You may be familiar with the phrase “the early bird gets the worm” or the famous CEOs and world leaders who swear by awaking at 5:00 a.m. every day. Is there something to being an early riser, though? Evidence suggests that waking up early is beneficial for reasons that could improve your mental, physical, and professional self.
If you want to get up earlier but are having trouble training yourself to do so, we will share tips on how to wake up early, why you should be doing it, and other essential questions you may have.
Benefits of Waking up Early
Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson are just a few famous success stories who are reported to arouse at an early hour. But, of course, considering they’re a couple of self-made billionaires, they may be onto something.
Along with Winfrey and Branson, other high performers reveal that they’re up at the crack of dawn – if not shortly after that.
People who get up early regularly tend to stick to a routine and are better prepared for what comes their way. For example, they’re not rushing to get somewhere, allowing them to mentally focus on the day ahead and not feel overwhelmed about being late.
Read More: Sleep Habits of Successful People
Running out the door to get to the office because you pressed snooze six times likely means you didn’t have time to enjoy a healthy breakfast. Instead, you might have skipped the meal altogether or grabbed something quick and unhealthy like a donut or bagel. Ideally, you should eat a healthy breakfast containing whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
We mentioned that many highly successful people are also early risers, and they’re not wasting those hours either. That extra time in the morning provides more free space to get things done without distractions, such as working out, taking care of chores and errands, or getting a jump start on work. By contrast, if you get out of bed at the last possible second, you’re more likely to feel as though you’re playing catch up all day.
Better Mental Health
When feelings of depression arise, additional time in the morning could also help boost your mood. A 2022 study from the University of Colorado at Boulder examined 840,000 people and found that even waking up an hour earlier reduced their risk of depression by 27 percent. The researchers think that perhaps one reason behind these results could be that early risers have more access to light, a natural mood booster.
Awakening earlier in the day also allows more time to relax, enjoy quiet time, and take extra moments just for you. If you’re not sure how to spend your free time in the mornings, consider meditating, exercising, reading a book, or just relaxing with a nice cup of coffee.
More Time to Exercise
As mentioned, you can use the extra time in the morning to get in some physical activity. After a long day at your job, you’re probably eager to get home and have dinner with your family rather than go to the gym. However, exercising first thing in the morning means you’ll have your workout completed already, which should provide a nice energy boost and leave you feeling more accomplished.
Learn More: How Timing Your Sleep and Exercise Improves Your Health
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 should provide better rest because it maintains your body’s internal clock.
This biological clock includes circadian rhythms, physical, mental, and behavioral changes that adhere to a 24-hour cycle. Light is a primary trigger for the circadian rhythm linked to sleep. So when it’s daytime, you should feel more alert, and conversely, when it’s dark out, your body naturally produces melatonin, a hormone that induces sleepiness.
Resist the urge to sleep in on the weekends, though. For this schedule to be successful, your wake-up and sleep times should be consistent every day.
Furthermore, keeping a regular schedule means you can make sure you’re getting enough sleep. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), healthy adults should get 7-9 hours of shuteye each night.
Beat the Traffic
There’s nothing like being stuck in traffic, especially when you’re already running late for work, that can send your blood pressure skyrocketing. So if you’re tired of sitting in traffic jams, waking up earlier should help you get out the door faster, leaving you less likely to hit that morning rush hour and experience the frustration that comes with it.
Furthermore, driving in a state of stress and hurry may cause you to make more unsafe choices or engage in road rage.
How to Wake Up Earlier
Get Enough Sleep
When you’re deprived of rest, this can make it more challenging to wake up on time, let alone earlier. We covered that the AASM recommends healthy adults get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, so plan accordingly. For instance, if you want to start waking up at 6:00 a.m. and feel the most rested with 8 hours of sleep, you should go to bed at 10:00 p.m.
If you find that you’re not tired when your scheduled bedtime rolls around, establish a calming bedtime routine like reading or drinking sleep tea. You could also shower and get your clothes ready for the next day to feel more prepared and relaxed.
Maintain a Consistent Wake-up Time
Once you’ve established your ideal wake-up time, stick to it. The same goes for your bedtime as well. Maintaining this schedule will keep your circadian rhythm in check, which should help you sleep better and make it easier to fall asleep and get up on time.
The rule applies to weekends, too. To help you stay on track, schedule early morning activities such as a hike with friends or family, a workout session with a trainer, or a coffee meetup.
If you need slightly more rest come Saturday or Sunday, only allow yourself an extra hour. If you sleep in too much, this could disrupt your internal clock.
Don’t Overeat Before Bed
A full belly can be uncomfortable when you’re trying to doze off, or for those susceptible to Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), this could trigger acid reflux or heartburn. That being said, hunger pains could also have you tossing and turning.
Rather than having a large meal close to your bedtime when you’re hungry, opt for a light and healthy snack to curb your hunger without leaving you stuffed.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
While a cup of joe in the morning can help you feel alert, consuming caffeine too late in the day could prevent you from falling asleep at night. So instead of reaching for an energy drink or latte when you need a pick-me-up, splash cold water on your face or go outside for a brisk walk.
You should also avoid drinking alcohol before bed. While it can make you sleepy at first, experts say alcohol could lead to disrupted sleep, which could make it harder for you to get up when morning rolls around.
Put the Alarm Clock Far from the Bed
Here’s a trick to help you get out of bed: put your alarm clock further away from you. When the alarm is right next to you on a nightstand, you might be more inclined to hit that snooze button and stay in bed. However, placing the alarm clock on the other side of the room forces you to get up once it starts buzzing.
Plan Your Mornings
To help you feel motivated in the morning, develop a schedule of what you’d like to do. Not only should this encourage you to wake up, but it can also help you be more efficient and avoid forgetting important tasks. Your morning schedule can be whatever you want to include, such as exercise, showering, paying bills, or making your lunch for work.
Avoid Electronic Devices at Bedtime
Experts advise cutting off your use of electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones 30 minutes before you hit the sack. There are several reasons for this.
The first is that these devices emit a blue light that hinders melatonin production. As mentioned above, melatonin is a naturally-produced hormone that helps foster sleep. At night, production increases to help you feel more sleepy, but this artificial light can impair that process.
Secondly, you may encounter some upsetting information when scrolling through your emails or social media that could leave your mind racing when it’s time to fall asleep.
To help you break away from your tech devices, avoid keeping them in your bedroom if you can. However, if your cell phone doubles as your alarm clock and you need it in the room with you, keep your phone in do not disturb mode. Notifications going off during the night could have you reaching for the phone.
Open Your Curtains
Another trick to consider is leaving the bedroom blinds slightly open so that when it’s morning, the daylight can help you feel more energized. Just as the dark fosters tiredness, sunlight promotes alertness. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the blinds open, you can also use wake-up lights, which are designed to mimic natural light.
Never Hit Snooze
As tempting as it may be to rest for just a few more minutes, those few winks of shuteye are neither restful nor restorative. In reality, they’re a waste of time that could cause added grogginess. Rather than building snooze time into your schedule, set your alarm for the time you have to wake up and then force yourself out of bed.
Need help? Learn how to stop hitting the snooze button.
Consult With Your Doctor
Although you can practice these tips on your own, sometimes it helps to bring in reinforcements. If you still feel you can’t wake up, consider discussing this with a doctor.
For example, a sleep disorder could prevent you from waking up early because it’s keeping you up all hours of the night. In this case, your physician can help find a proper treatment such as lifestyle changes, therapy, or medications.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should an infant or baby wake up early?
During infancy, most babies will wake up during the night. However, when they approach six months, they should be able to sleep for longer periods, such as 6-8 hours.
While there might be no more 2:00 a.m. feedings after six months, your baby may still be awake too early at 5:00 a.m. Ideally, your little one should be up with the sun. Depending on where you are in the world and what season it is, the exact time will vary, but generally, a wake-up time between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. is good.
If your baby regularly gets up while it’s still dark out, adjusting their bedtime could help them sleep in later.
Why is it difficult to wake up on time?
The most likely reason folks struggle to get up in the morning is sleep deprivation. A lack of rest can be due to different factors such as mental health problems like anxiety or depression, sleep disorders, physical pain, an uncomfortable mattress, or loud noises from neighbors – to name a few.
Having an erratic sleep schedule that throws off your circadian rhythm can also increase tiredness. While sleep deprivation is linked to health problems, research shows that irregular sleeping habits are also harmful. A study found that inconsistent sleep schedules were associated with a higher risk of metabolic abnormalities, such as obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and additional health complications.
What is the best way to wake yourself up?
If you’re feeling especially zombie-like, give yourself an energy boost. Hitting the gym or getting outside to enjoy some fresh morning air should be highly effective.
In addition, try out the following methods to help feel more awake and see what works for you.
- Splash cold water on your face
- Drink water and stay hydrated
- Bite into a slice of lemon.
- Drink a cup of black coffee or espresso
- Put on upbeat or motivational music
- Raise your arms high above your head and then touch your toes
- Brush your teeth right away
Sources and References:
-  “Why successful people get up early”, Barnsley College
-  “Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options”, Mayo Clinic, March 20, 2020
-  “Waking just one hour earlier cuts depression risk by double digits, study finds”, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2021
-  “Circadian Rhythms”, National Institute of General Medical Sciences
-  “Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society”, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2015
-  Michael D. Stein MD, Peter D. Friedmann MD MPH, “Disturbed Sleep and Its Relationship to Alcohol Use”, 2005
-  “Why It’s Time to Ditch the Phone Before Bed”, SCL Health
-  “Your Baby at 6 Months”, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals
-  “Irregular Sleep Habits Linked to Poor Health”, Cleveland Clinic, 2019