Some of us fight our hardest battles in bed to wake up early every day. We all know too well that the mental decisions we make when our alarm clock goes off aren’t necessarily the ones we’d make when we’re fully awake and alert. How, then, can we prepare to wake up early more easily and effectively?
If you’re reading this, you probably want to change your late-waking habits. At some point in time, you may even have wondered if those seemingly inhuman Morning People were born or made.
Well, humans are obviously wired to wake up with the sun simply because we don’t have night vision. The presence of sunlight is also commonly associated with hormonal changes in our brains, making us feel more awake and alert.
However, most of us today spend much of our time indoors – in artificial cages that depend very little on sunlight for productivity, so our sleep patterns are almost always out of whack.
This article will discuss some key points about waking up early in the morning and not going back to sleep, such as:
- Should you be waking up early?
- How to wake up early more easily?
- How to stay awake after the alarm rings?
Should You Be Waking up Early?
There are many practical reasons for getting up at the crack of dawn. The most common reason is to get a head-start on the day ahead of everyone else who is probably sleeping too much anyway.
For one, the world is quiet at this hour, which means that you can meditate, study, or read a book in peace. Going to work, hitting the gym, or heading out for a run in less traffic is also much easier and faster to do. It is no wonder that some of the most successful people are early risers.
However, waking up early does not mean that we should be depriving ourselves of sleep at the same time. For example, those who are ill or are already sleep-deprived from late-night shenanigans should prioritize getting enough sleep over an early morning.
Most adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, depending on age, lifestyle, and so forth. According to research, not sleeping enough will lead to many potential health issues in the long run. However, sleeping beyond recommended amounts can also be problematic.
If you find yourself unable to wake up early and stay awake, you should out any possible serious health issues first. Certain health conditions like thyroid disease and heart disease are related to oversleeping.
Moreover, some groups of people with mental health issues such as depression may find it especially difficult to get out of bed to work in the morning. Others might have sleep disorders that cause sleep deprivation, such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea.
So if you’re getting the recommended 7-9 hours and are still having trouble waking up in the morning, talk to your doctor about any possible health challenges you might be facing. It’s better to get the extra rest if your body needs it rather than force yourself to wake up at an early hour.
How to Wake up Early in the Morning?
Once you are quite certain that waking up early is something you are ready to do, consider adopting the following changes in your life. All of these are actionable things you can do to ease yourself into the habit of waking up early.
Make a list
Get a pen and paper, and draw up a list of all the reasons why you want to wake up early in the morning.
This list should be stuck somewhere near your bed so that you can look at it before you sleep. Whenever you see this list, visualize yourself waking up early in the morning and doing all the things you have planned to do. You’ll find that change is always easier to make when you have strong reasons for it.
Set an alarm
Unless you are relying on someone else to wake you up, you should always set an alarm for the time you want to wake up.
A popular time to wake up early in the morning seems to be 5 am, which is a whole hour before most Americans are up between 6:00 am and 7:30 am.
Although it might be tempting for you to set multiple alarms with mere minutes apart, it will only bring you more misery in the morning.
It is worth noting that if you were to set your alarm for the same time every morning, with no exceptions for weekends, waking up early will eventually become second nature as your body adapts to a new circadian rhythm.
Go to sleep early
Going to sleep earlier is one of the best ways to ensure you wake up earlier. However, you need to remember to implement sleeping times earlier gradually. An increment of 15 minutes earlier every day until you get to your target bedtime is a good amount. Otherwise, you will find it difficult to fall asleep and waste precious time.
Although there are many tactics to help you fall asleep quickly, the best idea here is to establish good sleep hygiene for yourself. This means consistently doing certain things every day right before sleeping, such as taking a cold shower, reading, listening to music and, meditating.
These activities should not only calm you down but should also train your brain to fall asleep quickly once you get into bed.
Take short naps throughout the day
Whenever you find yourself feeling tired during the day, allow yourself to take a short 10 to 20-minute nap that will improve alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy afterward.
Short naps can even be incorporated as part of your daily routine after lunch. Avoid napping in the evening as it may disrupt your ability to fall asleep on time later that night.
On the other hand, taking naps that last for more than 20 to 30 minutes will likely cause sleep inertia – where you wake up feeling groggy and disoriented. These symptoms might even persist all day long and can be detrimental to those who expect to perform certain tasks immediately after a nap.
Watch your evening diet
Refrain from consuming a large meal before bedtime, as this may lead to stomach problems that will disturb the quality of your sleep later. It is also wise not to drink excessive water at night and make it a habit to go to the bathroom before bed every day so that you don’t get woken up by your bladder.
And if you plan to go to sleep at a certain time, avoid taking caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. While the increased focus might be welcome in the afternoon, you’re going to pay for it when you’re trying to drift off.
Also, while other substances such as alcohol and marijuana may help you fall asleep more easily, they can also reduce the quality of your sleep. These substances can cause next-day grogginess, prevent REM sleep, aggravate breathing problems, or even induce extra bathroom trips.
Adopt a pet
Granted, not everyone can afford to or should care for a pet.
However, if you have the means to care for one, certain types of pets can actually make for the best morning alarm clocks. They can also improve your general well-being, which can help alleviate many sleep-related mental health issues.
Cats and dogs, for example, can be conditioned to wake up and eat at the same time every day. They are not very different from us humans in this regard.
So if you’ve established an early morning meal-time routine for them, you can expect them to wake you up with their loving (arguable) meows, barks, or whatnot at around the same time daily. This consistent wakeup time is thanks to good old hunger and their internal biological clock.
Nothing says long-term change like accountability. Tell your friends about your new goal to wake up early every day, or get a partner who wants to do the same.
Not only will having an accountability partner motivate you to push yourself harder, but having someone who understands your struggle to wake up early every day can be comforting, if not more enjoyable.
Consider scheduling morning activities such as taking your pets out for a walk, basketball, jogging, or a simple hike that you will enjoy doing together.
How to Stay Awake After the Morning Alarm Rings?
No matter how much you think you are ready, actually getting yourself out of bed is much easier said than done. The main goal here is to not allow yourself to start rationalizing things in your head while still in bed sleepy.
Here are some things you can do to stay awake when the morning alarm rings:
At the sound of your alarm, immediately stretch your body. Then sit up and place both feet on the floor. Now stand up, because it is harder to fall back asleep standing than sitting. Make your bed if you want to, so you will not be tempted to ruin your hard work.
Easy as it may seem, all this can feel like an impossible thing to do when you’ve just woken up. Another way to get yourself out of bed standing is to have your alarm out of arm’s reach from where you sleep. Somewhere near the bathroom would be ideal, since you will be on your way to the sink in the morning anyway.
Waking up with light in the morning may be more effective than with a loud, beeping alarm clock. According to science, exposure to bright lights in our environment actually increases our cortisol levels, which helps us feel more alert and energized.
So, draw the curtains open in your bedroom before you sleep at night to let sunlight in the next morning! But if the sunlight that your bedroom receives is not quite bright enough to be arousing you from your beauty sleep in the morning, try turning on the artificial lights in your room – the brighter, the better.
Alternatively, you can purchase light-therapy alarm clocks that simulate sunlight to gradually wake you up.
One study revealed that more than half of Americans are snoozers. And at least one in three American adults press snooze 3 times before getting up in the morning.
Snoozing in the morning is like playing with fire, really. Because when you are semi-conscious, it is so easy to lose your sense of time, much less to keep track of how many snoozes you’ve had. Before you know it, you are already waking up late. Why risk it?
All this fighting with your alarm will also likely cause more unhappiness and tiredness than if you were to get up immediately. You can say that snoozing is something like a nap. Snooze for too long, and you wake up feeling worse-off.
Our internal body temperature naturally drops when we fall asleep and rises back up when we are awake. This change in temperature works to regulate our sleeping patterns.
You might be familiar with feeling like it’s too hot to sleep on some nights. So, one way to encourage yourself to get out of bed is to simulate and reinforce the rise in temperature.
Try turning off the fan or cranking up the heater first thing in the morning to help you get out of bed easier. Because when you don’t feel frozen, it’s easier to move. And if taking a cold shower helps you sleep quicker at night, a hot shower in the morning will likely keep you wide awake and refreshed after.
After 7 to 9 hours of a kind of fasting, you’d think that it’s time for your body to replenish, no? If you are drinking less water in the evening to avoid midnight bathroom trips, then drink more in the morning.
It might not seem like much, but one of the reasons why you might be feeling tired in the morning is that you are dehydrated.
Water is vital for our body regulation and brain function, so drinking a glass of water when the alarm rings not only forces you to sit up, but it can increase your level of alertness and balance out your moods as well. Consider a glass of cold or warm water to add shock to your system.
Engage the ears
They say that there is a song for every occasion. Well, it must be true, because even your dreaded Early Morning Wake Up episode has inspired many a modern mixtape ranging from calming music to energetic ones.
There is even this self-proclaimed science-backed morning playlist that is engineered to help you wake up early more easily and happily.
Do you see how the whole world is rooting for you to get up early now? What about setting up the alarm clock to automatically tune in to a radio station or play your favorite song to ease the pain of a morning call? How about a shower radio that will help you multitask?
The smell of coffee in the morning alone is enough motivation for some of us to get out of bed. Consider getting a coffee-maker alarm for the morning of your dreams.
But if coffee is just not your cup of tea, what about a diffuser alarm that allows you to choose from many different scents such as citrus, lavender, peppermint, and etcetera. Some scents are known to increase beta waves in your brain to perk you up in the morning and keep you awake.
For a free alternative, simply open your windows because fresh air can reduce feelings of stress and fatigue when you’ve just woken up. You might even be lucky enough to catch the scent of freshly cut grass or someone’s breakfast cooking.
Here are the 4 key points to waking up early and not go back to sleep:
- Experiment. All the tricks and techniques described here do not make an exhaustive list. Everyone has their own unique sensitivities and bodily response to different things, so there is no foolproof way or a one-for-all method to wake up early and stay awake in the morning.
- Start slow. Implement new changes gradually and aim for results in the long-term. Be patient in trying out different ways to wake up early and see what works best for you. Your best methods may be to incorporate multiple tactics at once or even using a different one each day.
- It gets easier. Waking up early should run more subconsciously after 2 months of repetition, requiring less of your own willpower to stay awake in the morning. But rest assured that even the Guru of the 5 am Club himself slips all the time, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you do fumble.
- Check your intentions. It is easy for habits to become meaningless rituals, especially when you forget or lose track of the original intention. For example, if you find yourself now waking up early only to binge on social media after having lost all motivation to exercise, maybe it’s time to revisit your resolutions.