21 Days at the Crack

One of my friends calls it the “butt-crack of dawn”. I laugh each time she says it. Now I know why she calls it that.

Last month, I was watching a TED talk where a presenter talked about how getting up at 4:30 every morning changed his life dramatically. He talked about how he was more productive, had more time, was able to improve his health, and enjoyed socializing with his friends more. It was entitled, “How Waking Up at 4:30am Can Change Your Life”.

So, I decided to give it a go. I’d get up at 4:30 for 21 days and rake in the benefits of productivity, rich friendship, ridiculous amounts of time, and tighter buns and thighs.

The following is the good, the bad, and the ugly of 21 days of getting up at 4:30am.

The Good

The main benefit of getting up at 4:30 was that I was able to spend time in prayer and Bible reading, uninterrupted every day. Sitting in the overstuffed chair in our living room, praying and reading while the sun rose was really nice. I never missed a day the entire 21 days either. Big bonus!

Most days, I was able to get my work done early. On average, I was able to call it a day around 3:00pm. That’s three hours earlier than usual. That left me with time to do things I enjoy before working on family responsibilities. I did some writing, some drawing, and a little napping.

The Bad

I was fine for the first 5 to 7 days. Sure, I had to go to bed earlier because I was tired earlier, but that’s to be expected. After about a week, though, I was tired all the time. Morning, noon, and night, I was exhausted! It felt like someone had drugged me and I just couldn’t seem to seem to get my energy level up, no matter what time I went to bed or how much caffeine or sugar I consumed.

My writing tapered off, my desire to work around the house was gone, sex required too much energy, and I zoned out when it was time to work. It got worse and worse until I felt like a zombie all day, every day.

The Ugly

It hit me hard on the second Sunday of the challenge. While I was speaking at our church, I realized that I couldn’t “read” the audience. Normally, I can get a sense of what’s sinking in and what’s not and I can adjust my pacing and emphasis accordingly. That morning, I was flying blind. It was a scary feeling, and I just wanted to hand the microphone to someone else.

I had a hard time reading other non-verbal communication as well. I felt paranoid, like I was offending everyone. You know those dreams where you show at school in your underwear? That was the feeling. Really weird!

Eventually, those beautiful early morning devotions turned into quick devotions, then morning nap. The whole challenge just didn’t work out for me. Maybe if I didn’t have kids, or a wife, or a life outside of my job. For now, I’m getting up at 6:00. I may have lost my mid-afternoon fun times, but I can feel my sanity returning.

I’ve added the TED talk below. If you decide to take the challenge, let me know how it goes for you!