Getting up early is hard. I know, I have been trying to do so for years. No doubt, if you’ve tried to change your habits, you’ve probably read all the internet self-help sites there are to read about the benefits of getting up early and how to do it. Some of this advice is good, and some of it is not. I’ve discovered 5 tips on training yourself to become an early riser based on my own research and experiences, so here they are.
1. Alarm Clocks
Love ’em or hate ’em, alarm clocks are useful. Just not if you’re a snooze button slammer. People try to avoid slamming the snooze by placing the alarm clock far away from the bed or buying an expensive specialty alarm clock. Others can keep the alarm close by and somehow have enough willpower to get up the first time (like my dad, who has been doing that for over 30 years).
Let’s face it, though. Alarm clocks are not foolproof, nor should you totally rely on them to get you up. The human brain under the influence of sleep-fog is more powerful than an alarm. After all, an alarm is merely an annoying noise that you can quickly develop an arm-swinging reaction to.
I’ve read lots of articles about alarm placement, alarm apps to use, and setting multiple alarms, but none of these methods has ever worked for me. I just turn the alarm off and slip back under the sheets. The bed wins. So for those of you who have similar troubles, here’s my tip. Only set one alarm, because in my opinion, if you set multiple, the bed has already won and you’ll keep turning them off and be more likely to sleep through your alarms. Put the alarm either across the room or next to your bed, and train yourself to get up the first time. How? Well, I still have four more tips for you. Hopefully, you’ll find the answer there.
2. Defeat the Groan!
Getting up early to your alarm is not a matter of a simple decision. It’s a battle between two states of mind, the conscious and unconscious. You may have every intention in the world of getting up early the night before, but when that alarm rings, there’s always resistance. I call it the “groan.” That groan is the subconscious part of you grunting things like, “Warm bed. Sleep. Five more minutes. Finish this dream.”
If you can find a way to ignore or silence the groan, you’ve got this thing by the throat. Some people suggest practicing getting out of bed during the day so that you’ll do it subconsciously in the morning. Some say that you should leave the room immediately. Others suggest showers, and still others suggest taking a deep breath, stretching, and turning on the lights. Whatever works. There’s no single correct strategy, but you should pick one or make one up, and make it a routine. Speaking of which…
Studies have shown that it takes about 21 days to get into a habit or break one. If you can get up early and at the same time for 21 days and start doing things, not only will you have gotten into the habit of doing so, but you will have trained your body to wake up at that time. It becomes your new norm. A routine like this can include showering, exercising, eating breakfast, and beyond.
My advice for your routine is that you get yourself a nice bathrobe or a big blanket. In my experience, the biggest temptation for staying in bed is the fact that it’s warm, the bedroom is cold, and you’re not fully awake yet. So find a way to stay warm so that you can give yourself time to wake up outside of your bed. Science has shown that our body temperatures lower themselves when we sleep, so our bodies are naturally cooler when we wake up. So hop out of bed, wrap yourself in your robe or blanket, and trick your body into thinking it’s still in bed. Sitting down in a chair in that warm something is also a good idea, because then you won’t be tempted to sit or lie back down on the bed (which will cause you to fall asleep again).
But getting up early is not just a matter of a morning routine. If you go to bed at 12 or 1 AM, for instance, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will not find it easy to get up at 6 AM. Getting up early is just as much about having a good bedtime routine as it is about waking up. Shut off any blue light-emanating, brain-stimulating electronics, like your computer, TV, and phone, half an hour before you go to bed so you can give your brain time to slow down. You can use this half hour to read or reflect or do any number of things, and your body will slowly begin to wind down and get sleepy enough to make you actually able to fall asleep. If you do all of this early enough and allow yourself enough time to sleep, you’ll be more likely to defeat the morning groan when your alarm rings.
4. Positive Outlook
If you say, “I’ll never be able to do this” or “I’m a night owl, not a morning person,” you’ll never be able to do it. Most people who have trouble rising early view it as a chore, as something they have to do. In order to make this an easier transition, think positively about it. This is something you get to do, something to look forward to. Or at least, it can be. Give yourself incentives, and don’t doubt your ability to overcome the morning groan. Otherwise, you won’t.
Find a friend or get your partner/spouse to hold you accountable. Get people you know and trust to do the same thing you’re doing, or have someone text you in the morning to make sure you’re up. Also, if you schedule important meetings with other people, like exercising with a buddy or eating breakfast with a friend, you’re more likely to get up when your alarm goes off. Having people help you with this transition makes it a lot easier.
Hopefully these tips will help you figure out how to get up early. They’ve helped me a lot, so I hope that if you want to get up early, you’ll find some truth to these and finally be able to begin your day earlier.