Sleep Is Necessary.
I was so disappointed when I realized this. I held onto the hope, even through early college, that there must be a way to sleep less. Although I enjoy the benefits of sleep, it's always felt like such a waste of time.
I've wondered for a while how much sleep is really needed/appropriate. That's obviously a question that will be answered different for each individual, which makes it even harder to answer. I've seen endless posts from entrepreneurs and church leaders on how much sleep is needed. I read an article recently covering the range of sleeping patterns of a variety of famous leaders: from Winston Churchill, to Benjamin Franklin, and even Barrack Obama. The conclusion was that you have to sleep whatever is best for you (again, not helpful). Some of these people slept 4 hours a day, while others 9 hours. Some went to bed at 9pm and others at 2am. There was no perfect system - just a perfect system for each person.
Sleep will always be a blessing and a vice. The Bible warns people of sleeping too much, and too little. Proverbs 6:10 and 24:33 both teach that if you sleep and rest too often, then you'll fall into poverty. Your life will be a wreck. On the other hand, Psalm 127:2 reminds us that it is in vain that we rise early and stay up late because we are anxiously working, and it ends by reminding us that God is good, and He desires to give us the good gift of sleep and rest.
The balance is found in resting, but not being lazy.
As mentioned above, there is no perfect system - but if you've read this far, then you probably want to shift your schedule and wake up earlier. I can't remember where I heard this, but this is the best advice for waking up earlier that I've ever heard:
"If you want to wake up earlier, you have to go to bed earlier.”
As much as this seems not helpful, this truth is GOLD. The issue isn't a discipline to wake up early, but a discipline to go to bed earlier. You can be disciplined to wake up earlier all you want, but that will only last so long before your natural need for sleep catches up with you.
It's as simple at that. If you individually need 7 hours of sleep and you want to wake up at 5am - then you need to be asleep at 10pm. You have to work backwards and choose your bedtime to get the rising time that you want.
NOTE: I've also heard that one of the best things you can do is have the time you wake up be consistently the same. This doesn't work for some lifestyles in the service industry, or others, but it does work well with the above mentioned tip of choosing your bedtime to reflect your rising time.
THE BEST TRICK TO WAKE UP EARLIER
However, we are blessed in a couple weeks with a once a year opportunity. If you're wanting to change your sleep pattern, it can be fairly difficult. It can take a week of extra discipline to wake up an hour earlier until your body's clock follows in suit. However, I heard this great tip from Chad Brooks over at The Productive Pastor where he suggested utilizing Daylight Savings Time when you are wanting to wake up earlier.
It's as simple as this: when daylight savings time ends on Sunday, November 1st this year - wake up at the new time you want to wake up. If that's half an hour earlier that normal, it'll actually feel like half an hour LATER because of the time change!
Usually, Daylight Savings Time Ending is just a wasted time change where we enjoy 1 day of sleeping in, and then complain the rest of the year about wanting to wake up earlier, so don't make that same mistake this year!
If you're wanting to wake up earlier: take advantage of the opportunity coming up, and enjoy the benefits all year long.