Carpe Mane

I’m not sure about you, but I am a morning person. This hasn’t always been the case. I used to happily sleep in to anywhere between 8-11 am.  As I have become more focused and disciplined in my behaviours and seen the benefits for me, I have easily been able to rise early, feeling refreshed, anywhere between 5-5.30am most days.  This time in the morning before anyone else in my household is up is a serenely magical time which enables me to practice the art of extreme self care.  For me, it began 17-18 years ago when I started getting up early to meditate for 20-30 minutes.  It has now become a wonderful morning ritual that has extended to include more than just meditation.


There is plethora of research that supports the benefits of getting up early and creating morning habits. There is also overwhelming evidence that shows how the most successful people use their time, and in particular their time before business opens at 8.30am. This early morning time is a significant positive factor contributing to balance in our lives.

Mornings always seem like a perfect time to do the right thing because we generally feel refreshed and motivated. Using the early morning time enables us to reflect, meditate, learn, envision, exercise and focus on what is most important to us. It sets up our day for success and keeps us grounded.


My morning routine goes something like this: I wake up naturally (I never use an alarm) between 4.30 – 5 am and lie in bed for about ½ hour just thinking, reflecting and practicing gratitude – being consciously thankful for all of the wonderful people and things in my life.  I then rise, feed our dog, Jett (who is tuned in to my routine!), and then come back to my meditation chair and mediate for ½ hour.  At about 6 am I have breakfast, where I always read something positive that contributes to my learning and inspires me.  I then shower and prepare myself for my day by focusing on the main activities of my day and how I would like them to unfold.  This means I can easily be in the office by 7am, or leaving to drive to my training to be there early to set up.


Waking up naturally allows me to work with my natural Ultradian Rhythm. Much like our Circadian Rhythm which works on a 24 hour cycle, our Ultradian rhythm works in 90 minute cycles throughout our 24 hour wake/sleep time. I never use an alarm clock as I always, no matter where I am or what time I need to rise, wake naturally.  When we use an alarm clock, and set it for say 7 am, we can easily be in a part of our 90 minute sleep cycle that is level 4 sleep so we are deeply asleep.  When our alarm goes off it shocks us awake and we can often wake feeling very heavy, groggy and still tired; feeling ripped off because we haven’t worked with our body’s natural rhythm for sleep/waking.


My very good friend Ruth Bayley told me about an app that she has downloaded onto her Smartphone called “Sleep Cycle Alarm”. It is a 99cent app that uses the accelerometer in the phone to detect the frequency and nature of body movement while you sleep. It infers a sleep state based on your movement – when we are in light a sleep state we have increased movement, and when we are in a deep sleep state we don’t move. The app tracks the rhythms through the night.  It can then be set to wake you during a window of ½ hour when your sleep state is lightest between 6-6.30 am, thereby mimicking natural waking arousal.  Ruth is a huge fan and says that while she now gets less hours sleep than she used to, she wakes much more refreshed and energised because she is waking more naturally.  She is less tired, and now finds it much easier to wake up and get up each morning.


Consciously using our Ultradian rhythm through the day takes some planning. Once we have done the practice of morning ritual we need to then focus on what our daily priorities are and our three most important activities. These become our big rocks which we need to work into our day as a priority.  One of the things that should be avoided first thing in the morning is going straight to our emails.  When we go to emails before priming ourselves for our day we immediately become entangled to the urgency of our emails and lose focus on our big rocks.


When we remain conscious of managing our day we can harness our Ultradian Rhythms and use each 90 minute segment of time to our advantage. Block in this time and work in engaged bursts of 80 minutes and then have a 10 minute break to recover and reenergise, before moving to the next 90 minute focused cycle.  This requires us to remain disciplined not to address each email as it comes into our inbox, or answer every phone call that comes into our smart phones.  It is about being results focused and productive, managing time proactively rather than reacting to the interruptions and demands of others which then takes us more time to refocus and get back in to what we were doing. When we learn to work with our natural body/mind rhythms we harness our energy in a proactive way and become much more in flow and productive, while using less energy to fight the tyranny of interruptions which can ultimately leave us feeling tired and drained.


When we rise early we can fit an extra 90 minute cycle into our morning which can be your special “you time”. I guarantee this will make your day easier!


Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least

– Bruce Barton

Posted in On Balance