and ready to wake up.
That’s why, for the last several months, I haven’t used an alarm clock at all.
I’ll rarely sleep much past sunrise, but if I need to, I will.
I no longer rush to get out of bed at the first stirrings.
This is very much like the process of intuitively knowing which foods to eat, or not.
It takes a little practice, but if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll start to feel the answer.
You’ll start to know when to wake up every day, which has nothing at all to do with what time it is.
(Of course, this works best when you’re in bed by 10 PM, and not doing lots of other things. The later you stay up, the less you’ll be able to rely on your natural rhythms.)
Get some rest!