Much like most of the bloggers, or the people who work primarily on their computers, I was a night owl too. I used to work all night long, then sleep around 6 or 8 in the morning. Although this was beneficial as in I was able to skip most of the noisy time, but it had its downsides. Now, if you know me a tiny bit, I am a research guy(all marketers are). I found that majority of the successful people are an early morning person. I read schedules of people who completed half of their daily tasks before 10!
I wanted to be one of this tribe. Especially because I was planning to hire employees.
But old habits die hard. I tried setting multiple alarms, setting the alarm on the phone kept far away, etc., I made myself mentally ready and prepared. I kept telling myself; I am going to wake up, do this, do that, and much more. But in the morning, when I was lying in my cozy bed, and the alarm would go on, I couldn’t figure out where all the motivation went.
I knew the benefits of waking up early. I knew how brain’s melatonin production was at the peak in the night; I knew I could do a lot of work if I woke up at 4. But all this discipline and motivation used to hide somewhere in the morning.
I did some more research and found a whole bunch of schedules, tricks that helped me achieve being a morning person. I’ve talked about this in my upcoming book “Productivity maximizer,” follow me on Amazon to receive notification when it goes live for sale.
Top 14 things You Can do to Wake Up Early
Humans are like dogs(trust me, that’s a huge compliment), we work on a reward basis. If there is no benefit or reward, we won’t be doing it. Sometimes the reward is money, sometimes sex, sometimes comfort or luxury and the list goes on. You can’t convince your brain to wake up early because it looks cool, or because most of the entrepreneurs do it. You’d need something more. As I said, I knew all the benefits, despite which, I couldn’t wake myself up in the morning, because I lacked in giving my brain a proper reason.
Do this, before you go to bed, ask yourself “what can I do if I wake up early?”, come up with an answer which is worthy, and you want, and FYI, “Sleeping again” isn’t on the list of those answers.
2. Go to bed earlier
If you try to wake up early, and not go to bed early, you’ll eventually become zombie someday. Your body needs rest; thereby, it is essential to sleep early to wake early.
Figure out a bedtime. Your body needs an adequate amount of sleep. Depending on your age group, the amount of hours you need to sleep differs. I found this article at sleep foundation that discusses this in detail, but here is the chart in short. I sleep for 7 hours(no compromises here).
Make a bedtime ritual. I figure out what things I have to do tomorrow, clean my home(cause I want to make up to clean environment), then brush, write or read to sleep. I dim my lights 2 hours before. All of this is done, to trigger your brain that its now time to sleep.
Avoid bluescreen. Avoid anything that has a blue screen; this includes your mobile phones, laptops, tablets, etc. Avoid television as well. The blue light keeps your mind active and thereby delays your sleep cycle. Here is an article on how blue light affects your sleep by the scientificamerican.
Exercise. It is very self-explanatory and basic. You do exercise, your body is tired, and you’ll want to sleep. But don’t do it just an hour before bed. Due to the feel-good hormone, you’ll be pumped.
3. Don’t expect to do everything in one day
This was one of my biggest mistakes. I was trying to Jump from sleeping at 6 in the morning to wake at 4 in one day. It sounds terrific, but unfortunately, your body isn’t that good for new changes.
Thereby, a good method is doing it slowly over the course of weeks, or maybe a month. Here is what you need to do. Sleep 15 minutes before your sleeping time, and wake up 15 minutes earlier. Do it for maybe 2-3 days, and then rinse and repeat. If you wake up at 12 in the afternoon, trying to wake up at four would fail terribly. Instead, do it slowly, first 11:45, then 11:30 and so on.
Yes, I know that this sounds slow. But, this works like a charm and has long-lasting effects on your sleep cycle. Sudden changes of waking up even an hour are dramatic and don’t last long. If you manage to wake up 2 hours early (to prove me wrong), you’ll feel sleepy throughout the day. Which will make you feel miserable all the day. Sleeping patterns are tricky and difficult to change, thereby, gradual and small changes work best. It also regards eating or exercises habits.
Although a lot of pitfalls are mental, doesn’t mean all of them all. There is a strong physical need as well. Your quantity and quality of sleep are very crucial factors. It is very obvious that you require a good sleep or you’ll become zombie all day. Pay attention, and keep track of your diet. Being fit also impacts your energy levels and sleeping habits.
5. Never snooze
I hated my alarm sound. To such an extent, that I now wake up at 3:58 around so that I won’t have to hear it ringing. It is natural and psychological. If something makes you leave something comfortable, you’ll hate it. A lot of hits the snooze button. I don’t suggest doing that. It won’t let you have enough REM sleep. If you keep snoozing the alarm, you’re training your brain to ignore the alarm.
6. Stick to your wake time
When you make a goal to wake up at a specific time, make sure you do it every day. I wake up at 4 in the morning. Over the time, my body has been conditioned to this. The same will happen to you; your body will get conditioned and so would be your sleep patterns. You’ll get more REM sleep if your sleeping pattern is consistent. With a good pattern, your body starts the process of waking up even before alarm sounds(much like what happens to me).
7. Build momentum
The challenge is to wake up, true, but the second major challenge, is to stay up. For you, it is dangerous to stay in your bed after waking up. When I get up, brush, wash my face and make myself a coffee(strong one). I then go to exercise(I am lying, but you can do this).
I once had a tuition teacher(the best teacher I’ve ever had), he taught me about this momentum thing. He used to call me at 4 to wake up. Then call me after 20 minutes to check. So, I gradually stopped sleeping after waking up early.
8. Adjust The Environment
Block every source of light, as tiny as it might be. Keep your gadgets away and don’t use television, laptop or smartphones before one hour of your sleep time. If you have to use them for some reason, use a yellow light filter, tons of applications let you do this. Blue light from devices prevents production of melatonin, the hormone which is responsible for your sleep patterns.
You can instead read a real book. Don’t read self-help, politics or anything similar. Read history or fiction.
9. Go Camping For A Week
A Research from science direct revealed that your body could sync its sleep cycle with sunset and sunrise if you’re able to spend a week without artificial light. You can try going camping for a week with your friends. Leave your gadgets other than a smartphone at home so that you don’t have a bluescreen device at the camp. Use the yellow light filter on your smartphone. After a week, your body clock would be adjusted with nature, and you’ll become an early riser.
10. Create A Wind-Down Routine
Your activities, before the bed act as a trigger for sleeping. Thereby, try keeping them consistent, like a routine sort of.
You can do your dishes, take a cold shower, read books, etc. before your bedtime. If you’re able to do it for 21 days, your body will realize that these activities mean time of sleep. I listen to same playlist every day before sleeping. The songs, me cleaning room, etc. tell my brain, that the day is now over, and we can now take rest.
11. Trick Your Brain To Get Up
As I mentioned, your first response to the alarm is the snooze and return to sleep. To avoid that, there is a workaround.
It is called inverted snooze. What you do is as soon as your alarm goes off and you hit snooze, instead of sleeping, you get up. You have to tell your brain “it is only 10 minutes”. You can do anything for the duration. But go back to sleep, neither on bed nor couch. You can open your windows, maybe brush your teeth, or even check youtube!
By the time it is 10 minutes, you’ll be awake. This is called as Sleep inertia, and would be over by the time snooze sounds again.
12. Use Your Pet As An Alarm Clock
Dogs are the best. They’re consistent, extremely intelligent when it comes to their food. If you set their feeding time early in the morning, they’ll wake up so that you can feed them. They’ll jump here and there, or on the bed to awake you. They’ll keep doing this until you get up and give them some food. In the morning, dogs want to go out and play, or, more important, poop.
A lot of you will find this adorable and cute, rest might find it irritating, in the start, but, it is one of the best ways to start your day.
13. Don’t Allow Your Brain To Deceive You
Your brain is smart and controls you. If you’re a night owl, it will reject all attempts you make to get up. It will find facts to convince you to sleep. Don’t fall for it! Stick to your schedule.
14. Resist The “5 More Minutes” Urge
Maybe for peeing, maybe by some sound, or by any change in space-time fabric(just kidding), you woke up 10 or 5 minutes before your alarm time. The best option is to sleep, right?
If you sleep again, you’ll enter a deeper sleep cycle, which makes it harder to wake up when your alarm goes up. The reason people keep hitting snooze, again and again, is because their deep sleep cycle tells that time went by really fast.
So, if you woke up before your alarm time, give yourself a high five, and prepare yourself for the day.
I’ve told about this morning schedule to a lot of people. I also talked with a bunch of people when I mentioned this in my book on productivity. Based on those conversations and questions, here are some common problems.
1. I feel super tired. If you wake up early, for some days, it will feel like you aren’t able to function. It is okay. You can use water, take a walk around your house, or drink coffee/green tea. Don’t take a nap though. You might lose control and sleep for hours. This won’t let you sleep in the night then.
2. I am a night person. I get this a lot. It comes from people who either haven’t tried this at all or tried it but hated being tired all time. This is why I mentioned the gradual method. If you aren’t a morning person, you’ll feel energy being drained out if you make a dramatic change. But, there are some people that are better focusing during the night, and it’s alright. If you think you are one, its okay.
What to Do When You Get Up
Don’t check your emails as soon as you get up. You’re still dealing with sleep inertia. Trying simpler things.
- Drink 1-liter water: All the night, you haven’t had any water(unless you drink water while sleepwalking). Drink 1liter to power up your body and feel more awake. This is also called as Japanese Water therapy.
- Exercise. Take a walk, do a home workout, or simply stretch for 10 minutes.
- Watch Youtube. I do this a lot. I don’t know if it will work for you or not. But it is worth giving a try.
- Drink Coffee or tea. Both of these will give you an instant powerup. I drink coffee with little sugar to avoid a sugar crash later on.