At the beginning of this year, becoming an early riser was a recurrent theme on At the same time, the urge to put some order in my messy sleeping pattern had grown, so I was very happy to read Steve Pavlina's blog posting on that. Before, I would usually stay up until very late (3am), being over-tired, and then sleep 9 or even 10 hours, sometimes still being tired the next day. The advice Steve gives is very simple: Go to bed only when you're too sleepy to stay up, and get up at a fixed time every morning.

This sounded exactly like what I wanted. Now, I'm still rather the night owl type, so I didn't pick something like 5am as Steve did, but a friendlier 9am. The first 2 or 3 days were somehow hard, but I soon realized how healthier the new rhythm was. I was getting up at the same time every day, including weekends, and go to bed around 1.30am. The downside was that 2..3am (CET) is often the best time on IRC and also very nice for hacking, but the additional time gained in the morning was well worth it.

The hard part is to actually notice when you are tired. For me, it works best to read a book, and then go to sleep when I can't concentrate on reading any more. The difficulty for us computer people is that staying in front of the screen somehow makes you unaware of how tired you actually are - just turn the machine off and do something else (doh!). In the morning, it's important to actually get up, since the body will adjust to the additional time in bed. What I'm doing is to put the radio's timer at 9am, and the alarm clock at 9.05, so I don't have to jump out of bed. Many times, I would wake up myself just at that time.

Of course, when going out late, I don't get up at 9, but try to get back to the rhythm immediately. Also, Debconf had thrown me out for some weeks, but luckily I managed to get back in.