Nobody likes the thought of a 3 a.m. alarm clock. It’s dark and more often than not, it’s cold; all we want to do is curl up and fall back into dreamland, but when that time comes and the alarm goes off, we get this sudden urge of excitement.
”The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep.” Rumi
The vast majority of us have a routine (and we all know it too well) for those early mornings. Some of us set out our gear and clothing the night before (guilty) so we can be fully prepared — double, even triple-checking our gear to make sure we don’t forget anything. Others just wake up, roll out of bed half-asleep on auto-pilot, and make our way towards the car. Many lean toward a combination of both, which is all part of the adventure. Sometimes a friend calls to wake you up at 12 a.m. and tells you to, “wake up and pack a bag, we’re going to the mountains in the morning.” Do you say no? Sometimes, but more often than not we agree. Those are the kinds of friends you want in your life — friends who are willing to sacrifice in order to be at the right place at the right time, because there was never a sunrise I didn’t like.
”The most beautiful gift of nature is that it gives one pleasure to look around and try to comprehend what we see.” Albert Einstein
Do you ever find yourself scrolling through Instagram, seeing these beautiful photos of landscapes with the most pristine colors lighting up the sky and wonder to yourself — how is this even possible that something this gorgeous exists in real life? If so, do you then ever wonder what it takes to see these magnificent landscapes in such light? Well, it all falls on waking up early, some proper planning, and a bit of luck with the weather. We can’t control the weather, we can only hope for the best. More often than not, we won’t get the proper conditions and it takes multiple times going back to the same spot to get that perfect light. It’s not just a one-and-done pursuit. Often times it doesn’t happen, but when it does — boy does it feel good and all that work and effort are worth it.
When we are willing to be up before the crack of dawn, we get to witness firsthand how light manipulates the landscape in front of us. Hues of all kinds dance across the ever-changing sky as time passes with each and every second, leaving us standing there in awe. In that moment, we are alive and our senses become heightened.
the cool, crisp breeze sweeps across our rosy cheeks and the first rays of sunlight warm our souls as the sun rises over the horizon. We feel a complete sense of euphoria.
It becomes addicting, this early morning “alarm clock”. We all do it for different reasons, but one thing I’ve found a constant is that many people love the feeling of being the first on the trail; with nobody in front or behind them, allowing a full immersion into their surroundings with no distractions.
The sounds of silence, the sounds of laughter, chattering teeth, muffled breaths; these are the sounds that you may or may not hear in the wee hours of the morning in the mountains. This is sacred time, time where we can forget about everything that is going in our lives and a time in which we can be fully present in that moment. Being up early has its perks, in all kinds of ways — physically and mentally.
”In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s no secret that you can get more done in a day if you wake up early, before the sun comes up. It’s also no secret that your days will be longer. But what we don’t always take into consideration is the added health benefits that waking up early grants us. I recently read an article with some insight into some of these added benefits that we receive from doing what we love in the morning.
Here is a handful of the benefits she mentions:
- Helps you sustain a healthy diet.
- Boosts productivity.
- Allows you to enjoy peace and quiet.
- There’s time to eat breakfast!!
- You are more motivated.
- Did I mention there’s time for breakfast?!
Waking up early should be incorporated into everyone’s life, whether you’re an outdoor junkie, an aspiring entrepreneur, or anything in between. Waking up early disciplines us, it allows us to maximize on the hours that we are awake. It gives us motivation. While we’re up working on our goals, the rest of the world is still asleep. It’s highly contagious and it correlates directly into every aspect of our lives when you really think about it.
But, you may ask, “How do I fall asleep when it’s not my normal time to be in bed?” Well, it’s as simple as you make it.
Here’s a few options that can help greatly:
- Turn off mobile devices.
- Build your sleep sanctuary to be associated with just sleep.
- Limit caffeine.
- Yoga and or meditation.
- Blue light blocking glasses.
- Exercise during the day.
- Lower the room temperature.
Sleep is equally as important.
“Early to bed early to rise,” they say. They aren’t wrong. I want to take a moment and show you what a normal circadian rhythm looks like:
6am: Sudden urge of cortisol
7:30am: Melatonin secretion stops
9am: Highest Testosterone secretion
10am: High Alertness
2:30pm: Best coordination
3:30pm: Fastest Reaction time
5pm: Greatest cardiovascular efficiency and muscle strength
6:30pm: Highest Blood Pressure
7pm: Highest Body Temperature
9pm: Melatonin Secretion Starts
2am: Deepest Sleep
4:30am: Lowest Body Temperature
Not everyone has the luxury of having a 9-5 schedule, but the majority of people do and if you can maximize and hone in on these times, the things you can achieve will increase exponentially, especially over time as you prefect this rhythm for your body.
”You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou
Proper backcountry equipment, a night out under the stars, peace and quiet, and therapeutic views are exactly what the doctor ordered. When we adventure into the wild we are able to align our circadian rhythm with the rising and setting of the sun. As humans, we are wired to go to sleep and wake up with the sun’s movements. As a society, we have now created a second daytime with technology, making the few things stated above so important to our sleep quality. When we return back to reality (as we like to call it) we tend to negate this natural rhythm, and fall back into this unnatural cycle. We need to do as much as we can to maximize on our sleep if we want to be at our best, whether that be in the outdoors or in our everyday lives!
It’s a no brainer that everyone wants to get great sleep and wake up feeling inspired and motivated to embark on a journey in the cold up a mountain for sunrise.
What if I told you that you could? Yes, you. It IS possible! If you incorporate some of what I mentioned above YOU can do and perform at your highest level and be up early! Change your habits, watch what you eat, pick who you hang out with, and once you start to dream larger and focus on what’s most important to you, these will help take you further.
”The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” Vince Lombardi
The early bird does get the worm, or in this case, the sunrise. I can say with confidence that it’s always worth it. Every daybreak is different in its own way, a memory imprinted on our brains forever. Some of the best memories are made early in the morning, when we didn’t want to wake up and roll out of our warm sleeping bag — but we did.
Follow the light of your headlamp or whatever moonlight is available, you will be right where you are meant to be. Everything in life takes preparation, dedication, and sacrifice. All you have to do is apply it!
Lucas Riley is an adventure enthusiast, student, and aspiring photographer from Northern California. He is passionate about the outdoors and hopes to inspire others to opt outside through his photos and written words.