I Woke Up at 5 a.m. Every Morning for a Week — Here’s What Happened

In my quest to see what all the early-morning hype is about, I conducted a little experiment. And while this title might lead you to believe something epic happened, there was no colossal event that took place. No one died. Nothing imploded. And, much to my own surprise, I even managed to make it through the entire week without one single nap. Shocking, I know. But was it really worth it? All those tired mornings, and early nights in? Here’s what a week of waking up at 5 a.m. looked like for me.

1. Canker sores

woman's smiling mouth

The inside of my mouth was not a happy camper. | iStock.com

Everyone’s body reacts differently to lack of sleep. As most folks know, quality sleep is key. When you don’t get enough, your body and mind can play tricks on you, and not necessarily of the good kind. As a devout believer in getting plenty of quality sleep, I can tell when I’ve failed to do so in an instant. In my case, the first red flag comes in the form of painful canker sores.

Sure, they’re not the worst thing in the world, but they’re definitely annoying. Just my body’s way of slapping me in the face to let me know I need to pump the brakes a bit. Luckily, they went away on their own after a couple of days.

2. Midday slumps

Tired businesswoman

The afternoon was really the hardest part. | iStock.com/Poike

Since I’m a night owl, waking up at 5 a.m. is hardly an easy feat. For as long as I can remember, my ability to really come alive again after the sun’s gone down far outweighs my ability to rise at an exceptionally early hour. Luckily, hopping out of bed in the summertime is far easier than doing so during the cold, dark winter months. But even still, it was a bit of a challenge.

For this reason, at least over the course of the first few days, I found myself hitting a wall in the afternoon. But the odd thing was, even if I tried to take a little cat nap, I couldn’t. That was probably because I was in the middle of the workday, and my internal clock was telling me this went against all societal norms. Regardless, I would hit a major lag in productivity anywhere from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Now, you might be saying that you experience this kind of lag every day at work, even when you don’t wake up at 5 a.m. This midday slump, however, was worse than usual.

3. Starting and leaving work early

My workday was definitely affected.  | iStock.com

Even on days when I started working much earlier than usual, I wouldn’t necessarily get to leave early. But why was this? Well, as I just mentioned above, that sneaky little midday slump got the best of me on some days, making it impossible for me to finish what I had to get done any earlier than usual. So, that was kind of a bummer.

However, on some days, that didn’t happen. On one day, in particular, I found myself finishing up work a good two and a half hours before normal quitting time, which was amazing. I was able to go for a hike well before the workday finished for most other folks. I was even able to return to rest my eyes in my hammock, all before meeting up with friends for happy hour drinks.

4. Lots of caffeine

funny girl drinking trough a straw

Anything with caffeine, except for coffee, would do the trick. | iStock.com/nicoletaionescu

As someone who’s not a coffee drinker, I have a caffeine intake that’s probably far less healthy than those who do indulge in a roast of any kind. Although I don’t drink caffeine often, when I do, it’s not of the health-conscious, locally grown, regionally sourced variety. Nope, not for me.

Iced chai teas and Diet Coke are my guilty little shots of energy pleasure. But with so much sugar and other stuff in iced chais, and not to mention the fact that Diet Coke may actually increase the size of your waist, I’m well-aware these beverages are far from healthy choices. But still, when you have to stay awake to get your work done, there’s something that just needs to work. For me, it’s these terrible drinks.

5. Midday workouts

Female hands lacing running shoes. Closeup

Going for a midday workout was huge. | iStock.com/fizkes

One way to combat the effects of being overly tired is to get up and move. While I do try to stay mobile throughout the workday, regardless of what time I wake up, there’s something sweet about incorporating your workout into the middle of your day rather than waiting until after work. Once the workday is done, there’s always a chance I’ll crash; it could either be because I’m too tired, too hungry, or both. These nights do my body and mind no good at all.

Luckily, though, a midday workout can be a real saving grace. Not only does it get my workout out of the way for the day, but it enables me to return to work feeling refreshed, with all my worries lifted right off my shoulders.

6. Less alcohol

Colleagues drinking after work

Waking up at 5 a.m. is a pretty good deterrent. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

With each year I grow older, each hangover gets considerably worse. For that reason, I stick to a couple of glasses of wine or beer only, especially on weeknights. If it’s a school night, I’m much more obliged to skip the drinking altogether. However, I’ll be the first to admit there’s no real replacement for a good glass of wine after a long day of work.

Even just a couple of glasses, given the amount of sugar in wine, can cause me to wake up in the middle of the night. Of course, I couldn’t risk not being able to sleep through the night, as I knew I’d be even more miserable the next day after my 5 a.m wake-up call.

7. Spending decreased

woman lying down reading a book

Staying in definitely helps with the bank account. | iStock.com

Seeing as I was purposefully waking myself up at 5 a.m. for days on end, I was very conscious about making sure I was able to actually get out of bed at that time. Naturally, it involved preparing the night before.

Going off the previous point, you’d be hard-pressed to find me at a bar or out late the night before I had to wake up so early. And this process of taking myself out of social situations also led me to save my pennies. I wasn’t tempted to go out for dinner and drinks, because I knew I had to be up before the sun. This, without a doubt, was one perk I could definitely get behind.

Maybe I’ll try it again; maybe not

Beautiful girl waking up

Not sure I’m totally convinced a permanent 5 a.m. wake-up call is for me. | iStock.com/StudioSandbox

By now, it’s safe to say this little experiment was well worth it. There were both highs and lows. I was sometimes able to finish work super early on days when I started before the sun came up. However, that came with the cost of lots of added sugar and caffeine. So, I’d probably have to try this whole waking up at 5 a.m. thing for several weeks to really see lasting effects. But then again, sleeping in is a beautiful thing.