Getting a good night’s sleep and waking up early was never really my forte. I’ve struggled on and off with sleep for years. But, something finally clicked this year, after reading a couple of incredible books. A mix of Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker and The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, have changed how I sleep, and how I wake up and start my day. Let’s take a look at my new morning routine.
All of this started at the beginning of the year, before lockdowns etc. I was trying to get to sleep earlier. I was trying to wake up feeling energised. Sometimes it’s very hard to do, and it’s not just because we love sleep, it’s because our environment or our circumstances make it more difficult. I was still struggling.
I had started to listen to The Miracle Morning on Audible, and I was feeling optimistic about changing things. The idea that with a good affirmation you could convince yourself that you would wake up and feel energised seemed like a good idea. The reality though, wasn’t quite what I had hoped.
So I started trying to get to bed earlier. Early to bed, early to rise, longer sleep, it all made sense, more or less. Some days it worked, some days I was restless and unable to sleep. So the struggle continued.
Then I read Why We Sleep. Something clicked inside my head whilst reading this. I don’t know what it was, but it felt a lot like my first Body Experiment. Something just suddenly made sense, that I had to improve my sleep. I had never realised the importance of sleep.
It’s easy to focus on nutrition and exercise etc, but being sleep deprived and sleeping only 4-5 hours per night has a huge impact on everything we do.
Finally Sleeping Better
I was learning and as a result, I wanted to change and I started to implement changes. To help me get my sleep out of the danger zone, I had to make some changes, notably:
- Reducing coffee to only 2 cups per day, and only in the mornings (by 09:00 am now I’m done with caffeine for the day).
- Switching off earlier – by around 10 pm my phone goes into airplane mode – I don’t need distractions.
- No TV last thing at night – I do my best to make sure I read a book (fiction usually so as not to get the grey cells worked up) as the last thing I do.
- I go to bed earlier – this sounds so basic and simple, but in the past, I’ve pushed and not submitted to sleepy feelings.
- Finally, I switch all the lights off and put on an audiobook with Audible – this helps me to wind down, listen to the book, and usually before the 30-minute sleep timer has finished, I’m asleep.
Now, as I’m writing this at 08:00 am, I’ve woken up from a solid 8 hours sleep. No alarm clock, but at 07:00 am I was up this morning. 11 pm to 07 am – 8 hours uninterrupted great sleep, with me waking up without any alarm clock, feeling refreshed and ready to get into my morning routine.
Back to my morning routine:
My routine has built up in the last 3 months. As lockdowns were imminent and things started to go haywire in the world around me, I decided it was time to get my shit together.
There were 4 main things that I wanted to do more of in my life. The list was simple:
- Exercise more
- Feel better (mentally and physically)
- Start continuous self-development
- Learn more
Funnily enough, I looked back over a personal mission statement from January, and all of these key aspects are in there. I’ve been subconsciously working towards implementing my personal mission statement on a daily basis, without consciously realising it.
Changing my diet just after Christmas had a massive impact on my weight. I had done this before in 2015 with my first body experiment, with the 4HB by Tim Ferriss. So since January, I was already shedding the excess weight I had been carrying around.
Morning Routine To Feel Better
Next came feeling better, mentally. To get started I began journaling every day. I kept it simple, things that happened, what went well, what didn’t, things I was worried about and things I was excited about. These are the general things that inside my head create and stir emotions (good and bad). Once they were down in my journal, they didn’t play on my mind. I like that feeling.
On the day of writing this, I am on a 109-day streak of journaling.
Journaling was a great way for me to get the thoughts and ideas that were in my head, onto paper. But it wasn’t helping me to strengthen my mind or my thought processes. Welcome to meditation time.
Years ago, I think it was around 2015, I had tried to use the HeadSpace app. I kind of liked it, but I didn’t stick with it. I probably completed the first 3 or 4 sessions and tried to restart it 2 or 3 times. This year, I tried Calm. Not going to lie, I LOVE IT.
In the last 4 months, I’ve only missed about 10 days out of 120 or so. It’s a regular feature in my morning routine and something I now look forward to every day. If you haven’t tried it before, I recommend it. But bear with it. My first week it felt weird, not right and I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Nearly 4 months later, I don’t feel right if I miss it on a particular day.
Exercising As Part Of My Morning Routine
About 12 weeks ago, I added in the exercise element. Really simple, I would make sure every morning I did 10 press-ups. That’s all the “internal” challenge was to me. So after waking up, I would enjoy my coffee, journal and then proceed to do 10 press-ups. (Not hard, but a habit that kick-started everything else).
After about 2 weeks of 10 press-ups a day, I began adding more exercise. I wanted to feel healthier, and within 12 weeks, I was running 3/4 times per week, exercising every day and adding new exercises along the way. You can find out more about the exercise in Getting Healthier.
Always Be Learning
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty”– Henry Ford
In January, I had pledged to read more. So far this year, I’ve read 13 books. Probably more than I read in the previous 2 years. I’m very happy about this. But an important thing to remember, 95% of people never implement what they read. I wanted this year to be different for me.
So any business books or self-help style books I read, I tag, make notes and complete any thought exercises alongside the book. Every morning I read 1 chapter, whether it’s a longer chapter or a shorter chapter. I want to keep the input levels high and the results so far this year have been incredible. You can find all the books I’ve read so far this year in my post Read More: Always Learning.
Summing Up My Morning Routine
In closing, I’ll say this. I resisted having a “routine” in the morning for years. I’ve never prioritised my health over my work or enjoyment. But since starting and building this routine, it’s now my number 1 focus EVERY SINGLE DAY.
It’s got to the point where my day doesn’t actually start until after I’ve completed my morning routine. Some days it takes an hour, some days it takes 2.5 hours. I don’t care. It sets me up perfectly for the rest of the day.
I feel healthier, physically and mentally, than I’ve ever felt before. I’m learning on a daily basis. I have more energy (thanks to better sleep, diet and exercise – who would have thought, right?) and most importantly, I feel like internally I’m succeeding.
One of the lines in my mission statement that I wrote back in January was simply this:
“Strive every day to implement what I learn and who I am, so as I may continue to improve.”Chris Bruno – Personal Mission Statement January 2020
I can honestly say, everything has changed. It’s only been about 4 months of building up this process, but how I feel and what I want to achieve next continues to drive me forward. This is a habit that I never want to stop implementing.
To finish up, I’ll add in another quote that I saved as an image about 5 years ago. It’s been a great reminder to me about what’s important.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”.– Zig Ziglar
Check out my vlog all about My Morning Routine on YouTube – feel free to subscribe to my channel and leave any feedback you have on the YouTube video.