For years, I wanted to wake up early. It seems almost all successful people get going before sunrise, and I wanted to be one of them. But when my morning alarm would go off, all the good intentions in the world couldn’t pull me out of bed.
I understood the benefits of waking up early. I made plans to wake up early and write. But that discipline was gone in the morning.
The groggy person hitting the snooze button wasn’t the same clear-thinking person that had set the alarm the night before.
When I realized waking up early is a battle fought on two fronts, everything changed. We must prepare our bodies, but we must also trick our sleepy minds.
Here are eight tips to help you win the fight and wake up early:
1. Take the First Steps
The toughest part of the morning is simply getting out of bed. An alarm across the room is an old trick, but I don’t want to wake up my wife in the process. So I have my iPhone next to my bed with a soft alarm that I can turn off quickly.
To keep myself from falling back asleep in the morning brain-fog, I have another alarm across the room set for a few minutes later.
It’s extremely loud and will jolt my wife awake if I don’t walk across the room and turn it off first. Even my foggy mind understands that, and the fear of a startled and cranky wife drives me to take those first few steps out of bed.
2. Cultivate a Mental Environment
Here are a few ideas to wake your brain up (and keep it alert all day long):
- Listen to podcasts related to waking up early.
- Read about people who are early risers.
- Build a daily practice. For me, I remind myself about the importance of writing every day.
Fill in the cracks of your day with inspiration on how and why to wake up early.
You can rationalize a lot when your alarm goes off. But if you’ve immersed yourself in this environment, even your hazy morning mind will feel compelled to wake up.
3. Develop a “Get To” Attitude
Get excited about your day, and you’ll jump out of bed. Don’t drive yourself with guilt about why you have to wake up early. Make waking up early something you get to do.
Of course, the joy of creating can drive you. But don’t be afraid to motivate yourself by doing something fun in the morning. Play some games or indulge in some leisure reading.
Better yet, think of the benefits that others will receive from your work. You can also keep track of your progress and reward yourself when you reach a milestone.
4. Create Some Accountability
Recruit a friend to hold your feet to the fire. You can have weekly meetings or even call or text each other when you wake up.
There are great online groups — such as the fellow artists here on this community, the upcoming Tribe Writers community, or groups such as the Hello Mornings Challenge for mothers on Facebook and Twitter.
5. Sleep Well
The struggle isn’t all mental. There’s a strong physical component and the amount — as well as the quality — of sleep you get is the most important factor.
Although it’s obvious, make sure you go to bed at a reasonable time if you want to wake up early. Also, pay attention to your diet and exercise. General physical fitness greatly impacts your sleep habits and energy levels.
6. Never Snooze
Hitting your alarm’s snooze button doesn’t give you more of the restful REM sleep. Your body and mind aren’t recuperating — you’re just wasting time.
Personally, I noticed that regularly hitting snooze made my thinking even cloudier when the alarm went off. Your mind starts to ignore the alarm bells.
7. Stick to Your Wake Time
Wake up at the same time every day.
Your body becomes conditioned to this and regulates your sleep patterns accordingly. You get more of that precious REM sleep and when you have a regular wake time, your body actually begins the process of waking up long before your alarm sounds.
8. Build Momentum
After you wake up early, the challenge is to stay up. Maybe you’ll love to relax and sip your coffee. But for me, getting too comfortable is dangerous.
I used to start my mornings by reading the bible and praying. It was a fight to keep my eyes open. Now, the first thing I do is exercise. My heart gets racing, and afterward, I can give what matters the most my best focus and attention.
Move through your routine quickly:
- Have the coffee ready.
- Set out your exercise clothes.
- Keep a vigorous pace and you won’t feel as drowsy.
When I depended on discipline and willpower alone, I had limited success waking up early. But I’m mastering my mornings now — all due to a few simple tricks. I hope they help you, too.