Shifting Your Evening: The First Step Toward an Early Morning

06.02.2017 |

Episode #3 of the course How to get up and conquer the morning by Matt Sandrini


I get it. You’ve heard of all these people getting tons done in the morning and you want a piece of that action. You want to do more. You want a longer day.

So, where do we start?

Well, by setting the alarm clock to the early am, of course.


The day is made up of 24 hours, no matter what time you start. By waking up earlier without changing your evening habits, you’re trying to cheat the system by ignoring sleep. This makes you groggy in the morning and associates your morning experience to tiredness and pain. Soon enough, you’ll give up, saying “I’m a night owl, mornings aren’t my thing.”

An early morning starts in the evening.

In order to shift your waking up time, shift your bedtime first.

To start, you need to know what your evening looks like first. I suggest taking notes for a few days. You can do it the next day thinking back, but the important thing is to get a feel for what your current evening routine entails, how much time it takes, and whether it’s variable or fixed.

Do you waste time browsing until late?
Do you eat at the same time?
Do you work until late?
What do you do right before bed?
At what time do you usually fall asleep?
How much sleep do you need to feel rested?

The idea of waking up in the morning is to use the early hours to do quality work or build on positive habits before everyone else wakes up and starts contending for your attention. The key here is quality, not quantity. Each day has 24 hours, no matter what time we start.

Once you get to know your current evening, it’s time to create a new ritual. Let’s work backwards from setting our morning goal. At what time is your first commitment? Let’s say you have to leave the house at 8am.

What would you like to get done in the morning? We identified this in the last lesson. Say it would take one hour, plus one hour to get ready to go. That means you want to be up at 6am.

Ok. At what time must you be in bed in order to get enough sleep? If you’re not sure, factor in at least 8 hours. Most of us are sleep-deprived and don’t even know because that’s the energy and mood level we’ve known for a very long time.

Think about it this way: the more intense your days are, the more you should rest.

If you were an athlete, you would look after your body and recuperate after an intense day. Why would it be any different for cognitive performance?


8 hours, ok?

So that tells us when you need to fall asleep. In our example, it’s 10pm. Easy!

I recommend being in bed, or at least having completed your shutdown, at least half an hour in advance. This means no screens, no emails, no browsing, no work. The easiest way to do this? Don’t charge your phone next to your bed. That extra-long charging cable you bought was a terrible idea. This will make sure you get quality sleep and don’t just aim for a meaningless number.

That means turn your phone off and get your pajamas on at 9:30pm. Now you have undivided attention to brush your teeth, read, journal, meditate, have a conversation… Zzz.

Rehearse your ritual every evening and make sure you take the same actions in the same sequence so that over time you create an automated habit.

Finally, set an event in your calendar to say “Shutdown” every day at 9:30pm. That will be your cue to start the whole sequence.

In no time, you’ll be in Morpheus’s hands and wake up refreshed and ready to crush the day.


Tomorrow, we will look at how to automate the morning to make it effortless.

— Matt


Additional resources

Smartphone addiction: how to reduce distractions and master your phone

Can you die from not getting enough sleep?


Recommended book

“Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health” by Dr. Michael Breus


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