9 Ways to Help You Wake Up Naturally (Without an Alarm)

Whether you’re an early riser for work or school, alarm clocks are likely a part of your daily routine, helping ensure you get to where you need to be on time. However, relying on an alarm clock also means your body didn’t get enough sleep.

Rather than being jolted by the sound of buzzing at 7:00 in the morning, wouldn’t it be better to learn how to wake up without an alarm?

We’ll guide you through the best ways to wake up naturally so that hopefully, you can hit snooze on using an alarm clock for good.

Ways to Wake Up Naturally Without an Alarm

Go Outside

Staying indoors, you may feel more tired, especially with a cozy bed or sofa nearby. However, heading outside in the morning can jumpstart your body’s circadian rhythm[1].

This internal clock’s greatest trigger is natural light. When it’s dark out, the body produces more melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel sleepy, but when you’re exposed to sunlight, this tells your body it’s time to get up and get moving.

Plus, sunlight and fresh air are rejuvenating, making you more excited for the day.

Illustration of a Couple Running

Exercise

Moving around is an excellent way to wake up. Even if you don’t have time to hit the gym or go for a jog, a brief exercise at home can also be invigorating and get your blood pumping.

Need more info? Read all about the link between exercise and sleep quality here.

Stimulate Your Brain

One of the fastest ways to feel more alert is to do something that engages your brain. Reading a book or doing the crossword puzzle are a few ways to get your mind energized.

Illustration of a College Boy Reading a Book In His Dorm Room

Use Cold Water

Splashing some cold water on your face may also help you feel more awake. This is because the cold water[2] brings more circulation to your head for a temporary energy boost.

Have Breakfast

Food is a natural source of energy, which is why eating a healthy, nutrient-rich breakfast should help you wake up better.

In the event you’re unsure of what to eat, Harvard Health[3] suggests foods with protein and whole grains or making yourself a healthy breakfast smoothie.

Illustration of a Tired Looking Woman Having Breakfast

Get Moving

The first and perhaps most obvious thing you should do upon waking up is to get out of bed immediately so you're up and moving.

Use Essential Oils

You can also invest in scented lotions or essential oils with invigorating scents such as peppermint or citrus. Be sure to avoid lavender as this smell could make you drowsy.

Illustration of a Lady Using a Difuser for Aromatherapy Before Bed

Play Music

Find a song that motivates you and play it first thing in the morning to help kick start your day on an uplifting note.

Call a Friend or Relative

Catching up with family or friends can also jumpstart your morning. On days when you’re feeling low on energy, ask your friend or relative for a pep talk or some motivating advice.

What to Do at Night to Get Up Easier in the Morning

Find Out How Much Sleep You Need

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)[4], healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.

You can experiment within that healthy sleep range to see whether you need closer to 7 hours of rest or up to 9.

When people sleep[5], they cycle through three stages of non-REM sleep followed by REM sleep, and your body repeats this entire process several times throughout the night. So, once you complete the REM cycle, you’re back to non-REM – or light – sleep.

The best time to wake up is during the lightest stage of sleep. This is when you're almost completely awake and less likely to feel groggy.

Learn more: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

Animated Image of Different Age People Sleeping - Tablet Mobile

Consistent Sleep-Wake Schedule

Once you determine your ideal sleep duration, plan accordingly. For example, if 8 hours of shuteye allows you to feel the most refreshed and you have to up at 6:00 a.m., that means your bedtime should be 10:00 p.m.

Most importantly, stick to your schedule every day so that your body becomes used to it. You are training yourself to naturally fall asleep and wake up when you need it to.

While it may be harder to maintain a consistent bedtime and wake-up time on the weekends, it’s important to adhere to your regular sleep schedule then as well.

Establish a Bedtime Ritual

When adjusting your sleep schedule, you may initially find it difficult to wind down, especially if you’re trying to go to bed earlier. A good nighttime routine, though, should help you relax. Chamomile tea, a warm bath, meditation, or reading a book are examples of healthy habits to signal your body it’s time for bed.

Illustration of a Woman Reading Before Bedtime

Dim the Lights

Constant access to lights and screens[6] can delay the onset of sleep by halting melatonin production, making you feel more alert.

Instead, try dimming the lights in your home every evening, and avoid staring at your television, smartphone, or computer immediately before bed.

Read More: How Technology Impacts Sleep Quality

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to wake up naturally or with an alarm?

Alarm clocks have become a necessity for many people. Most folks would sleep much later than they intend to without the help of an alarm.

However, waking up without one is a much more natural way to live. Plus, it means that your body is telling you when it’s time to start the day, which is better than having your external environment dictate your wake-up time.

Deep Sleeper Trying to Wake Up With a Few Alarm Clocks Around Him Illustration

How to wake up without an alarm?

The best way to make sure you’re able to get up naturally is to get plenty of sleep so that your body is well-rested enough to awake on its own.

Planning your sleep-wake schedule to allow for enough rest and following good sleep hygiene habits should help you wake up naturally.

Do wake-up lights work?

You may also consider trying to wake up naturally with the help of wake-up lights, which work by simulating a sunrise.

The lights begin working between 30 minutes and two hours of your desired wake-up time. Then, when it’s time to get out of bed, you should be wide awake and ready to start the day.

How to wake up early and not feel tired?

Illustration of a Woman Waking Up

When you lie down at night, you may begin to think about the long list of to-dos that have to be done the following day. Then your mind wanders to potential conflicts and perceived obstacles. All these worries could keep you up, leaving you more tired when the morning rolls around.

To prevent this and help you fall asleep easier, try planning your day in advance. Before going to bed, lay out your clothes, pack any bags you need for school or work, and have your breakfast and lunch prepared and ready to grab on your way out the door. Additionally, you can write down your schedule and any tasks you will need to accomplish.

Sources and References:

  • [1] 7 Health Benefits of Sunlight”, Select Health
  • [2]How to Stay Awake at Work: Staying Productive When You Didn't Get Enough Sleep”, Cigna, 2018.
  • [3] 4 Ways to Boost Your Energy Naturally with Breakfast”, Harvard Health, 2019.
  • [4] Nathaniel F. Watson MD MSc, M. Safwan Badr MD, Gregory Belenky MD, et al., “Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society”, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2015.
  • [5] Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep”, National Institue of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, August 13, 2019.
  • [6] “Put the Phone Away! 3 Reasons Why Looking at It Before Bed Is a Bad Habit”, Cleveland Clinic, 2019.
Content Writer | + posts

Jill Zwarensteyn is a content writer for Sleep Advisor and is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.

She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.

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