In Elite Daily's I Tried series, we put celebrities’ favorite products, recipes, and routines to the test to show you what living like your fave star is really like. In this piece, we tried waking up at 5 a.m. like Emma Chamberlain does in her recent YouTube video.
Since uploading her first video in 2017, YouTuber Emma Chamberlain has won millions over with her hilarious and relatable content. But Chamberlain is no longer just a YouTuber; she’s also an accomplished businesswoman. In addition to churning out all her vlogs, the 20-year-old hosts a podcast, models for brands like Louis Vuitton, and has her own coffee company. Chamberlain even attended this year’s Met Gala. Considering her extremely busy schedule, it’s no wonder she wakes up at 6:30 a.m. on a regular basis. However, in a recent YouTube video, Chamberlain attempted to get up even earlier than normal, which is how I found myself waking up at 5 a.m. in an effort to emulate her.
In her July 2021 YouTube video, Chamberlain lists the advantages of waking up early, such as helping you deal with depression and anxiety, establish better sleeping patterns, and experience an increase in productivity. However, as much as I trust Chamberlain with matters of health and science, I decided to do a little digging and find expert-vetted research that confirms these supposed benefits — and it turns out, she may be onto something! According to a study conducted by Harvard, MIT, and the University of Colorado Boulder, early risers are less likely to report depression. Furthermore, the report found that waking up just one hour earlier could reduce a person’s chance of depression by 23%. After doing a bit more research, I learned a happier mood is only one of the many benefits waking up early has to offer, supporting Chamberlain’s assertions.
That was enough for me to confidently move forward with this experiment. So, using Chamberlain’s video as a guide, I attempted to follow her early-morning routine. Here’s how it went:
The night before my 5 a.m. wakeup, I cut a FaceTime call with my friend short, citing my early morning. My friend, knowing I’m a late sleeper, was surprised but supportive. I, on the other hand, was already feeling anxious about getting enough sleep.
Around 8:30 p.m., I began to wind down. I showered, brushed my teeth, and donned my favorite pajamas. I even took a melatonin earlier than usual, hoping that would help me fall asleep quicker. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. One thing led to another and I found myself conversing with my parents, playing with my dog outside, and scrolling on my phone, so I didn’t get into bed until 10:30. I begrudgingly set my phone’s alarm to 4:40 a.m., set an additional alarm for 5 a.m. on my Fitbit as a backup, and then attempted to call it a night, although I still tossed and turned for a while after that. According to my Fitbit’s sleep tracker, I finally fell asleep around 11:30 p.m., which was actually the same time Chamberlain said she fell asleep in her video. So, while I was off to a later start than intended, it was at least an accurate start.
When my phone’s alarm buzzed at 4:40 a.m. on the morning of my early-wakeup experiment, I instantly hit snooze. I hit snooze again at 4:48 a.m., and once more at 4:56 a.m. When my Fitbit sent my wrist a-buzzing at 5:00 on the dot, however, I finally conceded and got up. (Having to pee helped me get out of bed, too.)
Once I was up, I instantly put on a sweater and sweatpants, as I felt chilly so early in the morning. I was still super tired when I made my way to the bathroom, but splashing some water on my face helped me perk up a bit.
The Rest Of The Day
In her video, the first thing Chamberlain does is make coffee, so that’s exactly what I did. My homemade coffee consisted of Starbucks vanilla sweet creme cold brew mixed with pumpkin spice creamer (because ~fall~) and a splash of oat milk. Since it was so early and somewhat cold outside, I opted to have my coffee warm instead of my usual iced.
Fueled by the coffee, I journaled, just like Chamberlain. I wrote about my monthly goals and did some free writing as well. Although I was an avid journaler in the past, I’ve been too busy for it lately, so it felt really nice to spend 15 uninterrupted minutes with my thoughts. It was almost worth the early wakeup to sit in my backyard and take in the calm and stillness around me.
According to her video, at around 6:30 a.m., Chamberlain drove to her gym and worked out. TBH, I don’t regularly go to a gym, but I *do* go on walks every day with my dog (although they’re usually in the evenings). To try and emulate Chamberlain’s morning exercise, Waffles and I walked from 6:30 to 7:00 a.m. — a nice, long stroll for both of us. Spending time in nature so early in the day was refreshing, and I actually felt super accomplished. I usually listen to music while walking; however, waking up at 5 a.m. inspired me to be more productive, so I decided to listen to the news on an NPR podcast, instead of my usual playlist of Doja Cat, Drake, and Tinashe.
After the gym, Chamberlain went shopping at Trader Joe’s. Although I didn’t need to stock up on groceries, my room needed some cleaning, and it felt like a comparable errand. So, I spent about 45 minutes putting away my laundry, dusting, and tidying up. I felt pretty accomplished, and it was only 8 a.m.! Per the video, Chamberlain then worked on her laptop for a couple of hours, and it just so happened that I also needed to start work around that time, so I continued to follow her lead.
Not even two hours into my workday, I started to feel myself crashing, but 10 a.m. was way too early for a nap, so I drank a couple of energy drinks to keep myself going. Unfortunately, that was only a temporary fix, and I found myself in a sort of haze the rest of the day. After work, I was too tired to really do anything else productive — which kind of defeats the purpose of waking up early, doesn’t it? I was in bed by 9:30 p.m. that night and fell asleep much earlier than usual, grateful that I didn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn again the next day.
While waking up at 5 a.m. felt good at first, my plan backfired. I had a few productive hours, but the rest of my day was anything but. I was running on five hours of sleep, which clearly contributed to my fatigue. But oddly enough, I’ve been sleep-deprived before and was able to function just fine, so, for me, there was something specific about waking up before sunrise that made me feel extra tired.
Still, I enjoyed having time for myself in the morning, and crossing off errands on my to-do list so early in the day allowed me to have a much more chill evening. Although I don’t plan to wake up at 5 a.m. again anytime soon, I do want to slowly incorporate earlier mornings into my routine — but at a more realistic time, like 7 a.m., which wouldn’t require copious amounts of caffeine to sustain. After all, it’s not like I own my own coffee company.