Waking Up Just 30 Minutes Earlier Has Completely Changed My Daily Mindset

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While I was working from home, I had a morning routine down pat. Every day I would wake up at 7 a.m., start my day with an at-home workout or run, make breakfast, and catch up on a few newsletters before meandering over to my desk to start work at 9 a.m.

But a career change that has me physically going into the office at 8:15 a.m. threw that routine out the window. I initially stuck to that 7 a.m. wakeup call, but things felt fuzzy. Not only did I have to move my workouts to later in the day, but I somehow still felt rushed despite having a solid 45 minutes to get ready and out the door. My solution? Making the choice to get up 30 minutes earlier.

Though sometimes waking up when it’s still dark out can be a drag, I can solidly say that those extra 30 minutes have changed my mindset for the better. Here are the improvements I saw and how I recommend going about it yourself.

I get to enjoy little things.

Those extra precious minutes are my “me time.” I use it to do the little things that bring me joy that I won’t necessarily prioritize after work, including journaling, sifting through my favorite newsletters, and watching a few food and home decor YouTube videos while I get ready. 

Honestly, if I didn’t do these things first thing in the morning, I would never do them at all (freelance work, working out, making dinner, and reality TV takes precedence for my afternoons and nights). Plus, now I actually have enough time to make and sip a cup of coffee before getting to work.

I feel more energized.

While I don’t see myself ever being that person who wakes up at 5 a.m. to work out (mostly because my favorite workout classes don’t start until 6:30 a.m.), I still find that giving myself more time in the morning perks me up. That might have to do with the phenomenon known as sleep inertia, which is the period of time between sleep-induced brain fog and being fully awake. It can last anywhere from between 15 minutes to an hour, according to Molly Atwood, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry in the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Johns Hopkins Medicine. 

Those extra 30 minutes give my body a chance to register the day to ensure I reach peak wakefulness. It also means I don’t grab a second coffee on the way to the office. However, Atwood does warn that those whose circadian rhythms are set for later in the day will likely end up feeling more tired if they do attempt to get up earlier without adequate sleep.

It kicks off my day positively.

Sticking with a routine that doesn’t have me rushing to get ready in the morning always puts me in a better mood — and makes me less anxious throughout the day. Additionally, having the time to do things like journal and stay updated on the news helps set my intentions for the day.

In fact, one 2014 study found that early risers were less likely to have negative thoughts compared to those who go to bed late and wake up late.

It’s a good personal challenge.

The decision to get up earlier wouldn’t be useful if there weren’t any planning involved — namely going to bed 30 minutes earlier. Moving my bedtime from 11 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. was a bit of a challenge at first, as I wasn’t that tired. But putting away blue light and reading before bed got me in a restful mood, and soon my body followed.

Now, even if I stretch my awake hours past 10:30 p.m., I can still rise at 6:30 a.m. pretty easily, though an alarm is still required. But, according to Atwood, this may have more to do with setting a routine for the time I wake up each day and go to bed, which can help set a circadian rhythm — meaning I can fall asleep faster at the designated time. 

Though there are admittedly some weekday nights where I can’t stick to this self-imposed routine, I do think it has done wonders for how I decide to start the day, and I recommend that anyone tries to get up a wee bit earlier if they’ve been feeling off in the mornings.