Photo credit: BURST VIA PEXELS

Night owl tries waking up at 5am for a week

Getting up early allowed me to achieve work-life balance, reclaim my time and accomplish my tasks more efficiently.

Noreen Shazreen

Probably the coolest cat lady you’ll ever meet.

Published: 6 September 2021, 11:05 AM

Catching the sunrise with a cup of coffee and a trip to the gym are perhaps what people would consider to be the perfect start to their day.

While the rest of the productive world has already gotten their morning stroll, breakfast and another five items done in their daily to-do list, I would still be sound asleep in my bed.

Like many other teenagers who have been attending home-based lessons (HBL) from the comfort of their homes (beds), the COVID-19 pandemic has turned me into a nocturnal being. 

The luxury of staying in bed longer and not having to commute to school made it more difficult for me to wake up early and start my day off productively.


The COVID-19 pandemic caused my classes to be shifted online, allowing me to sleep and wake up at a later time. PHOTO CREDIT: PRISCILLA DU PREEZ VIA UNSPLASH


For someone who has been sleeping at 3am for the past year, waking up early has never appealed to me. 

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon an article about highly successful individuals who attribute their success to waking up early that I felt inspired to take control of my life and change my sleeping habits. 

To see if I could reap the benefits of waking up early, I challenged myself by getting up at 5am every day for an entire week. 

Trying different methods to change my sleep schedule

The first step to waking up early is sleeping at a reasonable time. I forced myself to stay awake throughout the day to ensure that my body would be exhausted by bedtime. 

Trying to sleep early on the first day was challenging as I had been so used to sleeping late. However, I persisted, hoping that there’s a good chance I will feel tired enough to fall asleep when 10pm rolled around.

Another method I’ve incorporated for waking up early is placing my phone alarm right across my bed. Instead of snoozing and going back to sleep, I had to get myself out of bed and walk to the other side of the room in order to turn it off.


Placing my phone across the room forced me to get out of bed. PHOTO CREDIT: PAUL HOENHORST VIA UNSPLASH


Having a fixed morning routine also helped me wake up more easily and stay on track with the challenge. It ensured that I would start the day off productively and not just roll back into bed for an extra hour of sleep.

Once I had gotten out of bed and turned off my phone alarm, I would perform simple tasks such as making my bed and taking a shower to refresh myself. Afterwards, I would start working on whatever was on my to-do list – be it completing my assignments, getting my morning workout or revising for my tests.

Drinking water first thing in the morning also helped refresh my body and increase my energy levels. In addition, water has also been proven to improve mental performance, eliminate toxins from the body and more.


Having my water bottle on my nightstand allowed me to drink water as soon as I woke up, which helped hydrate me and boost my alertness. PHOTO CREDIT: BLUEWATER SWEDEN VIA UNSPLASH


Establishing boundaries between my workspace and resting area also allowed me to clear my mind and relax. The convenience of being able to do my work anytime and anywhere has propelled me to become a night owl.

To keep a clear distinction between my working and resting space, I did not use the bed as a place to do work. Instead, I would only use it for sleep and relaxation. I also refrained from using my laptop after working hours and during weekends if they are not urgent. 

Keeping myself away from my laptop prevented me from having access to work-related emails or messages, which will only overwhelm my mind and prevent me from going to bed early.

The benefits of waking up at 5am

Getting up early positively impacted my life in ways I never imagined.

I came into the challenge thinking that I would be tired throughout the day, but it was only the opposite. The routine I had created and followed every morning throughout the week calmed me and helped me get ready for the day.

Within a few days of waking up early, I started feeling more energised and no longer experienced the morning grogginess I would often get from sleeping late. In the past, I would always feel rushed and frazzled having just gotten out of bed fifteen minutes before my online classes began. 

Knowing that I woke up early with a sense of purpose and the objective of being productive is also motivating and pushed me to start the day off right. I chose not to waste any time scrolling through social media or engaging in other unproductive activities. 

Therefore, I found my productivity is at an all-time high during the first three hours of waking up. The absolute silence that accompanied me at 5am, along with the lack of distractions, helped me to concentrate and accomplish all of my tasks quickly.


The lack of distractions allowed me to focus on completing all of my tasks more quickly. PHOTO CREDIT: OGUZHAN AKDOGAN VIA UNSPLASH


Moreover, getting up early also enabled me to achieve a better work-life balance and provided me with more time to indulge in my hobbies.

While the rest of my family members were still asleep, I had three to four uninterrupted hours in the morning to do whatever I wanted. The extra time I had in the morning allowed me to work on interests outside of school, such as reading my favourite e-book and working on my side hustle.

As I had used that time wisely to complete my work and be productive, I spent the time after school relaxing and doing things I enjoyed without feeling guilty. 


Having productive mornings allowed me to watch my favourite series and spend time with my family without feeling guilty. PHOTO CREDIT: ALIN SURDU VIA UNSPLASH


Although I did try to wake up at 5am every morning for an entire week, I did not succeed every time. On one of those days, I turned off my alarm and went back to sleep, only to discover it had already been 7am by the time I woke up. 

Nonetheless, I learnt not to be too hard on myself since adjusting my sleep schedule requires patience and is best done gradually, according to my body’s circadian rhythm.


Getting up in the morning can be challenging in the first few days, but it was definitely worth it in the end. 

In the span of a week, I’ve managed to strike a work-life balance that allowed me to spend time with my family and pursue my hobbies. The challenge has also helped me accomplish a great deal of work when productivity was at its peak. 

Although the challenge is over, I still wake up at 5am occasionally, especially on days when I need more time to complete my tasks.

If you are a night owl like me, who wakes up only a few minutes before you need to, I suggest taking this one-week challenge and waking up earlier to see how well it works for you. 

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