When I say I'm suffering from insomnia, it's more like insomnia has conquered my entire life for a while. To fight it, I tried melatonin, over-the-counter sleeping pills, cough syrup, you name it. Nothing worked. I found myself in bed until 5am and turned around, slept until 1 or 2 in the afternoon, sat down to work at 3, and worked late into the evening. Rinse and repeat.
And I'm not alone with that.
Every year, 25 percent of Americans suffer from acute insomnia, according to a University of Pennsylvania study. Seventy-five percent of these individuals recover without chronic problems, characterized by at least three sleepless nights per week for at least three months. But of the 25 percent who suffer from "acute" insomnia, only 6 percent developed "chronic" insomnia.
At the beginning of this year, I was completely swallowed up by chronic insomnia. From February to July, my sleep patterns gradually deteriorated until I was exhausted, unable to concentrate, and exposed to wild mood swings. My work and my friendships have suffered. I was afraid I would never recover.
In one of my nocturnal YouTube fans, who appears from cat videos to TED talk and everything in between, I came across a video: "Waking up at five in the morning." Change my life, "made by the witty, insightful creator Jordan Taylor (known for his work on the Blimey Cow Channel)." One day, I had just reached my breaking point. I had enough. I could not do that one more day, "says Taylor, who had not suffered from insomnia but was addicted to his cell phone – so much so that it began to affect his personal and professional lives." I began to lose my mind " He said, "Honestly, I started to hate myself completely, and it became clear to me at this point that the habits I had taken over time had to cease completely."
These words hit me I had reached my own breaking point and it was time to make changes in my life, I had to hold myself accountable, Taylor was a good guide, I started to reevaluate my bad habits, including sticking to mine Phone, and started making deliberate decisions to stop them, and then Taylor said he had a video of a Navy Seal named Jocko Willink e in one of his own YouTube fans had discovered. "Why did not you wake up at 4:30?" Willink says in the video interview with Business Insider. "No one else is still awake, which gives me the opportunity to do things that I have to do."
I knew I had to revise my sleep plan to reach eight hours, so I set my alarm as nimble at 5 o'clock that night. When the chorus of Hilary Duff's "All About You" rang in my eardrums that first morning, it was not that hard to get up. I sat up, stretched and yawned. "That's a lot easier than I thought," I whispered to myself. I turned off the alarm and rolled my feet out of bed first. It was as if my body and mind were already excited at the prospect of what a previous day might bring.
Dolly Parton would be proud. I stumbled into the kitchen to make coffee. I pulled my unicorn and rainbow mug out of the cupboard and walked to my porch. On the stairs I sat with relish the morning air. The birds were not quite awake yet, and I allowed myself to breathe in the landscape around me.
This first morning changed life. I did not wake up so early, so voluntarily and without much complaining, as I had inadvertently registered for a biology class at 8am in my freshman year. It was like a lightbulb in my head. Five o'clock just makes sense, and I began to wonder why it took me so long to make such a bold and drastic change.
As I sat down to prioritize my day, I noticed that I did not care about myself in a meaningful, long-term way. I had to look closely at the bad habits, not drinking enough water, not eating right meals, ignoring the signals of my body.
Over the next six months, I learned to hold myself accountable. It was not an easy transition to following a tight but strict schedule, but it gave me more control over my life. I am able to leave every day and know that I have given everything. Not only do I survive day after day; I build a life that is worth living through healthy thinking.
Now I wake up mostly … happy. I feel livelier than I've been for a long time. As Shonda Rhimes writes in her 2014 memoir, Year of Yes : "Luck lives from life as that you need as you want as your inner voice." It's telling you that. Happiness comes from being who you really are instead of what you think you should be. "
If you want to change something, you have to change it … I started a new life over six months ago and did not look back – this is how my schedule now looks like:
5 o'clock wake up Before the Sun.
5-6 pm Coffee and Meditation When the weather is warm, I can sit on my porch listening to the birds wake up, even in cold weather it is still Happy Hour for Caffeine and My Thoughts for the Day.
6-6: 50 Exercise. I start my practice routine with a few simple stretches, jumping legs and yoga postures followed by a few dozen loops in the neighborhood.
6: 50-7: 30 Reading. For the longest time, I sucked on reading so hard, and it was not the way I did it I never seemed to find the time to break the books, the dust in my R no matter collected. But getting up very early made me dive into one of my favorite pastimes again. One book a week seemed a daunting task, but now I find it fairly easy to complete.
7:30 – 8:15 am Dress and have breakfast. I often cook scrambled egg tofu on a spinach bed along with a toast with raspberry jam and / or peanut butter. I feel like a warrior who wants to kill the day.
8:15 am – noon. Work and projects. Stomach full and mentally healthy, I can work through projects precisely. My focus is clearer and stronger, and what used to be a discouraging to-do list has become a game. And now I'm taking a water break between the projects.
Lunch-1 o'clock lunch. Ever since I started eating at predictable intervals, my body has never been happier. And if you do not feel compelled to move on to the next task, you get an extra sense of accomplishment.
1-5 p.m. Work and projects. Time is less stressful when you get up early. When 5 pm I am proud that no second of my day was wasted. I can finally breathe.
5-7 o'clock decompress, make dinner and cat time. After I had assured myself to log out of work at 5 pm, I had more time in the evening to replenish myself and take care of myself. Here are my three cats Jake, Olivia and Fitz in the picture (also at Orange is the new black ).
19.00 Please do not disturb. To relieve insomnia and stress from today, I put up a strict 19 o'clock. "Curfew." I either turn the phone off completely or put the rest of the evening on Do Not Disturb.
7-8: 30 o'clock. Tea time. Honey vanilla camomile tea is my jam. I also enjoy spending time meditating and listening to vinyl records just before bedtime.
Bed by 9pm
Look, a wake up call at 5 o'clock is not for everyone. Even if you swear to get up 15 or 20 minutes earlier than you usually do, you'll be shocked at what you can achieve, and you can start your day with a calm, determined resolve to live your best life. Try switching off a few hours before bedtime – I mean, completely, to release the body and mind from the tragedy of the world and what's happening online. Eliminate the confusion, remember that every day is a fresh start, and get ready to make someone better. You can.
Jason Scott is a writer who lives in West Virginia. Itched for creative freedom and founded his own music discovery site called B-Sides & Badlands, which specializes in long-term writing and cultural criticism. If you like kitty pictures and wake up, follow him on Twitter .