Everything You Need to Know on How to Wake up Early
You're in your warm and cosy bed, in the middle of a pleasant dream and suddenly that annoying alarm starts blaring. You set the alarm — you want to get up. However, that never happens. Those "five more minutes" turn to ten, and in no time you realize that you overslept more than you had wanted and are feeling tired, groggy and unmotivated for your day.
If this sounds familiar, then you're not alone. All of us go through this phase at some point in our life. The sooner you realize that this habit needs to change, the better. I myself used to sleep very late at night and I'd wake up the next day, some ten or sometimes even eleven hours later — feeling lazy, tired and lethargic. Beginning the day this way would ruin it ahead. I would often sleep during the daylight and stay awake during the night. I was trapped in this vicious cycle until I realized that I had to break free.
If you are in the same boat as I was, keep reading further. I have broken down the process into several sections for convenience and ease of understanding.
Why Should You Wake up Early?
Depending on age, our sleep requirements differ. Newborns and children need a lot more sleep than teenagers or adults do. If we consider adults then they can get away with 7 hours of sleep. If an adult, every day, sleeps for 30 extra minutes then per year, he wastes about 10,950 minutes sleeping — 8 days. Time is the most important resource and if you're asleep for 8 days needlessly in a single year then you're losing a lot of productive time. Here are some reasons why it is better to become an early riser:
- More productivity: Early risers are often more productive than late risers and get a lot more done by the time the latter is probably just kicking their comforter away.
- More drive: If you are waking up with struggle and defeat of not being able to stick to your word, then that's what gets carried ahead to the rest of the day — laziness and lack of motivation. When you start your day with a victory of waking up at the desired time, you are driven towards your goals and your overall mood and motivation levels will prove it too.
- More energy: Getting up early and having a healthy breakfast will give you the boost you'll need to stay active and get a lot done in your day.
Prerequisites to Waking up Early
To establish any habit, you need some preparation and its consistent implementation, until that habit becomes an automated response of your body. By preparing yourself and minimizing the factors that could lead you to oversleep, you can greatly increase your chances of success.
- Exercise: Exercising on a daily basis, reduces daytime sleepiness and is extremely beneficial in inducing quality and restful sleep since it tires you out and reduces stress. However, make sure you exercise early in the day since high body-temperatures post work out may affect your sleep as our bodies need a lower temperature to fall asleep.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks: Caffeinated drinks like coffee should be avoided after afternoon. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that keeps you awake by inhibiting the adenosine receptors. Your body feels sleepiness due to the substance called 'adenosine.' Thus, consuming any amount of caffeine prior to your bedtime will affect your ability to fall asleep and reduce your sleep quality.
- Light and early dinner: Eating a heavy meal and sleeping right after it will have many adverse effects like acid reflux, weight gain and several others apart from sleeplessness. The continuously digesting food disrupts and prevents you from falling asleep and the weight of a heavy meal might offer some discomfort.
- Get inspired: Some of the most successful people have a healthy morning ritual. Reading about the same, and feeling inspired to incorporate positive habits yourself will help you initially to get started.
- Have a desire to drive you: Why do you want to get up early? What do you want to get done? What is it that you've always planned to do early in the morning, but couldn't? Do you want to get up early and go jogging? do you want to start your work early? Have a reason that will get you going early morning.
- Get excited: How sometimes we wake up in the middle of the night and check our phone, just to realize that there was still time for morning. Or how when we've to leave for a trip or have a flight to catch early in the morning and we just jump out of the bed? Having something exciting to do the next morning, will get you out for the day. Even if it is something trivial, get excited about it.
- Limit screen exposure: Our bodies have their own natural clocks - such as the circadian clock, which is a light-dark cycle. It times our biochemical mechanisms via intensity and exposure to light. All electronic screens: tablets, phones and TV screens emit blue light, which to our mind signals the reduction of hormone 'melatonin' — a hormone which helps the body in cooling down, thus helping us to fall asleep.
- The temperature of your room: It is easier to fall asleep in a cooler room. Try different temperatures until you find the right one for yourself.
- Try different scents: Different scents such as Geranium, Chamomile and lavender can help you to relax and fall asleep. Lavender, specifically, is widely used to induce calmness and relaxation. If you are accustomed to sleeping in dim lights, then you can even opt for scented candles, they work too. I personally use a lavender scented candle to a dim light. It helps me to fall asleep faster and also doubles as a dim light.
- Try open curtains: Let your room be bright and get warm in the morning so that you naturally wake up. That's your circadian clock at its finest.
- Affirm: A simple affirmation with confidence like: "I'll wake up tomorrow at 6", can surprisingly work. I've tried saying this to myself before going to sleep and the next day I tend to wake up naturally around that time.
- Beware of Brain Fog: We sometimes do wake up early but go back to sleep after convincing ourselves to. Before sleeping, be aware that the next morning you are highly probable to convince yourself to sleep back, since that time you aren't fully awake. Stick by your decision of the previous night, and no matter what — don't go back to sleep.
- Get sufficient sleep: Sleeping early will cause you to wake up early since you would be getting sufficient sleep.
- visualize: Imagine yourself getting up in the morning and immediately beginning your early morning grind. Run this mental picture over and over a few times. Practice it mentally. You're more likely to act automatically the next morning according to this little practice.
- Use a suitable alarm: Don't go for an annoying tone which will make you want to throw your alarm clock or smash it into pieces. Don't even have a relaxing tone which will encourage you to sleep — go for a tone that isn't all relaxing, but isn't annoying too. I prefer a happy and energetic tone to wake up in a good mood.
How to Fall Asleep
What if despite going to bed with all that preparation, you still can't fall asleep? Perhaps a lot of mental chatter going on in your head won't allow you to sleep. Here are a few ways to help you fall asleep faster so that you get enough sleep and wake up on time feeling fresh and rested.
- Take a shower: A good shower before bed relaxes your mind and body and effectively lowers your body temperature to help you fall asleep. Make sure the water isn't too cold to give you a cold shock or too hot to raise your body temperature.
- Listen to relaxing music: Relaxing music such as classical music will often help you relax and fall asleep faster. Music with a slow rhythm — closer to the range of 50 to 80 bpm will do the trick.
- Read: This one is my favourite. Reading helps me to relax and slowly wind down. Additionally, getting immersed in the fantasy world before sleeping will help you fall asleep faster by putting you in a dreamy state.
- Dim your lights: As you are preparing to sleep, make the ambient sleepy atmosphere by dimming the lights — remember that bright lights will signal your mind to stay awake.
- Meditate: Focus on your breath. Be aware as you breathe in and breathe out. If you catch yourself thinking about something else then redirect yourself back to your breath. You'll not remember the next day when exactly you fell asleep.
- Try mindfulness: Practising mindfulness meditation will also help you to relax and fall asleep. I enjoy focusing on my lower extremities first, from the toes and then I gradually come up — contracting and relaxing all the muscle groups in the way. After this little drill, I often fall asleep in the next minute. Another thing I enjoy doing is visualizing that I'm sinking into my bed. With each breath, I feel myself getting absorbed into my bed. Gradually, it helps me to relax and I am asleep in no time.
- Stick to your sleeping schedule: If you sleep at the same time each day, your body learns that that particular time is the time to sleep and naturally makes you sleepy at that time.
- Avoid oversleeping: Another thing that I've noticed to work is if you avoid sleeping after your alarm or if you have a fixed waking time. When at night your mind is loud with thoughts and you're unable to fall asleep that's maybe because your mind knows that it will recover the sleep the next morning. When your wake up time is fixed no matter what, it tells your brain that it has only one option; to sleep right now, or it can't recover the lost sleep by oversleeping the next morning.
You should be able to fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, otherwise, don't waste your time in thinking or changing sides. If you are feeling really fresh then get up instead and read for a while. Do some activity that will get you mentally tired and sleepy. Then go back to sleep.
Lucid Dreaming - to be aware that you are dreaming so that you are able to control your dreams.
Are you a Lucid Dreamer?
How to Wake Up
Now comes the tricky part — of actually getting up in the morning. Sometimes we wake up and keep extending our snooze time by five-five minutes. Other times It feels as if gravity has suddenly gotten stronger around the bed area, that it seems impossible to even sit up straight. In my case, I would get up, but then somehow convince myself that I needed to sleep a while more — "It will probably make me feel more energetic later" or "tomorrow I will definitely get up on time." Below are some of the tips to break free from this habit and replace it with a healthier and a better one.
- Early to bed, early to rise: If however, you have a habit of sleeping late at night and you're trying to sleep a few hours earlier to wake up earlier, then you are most likely to fail. You won't feel sleepy at all and would just spend time in the bed thinking or probably tossing around. Instead, sleep whenever you feel sleepy and then wake up at your desired time. That first day you will have slept less, but due to that the same night you will begin to feel sleepy earlier which will prompt you to get into your bed earlier than usual.
- The advantage of a stable sleep cycle: Once you set into your 'early to bed, early to rise' sleep cycle, you'll naturally feel sleepy and fall asleep faster at night — even get up the next day by your own without any struggle.
- Drink water before bed: Drink lots of water before you sleep so that nature's call wakes you up in the morning — you will surely get up. Just don't let the bed attract you too strongly that you might come back and sleep.
- The gradual method: So you have the habit of waking up quite late; let's say by ten in the morning. One night you are feeling inspired to wake up at six the following morning. Though you might pull this off once, or maybe twice; you won't be able to do this regularly. You're taking a big leap. Start small. If you can't wake up that early, wake up at least 30 minutes prior to your current waking time. When you get comfortable with that, again deduct some 30-45 minutes. Repeat this till you gradually reach your target time.
- Take responsibility: This one is based on my own experience and people who've tried it have also reported good results. In the past, even when I didn't have the habit of waking up early, for certain occasions, however, I used to be the first person in the family to wake up. How? I used to take the responsibility of waking everyone up the previous night and the next morning, I had to wake up myself to ensure everyone woke up or otherwise, we'd either miss our flight or whatever morning plans we had. Take the responsibility to wake your family member or a friend. I'm sure, the next day you would be up to ensure that your friend or family woke up on time. When you know someone is relying on you, you can't possibly stay in bed, can you?
- Keep your alarm clock out of your reach: Early morning when the annoying alarm blasts off near your ears what do you do? Probably turn it off and go back to sleep? Keep your alarm away; far enough that you'll have to get up from your bed to turn it off but near enough that you could be woken up due to it.
- Don't snooze your alarm: When you keep snoozing and try to squeeze in some more minutes, you get a reduced-in-quality fragmented sleep and waking after which will leave you feeling more groggy and tired. Make it a habit to first get out of your bed and then turn the alarm off. Don't snooze it.
- Pets: I also have a backup alarm clock: my dog. She wakes me up every morning and prevents me from oversleeping since I have made it a habit to feed her early in the morning. So even if someday for some reason my alarm doesn't work, or I can potentially oversleep, she will make sure that I get up. It might feel annoying at first, but you will get used to all the licking; the first thing in the morning.
- Recondition yourself: What's the first thing that comes to your mind as soon as you hear your alarm clock? Do you think of snoozing it? or worse, you don't even think, you just do it. You've been doing this for a while now and because of which you've 'programmed' yourself that, "Whenever the alarm goes off, I have to turn it back off and sleep." This conditioning has rooted to the point that you no longer have to think about it. No matter how hard you try to wake up in the morning, your mind just switches to the 'autopilot' mode after hearing the alarm and executes the automatic instruction — of turning it off. To deal with that autopilot, you will have to give it a different action to execute once the alarm goes off — to jump out of your bed. To do this, during the daytime, practice getting up. Set a timer for five minutes, and do your best to pretend that you're in deep sleep. Activate your acting gene and simulate an early morning scenario. When the alarm goes off, now, with a clearer mind, jump out of your bed and turn the alarm off. Repeat this a several times during the day to overwrite your current conditioned response.
How to Stay Up
Another important facet of waking up is staying up. You've been victorious at waking up but are still getting the urge to get back to your bed, then that's an issue which needs to be resolved. Otherwise, waking up wouldn't be a pleasant experience, but rather, a tiresome and laborious one. Here are a few ways of draining the urge to pop back into your bed:
- Don't stay in your bed for long: After you wake up, don't spend a lot of time stretching and wondering in your cosy comfortable bed. Chances are that you'll be persuaded to sleep for "five more minutes." Instead, wake up and get moving.
- Make your bed: Right after you wake up, make your bed. An unmade bed will attract you strongly with its tranquillizing vibes.
- Listen to music: After waking up, the first thing that I do is plug in my earphones. The music really gets me super motivated to begin my day. Listen to energetic or even your favourite music. It will make you feel more active and awake.
- Drink water right after waking up: After being asleep for some 7 or 8 hours, our body's water levels drop down too low which leaves us feeling tired or even with a headache early in the morning as our brains are but about 75% water. The solution? Drink at least two glasses of water after waking up which will rehydrate you and have a refreshing effect—discouraging you from concluding that you are tired and need some more sleep.
- Caffeine: As stated earlier, caffeine blocks adenosine receptors and therefore, makes you feel more active and aware.
- Take a cold shower: Cold showers have many benefits. Also the cold shock you get early in the morning really just jolts you right back to reality.
- Exercise: We need lower body temperatures to feel sleepy. When you exercise, you increase your body temperature which reduces any sleepiness. Just a small jog to the corner block or maybe even a few reps of a certain exercise will do.
- Be consistent: When you make it a habit to wake up every day at the same time, your body gets used to it. So after waking up, you are less likely to want to sleep back. To establish this habit, however, you have to make sure to follow it at least for a month. If just one Sunday you wake up late, then that just flushes all your week's effort into the toilet.
Welcome to the Club
You have made one good decision today — that you have to break your bad habit of waking up late. Now, that you know all the little tricks and tips to become an early riser, see you soon at the early risers' club!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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