20 Tips For Waking Up Early and Refreshed

"Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." - Benjamin Franklin
As Benjamin Franklin wisely and wittily noted, our sleep habits have a large effect on our health, wealth, and wisdom. Although most people today would probably agree with Franklin, many also struggle, or used to struggle, to maintain a good sleep schedule. To wake up on time and ready for the new day, consider applying these twenty one tips to your own life.

#1 Exercise Regularly

Not only is exercise an important activity because of the strength and discipline it imparts, but it is also very useful in helping you sleep well. Exercising the day before you sleep will help you…
  • fall asleep more quickly.
  • sleep more soundly.
  • wake up more refreshed.
Exercising when you wake up will help you…
  • be more alert.
  • feel less inclined to crawl back into bed.
  • start your day with an early accomplishment.
By simply exercising once a day, you will not only be more alert during that day, but you will also improve your sleep that night!

#2 Avoid Caffeine

In the American culture, nearly everyone drinks coffee. However, caffeine artificially disrupts your sleeping schedule by making you feel alert when your body really needs rest. If you have ever made the mistake of drinking or eating a caffeinated food just before bed, you probably know the frustrating insomnia it causes. In addition, cutting caffeine completely out of your diet will help you to increase your overall health… and probably improve your sleeping routine.

#3 Eat Healthfully

Eating healthfully is important for many reasons, including the benefits to your sleep. Reforming your diet can help you…
  • sleep more soundly.
  • be sick less often (thus sleeping better).
  • fall asleep more quickly.
Although it can be a difficult step to take, eliminating refined sugars and processed foods from your diet is an important first step toward better health and sleep schedules.

#4 Form A Habit

If you are not used to waking up early, the first three to four weeks will be the most difficult. During that time, you will be learning a new discipline and forming it into a habit. If you can conquer the first few weeks, however, continuing will become gradually easier because waking up regularly will become more an automatic habit then a conscious action. If you feel like giving up, remember that the power of habit will be on your side… if you persevere.

#5 Get To Bed On Time

One very important factor in waking up on time is getting to bed on time. If you get to bed late, waking up on time will be very difficult and possibly damaging to your health and productivity. As Benjamin Franklin wisely stated, “Early to bed…” Not only is it important to wake up early , but it is also crucial to go to bed early. Determine the amount of sleep you need, set a bedtime, and stick to it! If you are serious about waking up early and refreshed, you must also be serious about getting to bed at the right time, every time.

#6 Be Regular

Many people who try to wake up early during the week make the mistake of sleeping in on the weekends. Although this unbalanced sleep pattern will not absolutely ruin your sleep schedule, it is not a good idea. Personally, I normally sleep in once a week, but I am considering changing this habit for a couple of reasons:
  • It confuses your brain. If you wake up at different times on different days, you brain will start to wonder when you really want to get up.
  • It is an unbalanced routine. If you need to sleep in one day, it means that you are not getting enough sleep the rest of the week.
  • It disrupts the day when you sleep in. Your morning routine on that day will be completely confused and your productivity may plummet.
If you, like me, sleep in once or twice a week, strongly consider amending your schedule.

#7 Move Your Alarm Clock Across The Room

If you (like many people) struggle with a habit of hitting the sleep button and rolling over, you may be able to improve your wake up discipline by moving your alarm clock away from your bed. I used to have a problem with turning the alarm clock off in my sleep and waking up late. However, after I moved my alarm clock across my room that difficulty was completely conquered. Now, instead of sleepily hitting the off button, I leap energetically out of bed (I sleep in the top bunk) and race across my room to turn off the annoying alarm. Once I finish my morning gymnastics, I am normally wide awake and have no inclination to crawl back into bed.

#8 Use Music To Wake Up

Another useful strategy is setting music (either on your computer or on a specialty alarm) to automatically turn on at a certain time. Although this method might not work well by itself (depending on the music), it is certainly a great addition to your normal alarm clock.

#9 Avoid Using Sleeping Pills

Although sleeping pills can have the advantage of helping you to get to sleep more quickly, they do have a few problems:
  • Wake up retardant – They can make it more difficult for you to wake up at the right time.
  • Health hazard – As with any medication, sleeping pills can have dangerous side effects.
If you do struggle to sleep, try to find the root cause instead of simply addressing the symptoms. Unless they are absolutely necessary, avoiding sleeping pills are probably best avoided.

#10 Consult Your Doctor

As with any medical condition, it is wise to talk with an expert before making a major change. Particularly if you struggle with chronic insomnia or drowsiness, getting professional advice is an important step. As with any topic, remember to exercise the trait of common sense before blindly following anyone’s advice. Even experts (and I am not one) do make mistakes.

"Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it." -Richard Whately

#11 Get Enough Sleep

Although this may seem obvious, many people do not truly get enough sleep. As I discussed in the first article on this topic, people who need to sleep in on the weekends are probably not getting enough sleep during the rest of the week. In addition, even if it does not force you to sleep in ever, getting just a little less sleep than you need can make you fell perpetually drowse… defeating the goal of waking up early and feeling refreshed. To maximize your productivity and energy, make sure that you always get enough sleep… but not too much either.

#12 Use Timed Light

Like alarm clocks that wake you up through your sense of sound, timed lights can wake you up through your sense of sight. Although it would probably be too complicated to make your main ceiling light turn on automatically, you can easily use a timing device to set a table lamp to automatically turn on. Because this wake up method is not as invasive as a loud alarm clock, it might be a more comfortable way to wake up, or it might not be enough to wake you up. Before you rely on a “light alarm” do a little testing to see how effective it is for you.

#13 Remember Why You Need To Get Up Early

If you remember the reason why you are getting up early (exercise, etc.), it will help you avoid rationalizing yourself back to bed. If, for instance, you are planning to read a book and eat breakfast before going to work, remembering this will help you avoid sleeping in late because you know that you must get up to avoid getting behind on your daily tasks.

#14 Develop A Pleasant Morning Routine

Even once you know why you need to get up, you might still rationalize sleeping in unless you have a pleasant task that you plan to accomplish. For instance, you could plan your normal morning routine to include a tasty breakfast… only if you wake up on time. By hanging this carrot in front of your sleepy self, you will have an emotional incentive to practice the difficult discipline of getting out of bed. By making your morning routine a happy experience, you will encourage your morning self to wake up consistently.

#15 Change Slowly

If you are currently sleeping in until noon, don’t plan on waking up at 5:00 AM tomorrow. Fast changes are confusing to your body and will need to be completed slowly so that your physical systems can adjust to the new schedule. Rather than making drastic and sudden changes to your sleep schedule, make incremental but steady changes. For instance, you might find that waking up thirty minutes earlier every week until you reach your goal time gives your body enough time to correct without too much pain. On the other hand, that schedule might be too fast or too slow for you. Determine your optimal changing speed and slow down if your body rebels.

#16 Never Go Back To Bed

If you consistently build a habit of always getting up and staying up when your alarm goes off, the consistency will make it less difficult to refuse any urges to return to bed. On the other hand, if you occasionally do give in to the temptation of extra sleep, the difficulty of refusing next time will be much harder. Good habits are hard to build and easily broken. Be strictly consistent in your sleeping habits to avoid needless difficulty.

#17 Get A Specialty Alarm

If you find that a normal alarm does not work for you (or you simply want some fun), a specialty alarm might be just the thing to help you wake up alert and eager for the day ahead. Some specialty alarms are really robots that race around your room until you catch them and turn them off. Because they force you to catch them while they race every which way, this type of alarm can help even the sleepiest person wake up completely. Both for the fun and the extra strength, a specialty alarm clock may be just the thing to wake you up!

#18 Know How Much Sleep You Need

Before you can start getting enough sleep, you need to first know just how much sleep you need. Although eight to nine hours is a good estimate, “normal” people have a wide range of sleep needs. Rather than planning based on a general estimate, determine your specific needs through testing of your sleep and resulting productivity. Because your needs will fluctuate based on your activities and time of life, you need to regularly assess your sleep habits and make sure that you are getting enough sleep to stay healthy and productive long-term.

#19 Plan Ahead

In addition to having a regular morning routine, take the time to plan ahead. I normally plan out my next day briefly just before falling asleep, and this helps me to both be more productive the next day (since I know my goals) and to wake up promptly (since I know am trying to squeeze two day’s work into one day). If you know how busy or exciting your next day will be, it will make it less difficult for you to wake up quickly when you hear your alarm.

#20 Keep The Temperature Constant

Particularly during the winter, it can be tempting to stay under your warm covers instead of venturing in the chilly air of your bedroom. By using a thermostat, however, to keep your house, or at least room, at a comfortable temperature, you can eliminate this problem and make it easier to wake up.