Getting up early isn’t complicated, even though the myth that being an early bird is difficult is a part of all our lives. Look back and ask yourself if you ever find it easy to get out of bed in the morning. Most likely, you do.
Unless you’re chronically sleep deprived or are suffering from some illness, you’re able to get out of bed fairly quickly after you’ve had a good night’s sleep. If you currently get up around 7:30am, it should be reasonably easy to get out of bed. Likewise if your current alarm clock is set at 9:30 am.
But, guess what? Getting up at 5 am or 6 am can be just as simple and straightforward, it’s just a matter of adapting your body.
Changing your current routine
Right now, your body is adapted to your current sleep and wake schedule. Around the time you normally go to bed (say around midnight), your body makes you feel tired and sleepy, helping you fall asleep. In the same way, your body enables you to get out of bed around the time you usually wake up in the mornings. About an hour before your wake up time, your body automatically prepares to get you up and about, making your sleep lighter, raising your body temperature, and releasing cortisol.
Your body is a machine that can adapt to many things, and you can train your body to wake up at almost any time you want. Once you have adjusted your body to wake up at 5 am, getting out of bed will be easy, and just like that, you’ve turned into an early riser.
The good thing about your body is that it adapts quickly, and it only takes around five days of successfully rising at your preferred early time. You just need to overcome some plodding and a bit of grogginess for the first few days.
Sleep strategies to try
If you want to become an early bird, here are some simple strategies to get you on your way.
1. Release your morning baggage
If you’re reading this, you’re probably like a bunch of us, and believe that mornings are the worst. You hit your snooze button repeatedly until you drag yourself out of bed, eyes half closed until you’ve had a shower and inhaled your first cup of coffee.
Now…let it go. Throw away all misconceptions about mornings that you’ve had embedded since forever, and begin this process with a clean slate. You can try as hard as you can, but the only way you’ll succeed in getting up early is opening your mind and freeing it of negativity.
2. Visualize your perfect morning
Take advantage of the fact that in this situation, you really can make your fantasy a reality. Imagine yourself as the morning person you want to be, and ask yourself what your mornings consist of. Are you meditating? Doing yoga? Reading a book while sipping your morning coffee?
Think about the activity (or activities) you’d like to be doing, as well as the setting and atmosphere. Doing this will assist you in laying the groundwork for what will end up becoming your morning routine.
3. Don’t blab about your plans to everybody
In the beginning, don’t share your plans with everyone. The only people you should be telling are anyone that lives with you, as they will also have to adjust to your new morning routine. Until you’ve made considerable progress, keep your plans to yourself. Sharing your plans with other people could negatively impact your frame of mind as they most likely will have a negative attitude towards mornings. And if they lack follow-through in their own lives, it might start rubbing off on you, leaving you back where you started.
4. Focus on one action at a time
Don’t attempt to set a strict deadline for when you’d like to get up earlier, as it’s unrealistic. Life will get in the way of your progress, via professional or personal setbacks or emotional resistance. Take it one day at a time, by focusing on one act at a time.
First, note what your current wake up time is, and when you’d like it to be. Then, set your alarm clock for 20 minutes earlier than usual, and get comfortable waking up at that time. Once that happens, set it a bit earlier and so on and so forth, until you reach your desired wake up time.
5. Find an alarm that works for you
Some of us have no problems with using a regular alarm clock to wake up, but others find the beeping to be annoying. Test several alarm options to choose the best one for you. Some possibilities include waking up to music or the weather. That way, you won’t dread the sound and associate it with not wanting to be an early morning person.
6. Don’t pressure yourself in the mornings
Growing up, one of the things we lose is the sense of freedom we experienced as children, especially during summer vacations. There were no deadlines or pressure, and no sense of a rigid schedule.
Try and recapture this feeling by establishing what you like to do during your morning routine and start doing it, no need to feel guilty about it. You will start your day more motivated and refreshed, and you will be excited to wake up and start your day. So go ahead, and start your day doing what you love.
7. Remove any excuses to sleep in
While your body is adjusting to this new routine, some days will be more difficult than others. Some mornings, all you’ll want to do is hit snooze and settle in for a few more minutes of sleep. If you do, most likely you’ll end up regretting it, so there are some things to make your mornings easier.
If you wake up so groggy and cranky that you’re even dreading making coffee, get a programmable coffee maker and set it to start at a particular time each day. If you don’t want to get out of bed because your house is cold, leave cozy slippers and a robe near your bed, so they’re the first thing you put on. Give your body time to adjust, as it will get there, but in the meantime, take it easy on yourself.
8. Don’t break the chain
The productivity hack “break the chain” considers each day you accomplished your habit a link in a chain, thereby breaking the chain if you miss a day. It’s a simple and easy way to stay motivated and push through those mornings where all you want to do is build a pillow fort and never leave your bed.
9. Keep track of your accomplishments
A great motivator to continue your habit of waking up early is to keep track of everything you accomplish during the first hour after getting up. You might find that you’ve put a big dent on your to-do list by 9 am, or you’ve already walked the dog and read the paper. Having a sense of accomplishment can give the rest of your day a sense of calmness, as your primary morning goals have already been met.
10. Stick to your wake up time
To really establish the routine of waking up early, you need to wake up at the same time every day. Yes, this includes weekends. Your body will adjust to getting up at the same time and will start to regulate your sleep patterns, meaning that you will be better rested as you get more REM sleep.