I woke up at 5:30 in the morning every day for one school week to test whether I could break some unhealthy habits and was elated to discover it worked. 

As a college student who’s lucky enough to have no early morning classes, I tend to sleep in much later than I should on a regular weekday. Sometimes, waking up after 10 a.m. makes me feel like the day has already passed by, and it prevents me from being productive because I lack the motivation. That’s why I wanted to try getting up almost five hours earlier than I’m used to. I chose to test whether it would help me to be more productive, allow me to have more free time in the evenings and form a healthier sleep schedule.

My alarm went off Monday morning at 5:30 a.m. sharp after falling asleep at 3 a.m., a normal night for me. Getting out of bed felt like an impossible task, but I was committed to this experiment. I got so much done in the first several hours of the day. I did a workout, showered and got ready, picked up my room and spent time reading my Bible. I also planned out my week, did some work for my job and my internship, and even got some studying done. All of this was completed before 11 a.m. when I left for my first class. 

I was still feeling good after getting back from class that afternoon, but I started getting tired and burnt out around 3 p.m. I know the fatigue came from how little sleep I had received because I had gone to bed when I normally would, but, even so, it made it much more difficult to get through the rest of the day. Once I hit that wall, I couldn’t stop thinking about how badly I needed a nap, but I refused to take one because if I did, I’d go to sleep late again that night, which was one of the habits I wanted to break. 

The rest of the day I struggled to be productive and get things done. Since I’m not a huge fan of coffee or energy drinks, I had to resort to Gatorade to give me some electrolytes so I could keep my energy up. I found that to be really useful in getting me through the day. It was also advantageous for me to take 30-minute breaks every couple of hours from doing work to relax or do something fun. Since I was exhausted, I spent a lot of my breaks laying in bed scrolling through my phone, but I had to set a timer so I wouldn’t be tempted to keep laying in my bed instead of getting back to work. Finally, I went to bed that night around 2 a.m., which wasn’t much better than before, but it was a mild improvement.

Although it got slightly easier each day, this is how the majority of my week went. Each morning was very productive, and each afternoon was a struggle because the earliest I went to bed was 1:30 a.m. 

I saw a lot of benefits in waking up early throughout my week. First, when I got over the grogginess each morning, I felt so energetic and inspired. I was always productive and got so many things done before I had to go to class. Additionally, I loved having so much time to workout and then get ready for the day afterwards. It made me feel like I was taking better care of myself. It also helped to slow my day down. Usually, I have less time during the day to do things because of how late I get up. Having five extra hours made everything feel less rushed and stressful. 

There were only a few drawbacks to this experiment. The first was that I felt exhausted the entire week. This is partially because you can’t change a sleep schedule overnight, and I still went to bed fairly late, so I wasn’t getting nearly enough sleep. I know that if I continued to wake up at 5:30 a.m., it would slowly shift and eventually I’d have no problem going to bed earlier. The second problem I encountered was that I didn’t have the energy to hang out with my friends later at night because I was already worn out. Since it’s college and so many people get together later at night to hang out and watch movies or play games, I felt like I was missing out by not having enough energy to do that with them. However, I think the benefits outweighed this minor issue.

After completing this trial, I decided that I would like to implement waking up early into my everyday life. I might not get up at 5:30 a.m. every single morning, but I’d like to be up each day by 7 a.m., excluding weekends. There were too many benefits, particularly when it came to getting schoolwork done as well as completing tasks for my job and internship, to not want to continue forming this new healthy habit. 

I highly recommend trying this experiment and considering waking up early permanently if you struggle to get up in the mornings and have problems with procrastination and motivation. Not only did it make me feel healthier and more inspired to get things done, but it boosted my overall mood as well.