10 Tips to Help You Wake Up Earlier

If you are a night owl and you have tried waking up early, you know it’s one of the most difficult habits. It’s hard to deal with grogginess in the morning and to be in bed on time with all the digital distractions nowadays.


So what’s the deal with these early morning risings and how can we fix them so that you’re all getting more of the rest you need?


What is an early wake-up


Let’s start with defining exactly what an early wake-up is. Everyone has their own definition. Some people feel like anything before 5 AM is too early, while others don’t want to be up before 12 PM.


When it comes to our sleep needs, we must have realistic expectations. It’s important to understand that our biological circadian rhythm is set based on our age. Children require earlier bedtimes than adults and often wake earlier than an adult naturally would.


How does this translate to morning wake times? Simply put, the vast majority of children’s bodies are ready to wake up anytime between 6:00-7:00 AM. Awaking before 6 AM is usually considered an early morning waking. Sleeping long past 7 AM throws the body’s circadian rhythm off, which deteriorates all sleep quality.


The general guidelines for morning wake times are as follows:


4:00-5:00 is still night time

5:00-6:00 is an early wake up for most people

6:00-7:00 is a gray area (some people do well with a wake up time at this hour, some don’t)

7:00-7:30 is fair game


How to deal with waking up early


If you’ve already read a few books on sleep and early rising, you’ve seen the usual advice like:

  • have a consistent schedule on weekends
  • don’t use electronics late at night
  • eliminate blue light
  • don’t eat dinner too late
  • have a morning/bedtime routine


All these points are important and they’ve been discussed everywhere. Instead, here you can find some lesser known tips that will make you an early riser faster:


1. Don’t Jump Out of Bed Immediately

The usual advice with the alarm is to keep it far away and immediately jump out of bed when it goes off.

That approach works well in the military, but what if you don’t want to have that stressful schedule in your every-day life? What if you want to enjoy your morning and spend some time in bed before jumping into work?

If you want to make something a habit in the long-term, it has to feel good. You’re not going to make it very far if your new habit feels horrible, and that’s exactly how it feels when you jump out of bed groggy.

So how can you spend time in bed without falling back asleep?

Have a two-alarm setup.

The first one is to wake you up, the second one is your cue to get out of bed. The first one should be within arm’s reach and the second one should be away from your bed.

That way, you can give your body some time to gently awaken and you can spend some quiet time in bed doing something you love, like reading your favorite book, writing in your journal, or doing affirmations.

When the second alarm goes off your time is up and you have to get out of bed. A 10 or 15-minute period between the first and the second alarm works well. By that time your body will feel much better and you would have gotten some inspiration by doing your favorite thing in the morning.

2. Start Your Day with Joy

We’ve been conditioned by the productivity movement that everything should be about getting things done. Do more, faster, with increased efficiency. Most of our morning routines are filled with activities that require willpower and discipline.

But getting out of bed is much easier if you have something that you’re looking forward to. Something that gives you joy and excites you.

Of course, the joy of creating can drive you, but don’t be afraid to motivate yourself by doing something fun in the morning.

It might be going for a morning jog in the park, walking your dog, getting a cup of coffee at your favorite café, or spending time with your loved ones.

It’s different for everybody but whatever it is, make sure there’s at least one activity every morning that is just to excite you and improve your mood. That, indirectly, will make you more productive for the rest of the day.

Better yet, think of the benefits that others will receive from your work. You can also keep track of your progress and reward yourself when you reach a milestone.

3. Have A Strong Reason “Why?”

“Early risers are happier and more productive,” is not a good reason. It’s too general and will not inspire you to take action.

Changing this habit is hard, and if you want to endure the difficulty, you will need a good reason for it. Be really clear about what you want to get out of the extra morning time.

Do you want to use it to work more on your business? To get some extra time with your friends and loved ones?

If you don’t come up with a good way to spend your mornings, they will automatically be allocated to sleeping in.

Planning in advance is also very important. Coming up with the right thing to do at 6 AM when you’re feeling groggy isn’t going to work. At that time your mind will always come up with the same priority: sleep more.

Before you even start waking up early, come up with a great plan about how you’re going to use that extra morning time.

4. Create an Early Weekend Schedule

When telling people to wake up at the same time on weekends you’ll get the same response: “I don’t have a good reason to do it on weekends.”

Since most of us use mornings for work and being productive, we don’t know what to do on a day off.

So plan your leisure time in the same way. Sign up for an early morning class on weekends. Set aside time for your favorite hobby. Plan a hike with a friend. Use the weekend mornings for something that you’ve never had the time for.

It might seem weird to plan for your leisure time. But whatever the plan is, it’s going to be better than, “getting up on Saturday and figure it out.”

5. Plan Your Mornings in Excruciating Detail

The more specific you are with your morning routine, the easier it’s going to be to execute it. We’re talking about the really small details.

Do you get dressed before going to the bathroom? Do you shave first or brush your teeth first? Do you take a shower in the morning or in the evening?

Also, the better defined your routine is the more efficient it’s going to be. Since you’re doing the same thing every day, you will find many ways to optimize it.

A perfect example is laying out your clothes out for the next day. It’s much better than doing it when you wake up. It saves time and it feels nice to have everything ready when you wake up.

Here’s an illustration of a morning routine in detail:

*Turn off the second alarm

*Do your business in the bathroom (1 min)

*Drink a glass of water (1 min)

*Go back to the bathroom

*Take a shower

*Brush teeth, tongue scrape, mouthwash (3 mins)

*Put on perfume

*Style hair (5 min)

*Put your makeup (10 min)

*Put on clothes (5 mins)

*Hit the door

6. Staying Awake After Getting Out of Bed

Many people manage to get out of bed early, but an hour later they still feel groggy and go back to sleep.

Changing your wake-up time to a few hours earlier is hard. While your body gets used to the new timing, you will feel sleepy in the first few hours and going back to sleep will be tempting, especially if you’re still at home with the prospect of a cozy bed.

Even coffee might not help in that case. So what’s the solution?

Go outdoors as soon as possible. Do a quick morning routine to refresh yourself and hit the door immediately.

Something about being outdoors makes it easy to stay awake. Feeling the cool air on your skin, smelling the grass and flowers, hearing the rustling leaves. Nature tends to melt away all the grogginess.

It’s a great opportunity to do some exercise too, which is one of the best ways to start your day. Get your heart rate up.

7. Get a Pet

Accountability is becoming mainstream. Getting friends and family to keep you in check helps a lot. But there is no better accountability than a hungry cat in the morning.

If you get a cat and show her that 6 AM is food time, she will make sure you’re preparing breakfast at 5:55 AM every morning. No exceptions.

8. Use Sleep Cycles to Your Advantage

Have you had one of those days where you wake up early, but you don’t feel sleepy or groggy? You can fall back asleep easily but you can also get up and start your day.

Of course, you also know about the other mornings. Mornings where waking up early is terrible: your mind is foggier and your body feels like it’s been on a 24h marathon.

The difference between those two cases is in sleep cycles. When we sleep at night we experience a few cycles that our bodies go through. Each cycle passes through different stages; Stage 4 is the deepest one and Stage 1 is the lightest one, meaning the closest one to the awake state. The closer to the awake state you are when the alarm goes off, the better you will feel. The deeper you are, the worse you will feel.

So how can you use that to your advantage?

Figure out at which time in the morning you’re in REM sleep. If you feel terrible when the alarm goes off at 7 am, try 7:30 instead. If that doesn’t work, try 8 am. Eventually, you’ll find the sweet spot and you’ll be able to get up much more easily.

Once you find that sweet spot, you can begin gradually moving your alarm back by 10–15 minutes earlier, and shift your sleep cycles until you hit your target wake-up time.

This approach works only if you have consistent bedtimes. If you change the bedtimes by 1–2 hours every day, the sleep cycles will change too, and you won’t be able to find that stability in the morning.

9. Have Realistic Expectations

How long does it take to become an early riser?

It only takes your body 4–5 days of waking up and going to bed at the same time to adjust to the new schedule. It works even if it’s a big change, like moving in a different time zone.

However, getting yourself to do those 4–5 consistent days is a different story. Being able to do it depends on your current habits.

If you’re used to watching tv while overeating until 2 AM, and you try shifting your bedtime to 10 pm, it’s going to be a big challenge. In that case, you have to change two additional habits — the overeating and the late TV watching. That takes additional time and discipline.

Becoming an early riser is difficult because it’s not just one habit but a combination of many tiny ones. That’s why shifting a sleep schedule gradually improves the other prerequisite habits at the same time.

10. Get Enough Sleep or Maintain Consistent Wake-Up Times?

You already know that consistent wake-up and bedtimes are crucial to becoming an early riser. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Sometimes our priorities change and we have to stay up late.

In those cases, we have two choices for the morning after:

keep the same alarm time even though we’ll get less sleep, or 2) turn off the alarm and get enough sleep.

The best choice depends on how late you go to bed.

If you go to bed late but still get at least 5–6 hours, then it’s better to maintain the same alarm time. You will feel a bit sleepy during the day, but you can always get a power nap in the afternoon to help the process. You can also go to bed a little earlier the following evening to catch up even more.

Maintaining the wake-up time will make it easier to stay on track for the next few days, even though you had one late night.

On the other hand, if you were to change your alarm every time just to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, you will have a much more inconsistent schedule. You might end up sleeping 2–3 hours longer. Then on the following evening, you’ll not feel sleepy enough at the usual time, and you’ll stay up late again. The whole thing turns into a negative spiral.

The second scenario is when you go to bed very late and keeping the typical alarm time means you’ll only get 1–2 hours of sleep.

In that case, you’ll be better off sleeping in.

Even if you woke up on time, with so little sleep you’ll end up spending the day like a zombie, struggling to stay awake. So instead, turn off the alarm and let your body wake you up naturally. Then make sure you put some extra effort to be in bed on time on the following evening.


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