Why and How to Wake up Early? (Great Advice from Successful People)

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If you’re happy about being a night owl, and it works well for you, then there’s no reason to change.

However, if you want to switch your body clock from being a creature of the night into becoming a morning person, then you have come to the right place!

Here are practical ways on how you can switch your daily routine—as well as your environment—for you to be able to wake up early, according to experts:

Tamsin Astor, PhD

tamsin-astor

Chief Habit Scientist | Coach | Author

It sets the stage for a productive day

Why wake up early? Well, here are a few major reasons:

Getting up early sets the stage for a productive day. The most successful people in the world wake up around dawn and start with self-care, filling their energetic cup with activities such as meditation, journaling, and exercising, rather than reacting to the external world. Willpower is like a muscle that fatigues, so doing these vital, self-care activities early is also really important.

The pre-dawn hours, according to Ayurveda (the science of life – which is focused on healthy self-care routines) defines these Vata (air & space) dosha hours as expansive and creative, which is why meditation, prayer, and creative endeavors are great to pursue at this time. When I am writing my books, I always write pre-dawn.

A recent study showed that one hour of sleep during the 10pm-2am window is equivalent to 2 hours at any other time of the day or night. It’s when the body heals and the mind is renewed.

How to wake up early? The day starts the night before. So, it’s vital to lay the groundwork.

Examples of how to do that include:

  • Laying out your clothes and breakfast preparations the night before.
  • Following a simple 3-step routine before bed.
  • Boosting your melatonin by making sure you dial down the blue-light technology (phones, computers, TV) 2-4 hours before bed & going for a walk during dusk.
  • Getting into bed by 10 pm when the Pitta energy (the fiery energy) – that we recognize as the second wind so that that energy can be directed towards your inner world. We now know that the brain shrinks and the cerebrospinal fluid increases during this time and your experiences and memories are processed, but only if you’re asleep.

Related: 7 Daily Good Habits To Improve Your Life Forever

David Gdaniec

David-Gdaniec

CIO & Co-Founder, Brand Alignment

Waking up early is a common theme found amongst some of the most successful people in history. Benjamin Franklin, Tim Cook, Nelson Mandela, Andrea Jung, Mahatma Gandhi and even Thomas Edison are all documented early risers. And many of them attribute much of their success to this very fact.

The reasons for waking up early are as abundant as the number of successful individuals who participate in the practice.

More time to get things done

First and foremost, being up bright and early allows you more time to get things done before the rest of the world begins to distract you. Many people, including myself, use this extra time to meditate, eat a nutritious breakfast, and even get a nice workout in hours before most others have even woken up. I also take some time each morning to set my intentions and goals for the day. This practice helps me to be more productive and gives me a structured plan of attack. Increased productivity is arguably one of the most valuable benefits of an early start to the day.

Creates a much more consistent sleep schedule

Another frequently overlooked benefit of waking up early is that of being more rested. Although it may seem counterintuitive that waking up earlier will make you feel less tired, it is based on the idea that to consistently rise earlier you regularly go to bed at a reasonable time. In turn, this creates a much more consistent sleep schedule resulting in a more efficient and effective night’s sleep.

Getting up early sounds great in theory, but if you are anything like I used to be, waking up early probably seems like an impossible task. So now the question becomes, how do I create the healthy habit of waking up earlier?

The very first step in getting up earlier is to simply go to bed earlier. Whether that means recording your favorite late-night show and watching it the next day, or just getting your nightly tasks done earlier, it’s important to set your self up for success. Some people, including myself, would find themselves lying awake in bed for hours before finally falling asleep. This is usually because you’re not tired yet because you woke up so late that day. Although it may seem like a catch-22, I’ve found a few different remedies that can help.

  • First, try to remove the use of electronic devices up to an hour before bedtime. This includes cell phones, video games, and television.
  • Secondly, try not to eat large meals right before bed as it’s tough to sleep on a full stomach.
  • And lastly, I’ve found that listening to soothing music or white noise while laying down was very helpful in falling asleep sooner.

If your issue is not getting to sleep but rather getting up the next day, I have a few tips for that as well.

  • First, do not sleep right next to your alarm clock. The easier it is to turn it off the easier it is to go right back to sleep.
  • In addition, try leaving your bedroom and begin your morning tasks immediately. Those who lay back down for “just a few minutes” find that quickly turns into much longer.
  • And finally, you probably have a great reason for wanting to be up earlier, so you should use this reason as added motivation to achieve this task.

Each night as I go to sleep I think of all the things I’m going to accomplish the next day, especially the things I’m most excited about. Then when I awake the next morning I make that the first thing I think about instead of how tired I may be, or how comfortable my bed seems.

In conclusion, waking up earlier may not be the easiest endeavor you take on, but it could be the most beneficial undertaking of your life. With that being said, I do have one more tip on your road to earlier mornings.

With any big change or creation of a new habit, it is important to take small steps towards your goal as opposed to making a drastic change to your routine all at once. Start by first going to bed a bit earlier or cutting out electronics before bed. Begin waking up 15 minutes earlier at first and work your way up to getting up an hour or two sooner.

Making the change slowly will allow your body and mind to adjust to this change gradually and increase the chances of it becoming a consistent and healthy daily habit. As Aristotle once said, “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.

Related: 39 Habits of Successful People (the Ultimate List)

Tanal Basma

Tanal-Basma

Talent Strategist | Diversity Advocate

The flexibility to spend more time with your family

Waking up early is a crucial trait that many have tried to master. Its importance has been acknowledged by renowned leaders such as Richard Branson of Virgin Group and First Lady, Michelle Obama. As with any human behavior, the key to making it a sustainable habit is understanding how your body works and aligning it with your goals.

Early in my career, I co-founded a company and with only 24 hours in the day, I started waking up early to get quiet time to think. The timing also worked well since I had to connect with global clients living in different time zones. This habit has remained with me over the years.

I’ve always been a morning person so waking up early gives me the opportunity to split my day and schedule it in the way that’s most productive. It also gives me the flexibility to spend more time with my children later in the day.

I start at 4:30 am with a strong cup of coffee and an agenda that includes 20-30 minutes each of meditation, journaling, reading and working out. In my current role as a manager, I keep an eye on high-level goals while operating at the ground level. Starting this way stimulates my thinking and keeps me grounded throughout the rest of the day.

Related: How to Stay Focused on Your Goals

A few years ago, we were blessed with twin boys and, admittedly, my sleep pattern was off. It took a couple of years and several missed tries for me to get back on track. I experimented with various alarm settings & sleep times but could not keep it up consistently. It was then that I discovered author and coach, Benjamin Hardy on Medium. He has several sound tips to create successful routines based on behavioral psychology.

What I found worked best for me was:

  • Make it routine to go to bed at about the same time each day. Mine is at 10 pm.
  • Avoid electronics that are designed to keep you up and attached 1 hour before sleep. Read something instead.
  • Set your alarm for 90 min blocks to help you wake up.
  • Put your alarm across the room so you have to get up to turn it off. This builds momentum and you keep going.
  • Use a gentle waking tone to pull you out from a deep sleep. My favorite is the sound of tweeting birds.
  • Commit to waking up early every day. Breaking the cycle on weekends makes it harder to get up again on Monday. If you need to, you can always take a power nap later in the day.

Understandably this is not for everyone. A friend of mine tried to wake up early and finally gave in because her creative clock comes up at night. Waking up early for its own sake can be counterproductive. Ariana Huffington spoke to the value of sleep as a way to be more productive so be sure you are getting enough sleep. On average, 6-8 hours is recommended. My advice is to track your activities and energy level during the day and adjust your sleep pattern accordingly.

Also, understand why you want to wake up that early and what you want to do with the time. Personally, I find it both magical and practical to wake up before dawn and have this time for myself to write, ponder and learn something new each day.

Milovan Crowley

Milovan-Crowley

President, Bamboo Tranquility

I’ve been working from home for six years now and there is a huge difference between myself now and when I started. Obviously, it comes down to developing self-discipline, but the single most effective method I use is just by following my mantra of If I wouldn’t wake up extra early to finish it, I don’t stay up late working on it.

It took years to get it through my skull. I would always work well into the night to 3-4 AM thinking how I am so effective. The reality is that it ruins the productivity of the next day because I will either sleep in or be incredibly exhausted to the point I will just take the day off anyway.

Working at home is so hard because there isn’t anyone watching you, and there are a million distractions. That’s why my schedule revolves around my focus time. I will wake up, usually around 7, and work about 5 hours or until I notice my concentration slipping. When it does I stop right there, and go to the gym. Going to the gym for a run resets my focus and when I get back I will finish up whatever I was working on and call it a day. Total work time is just around 7-8 hours of effective focus.

I’ve tried working the 10-12 hours days, but it just doesn’t yield effective results. I’ve found that only a portion of it is actually worthwhile, the rest is just distracted half-hearted work when it would be better spent relaxing and recharging for the next day. Day after day of effective work and focus will always yield better results than someone overworking themselves all at once.

Stephen Hart

CEO, Cardswitcher

Everyone is obviously different, but I find that I’m at my most productive in the morning. That’s more than enough of a reason to wake up early.

I think the easiest way to get up early is to make sure that you go to bed early the previous night. This will prepare your body for getting up early. Your body and mind need around 7 hours sleep a night to be at its most productive, so you’ll probably find it harder to get up at an early time if you haven’t had enough rest.

Another good tactic is to put your bedroom alarm clock as far away from your bed as possible. This will mean that you’ll physically have to get out of your bed to turn it off, making it more likely that you actually stay awake and don’t just hit the snooze button.

Matthew Ross

matt-ross

Co-owner & COO, The Slumber Yard

I’m a big believer in waking up early. I typically wake up around 5 am and work for a couple hours before going to the gym. This allows me to catch up on emails and check items off my to-do list before even getting into the office. That way, once I do get into the office, I’m ready to work on forward-looking tasks instead of playing catch-up. However, it can be hard for people to learn how to wake up early and be productive.

One little trick I’ve found helpful is to place your phone (or alarm clock) on the other side of the room before you go to bed. That way in the morning, it will literally force you to get up out of bed, walk over and turn it off. Too often, your phone is super close and it’s just too tempting to hit the snooze button while still laying in bed. Once you get up out of bed, you’ll most likely stay out. Do that for a couple of weeks and your body will start to naturally adjust to your new wake-up schedule.

Eric Sztanyo

Eric Sztanyo

Realtor, Keller Williams Advisors Realty | Owner, We Buy NKY Houses

I have to admit that I like to binge watch Netflix as much as the next guy. However, after about my 12th season of Survivor re-runs last year, I said to my self, “Self You need to go to bed.

It’s been a journey, but for the past 6 months or so, I’ve been getting much better at going to bed and waking up early. The benefits are enormous. With four little kids, it provides the best time in the day to spend a little time in my Bible and prayer. It also allows me to focus on some important planning work for the day and start the day off by being productive.

My two simple tips on how I’ve been getting up earlier have been:

  • Go to bed. With cell phones today, this is harder than it sounds. But, you have to be able to put the phone down and stop consuming media.
  • Set an alarm and keep it consistent. I actually have two. One on my watch and one on my phone. Simple, but it works! I have a goal this year to keep pushing back my wake time a few minutes so that I can get even more done in the morning.

Alex Johnson

alex-johnson

Founder, Price This Please

A distraction-free environment

Waking up early gives me a distraction-free environment that I can use to get things done that I’m typically too tired for after work. I find morning workouts are a lot more efficient as it’s usually quieter, plus the endorphin release helps sets me up for the day.

I also like to do extensive note-taking whilst reading. If I do this after work, I struggle to take things in and critically think about what I’m reading

My best tips would be:

  • Avoid any TV or computers 30 minutes before going to bed.
  • Make sure to be in bed 8 hours before you are due to wake up, so even if you struggle to fall asleep for some reason, you’ll still most likely have enough sleep to function.
  • Have the exact routine before bed, which lets your body know it’s time to wind down.

Katherine Rowland

Katherine Rowland

Digital Marketing Executive, YourParkingSpace

Waking up early is not something that has always come naturally to me, not by a long shot. My University mornings were mostly spent clambering about bleary-eyed when I realize I have woken up 10 minutes before the start of a lecture. This was not a great start. More often than not I was then half-asleep, hungry and in an all-around bad mood when I was starting to learn.

Nowadays I like to take my time. It is hard to explain how much better you feel when you have not rushed in the mornings. You now have time to have a good breakfast (they really aren’t lying when they say it’s the most important meal of the day!), do some exercise, and complete any other tasks you would like. For me, mornings are when I’m most productive, and it’s a great feeling as though you have accomplished something before you have arrived to work.

In terms of how to wake up earlier, my first point might seem self-explanatory, but it is very important nonetheless. Go to bed earlier. There is no way you’re going to be able to get up early if you’re going to bed at 2 am, your body needs 7 hours sleep (minimum!) so do the math and work backward to find your bedtime. So if that is 6 am, go to bed at 11 pm – and by going to bed I mean falling asleep at 11 pm, not getting into bed at 11 pm!

Secondly, be prepared. This could be as much as laying out your clothes the night before, preparing your breakfast, or more simply just putting your slippers beside your bed. You will be surprised how much easier it is not to ignore that alarm when you know breakfast is made, and you don’t have to deliberate over what to wear.

Last of all, I will say this is a gradual process. There is no point going all gung-ho and deciding you are going to start getting up at 5 am when you normally rise at 9. You will only end up snoozing that alarm and then what’s the point. Start by setting your alarm for maybe 20 minutes earlier than you normally would, and do this again after a week and again until you reach your goal time. Interestingly I found, and maybe this is just a placebo effect, but I found that as I was getting up earlier, I was able to go to sleep earlier too.

Waking up earlier really does give you a head-start on the day, I take great joy from knowing that I have accomplished more before 9 am than some might do in a day.

Miles Roger

miles-maftean

Career Writer, Zety

I’ve been a writer for over 10 years. I spent 8 years in academia and now am a freelancer. Seeing that a lot of my work was done independently, it meant making my own schedule. For a while, my sleeping patterns were completely off. I stayed awake and did research or wrote when I felt motivated by an idea.

I was sick often and couldn’t work properly. I then did my own research on sleeping patterns and that’s when I made the shift and committed to creating my own sleeping routine, which boosted my work and helped me achieve so much more.

Here’s how I did it. It’s a 100% commitment. Call it my long-term relationship.

It means going to bed at the same time every day and waking up at the same time, 7 days a week. It might be hard for those who want to sleep in on the weekends, but trust me, it throws off your sleeping game for the rest of the week and you’ll never really recover. I’m in bed at 10 pm on the dot.

I leave my phone outside my bedroom, one of my most strict rules so that I’m not tempted to browse articles late at night and get my head spinning.

I go and set my old-school alarm clock for 6 am. Next, to my alarm clock, I turn on my diffuser that has lavender oil in it.

On my bedside table is a cooking book from the 1800s. Not fascinating stuff, but not the point…I’m trying to get my mind thinking about ancient grains, plowing the fields, shucking the corn, and somehow, it makes me unbelievably calm.

After a half hour, I turn the lights off and then apply my own sleeping method. Method: it’s based on what the military does to help their soldiers sleep. I thought, “if soldiers fall asleep when there are bullets going past them, it’ll work for me.” I mean, I have a lavender diffuser in the background, not such a crazy atmosphere. I start by exhaling. Then I loosen each muscle in my body, starting from my face, all the way down to my fingers and toes. I then imagine myself in a darkened room on a hammock. I’m out in 10 minutes, max.

After I applied this new routine, I finished my doctoral dissertation, I was writing three blog posts a week, and working full time. I’ve been more healthy than ever before.

Robyn Chavarie

Robyn-Chavarie

Business & Clarity Coach | Author

My old morning habit used to consist of repeatedly hitting the snooze button, racing around the house and barely having enough time to get myself ready and out the door before being late for work. It would leave me in a flustered and frantic state when I finally sat down at my desk to begin trying to be productive.

I was a personal development junkie, growing my side hustle while working my full-time job. I listened to podcasts and youtube videos and read books to help me grow and when I heard of the concept that successful people get up earlier than most and have a mindful morning routine, I was skeptical at first, but I realized that if it was a habit that those who were more successful than me were doing, maybe it was something I should take a little more seriously.

Changing that habit for myself, on the other hand, was not an easy task.

Now I fully understand that it’s not about being perfect or rigid, but it’s about shifting your state and how you feel first thing in the morning.

My morning routine consists of working through my own thoughts with meditation and journaling. It helps me to be conscious of where I have my own blocks that keep me from reaching my next level, and it gives me the time and space to reflect on my own accomplishments – something I never would have taken the time to do in the past.

I also dance, sometimes do some light yoga or stretching, to get me back into my body and into the present moment. To bring more joy into my life and strengthen my mind-body connection.

If you understand that your daily habits are what create your life, then taking the time to slow down and reflect on those, and then get your mind and body into the present moment, you can give yourself the space to develop yourself into the version of yourself that has anything and everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

Related: How to Change a Habit with Physical Movements

My advice for anyone wanting to make a change like this is to remember why you are doing it. It’s not about adding another thing to your to-do list, it’s about embodying the next level version of yourself that has what you want. If your morning routine isn’t changing how you feel, then try something different – but don’t give up!

Being present and in your body decreases stress and allows you to be more focused on the task at hand. Start small and ease your way into it. Start with 15 minutes earlier than normal and just sit with your coffee and your mind for those few minutes, then try another 15 minutes earlier and grabbing your journal and putting down whatever comes to mind on the page. We never create long term shifts by making huge, sweeping changes – take it one day at a time and remember that you are in the process of becoming your next level self, which never happens overnight.

Adam Cole

adam-cole

Author | Musician

Getting up early isn’t an absolute necessity for success. It killed Rene (“I Think Therefore I Am”) Descartes who used to lie in bed for hours and think things out, and when he was forced to rise early for a patron, it destroyed his health. If you have a life that allows late nights and late mornings, and it suits your profession and your constitution, go for it.

That being said, if you are neutral on this issue, or worse, if sleeping late is a way of avoiding the day, then having a way to get up early is essential. Morning hours can be incredibly productive because, once you get going, you are working with a completely rested body. There’s also a surge in adrenaline that comes from charging out of the gate and having worked several hours before lunch.

Getting up early is easiest if you get enough sleep

That means a decent bedtime, preferably around the same time each night, with a good bedtime routine to get your body ready. Setting an alarm for the morning will also prepare you mentally and physically for the wake-up.

Getting out of bed is the hardest part. A morning routine helps immensely here, a series of things you always do, the more the better. If the first link in the morning chain is appealing, like deep breathing or stretching or dancing, or even breakfast, then once you grab it, the weight of the rest of the routine will pull you out of bed and get you going.

It also helps to have larger goals during the day. If you know what you want to accomplish in a day, even if it’s a small thing, that thought can propel you over the edge and get you up. Accomplishing it will make it easier to do the same thing the next time.

Adina Mahalli

Adina-Mahalli

Certified Mental Health Professional, Enlightened Reality

More time to engage in morning self-care

Waking up early is hard for many people to do, and for some, it even seems impossible. Yet waking up early is a great way to start your day. It helps you get ready for work at a leisurely pace so that you can have a clearer mind. It also lets you have more time to engage in morning self-care like showering, having breakfast and going for a jog.

And, waking up early can help you beat the morning rush hour traffic and get to work more quickly and calmly. Getting to work early means that you’ll have some time to catch up on things before the office hustle and bustle begins.

How to wake up early

If you struggle to wake up early in the morning, think of some incentives to get you out of bed. Promise yourself a hearty breakfast, treat yourself to a special latte, or carve out some time to make a bit of headway in the new book you’re reading.

If you need extra motivation, though, there are special alarm clocks available which will get your butt out of bed quickly. There’s one that starts brewing a cup of coffee so that the fresh smell lures you to it. There are also alarm clocks which move around the room, so you have to get up to catch it and turn it off. And there’s also an alarm clock app which requires you to take the same picture every morning in order to turn it off, so you can set it to make you take a picture of your kitchen or bathroom to ensure that you get up.

Andrew Clark

Andrew Clark

Marketing Strategist, Duckpin

Waking up early has been part of my life since I can remember, as it was something that my parents would do in order to get a gym workout or bike ride in before work. Although this habit fell by the wayside for several years because of school and struggling with depression, I have begun to implement it once again.

For me, rising early a few times a week (3x at 5:15 AM) allows me to get a CrossFit workout in ahead of the workday and in turn, provides me with extra time after work to nurture my marriage via quality time together, cooking dinner, and dates. Additionally, I find that waking up early helps me manage my recurring anxiety by not feeling rushed out the door and preparing for my days at a slower, more relaxed pace without distractions.

If you’re looking to begin waking up early, my advice is to get to bed earlier and set your phone (with its alarm enabled) away from your bed. I’m not saying that you need to be asleep by 9 PM, but let’s be real, many of us are sleep deprived thanks to phones and other technology that keeps our minds turned on way past when our natural sleepiness kicks in.

To push back against this and help on the other side of sleep, set your phone to Do Not Disturb elsewhere in your room an hour before you’ve been usually falling asleep. A little distance between you and your phone will aid in breaking the habit of mindlessly scrolling on your phone and force you to get up to switch off the alarm. Try this for a week and fine tune as needed/when you want to be waking up.

Riley Adams

Senior Financial Analyst | Founder, Young and the Invested

Recently, I have decided to embrace the mentality that the early bird gets the worm. Routinely, I would wake up to text messages, emails, and other social media contacts from the most productive people I knew. And they all started to roll into my inbox and notification screen at 5 am!

Seeing this for a number of months, I wondered if waking up that early would lead to any productivity benefits in my own life. I have attempted the routine since the beginning of the year and started slowly by waking at 5 am. I found it provided me more time in the morning to wake up and jumpstart my brain. I arrived at work fully charged and ready to go.

But that wasn’t what I wanted- I wanted to be up and going before I got to work. So I decided to lean in and begin waking up at 4 am. I began to notice some of my desired effects. My brain took a while to adjust and my sleep schedule suffered for a bit. However, my body and mind slowly began to normalize to my new routine.

I was able to accomplish more before the workday began and as a result, led to less stress during the day. I felt more accomplished and productive. I plan to stick with it and see if the benefits begin to compound.

Lydia Noyes

Health, Wellness, & Lifestyle Journalist, HighYa.com

One strategy that works well for me is sort of the opposite of what the experts suggest- the second my watch alarm goes off, I grab my phone and turn it up to full brightness. The glare is blinding and not necessarily a pleasant introduction to the new day, but that blue light does the trick of waking me up.

I rarely do use my phone so early in the morning; it’s often enough just to browse through a gallery of my recent photos. Within two or three minutes of this bright light exposure, my body has committed to being awake and I can officially start my day.

My second tip is starting the day hydrated. I am a coffee fiend, but before I even prep my French press I strive to chug at least 24 ounces of water. This prevents me from starting the day with a liquid deficit, and it helps me process the caffeine I’m about to put in my system.