The Early Bird Doesn’t Drink the Worm


I don’t think it is any great surprise that it is easier to get up in the morning when you have not had a drink. What I am finding surprising is just how early I wake up and am ready to start they day when I have had a drink. In fact, this is something of a cumulative effect and it takes around three nights to really kick in and I am waking up about 5.30am.

90 Minutes for me

I am a happy and relatively healthy guy. I have a great wife and three wonderful kids. A job I mostly enjoy and a few hobbies like cycling, weightlifting, this blog etc. What I don’t have is any spare time.

What this means is things like this blog suffer. My exercise suffers. Doing things I enjoy like getting out on the bike suffers. If I cram these things into the weekend, which I often do that means my time with my family suffers.

I am time challenged. Work is largely to blame but I have to bring home the bacon. I can’t do a lot about that short term other than try to be more productive when I am at work.

So, with this 90 minutes there is just so much more I can do. I can go out on my bike, go for a run or an early morning walk, spend some time with my three year old if he gets up early, do my weights, write a blog post, meditate, read a book or just chill out and enjoy some good coffee. I could even get up early and play a video game on the consoles I get to watch the kids play on everyday.

For a man that does not feel that he has 9 minutes to win 90 minutes like this every day and so easily is just so much better than the time I would spend boozing.

You booze you lose

For various reasons I have come to the conclusion that alcohol is a largely negative factor in my life. I am 39 and think this has been bubbling up for a few years now. I don’t get smashed and argue with my wife and kids. I have not lost a job or anything like that. I score relatively low on the typical ‘are you a drunkard‘ questionnaires but they are largely ridiculous.

I am more of a few drinks every evening to wind down kind of guy. But, what this actually does is tend to keep me up. I am relaxed now so I will watch some crappy TV. Probably stay up that little bit later.

I will then have an less relaxing nights sleep. Maybe up a few times to go to the toilet. Maybe tossing and turning a bit. Waking up tired around 6.30am.

By the evening I get back home, tired, need to wind down and…. off we go again, few drinks, get relaxed and repeat the whole thing all over again. When the weekend rolls around the volume probably goes up a bit – start a bit earlier on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and increase the volume.

Why is this happening?

Without booze though this is a different story. I will tend to go to sleep earlier. l will certainly wake up earlier, usually around 5.30am and when I wake up I am pretty much awake and ready for action.

There is nothing magical here really, sleep is super important and without booze I get better and more restful sleep. I think we have all collectively numbed ourselves to just how much even a couple of drinks takes our edge off. For years I wanted to do just that but now I seem to be enjoying feeling sharp the next day.  I want to get up and feel good and be productive.

Early bird activities

I figure this wins me about 90 minutes per day. From around 5.30am to 7am when everyone else is still asleep. I don’t get much any time to myself with three kids of 11, 9 and 3 with varying requirements in terms of running around, homework etc so this space to just do something for myself is really rewarding.

Certainly, this is far more rewarding than the couple of drinks I would have as my reward for my days toil.

What I get from alcohol

So, my somewhat wonky thinking that has been in place for 20 years or so is that a drink is my reward. Something good. Something that helps me relax. But, in fact, if I analyse how it impacts my life – which I can only do whilst trying to remove it – it is anything but.

My couple of drinks on the evening habit that is similar to so, so many other folks is actually something holding me back. Something keeping me mentally subdued and sucking the joy out of many basic moments as I am tired, cranky, craving a drink or really, just not 100%.

Booze also makes me and keeps me fat. No doubt about that. I exercise. I have ran a bloody marathon. But, those booze calories that are likely somewhere between 3500 and 7000 a week can’t be discounted. Liquid calories are the worst anyway but cider. Jesus. Lovely cider.

If my drinking ramps up say for instance when we are on holiday I notice much more severe effects in terms of my thinking. Booze makes me dark. Dark thoughts. Increased anxiety. Lack of coping with the day-to-day stresses of life. I think this is always there but to a level you begin to feel is normal – it is just adult life, not the booze – right? Remove booze though and I am calmer, I cope better, have less anxiety and am just generally more present.

I have goals for my business, goals for my health, goals for my physical appearance and ultimately booze is that old friend who is holding you back. So really, it is no friend at all.

Ultimately, booze makes me fat, grumpy, stressed and anxious  – looking at it like that it is really not quite the reward I have held it up as for so many years.

Putting this into practice

So, here is a simple way to put this into practice for yourself. I think you will really need a month but a week would likely give you an indication. If the thought of a month without booze is just too scary (I get it 100%) then aim for a week.

You have to be careful not to tip your weeks worth of booze down your neck over the weekend here so I would say have a drink if you must on Friday and Saturday but keep it super moderate like three drinks max each night. Then, absolutely don’t drink Sunday. Try to get an early night on the Sunday around 9pm and see how early you wake on Monday.

Make a list of things you want to do this week and pin it on your fridge or some such and then work away at that list. You have like ten extra hours here and there is just so much you can do with that.

So, in summary

  • Don’t drink heavily over the preceding weekend
  • Get to bed early as you likely have some catching up to do
  • Wake naturally and get up
  • Have a list of specific goal for the week that you are working towards
  • Review at the end of the week.

Just imagine what you could do with an extra 90 minutes each day? That’s ten hours a week. What is it you want to achieve? That is time to do it. Write a book. Start a blog. Run a marathon. Lift weights and get jacked. Take life by the scruff of the neck, ditch alcohol for a few weeks, even if only in the week and see how you can be happier and more productive – oh, and comment here to let me know how you get on and to help keep me motivated”

My morning

This morning, I got up at 5:15am. Just woke up. Felt rested and ready for the day. This is stark contrast to being jolted out of bed by my alarm or my youngest being up and not being terribly happy about it most mornings around 6.30am. I have got up and written this blog post and am now off out to the garage to do some weights. I will be showered by 7am and off to work for an early start, feeling good and ready for action.