The 3 A.M. Experiment Part 2: From Experiment to Lifestyle

The 3 A.M. Experiment Part 2: From Experiment to Lifestyle

You’ve been waking up at what at time the past few weeks?”

Three.”

Three?”

Yes, Three.”

Well, I usually go to bed at around three every night so I guess I’ll give you a call before I go to sleep to tell you good night.”

That is how many of my conversations have been going in the past few weeks when I revealed to someone about my 3 a.m. experiment.   Some would say that they admired my ability to wake up early.  Others wondered how I was able to do it without falling asleep at work.  And a few just looked at me as if I were crazy.  It was as if I just told them that I thought that The Transformers were real.  On one of my first days of waking up at 3 I posted an update on my Facebook page and the only other person awake to respond at the time was a friend who just delivered twins.  I don’t think she was awake by choice.

 In How to Wake Up Early Without Hating It: My 3 a.m. Experiment pt1, I wrote about my fist week of waking up at 3 a.m. I also gave some tips that would help you get out of bed with more energy.  In this post I tell you more about my experience and my conclusion of the entire experiment. 

I recommend waking up at 3 for those who have a flexible work schedule, entrepreneurs, writers and others who have the ability to control their own time.  But I still think that waking up 1-2 hours earlier is extremely beneficial even if you have a 9-5 schedule.

One of the rules that I established for myself was that I would not be taking in any caffeine during my experiment.  That meant no caffeinated tea, coffee, energy drinks, chocolate and sweets.  To my surprise, I had no need for any of those energy boosters.   Instead I would drink decaffeinated tea and an all natural powdered vegetable drink.

I also allowed myself a 15 minute powernap in the afternoon if I felt tired.  The strange thing was there was only one afternoon in the past few weeks when I needed a powernap.  The powernap lasted about 20 minutes and didn’t affect my night sleep.

Monday & Tuesday

A friend and I have been working out in the mornings together for the past few weeks.  He is not an early riser but I wondered if he would be willing to go for a run. I decided to give him a call at 5:15 to see if he wanted to go for a run earlier than usual.  After a few moments of telling me how much he hated me for calling so early, he reluctantly agreed to go out to a local lake and run.  He told me later that he felt good after the early morning run and that he would try to wake up earlier to get a workout in.

I felt really good after my prayer and meditation session on Tuesday.  I felt more focused and optimistic about my day.  I used that energy to clean my bathroom and kitchen before I went to work.  If you recall from Part 1, I had a similar urge to clean on the first day of my experiment.  I’m still not sure why I am moved to do things like this so early.  When I was waking up at my normal time, I never had the urge to clean my entire bathroom before I went to work. 

This is the one part of the experiment that I can’t really explain.  It’s a strange but welcomed side effect.  I would probably guess the reason this is happening is because of an increase in focus.  Perhaps it is an act to continue the sense of accomplishment after completing important tasks in the morning.  I’m not sure but all I know is that my place never looked better. 

Wednesday & Thursday

On Wednesday I woke up and heard a dog barking in the distance.  I thought it was strange for a dog to be up and barking at that hour.  I wondered,

What is that dog doing awake so early…”

I stopped mid sentence when I realized that I was awake just as early and few days ago I was playing basketball at a middle school at 3 a.m.  To avoid being a hypocrite, I decided to not be judgmental of how that dog decided to spend his mornings.

Wednesday didn’t feel as productive as some of the previous days.  I think it was because I got sidetracked while reading some emails.  I ended up working an hour on a task that would probably be number 3 on my priority list.  As a result, I didn’t feel like my morning was productive.  Even my prayer and meditation session was a little flat.  I didn’t feel as energized as I did earlier in the week.    

Thursday was the first week day that I did not get up at 3.  I was in a meeting on Wednesday night until 10:15 and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do much if I only got 3 ½ hours of sleep.

Friday-The 2 a.m. experiment

I really AM crazy.” I thought as I changed the alarm time on my Blackberry from 3 to 2 a.m.  I took a long look at the phone and wondered if I was going a little too far with my experiment.  I quickly reminded myself that I had a good reason for wanting to wake up at 2 on Friday.  Because of the late meeting on Wednesday, I couldn’t wake up at 3 on Thursday.  I felt that I should wake up at 2 to make up for lost time.  While most bars and clubs around town were making their last call for alcohol, I was going to be shaking off sleep and hopping on my pc to log in about 3 straight hours of work.

It went extremely well.  The extra hour was enough time to catch up on the work that I didn’t finish on Wednesday.  It was the end of the week and most of my tasks were done.  Now I had to make a decision about my experiment; do I continue this new found routine or end it?

From Experiment to Lifestyle

So what is my conclusion?  I have decided to make waking up at 3 a.m. a permanent lifestyle change.  I started this experiment to test my discipline, improve productivity, and to grow in my spiritual life.  I had no idea that it would have this kind of instant impact on me.

There are many other advantages that I have not even mentioned in these two posts.  My confidence has also been elevated because of the victory I experienced when I did something that I thought I couldn’t do.  My problem solving skills have also increased at work and in my everyday life.  I have a clearer understand of my goals because I have gained an increase in focus.  My willingness to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone has also increased.  I’m calmer throughout my day and have not felt the least bit stressful.  I’ve gained all of this in a matter of two weeks!

I don’t expect anyone to want to wake up at 3 a.m.   But waking up early is an absolute must for anyone who would like to get a head start on their day, feel energized and productive, and have more free time.  For the last few months I have used my weekends as makeup days to finish projects that I did not have time to finish during the week.  Since waking up at 3 a.m., I have had my Friday afternoons and evenings open to hang out with friends.  I have gone from working 8- 12 hours per weekend to working 1-2 hours per weekend.  It’s nice to have that amount of free time.

Here are some more tips that can help you wake up earlier.

Start Slowly-If you like to have the experience of waking up early to have more time to do what you like but have real difficulty waking up, start by waking up 15 minutes earlier.  This will allow you to get accustomed to waking up early slowly.  

Know What You Want-Before you try to wake up early I suggest that you have a specific purpose for waking up.  Waking up early and not doing anything but watching TV and surfing the web is not a form of personal and professional development, it’s a form of insomnia.

The good news is that whatever part of your life you would like to improve can be improved by doing this.  My spiritual, physical, professional, and creative life have all been enhanced in the past few weeks.  The key was to understand what I wanted to improve, and how I planned to improve it with the time I had in the morning.

Stick To Your Schedule-Sticking to the plan that I mapped out worked extremely well for me.  I set my Blackberry organizer to notify me when it was time to switch tasks.  If I planned on writing for 2 hours and then move to doing something else, my reminder would go off.  This was extremely helpful and made it possible for me to stay on track and not lose focus.

 

Be sure you have a list of the most important things you could be doing with your time.  On Tuesday when I was not feeling as productive, I am sure it was because what I was doing was not the most important, and impactful things I could have been doing with my time.

 

Curve Your Dependency– It was important to me not to have any artificial energy boosters in my system while I was trying out this experiment.  I really wanted to listen to what my body was telling me during the past few weeks.  If I had an energy crash on one of the first few days, I wouldn’t have been motivated enough to continue.  

As I mentioned in Part 1, curving your dependency on the “snooze” button is a must.  I heard of a Yiddish saying that says, “The way it ends is the way it begins”.  Most people who crawl out of bed with no energy usually end that day crawling back into bed with no energy.  When I was waking up with the snooze button, it seemed to slow me down and made it easier for me to drag myself out of bed.  Now that I am not using my snooze button anymore, I tend to get up quicker and seem to be more alert when I wake.

 

So I am officially a 3 a.m. riser.  I even added it to my Twitter bio.  I’ve also change the time formatting on my Blackberry Organizer so that it shows the day beginning at 3 a.m. instead of 6. Most days I am able to get home from work between 4-6 pm.  I would usually go to sleep between 8:30-9.  That means on certain days I would have a 3-5 hour window of free time on a weeknight.  I didn’t mind it at all because of the enormous amount of time it creates near the end of the week.  It’s not just about freeing my time.  My spiritual life has improved since I started my experiment and I can’t remember that last time I was so productive.

 

After part 1 I got many questions and response from people who are interested in trying to wake up earlier than usual.  Some even told me they wanted to try The 3 a.m. Experiment.  I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences with waking up early.

 

 

 

 

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  • http://chrisdaoanis.wordpress.com Chrisdaoanis

    Wow!
    I’ll do a 4 AM Experiment and looking forward to turn it into a lifestyle.
    Great post, Ralph. God bless!

  • ralphjp

    Great!  I love to hear that!  Let me know how it goes.

  • Quintin

    I’m going to do this too.  And I am a notorious night owl but I’m starting to realize that the lifestyle is better for a college student not a professional.

  • ralphjp

    Awesome!

  • http://www.comercialestetica.com/ Yoli Oliver

    Hi Ralph,

    Very
    interesting posts. You are absolutely right, we need to wake up earlier in
    order to be more productive. I will try to do it but at 5:00 am. Fortunately, I
    am a NO SNOOZE EVER person, and drink no caffeine.  Let’s see if I
    can make it a habit like you did. Congrats!

    Yoli

  • ralphjp

    Good stuff!  Let me know how it works out for you

  • 3.amer

    Hi Ralph, I am going to do a 30 day trial of waking up at 3am without an alarm clock, part one of your experiment inspired me to do this. It will help me as I have to fly through a lot of work and it’s easier early in the mornings

  • ralphjp

    Fantastic!  Let me know how it goes for you.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/C345WOSBNEERHCFLAA5YJ7K7UY free the world

    I think I’ll start to try to wake up at 4 instead of five,from there I’ll beging trying to wake up at 3!
    thanks Ralph!

  • ralphjp

    Great!  Let me know how it goes.

  • Vishal Mashkaria

    Well i am use to snooze button but now will try to get over it and will slowly try to wake up early so that i can dedicate more time for my MBA preparation..
    Thanks Ralph

  • Arnaz

    Hi,
    I’m really interested in this experiment and can’t wait to try to wake up at 3 am. But isn’t using alarm to wake up is bad for your heart or health? Did you just wake up and stay awake until noon? How did you do that..

  • http://potential2success.com/ ralphjp

    Hi Arnaz,

    I’m not really sure if using an alarm is bad for you but I do use one without an digressive ringtone. I find that when I wake at 3 I don’t need to power nap. I usually stay awake until night time when I go to bed. For some reason, waking up that early energizes me. Give it a try and let me know how it goes 🙂