Waking up early may sound very nice—the birds are chirping, the sun is rising, and everyone else is still asleep—but setting an alarm and getting out of bed before you must can be a real challenge. It's especially challenging during the winter when waking up early means getting up while it's still dark outside.
So don't hit that snooze button. Let's learn how to change our sleep habits, wake up early, and reap the many benefits.
Benefits of waking up early
Now, we're not saying it's better to be an early riser than to be a night owl. If staying up late works for you, don't feel pressured to change your schedule. However, if you want to switch your sleep schedule a little bit, why not try waking up earlier? Here are some benefits of becoming an early riser:
You'll have more time to be productive before work or school. Use this time to read, journal, work out, or just sip coffee and read the morning's headlines.
You'll get some peaceful "you" time before your partner and the kids wake up. Do something for yourself with your extra time. Do a face mask, go for a run, enjoy a warm cup of coffee or tea, and catch a sunrise.
You'll have time to eat a full breakfast. Getting up even 20 minutes earlier gives you time to cook a healthy breakfast that gives you fuel for the day and keeps you full until lunch.
Whether you're already an early bird or if you're a night owl, changing your sleep habits helps you get deeper, better quality sleep. When you train your body's internal clock, you'll naturally begin getting sleepy around the same time every night and wake up around the same time each morning.
6 Tips for waking up earlier
Changing your sleep schedule can be hard, especially if you're used to staying up late or have a hectic schedule that varies from night to night. With a little work, these tips and tricks may help you train yourself to become an early riser.
Make a schedule and try to stick to it.
We know—you've probably heard this 1,000 times. With kids, social activities, and weekend plans, sticking to a sleep schedule can be hard, but it can also help you train yourself to become an early riser. A consistent sleep schedule may be easier to set during the week with repetitive activities like work and getting the kids off to school, but try to keep the consistency on the weekend, too. By creating (and following) a disciplined schedule, your body will get into the habit of getting up at the same time, making it easier to wake up early. (Just remember, waking up earlier means going to bed earlier, too, so work that into your schedule.)
Avoid electronics before bed and first thing in the morning.
This one might be tough. It's so tempting to social media a few times a day and before bed. However, electronic devices give off harmful blue light that keeps your brain active, which makes checking your phone or watching TV a bad nighttime habit. Blue light also disrupts melatonin production in the body. It's bad for your eyes first thing in the morning, so try to eliminate screen time from your morning routine. Let yourself wake up naturally (with the sun) before you look at a screen. Making your bedroom an electronics-free zone may help you fall asleep faster and sleep better. As a result, you'll wake up earlier.
Set your intentions for getting up early.
We've all heard the saying, "the early bird gets the worm," but that's probably not good enough motivation to wake up an hour before you must. If you decide why you want the extra time in the morning (and make it something meaningful and beneficial to you), you're more likely to stick to it. For example, if you want to start getting up an hour early for some morning yoga, you're more likely to stick to your early-to-rise schedule.
Train yourself to wake up earlier, gradually.
For the first week, set your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier. The next week, set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier. Finally, set it an hour earlier. Slowly but surely, you can train yourself to wake up earlier and reset your body's internal clock.
Hold yourself accountable.
If you're not the best at sticking to a new habit, enlist a friend or partner's help. If you're one of those people who turns the alarm off and rolls back over, maybe your partner can help motivate you to get up. Or have an accountability buddy (like many people do for the gym). If you're both trying to get up earlier, text or call each other in the morning to prove you're up and moving. Hold each other accountable.
Make sure you're getting deep, quality sleep.
It's great if you're going to bed earlier and getting up earlier, but you may feel tired if you're not sleeping well in between. You may also experience excessive daytime sleepiness. Deep sleep is important for feeling rested and recharged in the morning. Optimizing REM cycle sleep, which is the deep sleep phase you enter about 90 minutes after falling asleep, is the goal. So, if you're someone who hits snooze 3 or 4 times, that 10-15 minutes of extra ZZZs you get may be worse for you (and a waste of time) than if you just get up. It isn't quality sleep, so it doesn't help you feel more energized.
As we said before, being an early riser isn't necessarily the best schedule for everyone. It's not a practice universally endorsed by sleep experts or scientifically proven to be better than staying up late and sleeping in later. If you have a schedule that works for you, that's great!
However, if you want to see if you're more of an early riser, try setting a consistent sleep routine to reset your circadian rhythm. Just make sure the sleep you're getting is good sleep. Once you get into the habit of waking up early, your before-the-sun-is-up alarm won't seem so bad, and you may really enjoy the extra time that being a morning person provides.
Do naps, caffeine, and melatonin help with sleep quality?
You may have heard somewhere that naps can help with sleep quality. Or caffeine can improve your productivity and beat sleep deprivation. Or that you should take the supplement melatonin, which many jet setters swear by. Not so fast. Let's dig into the facts and the fables surrounding naps, melatonin, and caffeine.
The best time of day to take a short nap is early or mid-afternoon. Think about that 3 p.m. slump many people experience, prompting them to get a cup of coffee instead of a nap. That's why in some cultures, a mid-day siesta is revered. The ideal nap is 10 to 20 minutes long. Any longer can impact your ability to fall asleep that night.
The human body naturally produces melatonin, a substance that comes from the pineal gland in your brain. The body begins secreting melatonin as the sun goes down and it gets dark outside. When the sun rises, melatonin production is temporarily halted. Melatonin is the substance that makes you drowsy at night, and it's why people with jet lag or who work night shifts routinely use it as a supplement to help reset their body clock.
Eating foods high in melatonin can help. So can taking a melatonin supplement as part of your bedtime routine.
Caffeine is great in the morning. Those caffeine effects kick in and you're immediately more lucid. But drinking coffee or any caffeinated beverage in the late afternoon or evening can be a problem. Doing so may short-circuit your attempts to reset your circadian rhythms by going to bed earlier.
How can Leesa help you?
If you're looking to upgrade your sleep, Leesa is ready to help you get better rest and a good night's sleep every night. For one thing, we have a rich library of resources dedicated to better sleep. We have a dedicated sleep specialist to help you discern which of our products will be best for your needs. And, of course, our wickedly awesome mattresses and other products will help you get the best sleep of your life.
If you're having sleep problems like finding it hard to stay asleep, have a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia, or even have acid reflux, Leesa has a solution to help you have a good night's sleep.
How can I force myself to wake up early?
You can force yourself to wake up early by changing your bedtime routine by avoiding electronics, taking a warm bath, taking a melatonin supplement, and setting your alarm clock. Make sure your blinds or drapes are positioned to let some natural light into your bedroom, which will help you wake up naturally. However, you should make these changes gradually to let your sleep cycle and body's internal clock adjust.
Why is it so hard to wake up early?
It's hard to wake up early when you stay up late. We get it. Being a night person can be enjoyable and productive. But being a zombie the next day isn't fun. Set an intention, or a goal you wish to achieve, to encourage your efforts to wake up earlier and have an earlier bedtime.
Are 6 hours of sleep enough?
Six hours of sleep can be enough, or not enough, depending on your age. According to the Sleep Foundation, 6 hours is not enough for most people. According to sleep specialists, 7 to 9 hours of sleep is optimal. Children and teens need more. Seniors over 65 need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep.