How to wake up earlier (and feel good about it)

Sleep Matters Perth Blog

Follow the steps below for 2 weeks and see if you become the early-bird you never thought you’d be.

We often help people who would like to get up earlier in the morning. This desire can be motivated by a number of things; fitting in exercise, making the morning routine before school/work less rushed, creating a more positive mindset to start the day, getting to work earlier or on time, or simply enjoying some quiet space in the day.

Even for people with a Night Owl Body Clock, it is usually possible to get up earlier and feel brighter in the morning, but it does take a little effort and commitment. 

1. Be clear on WHY you want to get up earlier and remind yourself of these motivations each day.

  • What advantages will an earlier rising time bring you?  – e.g. time for exercise, quiet time for meditation, reflection, journalling, or planning; reading the news, or creating a less frantic, more positive start to the day.  Getting up early shouldn’t feel like a punishment, but rather, an opportunity.

2. Work towards a CONSISTENT rising time.

  • Advance your rising time 15-30 minutes earlier every 1-2 days until your desired rising time has been reached. Then stick to this time like glue for 1-2 weeks, EVEN on WEEKENDS. This strategy may take some time, but the effects on your energy while you’re making the adjustment will be minimal. Once you feel that you are waking easier in the mornings you can introduce a bit more flexibility (perhaps and extra 30-45 minutes in bed on the weekend).

3.Use an ALARM (at least initially).

  • Put the alarm across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off – then you are UP.
  • Minimise using the snooze button (any sleep you get in-between the snooze button is restless sleep, its better to have the alarm set for very close to the time you want to be up).
  • Choose an alarm sound that you like – many people find gentle music or nature sounds work well.

4. Have a detailed plan for the first 30 mins on waking. Consider what helps you to ‘wind-up’ into the day, something invigorating or that you look forward to. For example…,

  • Glass of water, stretch, clean teeth
  • Open curtains and make the bed
  • Straight into the shower on waking
  • Clothes laid out ready the night before for your morning exercise
  • A few push-ups/sit-ups to get the blood and oxygen flowing
  • Coffee machine/kettle on

5. Get some SUNLIGHT on waking, or other bright light (e.g. from light therapy glasses or a light box).

  • Bright light suppresses production of the sleep hormone melatonin and is very effective for training the body clock to wake earlier and helping us to feel brighter.
  • Get 30 minutes of bright light as soon as you can on waking. 

6. EVENING WIND DOWN. In the evening, dim the lights and limit close screen time (phone, computer, ipad). Bright light in the couple of hours before bed can suppress melatonin and make sleeping  more difficult. Make sure there is a buffer zone for relaxation between the business of the day and bedtime.

7. Remember that SLEEP INERTIA is normal and can last for 30-60 minutes.  Sleep inertia is when we feel groggy on waking, it’s a transitional state between sleep and wake. Food, drink, activity, and pleasant stimulation (eg uplifting music) may help. Flick your attention away from signs of tiredness – paying close attention to these will enhance feelings of fatigue and will make “I can’t cope” thoughts more likely to appear. Instead, pay close attention to things such as what can you see, hear, smell, and taste.  

8. Make yourself ACCOUNTABLE .

  • Text your partner, friend or colleague to let them know what time you were up each morning. Or consider making a challenge with a friend and motivate each other each morning. Arrange to go for an exercise session or early breakfast with someone.

9. Remind yourself once again about why this is important to you, your life, or your loved ones……

For information on creating a sound sleep routine, see our printable tipsheet.

We also have a tipsheet on how to wake up earlier and feel good about it.

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