WAKE UP SLEEPY HEADS, an article by Gabrielle Kassel for SHAPE.com seems to advise. “How to Wake Up Early for a Morning Workout, According to Women Who Do It at 4 a.m.” This may seem like madness to some.
If you calculate back 8 hours to what bedtime should be with this routine, the clock would indicate 8 pm the night before. Turning in any later will potentially shorten the hours available for muscle recovery.
If the way is clear to keep this schedule and family, work, or social obligations allow climbing into bed as prime-time TV is gearing up, it can be a terrific idea. An alternative could be to settle for 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep, which pushes bedtime forward to 8:30 or 9 pm. Weekends might provide an opportunity to grab more shut-eye time.
Another alternative is to wake a bit later, at 4:30 or 5am, and adjust exercise, travel, and grooming time to be ready to start non-exercise related daily activities by 6 to 7am. The fact remains that time cannot be created, and if wake time shifts, so must bedtime if sleep hours are to remain in the healthy range.
After living in several parts of the country, I consider my optimal wake-up time to be time zone dependent. When living on the west coast in the pacific zone, the time difference meant that my husband and I were eager to get going very, very, early, keeping hours as close to the eastern zone as possible. That’s because we had work and colleagues back East, and wanted to have our productive day in parallel with theirs’. Also, our family lived in the eastern and central zones, and it was more convenient to shift to earlier hours. We did not have young children then.
We woke at 3am most weekday mornings to catch the pre-market business news and national weather (I love the Weather Channel). Both of us regularly traveled back and forth, west to east, to tend to work and family obligations, so it made sense to synchronize our body clocks with the other time zones.
Without those reasons, I am not sure we could have kept to that early schedule. Crazily, in those years I started work early and quit to exercise in mid-afternoon, the exact opposite of the topic of this article. Now, living back east, 4:30 to 5am is still convenient and favored for exercise, but it makes enjoying later social engagements difficult. On weekends a nap might be able to smooth out the evening time roughness, but this is a luxury not many in modern society can afford.
The women in the article make excellent arguments for their pre-dawn start times and offer helpful tips to maintain these exercise hours. Like putting the alarm clock in the bathroom or the programmable coffee maker in the bedroom. One of the women explains how health issues help her enforce exercise discipline. Another relates it to an unpredictable work schedule.
If you can swing this morning schedule, it is empowering. if you cannot, don’t sweat it. Those who brag about early schedules might be expressing insecurity. If you accomplish your exercise goals, you’ll be empowered regardless of the time your clock sounds its alarm.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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