You’ve heard it all before. Those quotes about the early bird getting the worm and the man becoming healthy, wealthy and wise just by going to bed and getting up early. You’ve even read the stories about the most successful CEOs and world leaders getting up at 5 a.m. or earlier.
You know you should be getting up earlier, but you’ve tried this before, and it’s hard. You wonder, “How do people wake up early every day?”
You have great intentions when you go to bed at night. You put your alarm clock across the room, and you set your coffee maker to go off at 4:45 a.m. You tell yourself that you’ll go to the gym, and today will be the day that you finally get to work before the boss. You recite the words of Tim Ferriss before you go to bed, “If you win the morning, you win the day.”
But then the buzzer goes off, and it’s morning. Yet, it doesn’t feel like morning because it’s still dark. You feel like you literally just fell asleep. You stumble across the room, press snooze on the alarm clock, and then you jump back into bed. Before you know it, the time is 7:30 a.m., and you’re going to be late for work.
So, what happened? Your intentions were good, but you’re going to need more than that to battle the snooze button. We’ll show you how to get up and moving with tips you probably haven’t heard before.
Benefits of Waking up Early
High performers are reputed to wake up earlier than the average Joe. The reason they perform better might not be due to being awake before dawn. Rather, the theory is that people who get up early tend to stick to a routine and be better prepared for what comes their way. They’re not rushing to get somewhere, for example, allowing them to mentally focus and take their time on whatever they’re doing.
If you’re rushing out the door to get to the office because you pressed snooze six times, chances are you didn’t have time to enjoy a healthy breakfast. You might have skipped the meal altogether or grabbed something quick and unhealthy like a donut or a bagel.
Ideally, you should eat a healthy breakfast containing protein and fiber that will sustain you throughout the morning.
People who get up early often get more done by 9 a.m. than most people do all day. You might have already worked out, spent some time learning a new skill or gotten a jump start at work. By contrast, if you get out of bed at the last possible instant, you’re more likely to feel like you’re playing catch up all day. Instead of crossing things off your to-do list, it keeps growing.
Better Mental Health
If you’re feeling depressed, getting up earlier could seem like an insurmountable obstacle. But, once you settle into a routine, you’ll find that you have more time to relax, enjoy the quiet hours before the world wakes up and take extra moments that are just for you. Try meditating or exercising (or both) and see how you feel. We bet you’ll feel a lot better if you give it a chance!
More Time to Exercise
It can be a challenge to muster up the energy to do an early morning workout. But it can be even tougher to find time after a long and stressful day at work, especially if you’re eager to get home for dinner with the family. If you plan to exercise first thing in the morning, it’ll give you an energy boost and provide a feeling of accomplishment that lasts all day.
Improved Sleep Quality
People who wake up early tend to go to bed earlier, too. Often, their routines are so well established that they’re in bed at the same time every night. Having a set schedule allows you to get plenty of high-quality rest.
Resist the urge to sleep in on weekends, though. For this schedule to work, your wake-up and sleep times should be consistent every day.
Enjoy Quiet Time
One of the best benefits of waking up early is getting to enjoy an extra hour or two of “me time.” Your family is probably still asleep, and you’ll be able to have some quiet time to do what you want to do without any distractions or demands from anyone.
If you really want to take advantage of the fact that most people are asleep, you can hop in the car and go to work early. You’ll avoid a lot of the traffic and accomplish tasks or projects without the usual interruptions that happen at the office.
Easy Techniques to Wake up Early
Get Enough Sleep
Okay, don’t roll your eyes. This “technique” is an obvious one, we know, but there are some tricks to make it work.
You already know that you’ll need to go bed at a reasonable hour if you want to wake up before dawn. So, make sure you plan when you’ll go to bed each night and when you’ll wake up. The planned number of sleeping hours should be consistent with your individual sleeping needs.
If you find that you’re not tired when your scheduled bedtime rolls around, try a quiet bedtime routine like reading or drinking herbal tea. Or take a shower and get your clothes ready for the next day. On nights when you do go to bed later than planned, maintain your early wake-up time, but schedule time for a nap at lunch.
Maintain Consistent Wake-up Times
One late night at the office shouldn’t derail your entire plan. Once you pick a time to wake up each day, stick to it. Otherwise, it’ll be nearly impossible to get on any kind of established routine.
The rule for consistent wake-up times includes weekends, too. To help you stay on track, schedule early morning activities like a hike with friends or family, a workout session with a trainer or coffee with a friend.
If you must, give yourself a bonus hour of rest on the weekends, but don’t go overboard and sleep until 10 a.m.
Put the Alarm Clock Far from the Bed
You know this trick already, and your brain has likely already found a way to go back to bed anyway. The groggy mind is a powerful one, isn’t it?
So, here’s what we suggest instead:
- Set two alarms. One can be at your bedside table, and the other should be across the room or in another part of the house.
- The alarm by your bedside table can be quiet, just loud enough to rouse you from sleep. The second alarm should be obnoxiously loud. If you have kids, roommates or a spouse, then you definitely don’t want them to hear it because it will be sure to rouse them from sleep and make for a grumpy household.
- When the first alarm sounds, turn it off. Before you can even think about going back to bed, you’ll remember the other alarm that will wreak havoc on your family life if it goes off. That should (hopefully) be enough to get you moving.
Start Your Day with Joy
When most people wake up in the morning, they start thinking about all the things they have to do that way, all the conflicts they could expect to have, and maybe even how much they hate their job. Those thoughts aren’t going to make you want to bounce out of bed and sing show tunes.
Instead, start your day by thinking of something to look forward to. It might be as simple as a hot cup of coffee brewing in the kitchen, a new soap you’ve been wanting to try in the shower or a book you’ve been trying to find the time to read. By having something that makes you excited to start your day, it’s easier to get out of bed.
Have a Purpose
It’s not easy waking up early, especially if you don’t have a strong reason for doing it. So, make sure you identify your “why.” Maybe you’re working toward a marathon, and you need to fit your runs in early in the day. Or, perhaps you want to start a business, and the morning hours are the best time to focus. Whatever it is, it has to be compelling, or you won’t stick to your new schedule.
Here are some key benefits of waking up early to spark your imagination.
Plan Your Mornings
When morning rolls around, it can be hard to get motivated. You may drift aimlessly from room to room looking for keys, briefcases, jewelry, etc. Instead, make it easy on yourself by planning out a morning routine. Write it down and refer to it as needed until it becomes a habit.
Minute by minute, schedule what you’re going to do, from your morning shower (unless you take it in the evening instead) to when you drink coffee and shave. It’ll help you save time, be more efficient, and you’ll avoid forgetting important tasks.
Give Away Your Electronic Devices
This may sound extreme, so if you don’t want to give them away permanently, lock them up in a safe for a week or two.
The idea behind this trick is that it prevents most of the distractions at night that cause you to stay up beyond your bedtime. Watching another episode on Netflix, scrolling through social media, and playing mindless games on your phone all serve to keep you up later and deprive you of sleep.
Instead, commit to avoid anything electronic after dark, and see how much easier it is to go to bed early and wake up early as well.
Get a Pet
Pets are naturally early risers. Cats may demand to be fed, and a dog will surely alert you that it’s time for a walk. If you can’t get up early for yourself, then do it for your pet. As an added bonus, your dog will get you outside and moving around. You’ll perk up right away when you feel the brisk morning air, and you’ll get some extra exercise, too!
Never Hit Snooze
When General Electric made the first alarm clock with a snooze button in the 1950s, the world forever changed, and not for the better. Humans love the idea of going to sleep for “just nine more minutes,” but those few winks of sleep are neither restful nor restorative. In reality, they’re a waste of time that leave you feeling even more groggy than when you first woke up.
Instead of building “snooze” time into your sleep schedule, set your alarm for the time you have to wake up and then force yourself out of bed. Our above tips should give you the motivation you need.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should an infant or baby wake up early?
Infants and babies should wake up early, but not when it’s dark. If your infant is consistently waking up at 5 a.m., they may be hungry or have a sleep schedule that needs to be adjusted. Ideally, your little one should wake up with the sun. Depending on where you are in the world and what season it is, the exact time will vary, but in general, a wake-up time between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. is ideal.
Why is it difficult to wake up on time?
The most logical reason that it’s difficult for you to wake up on time is that you’re sleep-deprived. Most people in the modern, industrialized world are surviving on too little sleep. If your alarm is blaring and you haven’t gotten enough rest, then you’re bound to be tempted to press snooze.
Another culprit is an inconsistent sleep schedule. Humans have a 24-hour internal clock called a circadian rhythm. It signals us when it’s time for bed, when to get up, and even when to eat. When our schedule is erratic, it can throw off this clock and make us feel tired when we should really be ready to start the day.
What is the best way to wake yourself up?
If you’re feeling especially zombie-like, you may need to give yourself an energy boost. The most effective way is to get outside and expose yourself to some crisp, fresh morning air. Exercise is also a great way to wake yourself up.
However, both of those tips require a lot of effort, and you may not be ready for that yet. If that’s the case, try these tips:
- Splash cold water on your face.
- Bite into a slice of lemon.
- Drink a cup of black coffee.
- Put on upbeat music.
- Raise your arms high above your head and then touch your toes.
- Put a strong mint in your mouth. Bonus points for menthol. Or, brush your teeth.
Remember, if you want to start waking up early, you have to really want it, and you have to be committed to sticking to it. Some people recommend adjusting your schedule in 15-minute increments until you’re waking up at your goal time, while others say to just go for it and go cold turkey.
The benefit of a slow adjustment is it’s not as shocking to the system, but if you’re genuinely ready to commit to getting up before the world wakes up, then we suggest you get started right away. If you can maintain a consistent wake-up time for the week, and then keep it going it during the weekend, you’re well on your way to a healthy and productive new lifestyle.
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Author: Sleep Advisor
Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.
Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.