Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rising Early

Coffee Talk Thursday

Oops...I think I've been off a day almost all week. I just (at 7pm) realized it was Thursday, and I hadn't written a Coffee Talk post! So a little later than usual, here we go!

When I worked in news, I produced and anchored the morning show, which began at the bright and early hour of 5:30 AM. This meant I needed to be at work no later than 3AM (although toward the end of my pregnancy with my firstborn, I pushed it to about 3:30 and worked like a maniac until 5:10, when I rushed to do my hair and makeup, and got on set a few minutes...sometimes a few seconds...before we went on air. Whew--what a rush!). One of the things I loved most about this shift, though, was watching the sunrise (I could usually run to the lobby during a commercial break or during weather).

Now that I am home with my boys, my hair and makeup is never done at 5:30 AM (sometimes not even at 5:30 PM!). I am often up throughout the night, but at this stage in life, it's to nurse a baby or help get a child (or two or three) back to sleep. Night after night of broken sleep (or no sleep) can really take its toll, and for health and sanity reasons, as much as I would like to rise early, I just can't.

That said, the nursing is tapering off, and after one-year molars break through, I see an end in sight for sleepless nights--at least for a day or two. :) I've been reading about the benefits of rising early, and friends swear by it (thanks, Jodi!), and I'd really like to give it a whirl--at least a few times a week on the nights I get at least a few hours of steady sleep.

This morning, I did wake up a little earlier than usual AND got out of bed to come downstairs, drink a cup of coffee, and read my Bible and pray. Even though I try to make this a habit right after breakfast, it felt much different; I felt like I started my day more grounded and focused. I felt better all day long and was better able to cope with the unexpected occurrences that arose throughout the day (Johnson's baby wash all over the bathroom floor, tub, toilet...).

I am borrowing a friend's copy of Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed, and the authors stress the importance--and benefits--of being a member of what they call the 5AM Club (getting up early). They write: "The 5AM Club is still extremely unpopular between about 5:00 and 6:00 each morning; however, it is much appreciated every hour after that." While they point out that rising early to have a quiet time is not Biblically mandated, they do offer this encouragement from John Piper:
"I earnestly recommend that it [devotions] be in the early morning unless there are some extenuating circumstances. Entering the day without a serious meeting with God, over his Word and in prayer, is like entering the battle without tending to your weapons. The human heart does not replenish itself with sleep. The body does, but not the heart...We replenish our hearts not with sleep, but with the Word of God and prayer."
If you are thinking about trying a free membership to the 5AM club, here's a few tips from the book that may help you get past the trial period:

  1. Place your alarm clock in a strategic location...
  2. Set your alarm for the same time every day.
  3. Never, never, never hit the snooze button or lie back down to catch a few more winks. The second your alarm goes off is the most critical moment in getting up early.
  4. Proceed directly to the coffee pot or caffeinated drink of choice [if you don't drink caffeine, try tea. The key is to get yourself going with something warm to drink--or ice cold, I guess, would work too!]
  5. Be prepared to feel absolutely miserable for about 10 to 15 minutes. But the misery soon turns into pure gladness as you experience the delight of meeting with God and reap the benefits the rest of the day. Fifteen minutes of misery is certainly worth fifteen-plus hours of peace and productivity.
  6. Remember that our bodies eventually respond to a standard wake-up-time. In other words, it gets easier.
I'm wondering if you wake up earlier than everyone in your house? If so, what do you like about it? If you don't, do you have any desire to give it a try? If you're in a season of your life where you just can't (baby up several times a night, etc.), don't feel bad! All of life is made up of seasons. I think I'm entering the season of the 5AM club (or 6:30am). :) I'll keep you posted!


  1. Thanks for this post. I know that getting up early, especially before my crew, is important to me feeling productive and getting a jump-start on the day. My newest baby is 3 months old now and starting to sleep through the night, at least until 5am. He is like clock-work and although he only wakes for a quick nursing (about 15 min) it is just enough to get me started. I then fix some hot cocoa and read my Bible.
    Even though I have a Bible time with my children after breakfast, I still need that alone time with the Lord before getting started with my day. I hope that I can continue this routine for a long time. I will say that being able to get up and stay up at 5am is easier to do when I have gone to bed earlier.

  2. Love the post, Cheryl. I had forgotten about that John Piper quote. Good stuff!

    As I told you yesterday, I don't know how I would function if I didn't have a minimum of a half hour of alone time in the morning. I'd prefer more, but there are often unforeseen circumstances that prevent this. It is so true that the benefit of the early rising might not be seen until much later in the day, but the beauty of doing it regularly, I have experienced the beauty of rising early almost within minutes of my feet hitting the floor.

    I will pray that the boys sleep well for you and you come to love this "club" as much as I.

  3. Hi Stephenie, congratulations on your baby! I agree with your point about having to go to bed early if you're going to wake up early.
    Jodi, thanks for the prayers! So get this--on a night that Jack actually SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT (!) :), I couldn't sleep at all!! It was 3 before I finally fell asleep. I was still going to get up at 6, but Justin encouraged me to rest a bit more since I only got a few hours of sleep. However, I felt wide awake at 6, and now at 7, I feel kind of I just should have done it! We'll try again tomorrow :)
    Thanks again for letting me borrow the book!

  4. My goal is to be up at least 30 minutes before the kids. I would love to get up even earlier but it doesn't seem to happen. Problem is I stay up late after they go to bed. I get so much done then plus special time with my husband. My Bible reading is in the morning though which is why it would be great to get up earlier. I feel guilty also because my husband is able to stay up late and still get up early for work.

  5. Until recently events (aka first trimester) I was waking at 5:45 to walk, then a short devotion/prayer/gather my thoughts time - although my regular Bible reading time is still in the afternoon. That's just because the kids' naptime is, for now, the time when I feel most able to focus without the worry that at any minute someone's going to pop out of bed early!

    But I agree that it really works best when I 1. Get to bed on time, and
    2. Get up every morning consistenly, because my body rewired to get up then. And a little accountability from my walking partner was a great help, too!

    Hopefully I'll be back in the groove again soon - because I definitely feel out of synch when I get up when the kids do instead of before them! Thanks for the encouragement!