Not a morning person but still have to get up really early in the morning? Read on… More than six years ago, I struggled with the very same problem. My early-rising girlfriend at that time would have never heard me say to her “wake me up at 6:30 AM.” The idea of voluntarily rising really early in the morning never ever crossed my mind. I even wrote an article about why being a later riser feels fabulous and presented some interesting reasons not to be an early riser. As you can see, I struggled with the very same issue. Six years later, however, I’ve transformed myself into an early riser. In the following, I’ll show you exactly what I did to feel refreshed and rejuvenated – even when waking up really early in the morning. Here are the secrets to waking up early even if you’re not really a morning person.
Getting up early can be a real struggle. There’s nothing more unpleasant than waking up when it’s really dark outside and being forced to get out of your warm and comfortable bed.
“There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it.”
Getting up when it’s dark and forcing yourself out of a warm bed could be manageable if it wasn’t for the all-encompassing tiredness. In fact, it’s the very feeling of being exhausted and not at all refreshed that makes it so difficult to get up early. Understandably, no one really likes getting up early – especially when it feels like as if you’ve only slept for a couple of hours.
I was confronted with the exact same situation. As a student, I had a lot of freedom, which allowed me to basically get up whenever I wanted. However, things began to get complicated once I started doing internships and it got even more difficult once I graduated. It was a time in my life when I really struggled with getting out of bed early. Even more so, the fact that I had to get up super-early in the morning didn’t make things easier. And by super-early I mean 5:00 AM.
The great problem with all of this was that I hated getting up early. To make things worse, I knew that I simply wasn’t a morning person and thought that this would never change.
At the same time, I repeatedly noticed that numerous exceptionally successful individuals such as Richard Branson, Tim Cook, Benjamin Franklin, and Howard Schultz had the habit of getting up really early in common. Some of these incredibly successful people stated that getting up early helped them to be a lot more productive. Others mentioned that being an early riser gave them important advantages over their late-rising competitors. Whatever reasons they gave for getting up early, they all were astonishingly successful in their lives.
Naturally, this got me thinking.
On one hand, I understood that getting up early could help to increase my productivity. On the other hand, being an early riser made me feel terrible. Whenever I got up early, I was tired all day and saw my productivity decreasing significantly as a result.
So how did I manage to become an early riser who not only feels refreshed when getting up at 5 AM in the morning but also wakes up before the alarm goes off?
Here’s how I became an early riser…
How to wake up early?
Six years after my initial struggle, I’ve transformed myself into an early riser. The transition wasn’t always easy but in the end, I succeeded.
“One key to success is to have lunch at the time of day most people have breakfast.“
Whenever I get up nowadays, I feel pretty refreshed and a lot more energetic than back in the days when getting up late. At the same time, I fall asleep a lot easier and the quality of my sleep has greatly improved. I think this is mainly because my body makes a lot more use of the (reduced) sleeping time.
It is important to mention, however, that becoming an early riser requires you to make certain adjustments. That’s because there’s no use in getting up early if it makes you feel like an unproductive and half-asleep shadow of yourself. Therefore, the following is designed to help you wake up early in a balanced way so that you are well rested for the activities of the day.
The secrets to waking up early
Let’s have a look at what you can do to feel refreshed and regenerated – even when waking up early.
1. What you do in the evening before going to bed is key
You can greatly influence your success at becoming an early riser with the activities you do (and what you choose not to do) in the hours before going to bed. Therefore, making the transition to an early riser takes a good plan and a lot of preparation.
There are certain activities that can positively influence the quality of your sleep and can help you to wake up feeling rested. At the same time, there are many other activities that reduce your sleep’s quality. It is, therefore, important to engage in beneficial activities that increase your quality of sleep while simultaneously eliminating negative influences.
Instead of spending hours in front of the TV or computer before you go to bed, give yourself time to unwind and relax. It’s much better to end the day by reading a great book and meditating than activities that make it really difficult to find peace of mind. At the same time, it is important not to exercise at least three hours before going to bed.
2. What you eat in the evening is (another) important key
Most people underestimate the great influence what we eat has on how we sleep. As a result, numerous people feel terrible when having to wake up early morning because they eat mindlessly.
Here are the things you really need to avoid:
- Stimulating foods. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. Make sure to avoid caffeine at least six hours before you go to bed. Also, avoid less obvious sources of caffeine such as tea, medications, and (dark) chocolate.
- Spicy foods. Eating heavily spiced foods is linked to having problems falling asleep and interrupts your sleep.
- Fluids. Reduce your fluid intake in the evening and cut fluids at least one and a half before going to bed.
- Nicotine. There’s no benefit in smoking so avoid it altogether.
- Unhealthy fatty foods. Not only does a diet that is high in fat lead to daytime sleepiness but it also is responsible for interrupted sleep.
- Heavy meals. Avoid heavy meals at least 3 to 4 hours before going to bed.
- Alcohol. drinking alcohol may help you to fall asleep faster but it will also cause you wake up more often during the night.
- Protein. Try to keep protein to a bare minimum in the evening.
Here’s what’s beneficial:
- Drinking milk before bedtime. Milk contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which scientists believe has sleep-inducing effects.
- Eating a varied diet. According to scientific research, eating a balanced and varied diet is one central aspect to normal and healthy sleeping patterns.
- Eating high-glycemic-index carbohydrates. These carbohydrates include vegetables and can improve your sleep if eaten some hours before going to bed.
- Having a bedtime snack. A light and healthy snack shortly before going to bed can help you to prevent feeling hungry during the night.
- Drinking a herbal tea.
- Eating tryptophan-rich foods. Tryptophan (and its sleep-promoting benefits) cannot only be found in milk but also in seeds, honey, bananas, and nuts. Combine these tryptophan-rich foods with carbohydrates to boost their sleep-inducing effect.
Let’s move on with some more secrets to waking up early.
3. Find something that makes you jump out of bed each morning
It’s incredibly difficult to get up in the morning when there’s nothing about your upcoming day to be excited about. At the same time, I’ve personally experienced how powerful it can be to work on a big project that excites you.
The key to waking up early is to find something that energizes and excites you to such an extent that sleeping for too long seems like a total waste of time. Once you’ve found something that literally makes you jump out of bed, you know you’re onto something. Similarly, you’ll be amazed how pursuing your dreams and doing what you love can help you to easily get up really early in the morning.
4. Focus on the (scientific) advantages of getting up early
Whenever the going (and the getting up early) gets tough, it’s tremendously helpful to remind yourself of the benefits associated with being an early riser. There are many interesting studies that have highlighted numerous benefits associated with getting up early.
For instance, one particular study found that morning people are more likely to achieve career success than night owls. The researchers highlighted that early risers tend to be a lot more proactive than their counterparts. At the same time, the research pointed out that people that get up early are more likely to anticipate and identify problems, which helps them to minimize the negative impact of the problem.
Another very interesting study highlighted that early-rising college students had significantly better grades than students who identified themselves as evening types. Further research also found that people who get up early are generally much happier and healthier than those who prefer to stay up late.
Interestingly enough, morning-type individuals reported higher levels of positive affect and generally felt healthier than non-morning types, according to scientific research. The authors concluded from their findings that being an early riser could explain why older participants of the study were happier than younger individuals.
Another interesting benefit of going to bed early is that it helps you to be better in tune with the earth’s circadian rhythm. This means that your quality of sleep starts to increase as you will be able to reach deeper levels of restorative sleep.
5. Make sure to sleep in complete darkness
This piece of advice may sound insignificant but trust me, it makes all the difference. When going to bed, make sure that there is not the slightest bit of light in the room. Even the tiniest lighting, for instance from electrical devices, can disrupt your body’s melatonin production, which can severely interfere with your sleep.
If you want to take it one step further, use a sleeping mask.
6. Find the right balance of sleep
As we all know, sleeping too little leaves you feeling terrible the next morning. At the same time, most people forget that sleeping too much interrupts their sleeping pattern as well. Therefore, it’s important to assess your sleeping needs. Doing so will help you to better understand how much sleep you require to function properly. It will also show you how much sleep is too much. The key to being an early riser is to sleep as much as necessary but not longer. In most cases, however, this requires you to overcome the urge to sleep “just a little longer.”
As a rule of thumb, if you are productive during the day without feeling tired, you’ve slept enough. This rule also applies even when you struggle a bit when getting up early. What matters is how you feel during the day, not minutes after getting up.
7. Consistency is key – keep a regular sleep schedule
By trial and error, you will eventually find out how much sleep you need. Even more importantly, it will help you to establish a balanced sleeping routine.
When it comes to waking up early, following a regular sleep schedule – even on weekends – is key. Following a fixed pattern for going to bed and getting up in the morning helps you to maintain the timing of your body’s internal clock. At the same time, keeping a regular sleeping pattern allows you to make more use of your sleeping time. This is because it will aid you in better falling asleep and more easily waking up.
By implementing #6 and #7 you will see that the quality of your sleep will drastically improve. After a while of doing this, you will be amazed at how your body becomes more effective at using the designated sleeping time.
8. Get up when your alarm rings
One essential obstacle that makes it incredibly difficult to get up early is to remain lying in your comfortable bed once you’ve turned the alarm off. This is what most of us are used to do but it is usually what makes it tremendously difficult to get up early. That’s because instead of getting up, you start overthinking, which may lead you to rationalize that you should continue sleeping “just for another minute or so.”
If you really want to become an early riser, develop the habit of immediately getting up as soon as your alarm rings. By instantly taking action you can avoid procrastinating, which is crucial for becoming an early riser.
9. Take one step after the other
If there’s one thing I can guarantee you it’s that you won’t become an early riser overnight – if you excuse the pun. Developing the habit of waking up early takes time, practice, and a lot of discipline. It is, therefore, advisable not to force things. Instead, make tiny adjustments to your sleeping routine over the course of many weeks. By getting up 10 or 15 minutes earlier every week or fortnight or so, you can make far more progress than by aggressively switching from getting up at 10 AM to getting up at 5 AM.
Your schedule could look like this (make sure to adjust the time you go to bed accordingly):
- Week 1: Waking up at 7 AM
- Week 2: Waking up at 6:45 AM
- Week 3: Waking up at 6:30 AM
- Week 4: Waking up at 6:15 AM
- Week 5: Waking up at 6:00 AM
- Week 6: Waking up at 5:45 AM. And so on.
By slowly adjusting your routine to the new habit of waking up early, you can avoid many problems that stem from trying to force things too quickly.
10. Develop the necessary discipline
Even if you make small adjustments and everything goes smoothly, it still takes a certain discipline to follow your habit of getting up early. Know that there will be days when you really have to force yourself out of bed. That’s the crucial point where it takes a lot of discipline to maintain the routine. When confronted with these situations, remind yourself to keep going until the difficulties have gone.
11. Get an alarm without snooze button
While most people routinely hit the snooze button of their alarm, it’s something that absolutely needs to be avoided. If you want to become an early riser, develop the habit of not making use of your alarm’s snooze button. Because let’s face it, hitting the snooze button makes it even more difficult to get up early. So stop tormenting yourself and get up once your alarm rings.
12. Develop a morning routine you look forward to
Another great trick to wake up early is to incorporate a morning routine you really love. It does not matter so much what you do in the morning as long as you really look forward to it when lying in bed. You’ll discover that a pleasurable morning routine can make a great difference as it will help you to get up more easily in the morning. At the same time, following a morning routine you love is a lot more exciting than simply waking up and rushing to work.
13. Optimize your room’s temperature
There are many slight nuances that can influence the quality of your sleep. One of them is the temperature of the room you sleep in. Most people prefer to sleep in a really warm environment. This, however, often causes them to keep their bedrooms too warm, which can lead to sleeping problems. Therefore, it’s advisable to keep the room temperature between 60 to 70 degrees (°F). Anything above or below may cause problems.
14. Make sure to go to bed as early as possible
Scientists have stated numerous times that the majority of the body’s recharging happens during 11 PM and 1 AM. Therefore, the quality of your sleep greatly depends on the question whether or not you are sleeping during these hours. By going to bed early, you can make full use of these regenerative hours, which in turn helps you to wake earlier.
15. Increase your melatonin
By exposing yourself to bright sunlight during the daytime, you can optimize your melatonin production. Otherwise, consider taking a melatonin supplement if you feel restless at night and tired during the day.
16. Start a journal
Journaling can help you to avoid going to bed with your mind switching from one thought to another.
17. Listen to harmonious and relaxing music
Listening to soothing sounds or music can be a wonderful way to calm down shortly before going to bed.
18. Maintain your regular bedtime
#7 already addressed the importance of developing a consistent sleeping schedule. Once you’ve established such a schedule, make sure not to repeatedly change the time you go to bed. If you go to bed at (approximately) the same time each day, your body will develop the necessary sleeping rhythm that helps you to maximize your sleeping time.
19. Switch off electromagnetic fields
Electromagnetic fields can – just as the slightest traces of light – disrupt the production of melatonin and serotonin. For this reason, try to find out whether or not your bedroom is located in an electromagnetic field. Otherwise, see if it is possible to simply pull your circuit breaker of the room you’re sleeping in so as to kill all electromagnetic fields in that particular room.
20. Move electrical devices away from your head
As a general rule of thumb, keep all electrical devices as far away from your head as possible. This can make a great difference.
21. Avoid using light-emitting technology before going to bed
Another important tip to improve the quality of your sleep is to avoid using your smartphone, tablet, TV, or computer shortly before going to bed. The reason for this is that all these devices emit a certain type of light that suppresses the production of melatonin.
22. Establish a beneficial bedtime routine
As already addressed, it’s of the greatest importance to develop a routine of beneficial activities that you engage in shortly before going to bed. Doing so will help you to prepare yourself for bed while simultaneously winding off. One such activity could be meditation, another activity could be reading. Do whatever helps you to relax.
23. Remain disciplined during the weekend
My own experience has shown me that it is a great mistake to completely change my sleeping pattern during the weekend. For this reason, I sleep a little longer than during weekdays but I also try not to oversleep. Doing so helps me to maintain the established pattern. At the same time, it also allows me to avoid problems with having trouble falling asleep the next day. In short, it’s all about balance.
24. With everything you do, listen to your body’s feedback
Getting used to waking up really early in the morning takes time and patience. There will be situations when it’s absolutely crucial to listen to the feedback your body gives you. Listen to your body and make adjustments to your routine if necessary. This holds especially true when you’re confronted with sickness or a lot of stress.
25. If everything else fails: relocate your alarm
In my opinion, the number one obstacle to waking early is comfortableness. It’s way too easy (and comfortable) to simply turn off your alarm so that you can continue sleeping. For this reason, it may be a really effective trick to relocate your alarm so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off. It is not quite a pleasurable experience but it will definitely get you out of bed.
Lastly, it’s important to mention that if you feel comfortable with being a night person, and if you’re happy with it, don’t change it. It might be better to do what feels natural to you instead of forcing yourself into a routine that makes you feel terrible.
I hope you enjoyed this article about the secrets to waking up early.