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Habit, Productivity

How to Wake Up Early: 10 Things Early Risers Do

Written by Undre Griggs
Coaching To Help Professionals And Organizations Change Their Beliefs So They Can Get Results.
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You have probably heard the success stories about people who wake up early. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Oprah Winfrey, and Olympic medalist Caroline Burckle all talk about the positive impact of waking up early on their lives.

Even though many assign a portion of their success to waking up early, many find it difficult to make the switch. While most people know what needs to happen to change their life, they find then difficult to implement consistently. To understand how to wake up early, you need to tap into the wisdom of those already doing it.

Before we discuss the methods early risers use, it is important to know about the advantages and disadvantages of waking up early.

Advantages of Waking Up Early

Still on the rocks about setting your alarm clock early? Here are some reasons why it may be worth it.

There’s no need to rush yourself

When you wake up early in the morning, you can decrease your stress level because there is no need to rush yourself to work out or leave the house to go to the office. Starting your day on this note can truly make a difference.

It improves sleep quality

Early risers don’t stay up late. This allows them to enjoy better sleep equality because their body clock has adapted to a healthier sleeping routine.


It enhances productivity

The brain is more alert in the morning. Therefore, waking up early will help you focus on work without having to deal with interruptions. When you know how to wake up early, you’ll get more work done and your mind can make better decisions.

It enables you to have quiet time

One of the most amazing benefits waking up early can give you is quiet time. It’s always surprising how quiet everything is in the morning. This will allow you to enjoy peace especially if you live with others or you have children.

Disadvantages of Waking Up Early

In this section, we round up why waking up early is not worth it.

It can leave you feeling tired

If you want to get up early in the morning, you may feel tired during the day especially if you are not used to this routine. Getting up may cause you to want to take a nap in the afternoon and lose work hours.

You’ll miss out on socializing

If you want to find out how to wake up early, you need to make some sacrifices. If your friends invite you for drinks or a late dinner after work, you may not be able to tag along because you have to wake up early. Therefore, some of your friends and family may feel neglected.

You can end up sleep deprived

A lot of people sacrifice their sleep hours just so they can wake up early. When you do this, you may suffer from the negative consequences of sleep deprivation such as weight gain, poor concentration, and moodiness.

Here are the 6 things early risers do:

1. Stop Procrastinating

The first thing you need to do when you want to learn how to wake up early is to go to sleep earlier. Stop procrastinating. You will find it much easier to wake up when you are getting the proper amount of sleep. Set a bedtime that allows you to get 8-hours of sleep and hold yourself accountable.


The problem most of you will have at first is how tired you will feel. If you are someone who goes to sleep after midnight, waking up by 6 a.m. will not be easy. The reason you need to push through that initial difficulty is that you are going to be very tired at the end of the day. Realistically, you probably would fall asleep at your desk or doze off on your lunch break. Either way, waking up early no matter how you feel will motivate you to go sleep at the proper time that night.

Think of it as someone who procrastinated until the night before their project was due. Having done this myself, you do what you need to do to complete the project, whether that means working all night or cutting some corners because you don’t have time to triple-check your work.

After you turn in your project, you feel both exhaustion and jubilation. After you make it through the workday and crash at home, you promise yourself you’ll never wait until the last minute again. This same feeling will happen when you force yourself to wake up early no matter what time you went to sleep. You are going to promise yourself you will go to bed at the right time.

Most people don’t go to bed when they should because they know they will ultimately make it up in the morning.

2. Pace Yourself

If you want to start waking up a couple of hours earlier each day, you may not be able to make that change all at once. It stands to reason the more drastic the shift, the more difficult it will be.

So, instead of trying to adjust your sleep pattern by several hours, start in 15-minute or 30-minute intervals.[1] If you wake up 30 minutes earlier each week, you will be a morning person by the end of the month. This may feel like you are drawing out your goal but in reality, you are accomplishing it much quicker than most. Most people who are naturally night owls find it difficult to completely change their sleep habits overnight.


Think of it as someone who is trying to quit drinking coffee. Outside of the fact you may enjoy the taste of coffee, your body is used to operating with a certain amount of caffeine and sugar. Some will be able to quit overnight and their body will adjust accordingly. And if you are one of those people, then do what works for you.

However, if you were to take an incremental approach, then you may first start drinking your coffee black. Then, you could switch to decaf before slowly lowering the amount of coffee you drink each day. As you can see, this approach will help minimize the feeling of withdrawal while getting the results you want.

3. Watch Your Lighting

Light reduces your body’s production of the sleep-inducing melatonin hormone. In practical terms, your body naturally wants to be awake when the sun is up and go to sleep when the sun is down. This is called your circadian rhythm.

In the technology-driven world we currently live in, you likely look at a screen or two before bed. Studies show television and phone screens trick your body into thinking the sun is up. As a result, your body starts producing less melatonin. To help you fall asleep, you should stop looking at screens at least an hour before bed.

This can also mean that if you want to wake up before the sun, looking at your screen when you wake up can help you to stay awake.

Peter Balyta, the President of Education Technology for Texas Instruments says he wakes up at 5:20 a.m. and scans his emails before starting his day. This is also true for M.I.T. president L. Rafael Rief. He wakes up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. and checks his phone for anything urgent.[2]


4. Make It Worth Your Time

Have you ever woken up early but went back to sleep because you didn’t have a reason to stay up? To put it another way, have you ever fallen asleep because you didn’t have anything better to do?

If you want to be excited about going to sleep and waking up early, then you need to give yourself a reason to be excited. You can accomplish this by listing the three things you want to accomplish the next morning. Notice I said “want” and not “need” to accomplish. You don’t want to be dragging yourself into the next morning kicking and screaming.

Your list should not only include what you want to accomplish but also why you want to accomplish it. If you want to take it a step further, list the consequences of not waking up early.

People who have figured out how to wake up early are shown to be more successful, persistent, and proactive in their life. They tend to be happier and handle stress better. It is also shown that people who wake up early procrastinate less.[3] If you find any of these benefits something you want to add in your life, then waking up early is shown to help.

5. Avoid Binging

There is a difference between sleeping and getting a good night’s sleep. Sure, you can drink alcohol and fall asleep, but you will not be getting quality rest. You will wake up feeling as though you slept for only a couple hours.

It is best to stop drinking at least 4 hours before bedtime. Binge drinking is known to impact your sleep-inducing melatonin hormone levels for up to a week. The same holds true with eating a large meal right before bed. It is not that your body can’t process food and sleep at the same time. The main concern has more to do with the possibility of indigestion or heartburn than anything else.


If you find yourself dealing with either of these symptoms, then you may want to stop eating at least two hours before bed.

6. Get the Blood Flowing

Those who have mastered the technique of how to wake up early tend to start each morning with movement.

Your first movement is to get out of bed. To help you get out of bed, have your alarm far enough away that you need to get up and turn it off. Before you allow yourself to contemplate going back to sleep, take a moment, and do 10 push-ups or 10 jumping jacks. Think of each exercise as you taking one step further from being able to go back to sleep.

Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments wakes up at 4 a.m. each morning. She starts each day by exercising. Her exercises include running, weight lifting, swimming, and cycling.

You decide for yourself how you want to get your blood flowing. Whether you want to go on a walk, workout at the gym, or do something at home, make sure you are scheduling time to exercise.

7. Reward Yourself

Practicing how to wake up early is immensely hard, especially if you have been waking up late your entire life. However, rewarding yourself for accomplishing this task will do wonders.

Rewards don’t have to be grand. It can be an activity as simple as making yourself a cup of your favourite coffee or tea, practicing how to meditate, watching the sunrise, or reading a few chapters of a good book. When you look forward to doing something early in the morning, you will become more motivated.


Everyone needs a compelling reason to become an early bird. Once your drive for your reward fades away, so will your ability to wake up early; and if you do not reward yourself and do something you love as soon as you wake up, you will be tempted to enjoy the comfort of your soft mattress again.

8. Eat Within an Hour of Waking Up

The American Heart Association suggests eating breakfast within the first two hours after you wake up. However, if you are suffering from hormonal imbalance or blood sugar issues, consume your breakfast within an hour upon waking up.

The idea behind this trick is because it’s been a while since you had a meal, and when you wake up, your body is finally ready to receive nutrients. When you have weird eating habits, it can cause your Cortisol levels to become abnormal. This can lead to stress and unstable blood sugar.

When you eat breakfast at a reasonable window, you can develop healthier eating habits and it will prevent you from overeating later in the day.

9. Go to Bed Early

You can’t expect to be alert in the wee hours of the morning if you went to bed at 3 a.m. This tip on how to wake up early may sound very obvious, but you need to make sure you sleep early so you’ll feel more awake when it’s time to rise.

You don’t have to get eight hours of sleep. Instead, pay attention to how your body feels after your alarm clock rings. It takes a little bit of trial and error, but you’ll eventually find your ideal hours of sleep after some time.


It may seem tempting, but don’t shorten your sleeping hours just so you could wake up early. If you do this, you’ll just deprive yourself of rest and become lethargic throughout the day.

If you’re having trouble going to bed early, try to develop a stress-free nightly ritual. This could include enjoying a warm bath or having a quiet conversation with your partner. After practicing this for a few days, it won’t feel like a chore anymore.

10. Visualize Your Future Self

Chances are, the reason why you want to know how to wake up early is that you want to be healthy, and more productive.

Try to remind yourself why it’s important for you to rise early in the morning. Be very specific in visualizing yourself achieving this goal. This can include seeing yourself getting out of your room as soon as you turn off your alarm, working out, eating a delicious breakfast, getting dressed for work, and attending your meetings for the day.

When you visualize yourself achieving this goal, you can be more motivated to work on it because you already have a clue on how great your day will be if you start it early.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why Can It Be Difficult to Wake Up in The Morning?

You’re not the only one who finds it hard to wake up in the morning. A study by the University of California Berkeley Team suggests that when people wake up from sleep, the brain won’t immediately switch to a fully awakened state. It still goes through a transition period called sleep inertia.


What is the circadian rhythm?

The circadian rhythm is the 24-hour cycle that is part of your body’s internal clock. It controls not only your sleep-wake cycle but also your mental and physical health.

How long does it take to train yourself to wake up early?

The time it takes for a person to get accustomed to waking up early varies. Generally, it can take between 30 to 60 days to get used to your new sleep schedule.

At what age should you start training yourself to wake up early?

No matter what your age is, you can start training yourself to wake up early.

How to Improve Your Bedtime Routine?

A bedtime routine is a set of activities you do 30 to 60 minutes before you go to sleep. Bedtime routines are vital because humans are creatures of habits, and when you do the same things before you go to sleep every day, the brain will eventually recognize that it’s time to hit the hay.

The best tip to improve your bedtime activity is to stick to a routine that relaxes and calms you. This could be journaling, reflecting, lighting a scented candle, and taking a warm bath.

Bonus: 7 Easy Ways to Help You Stay Awake

Final Thoughts

The key to understanding how to wake up early is to recognize that it is heavily driven by the actions you take the night before. You will wake up early if you go to bed at a good time and get the proper amount of sleep.

By taking the time to prepare yourself both mentally and physically each night, you can ensure you are positioned for success the next morning. Once you have taken the proper actions the night before, make sure you use that momentum to start your day, on time.


The goal is to make the actions you want to take as easy as possible. The key to changing your life is to discover a way to have the wind at your back, going in the direction you want.

More Tips on How to Wake up Early

Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com


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