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Skip the snooze, get up early

        Over the summer I realized I was in a bit of a predicament: I had a night course that would conflict with a potential work schedule. I began searching for a more non-traditional solution. The answer I came up with was working at Starbucks. Now, I know how that sounds, believe me, it’s not what I came prepared to talk about.  Instead what I want to talk about is waking up early. Working at Starbucks offered something unique: working the opening shift. While waking up early isn’t for everyone, here are my thoughts on waking up long before the sun.

Since about June, most days I wake up at 3:30 a.m. and begin my morning. I  roll out of my warm, soft bed and into the cold air of the New England fall. This is the hardest part of waking early, just getting out of bed. Once out of your warm blankets, the morning is easy. A warm shower reinvigorates my cold body, giving just enough warmth to make it to the coffee maker. Now post-coffee, I leave my house and head to work. It’s 4:30 a.m. and I’m officially on the clock, and more caffeinated than ever before. From then on,  I just ride out my shift until 11 o’clock rolls around and my work day is over. Well, that’s great and all, but how is any of that a good thing? And how does it affect you? Great question.

The first great thing about waking up early is going to bed early. While that doesn’t sound appealing to some, for me it’s helped with insomnia. Just last year I would have days where the first sleep I would see was all too often at 6 a.m. These days, I’m typically reunited with my bed between 8:45 and 9 p.m. every night. Getting up early has forced a hard reset of my sleep schedule, allowing me to get to sleep faster and stay asleep during the night.

Another benefit I’ve taken note of is increased focus during class. Going to bed earlier means more sleep, waking up earlier means by class time I’m fully awake and firing on all cylinders. By 11 a.m., I’m at my peak caffeinated state, and I head straight from work to class. Going to class from work is another benefit — skipping class seems pointless since I’m already out and about. Most of my experience with skipping class happens when I have a morning class I don’t want to wake up for. So already being awake is a game changer. This brings me to my next point: having work in the morning, class in the afternoon and an early evening opens up the end of my day for doing things that bring me joy (and homework sometimes).

Am I saying you have to wake up at 3:30 a.m. to see the benefits of waking up early? No. Nor do you have to get a job that allows you to work before class. However, in my experience, heading to bed earlier and making the transition from sleep to real life sooner has made all the difference.

So this week, make a change. Go to bed earlier, wake up sooner. Go for a morning run. Go see the sunrise. Force yourself to change your perspective. Truthfully, do what is right for you and your own mental health. Make positive changes this fall, and harvest the rewards of self-love and appreciation. It truly makes a difference.

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