How to Master the Art of Waking Up Early

Tired man waking up in the morning with headache.

SUMMARY: If you don’t consider yourself to be a morning person, waking up early every day may sound like the worst thing ever. It can be difficult, tiring, and may even contribute to the well-known afternoon sleepies that many of us experience after lunch every day. However, before you give up on the idea entirely, there are a lot of great perks to being up before the hectic frenzy of the day begins. If you want to become an early riser, it’s completely possible to adjust your sleep habits and do that! There are several subtle changes you can make to your daily routine that will increase the odds that your early-rising dreams will come true. Then all you have to do is figure out how to use all that extra time you have on your hands.

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Waking up early regularly can be difficult but it comes with so many benefits. It gives you extra time to accomplish important tasks, provides you with some quiet time before the kids wake up, and allows you to slowly and intentionally start your day instead of running around in a hectic frenzy as you race the clock to get ready for work.

You don’t have to be a “morning person” to master the art of waking up early. Anyone can do it! If your goal is to make the most of your mornings and spend less time sleeping in (or oversleeping), here are some quick tips that will help you succeed.

Make it a gradual adjustment.

Just like any other major life change, gradual is often the best way to go. Suddenly waking up at 4 a.m. on a Monday isn’t likely to go very well or lead to any lasting changes. The most important thing you can do to get into a routine of waking up early is to do so very gradually. Start by setting your alarm just 15 to 30 minutes earlier than you’re used to and slowly scale it back until you reach your goal time.

Schedule an early bedtime for yourself.

Waking up early is going to be very difficult if you are climbing into bed at 11 p.m. every night. Instead, try setting a realistic bedtime goal that gives you at least seven hours of sleep each night. For example, if your goal is to wake up by 6 a.m. every day, use your phone to set a bedtime reminder for 10 p.m. or earlier if you feel like you can do that. It will take time to adjust to going to bed earlier than you’re used to. So even if you’re not sleepy when your bedtime reminder goes off, force yourself to wind down, get in bed, and read a book if you have to. Your body will eventually make the transition.

Avoid late-night binges at all costs.

Late-night binging of any kind can be a surefire way to eliminate all hope that you will wake up early. Eating massive amounts of unhealthy foods like pizza, burgers, or chips late at night will disrupt healthy sleep patterns and reduce the overall quality of your sleep, leaving you feeling tired and unrested when you wake. Binge drinking at night can also have similar effects. Although alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, it contributes to poor quality sleep later in the night by interrupting your circadian rhythm, blocking REM sleep, aggravating breathing problems, and leading to extra overnight trips to the bathroom. If you struggle with alcohol abuse or addiction, you may need professional help to overcome that before addressing your sleep schedule. An Austin drug detox program or sober living program can help you get on the right track.

Stick to a daily structured routine.

Maintaining structure and routine will help make the transition of becoming an early-riser a little bit easier. Establish a morning routine that will help you stay motivated to wake up. Examples of early morning activities could include making your bed, reading the news or your bible, meditating, working out, eating a healthy breakfast, or walking your dog. You can incorporate all or some of these things into your morning ritual to give it more purpose.

Be strategic about using electronics before bed.

Blue light (or blue wavelengths) are emitted by electronics with screens. They are great during the day because they boost attention and mood, but they can be particularly disruptive at night. Researchers have found that exposure to blue light at night can greatly reduce your body’s production of melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep cycles. To protect yourself from blue light at night, limit your screen time starting two hours before bed. If you find that that’s not realistic for you, you may want to consider wearing blue-light-blocking glasses or installing an app on your phone that filters blue light. Getting outside in the bright sunlight during the day will also help you sleep better at night.

Place your alarm clock far away from your bed.

If your goal is to get up early, do not put your alarm clock right next to your bed before falling asleep. For many of us, doing so just means we reach over, turn off the alarm, and get back to snoozing really quickly in the morning. Instead, strategically place your alarm clock as far from your bed as possible to ensure that you will have to get up and out of bed to shut it off. You may even consider using an alarm clock app that forces to you solve a math problem or take a photo of an item such as your coffee pot before it will turn off.

Watch your diet carefully.

Healthy eating habits can help you get a good night’s rest, making it easier for you to wake up in the morning. Alcohol, soda, or foods that are fried or high in fat will not only sabotage your weight-loss goals, but they can also keep you awake at night with heartburn, digestive problems, or by messing with your natural circadian rhythms. A balanced diet of fresh fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins that are rich in B vitamins can help to regulate melatonin levels in your body.

Sleep in every once in a while.

Everyone can use some extra sleep every once in a while, so give yourself a break and hit snooze on your alarm clock. Or, better yet, don’t even set one! Let your body naturally wake when it’s ready and enjoy the extra sleep.

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