Have you ever souped up a motorcycle? Your engine’s roar permeates your nerves. You, the rider, godded everybody around your bike. That’s how powerful I feel every single morning after doing my morning success ritual. I know that I will be ultra productive. And feel confident enough to build a future for my family.
But I was never a morning person
…until a year ago.
Here’s my daily routine before my transformation:
When the alarm blares off, I would groan and hit the snooze button 4 or 5 times. My working hours were unproductive and filled with slimy laziness. I would complain so much that nothing much gets done. Worse still, in the evenings, I just can’t sleep early to get me enough rest. Imagine repeating that for 365 days. Yuck.
All this negativity is why I decided to kill this vicious cycle, and become a morning person. After reading this post, you will know exactly how I (and many night owls) trained ourselves to wake up early.
For a change today, stop waking up like a sloth. Own your mornings like a boss! Stop waking up like a sloth. Own your mornings like a boss! Also, you will discover how your mornings will set yourself up for success – using 3 ninja techniques. If you want to feel great and rejuvenated about life, this post is for you. Excited? Let’s get started.
Ninja Technique # 1 – How to Jump Over Bamboo Trees
A raging army is pitting you against a 5 meter high wall. You, the Grand Master Ninja, grinned, and nonchalantly jumped over it. Crazy, huh? How do ninjas do that? It started when their parents planted a seed of bamboo tree. The future ninjas would then jump over the tiny bamboo shoots, every single day. The bamboo tree will grow at 2 – 3 cm (about 1 inch) every day. Imagine how high they can jump after a year.
When I decided to change from a night owl to a morning lark, I did it 15 minutes at a time. I started by turning back my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier. Once my body adjusted few days later, I turned the alarm back another 15 minutes earlier. After a month, I wake up at 5:57am sharp every day – 3 minutes BEFORE the alarm clock rings.
There’s an old Chinese saying, “Don’t try to run when you are learning to crawl”.
You need to take it slow, and let your body adjust. Build up your “wake up” muscles, 5 or 15 minutes at a time. Now, stop reading this post, and turn your alarm back 15 minutes. You will be amazed of how easy it is to wake up tomorrow morning.
Ninja Technique # 2 – Send pleasure hormones gushing
When you were a kid, you woke up super early on your birthday and on Christmas – before everyone else. Ever wonder why? Once you understand why, waking up (and conquering your day) can be ridiculously easy. Because you were EXCITED. Your brains were pumping endorphins, dopamines & adrenalines (pleasure hormones) like a fire hose. Let me explain. With so much pleasure hormones gushing around, it is impossible to be groggy.
“But… I am not a kid, and Christmas is only once a year!”
True. But you can hack your body to produce these hormones at will, just like a magic wand. Ever wonder how? There are 2 simple steps. The first step starts with meditating BEFORE you sleep:
Researchers from University of Southern California and UCLA found that practicing mindfulness meditation is way more effective than those who went to a class to learn about good sleeping habits. In their own words:
We were surprised to find that the effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality was large.
– David Black (Assistant Professor, Keck School of Medicine)
I found that by doing that myself, I sleep better than before, and wake up way more energized. Once you wake up, you now need to get your Endorphins pumping.
Step 2, is simply exercising. No, you don’t have to go to the gym in the morning. Whenever I feel like going back to sleep, a few jumping jacks will just kill the sleepiness. After going for my usual run, I feel physically and emotionally stronger. (Contrary to what night owls tell you, exercising gives you MORE energy.)
Ninja Technique # 3 – Sleeping for Smart People
Let me guess. Right before you sleep, you play with Facebook or other social media using your smart phone. By the time you doze off, you probably forgot to turn off some bedroom lights. Your phone stays right beside you, of course. The next day, you wake up with really heavy eyes. And you wonder why you are so exhausted after 8 hours of sleep.
Let me explain. Over millions of years of evolution, our human body evolved to naturally secrete Melatonin (sleep hormones) in darkness – e.g. at night. Melatonin is the hormone that encourages deep, rejuvenated sleep. For the cavemen, this makes lots of sense. If you live in a cave, you are safer by sleeping in the cave at night – you may be eaten by some wild animals if you are running around outside.
Well, nowadays we have lights everywhere – we can create a “mini day time” in our house at a flip of the switch. After the iPhone popularized, we bring these mini lights into our bed room. Recent scientific research found that these lights STOP Melatonin at its doorstep.
In addition to sunlight, artificial indoor lighting can be bright enough to prevent the release of melatonin.
This means these lights are STOPPING you sleeping properly. Here is what I did to reverse my bad sleep habits (it’s super simple, you can do this now):
– 30 minutes before I sleep, I turn OFF all lights and all electronics (including my phone and PC)
– I sit down in the dark silence, and do a short meditation and breathing exercise. This empties my mind and gets me ready to rest.
– After 10 or 15 minutes, I feel really sleepy, and go to the bedroom to sleep. (Remember to turn OFF all lights in your bedroom though)
(Great, I slept 15 minutes earlier than planned!)
That’s how I sleep more effectively. If you want a deeper sleep that lets you take on the next day with bravura, try my 3 steps sleep smarter routine above.
Let’s have a quick recap…
3 Ninja Techniques to Wake Up Earlier
Wake up earlier, 15 minutes at a time. Allow your body to adjust. Then wake up another 15 minutes earlier.
Let your “pleasure hormones” wake you up: When you wake up, do some simple exercises, e.g. jumping jacks.
Sleep smarter. Sleep in total darkness (no lights at all), keep your smart phone away before you sleep.
To make it even easier, here is a list of the DO’s and DON’Ts, just for you:
Turn off ALL lights and electronics (smart phones, tablets etc) before your sleep.
Perform short meditations and breathing exercises before you sleep
Turn back your alarm clock 15 minutes at a time. Allow your body a few days to adjust – it takes time.
No technology in the bed room, especially smart phones and tablets.
Don’t snooze. If you feel groggy, exercise a little to release endorphins into your body and feel energized naturally.
Don’t try to wake up 1 hour at a time. Your body won’t be able to adjust properly.
Are you ready? If yes…
Wake up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow morning.
Of course you can make it – easily.