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I Wish I Knew These 15 Tricks To Waking Up Earlier

I Wish I Knew These 15 Tricks To Waking Up Earlier
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Many people have difficulty waking up early when trying to transition to a new schedule or simply seeking to get more done in the day. Others struggle with falling asleep early every night, making mornings a challenge.

Rising early does have real benefits that make it a worthwhile goal, like improving your chances of getting a workout in, putting you in a better mood, encouraging healthier eating and improved proactivity.

As a lifelong night owl, I know the struggle of trying to wake up and slog through the day on an early bird’s schedule. In my attempts to improve sleep habits and get better rest, I researched and found several tricks that truly made going to sleep and waking up in the morning easier.

Read on to learn 15 useful strategies for waking up earlier that I wish I had known years ago!

1. Plan your schedule to allow adequate time for sleep.

Plan your schedule to allow adequate time for sleep

    The average adult needs a minimum of seven hours (and up to nine hours) of sleep every night. The first trick to waking up earlier, is to make sure your bedtime allows you to get enough rest in every night without stressing over the clock or feeling fatigued the next day.

    If you want to wake up at 6:00am, for example, then your bedtime needs to be no later than 10:30pm. Remember it takes an average of 10-20 minutes to fall asleep, and you also need to factor in time for evening pre-bed routines as well.

    2. Gradually adjust your bedtime.

    Gradually Adjust Your Bedtime

      Move your bedtime and wake time in gradual, 15-minute increments to reduce shock to your system and daytime fatigue. Trying to change your schedule by an hour or more right away is a surefire way to feel tired and give up.

      If you want to wake up an hour earlier, give yourself at least 4 days to make the transition, getting to bed 15 minutes earlier and setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier each day. You can spend a few days at each increment if that works better for you, too.

      3. Optimize your bedroom for more efficient sleep.

      Optimize your bedroom for more efficient sleep

        For many nightowls, the biggest struggle is falling asleep early enough at night. Your bedroom plays a big role in this, so make sure you are setting the stage for the best sleep possible.

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        Temperatures should be cool, between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, your mattress and bedding should be cozy and comfortable, and your space should be clean and free of clutter.

        Light should be kept to an absolute minimum as it can impair your melatonin production, as should distracting sounds. Light blocking shades or an eye mask as well as a sound conditioner or ear plugs can be helpful if you have limited control over the environment.

        4. Use visualization to fall asleep faster.

        Use visualization to fall asleep faster

          Another helpful trick for falling asleep faster is to use visualization to clear your mind and relax. One study from Oxford researchers found visualization more effective than counting or simply laying down.

          To do this, imagine a relaxing, calming scene and try to experience it in as much detail as possible with all of your senses. You might be walking down a beach at sunset or strolling through a calm forest.

          If your thoughts start to wonder, come back to your scene. There are also guided visualization apps and YouTube videos that can help you stay focused and practice this technique.

          5. Use a sleep cycle monitor or app to wake up fresher.

          Use a sleep cycle monitor or app to wake up fresher

            (Image from SleepCycle.com)

            Smartphone sleep cycle apps or sleep monitoring devices can be helpful for avoiding groggy mornings and for tracking your habits.

            When you wake up in an REM sleep cycle, it could take several minutes to recover from the groggy and foggy sleep state. These apps and devices aim to work by monitoring your sleep cycles and waking you at point that is most likely to have you feeling awake and well-rested (within a specified timeframe).

            The other, and perhaps more useful, aspect of tracking your sleep is that you can see what disturbs your slumber versus which habits help you sleep better and deeper.

            6. Booby trap your alarm clock.

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            Booby trap your alarm clock

              (Image from NootropicDesign.com)

              For those of us who have developed stealth alarm snooze skills, you may need to get a little creative with your alarm clock until your body is more used to waking up early.

              You can start by placing your alarm far enough away from your bed that you have to get up and move, taping over or covering up the snooze button, or otherwise creating an obstacle that prevents you from slipping back off to bed.

              Another solution could be to try creative alarm apps that require you to perform complex tasks before shutting off.

              7. Remember why you are waking up early, positively.

              Remember why you are waking up early, positively

                (Image from psu.edu blog)

                If motivation to get out of bed is your weakness, then create reminders for yourself about why you want to achieve this goal or positive affirmations to encourage you.

                On smartphones, you could name your alert to match your motivation, such as: “Fit into skinny jeans!”, “Increase sales 20%!”, “Get an A+!”, or “Today is a special day!” or leave positive sticky notes on your alarm, pillow, or bathroom mirror.

                8. Utilize acupressure to wake up.

                Utilize acupressure to wake up

                  One study from University of Michigan researchers found that basic acupressure techniques helped boost alertness. These simple techniques take only a couple of minutes, and can even be done in bed or whenever you need a boost during the day.

                  Stimulation points for alertness include the top of your head, top of the back of your neck, back of your hand between your thumb and index finger, right below your knees, and the center of the bottom of your foot.

                  9. Turbo-charge your morning routine.

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                  Turbo-charge your morning routine

                    Get going quicker after you wake up by incorporating water, light, activity and healthy food into your morning routine.

                    Start your morning with a big glass of cold water (some people also swear by warm water with lemon) to recover from nighttime dehydration.

                    Try to expose yourself to natural sunlight as soon as possible to support your natural wakefulness rhythms. A little energy-boosting aromatherapy can also help. If you are a coffee drinker, put a pot on and enjoy the aroma. Other good wakeup scents include orange, lemon, rosemary, and mint.

                    Next, try to do a little exercise, even if it’s only a couple minutes of light yoga or jumping jacks – just to get your blood pumping and energy flowing. Don’t forget to eat a healthy breakfast early as well to support your metabolism and energy levels through lunch.

                    10. Incorporate a nap into your afternoon.

                    Incorporate a nap into your afternoon

                      If waking up earlier has you feeling sluggish in the afternoon, a short afternoon nap can refresh your energy levels and give you a second wind.

                      Shorter naps are best for boosting alertness without causing grogginess or impacting your nighttime sleep. Studies say naps between 10 and 20 minutes are best, just make sure to keep them around 8 hours before your planned bedtime.

                      11. Watch what you eat and drink after noon.

                      Watch what you eat and drink after noon

                        Certain foods, supplements and drinks can steal sleep by stimulating energy or causing indigestion.

                        Caffeine and other stimulants can affect you for several hours, so when trying to fall asleep early or adjust your schedule, it can be helpful to avoid them or at least limit them to morning hours.

                        Coffee, caffeinated tea, dark chocolate, sugar, guarana and diet/slimming supplements are all things to watch out for. Spicy, greasy or heavy foods to close to bed are also bad for Zzz’s.

                        12. Banish electronics before bed.

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                        Banish electronics before bed

                          Another less obvious stimulant is light, particularly blue light that televisions, computers and other electronics emit. Light exposure at night can impair natural melatonin production, delaying drowsiness and keeping you up later at night.

                          Try to detach from your devices at least 60 minutes before bed – that means no smart phones, laptops, tablets, televisions and keeping room lights dim as well. Instead, try reading, listening to music or an audiobook, writing in a journal, a warm bath or relaxing stretching to wind down your evening.

                          13. Make your mornings stress-free and simple.

                          Make your mornings stress-free and simple

                            Does the thought of everything you need to do make you want to hide under the covers? Try getting motivated to wake up by paring down your morning routine and giving yourself something to look forward to.

                            You could lay out your outfit and get all of your things together at night, have quick and healthy breakfasts and lunches ready to go, set the coffee pot on auto-timer, and look for other ways to do your less enticing activities at night so mornings are smooth sailing.

                            14. Address any potential snooze-stealing issues.

                            Address any potential snooze-stealing issues

                              If you’ve tried all of the trusted tricks for improving sleep habits but still find yourself feeling tired or have persistent sleep troubles, it might be worthwhile to chat with your doctor.

                              Certain medications, allergies, or other treatable conditions could be at the root of your sleep problems. Sleep apnea is a major one to be aware of, especially if you are a heavy snorer or wake feeling tired despite spending enough time sleeping.

                              15. Keep your sleep-wake schedule as consistent as possible.

                              Keep your sleep-wake schedule as consistent as possible

                                And, saving the best for last, one of the most effective ways to get comfortable with waking up earlier is to stick to a consistent schedule, even on the weekends.

                                In addition to potential healthy weight benefits, a consistent sleep wake schedule means your body knows what to expect and reduces the likelihood of sleep problems. Set a sleep and wake time you can stick to every day of the week, aiming for no more than an hour of variation for the best results.

                                Share: What sleep tricks or changes help you fall asleep faster or wake up earlier?

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                                Last Updated on July 21, 2021

                                The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                                The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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                                No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

                                Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

                                Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

                                A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

                                Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

                                In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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                                From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

                                A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

                                For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

                                This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

                                The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

                                That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

                                Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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                                The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

                                Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

                                But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

                                The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

                                The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

                                A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

                                For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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                                But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

                                If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

                                For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

                                These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

                                For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

                                How to Make a Reminder Works for You

                                Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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                                Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

                                Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

                                My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

                                Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

                                I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

                                More on Building Habits

                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                                Reference

                                [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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