Welcome to the 5am Club

July 2024 - Health & Wellness

Do you begin your mornings in a stressful rush to get organized and out the door on time? What if there was a calmer way, a simple practice that sets you up for better health, wellness and productivity all day?

High achievers know that the discipline of rising early, to do their best thinking and organizing, can give them a competitive edge. But dedicating just one distraction-free hour for personal growth, exercise and self-reflection can be beneficial to everyone.

That’s the premise behind the book The 5 am Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life. by international bestselling Canadian author and leadership expert Robin Sharma.

The Difference One Hour Makes
In a sleep-deprived, too-busy world, getting up before sunrise may not appeal to most people. But chances are, undistracted, uninterrupted ‘me time’ every day, to focus on physical, emotional and creative health, will. Science backs up the benefits.

Neuroscientists know that brain-wave activity fluctuates and that our brains are in their most focused, calm and productive ‘theta’ state when we first wake up. This is a natural zen mode, a time of free-flowing ideas, creativity and calm.

Rising at 5 am leverages and lengthens this state which sets you up to be more centred, in a better mood and more productive the rest of your day.

The 20/20/20 Formula
To make the best of this time, Sharma recommends a 20-minute approach:

  • Move: 20 minutes of your choice of vigorous physical activity. Sweat purges the fear/stress hormone cortisol, and generates the protein BDNF, which repairs brain cells and accelerates the formation of new neural connections.
  • Reflect: 20 minutes to reflect. Write in a journal or meditate on what you are grateful for, your achievements, dreams and disappointments to gain clarity and insight.
  • Learn: 20 minutes to practice or learn a new skill or self-develop. Read or listen to audiobooks, watch a documentary or do an art or craft.

Early-Bird Benefits
While it’s not easy to change a routine—especially when it comes to waking up—the benefits of being a ‘morning person’ can be profound.

  • Better mood, less stress
    Exercising first thing in the morning increases your metabolism, decreases stress and elevates mood. You’ll feel calmer and more energized the rest of the day.
  • Better sleep
    People who rise at 5 am tend to go to bed earlier and benefit from better-quality sleep because of the stress relief resulting from being calmer, more productive and focused.
  • More light therapy
    Exposure to bright, unfiltered morning sunlight helps to reset your body’s natural 24-hour circadian or “sleep clock”, and encourages the production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. You’ll feel more energetic during the day and sleepy at night.
  • Go outside in the first hour after waking, even on a cloudy day, for at least 30 minutes. Walk, work or sit in your garden. Eat breakfast outside.
  • Don’t wear light-filtering sunglasses and wear sunscreen.
  • More focus and concentration = better performance
    When you focus on and complete the most important tasks early in the day, you get a sense of accomplishment and are ready for whatever the day throws at you.
  • More proactivity
    The discipline of focused habits and activities, early in the day, translate into a proactive approach to work and life.

Set Yourself Up for Success
Good intentions at night don’t always translate to action in the morning, so it’s important to have the right mindset.

  • Be consistent, be disciplined
    New habits take time. Acknowledge that each morning you swing your legs out of bed at 5 am, you are forming a new habit. It will get easier over time.
  • Plan ahead
    Think about what you want to do during each 20-minute segment so that you are organized and ready to spend that time well.
  • Hit the hay
    Although the amount of sleep we need varies from person to person and for different ages, most adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night. If it takes half an hour to fall asleep, that means you need to go to bed about 9:30 pm to be ready to rise at 5 am.
  • Buy an alarm clock.
    Set it for 5 am. When it rings, get out of bed immediately.
  • Consider it a gift.
    Each day you take time for yourself is a gift—not just to yourself, but to those around you.

Chances are, once you start focusing on yourself, and benefit from more energy and better sleep, you’ll look for other ways to be at your best.

Give it a Shot

  • If you find it daunting to create a long-term 5 am habit, try a 30-day challenge.
  • If that’s still too much, commit to just one week.
  • Once you feel the benefits of focusing only on yourself for an hour, you’re more likely to continue the habit.
  • Don’t be prescriptive.
  • Any routine has to work for your life.
  • If the 20/20/20 segments don’t work for you, adjust accordingly. For example, you may want to work out for 15 minutes, reflect for 35 and read for 10.
  • If cuddling in bed or sleeping in on the weekend brings you pleasure, you can still maintain a consistent Monday-to-Friday practice. 

Article was published in The Good Life magazine.

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