Successful people wake up early. According to research, 90% of executives and 50% of self-made millionaires rise before 6 AM! Famous early risers include Elon Musk, who gets up at 7 AM, Richard Branson, who wakes at 5:45 AM, Oprah, who gets up at 6 AM, and Apple’s Tim Cook, who gets up at 3:45 AM!
As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. Those who are able to leave their bed and lavender pillow earlier can accomplish more throughout the day. This is not because they have more hours in their day, but because those early hours will set them up for success. It improves mindset, structure and productivity.
To be an early riser, you should wake up about 3 hours before your day really begins. For example, if you start work at 9 AM, waking up at 6 AM would give you plenty of time to set your day up for success. Waking up earlier allows you to fuel your mind, body, and soul. Many people use this time to exercise, meditate on their meditation pillow or read before getting ready for work.
Studies have shown that people who wake up earlier are more proactive as well. For example, a 2009 study found that morning people were more proactive than evening people, even when they had the same amount of sleep. Defined as the ability and willingness to change a situation to one’s advantage, proactivity can help you succeed.
During these early hours, you have fewer distractions. Many people haven’t started their day yet, so you won’t be bombarded by text messages, emails, or phone calls. When you get started on your day before everyone else, you can be proactive rather than reactive, which improves emotional and mental capacity.
Despite its advantages, not everyone finds waking up early easy. Waking up early can be extra challenging for those whose sleep chronotype is The Wolf or The Dolphin. Your chronotype describes your biological clock and why some people naturally wake up earlier than others. Check out our blog post on sleep chronotypes if you don't know yours.
The good news is that even if waking up early doesn’t come naturally, you can still become an early riser. By using the following ten tips, you can start waking up earlier without becoming exhausted mid-day. Although it can take some time to adjust, when you are consistent, you can reap the rewards of getting up by 6 AM.
- Pick the time you want to wake up at
It will take a lot of practice to wake up at 6 AM naturally if you aren’t a morning person. As we age, our body experiences changes that can make us wake up earlier, but until then, you need to plan for it. For example, do you want to wake up at 7 or 6 or join the 5 AM club? Once you’ve decided on your wake-up time, count backward, so you know your bedtime. In order to get the rest your body needs, you should be getting around 8 hours of sleep a night. Count back 8 hours from the time you want to wake up to know when you should fall asleep. For example, if you want to get up at 6 AM, you should be asleep by 10 PM. And, if it takes you time to fall asleep and complete your nighttime routine, start getting ready for bed around 9 PM. If your current bedtime is 1 AM, it will be challenging to fall asleep by 10PM. To prevent sleepless nights, start slow and gradually go to bed and wake up earlier. Work back in half-hour increments every few days.
- Commit to waking up at that time
According to Life Hack, the number 1 way to wake up earlier is to commit to getting up at that specified time. Before going to bed, make the choice to rise at a specific time. This means you won’t need to make the decision when you are sleepy in the morning. Over time, it won’t require as much willpower to peel you off of your lavender pillow, and you will develop a new habit.
- Find a pleasant alarm
No one likes being awoken suddenly by the sound of a loud siren or honking horn – it can start your day off on a sour note and have you hitting the snooze button. There is no reason you need to torture yourself every morning with an obnoxious sounding alarm. To make waking up easier, find an alarm that sounds more pleasant for you. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, scroll through the different sound options. Alternatively, you can use a light machine that will gradually get brighter, so you are awoken by the light, or set your coffee maker to start brewing at a specific time, so the scent and sound of coffee wake you. Trying something new to wake you up in the morning can help get you out of bed.
- Start moving right away
After your alarm goes off, get out of bed right away. Don’t even think of it – just do it. The longer you stay in bed and continue to hit snooze, the less likely you are to become an early riser. Consider using Mel Robbins' “5 Second Rule”. Give yourself just 5 seconds to get up and out of bed. She says this will destroy doubt and negative self-talk and help you transform your life.
Once you are out of bed, do something to get your blood flowing. This will provide more energy than a cup of coffee. You don’t need to commit to a one-hour workout as just 10 to 15mins of yoga, jumping rope, crunches, or push-ups can kickstart your day and energize you.
Create an incentive
Kavitha George, with NPR News, recommends creating an incentive to get you out of your bed in the morning. For example, if you love coffee, you can level up your coffee machine and make yourself a cappuccino in the morning. Or, create an empowering morning routine you look forward to. For example, you can set up a nice cozy space out of bed, sit on a meditation pillow, and journal. Completing mindfulness exercises in the morning will help remind you why you are waking up early and why it is important to you.
- Write out your morning plan
Having a detailed plan for the morning will help you establish a routine. Studies have shown that setting smaller, well-defined goals makes you up to three times more likely to stick to them. Ask yourself why you want to be an early riser and what you want to accomplish in the morning. For example, do you want to exercise, enjoy a healthy breakfast or meditate? Having a plan will reinforce your why and help you stick to it.
Wake up during REM
This tip is excellent for those who track their sleep cycles. Using a smart device, you can see what times you are alternating between REM and non-REM sleep. This happens in roughly 90-minute increments, and when timed right, you will find waking up a lot easier! Look at your data and see when you are in REM and set your alarm for that time.
- Let in the sunshine
Research has found that your internal clock becomes delayed when your exposure to sunlight is reduced. So as soon as you wake up, open your curtains to allow sunlight to come in. This will help reset your circadian rhythm and sleep schedule.
- Take a short nap
If you feel drained mid-day, try a 15 to 30-minute nap. When kept short, you can give yourself a boost in energy. A NASA study found that pilots were twice as focused and 35% more alert when they took a nap. Try and keep the napping to earlier in the day and set the alarm, so you don’t sleep too long. Napping for too long and too close to bedtime could make it difficult for you to fall asleep later.
- Plan your meal times
According to Daniel Amen, MD at brain MD, you can become an early riser and enjoy it by eating regularly. He says that being consistent with your meal times can help even night owls become early birds. Upon waking up, eat your breakfast as soon as possible and then have your lunch and dinner around the same time every day. By doing so, you can reset your circadian rhythm and will naturally start to feel more inclined to wake up earlier.
Early risers are not only more proactive and productive but happier and healthier as well. It’s what is known as the “lark advantage.” Fortunately, night owls can enjoy these advantages as well, as long as they start waking up earlier. So if you want to be an early riser and not feel miserable each time your alarm goes off, try these ten tips. With time, they will become habitual and give you the sleep schedule you want.