Man with moustache sleeping at his desk.

How to Fix Your Sleep Cycle

In Short

  • Set an alarm as early as possible.
  • Ideally use the “Alarmy” App or another alternative that takes your control away from snoozing.
  • Do not nap.
  • Sleep when tired
  • Repeat for 2 – 3 days until the new pattern sets in.

The Current Situation

Its not unusual for me to stay up to 1am largely by accident having been gripped by some late night motivation to work on some project, normally on my computer.

Its also not unusual for me to wake up somewhere around 9am and feel like right from the get go I had a late start to my day and feeling like I’m only just catching up.

During all this I generally have a strong sense that I’m not as clear headed as I could be, and in general just performing really sub optimally in all areas of life that are most important to me.

Sure I have had worse sleep patterns during University where it was not unusual to be up to 4am and then sleeping till midday. Despite this I think there is still some improvement to be made.

Sleep is King

Book cover of "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker, PHD

If you have read any literature about sleep, or even tried it yourself, you will know how much it can impact your ability to do anything.

I recently read “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, to spare you 10 hours of reading he reckons sleep is pretty important. If there was a drug that could give you the positive effects that mimic a good night sleep it would sell out.

Here are just some of the reasons that connected most strongly with me:

  • Heightened Productivity – Specifically ability to focus for longer.
  • Increased Emotional Capacity – Being able to handle your feelings more rationally.
  • Improved Recover & Performance – Your muscles seem to do way better after a good night sleep.

How Did I Fix My Sleep?

In Short:

Every morning at 5am I have to run down stairs to my kitchen to take a picture of my Fridge. There is no other way to physically disable my alarm.

Doing this for a few days without letting yourself nap will make you so tired by the end of your day that you won’t be able to help but fall asleep closer to your ideal time.

Getting up early gets easier the longer you go.

Most importantly, admit that you can’t force yourself to get to sleep. Sure you can try and put your phone down, brush your teeth and generally get ready for bed, but this alone won’t knock you out. At the end of the day the only thing getting you to fall asleep is if you are tired enough to let your body shut down.

Here is where I found most of my success, attacking the problem at the other end.

You can’t force yourself asleep, but with modern technology you can force yourself awake. I found that no matter how much I “wanted” to get up early I would always hit snooze. My solution? Getting the “Alarmy” App.

Using the "Alarmy" app on an Iphone to take a picture of a sink.

Specifically the “Take Photo” mission as they call it is the most useful to me. This is available in the free version of the App.

Set this up by taking a photo of something that will force you to move a bit across your house. For me I conveniently end up near the sink downstairs which means that I might as well have a glass of water to start my day while I’m there, which is another one of my goals for my morning routine.

From here on out the mission is really all about not smashing your phone to deactivate the alarm, keeping some clothes near the bed so that you aren’t forced to run downstairs naked (this has happened a couple of times), and resisting the urge to nap during the day.

Where Has It Got Me?

Nowadays I consistently get up around 5 am. Despite being a bit groggy for the first 30 minutes or so, I find that after the glass of water hits and my brain wakes up I am still ready to attack the day a good few hours before anyone else is.

An added bonus is that you get to feel superior over everyone else as they slowly crawl out of their corners of the house in the morning, knowing that you got up so much earlier.

The extra time you have between 5am and roughly 7am when more people start to get up is amazing. I find the clarity you get during this time leads to some of the most productive and focused work I have achieved so far.

Good luck on your journey and let me know how you go if you try this for yourself 🙂


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