Conquering sleep is not an easy thing to do.
There are no hard-line rules on how much you should be getting, and when you should be getting it.
It is a very personal and individual thing.
One school of thought that some of the most successful people on the planet follow is the idea of waking up early in the morning.
But why could this be beneficial?
Well, for some, waking up early grants them super powers.
These powers allow them to contribute to their mission of becoming the protagonist of their life, and achieving all of their goals.
This sleeping arrangement may grant this sort of success for you.
In this article, I will cover why you may want to wake up early, how you can go about doing it, and how you can do it without feeling like crap.
- Is it better to wake up early than not?
- The benefits of waking up early.
- How can you wake up early?
- How can I more easily wake up?
- How can I not feel tired when I wake up?
- How can I naturally wake up?
- Is it okay to get 5 hours of sleep?
- What are the problems with waking up early?
The truth is that waking up early is neither better nor worse than not.
It really has little to do with the actual act itself.
The exercise is mainly a mechanism for change and productivity.
If you already have systems in your life that encourage the same benefits as waking up early, you may be making the change for nothing.
Gaining an extra 2 hours in the morning for personal development will do nothing for you if, as a result, you go to bed 2 hours earlier than you did before.
That is, assuming that those 2 hours at night served the same purpose, however.
This means the exercise is entirely what you make of it.
If you use the early morning start wisely and have it result in a net increase in productivity, then it is better for you to wake up early.
But if you are no more productive that you were before, then it is pointless.
This is what we’re all in it for – benefits.
1. Extra (uninterrupted) Time for Productive Habits
We all know that the most powerful agent for sustained change is habit.
But some habits, like exercising or reading, take time in your day that you may not otherwise have.
The main benefit of waking up early is that it helps you to consistently accommodate these extra activities.
You will gain more net ‘me time’.
Let me explain.
You have the same time for all of your activities as you would if you got up at a normal time.
This is because to wake up early, you will have to go to bed earlier.
Normally, when you come home from work, you may not go to the gym or read because you are tired, or perhaps had to stay at the office longer.
Waking up early in the morning guarantees that you get your habitual tasks done – you have no excuse for slacking.
You are fresh and have nothing occupying your mind.
You will, over time, spend more time on yourself as you will simply bunk off less often.
Now, you may be thinking ‘but can’t I just make sure that I do these activities in the evening?’.
Well, yes, you could.
But you wouldn’t be uninterrupted.
The world is awake at those sort of hours.
Virtually no one is up super early in the morning, so you will be able to go about your tasks distraction free.
This also makes everything you may choose to do quicker, which frees up more time to get more done.
You are able to read without being pestered, and get to the gym before that super talkative guy, who does one set of bicep curls and then goes home, gets there.
You have no obstacles in your way.
2. You Can Become Healthier
Waking up early in the morning can allow you to lead a more healthy life.
Think about it.
You are able to properly cook, sit down and selfishly devour a really great whole breakfast.
Not only will this set you nicely up for the rest of your day, but will bank you some great nutritional benefits which will boost your overall energy levels.
The consistent effect of this is healthy and beneficial.
But if a person wakes up in a rush, what happens?
They value convenience over health.
They reach for the sugary cereals to give them a boost.
Or worse off, they don’t have breakfast at all.
The consistent effect of this is not healthy and not beneficial.
On top of this, as mentioned earlier, you will be able to consistently work exercise into your day (which is of course very healthy), an excellent habit to take up.
3. You Will be in Less of a Rush
If you’re anything like I used to be, you wake up, have to jump out of bed and get cracking immediately.
This isn’t because of any type of enthusiasm though, but because if you don’t, you will be late as heck.
Waking up early means that you will start in a calm world every morning.
This is more than can be said for most people on the planet.
Moving to work some serenity into your life is a great move, especially for your mental state.
Waking up early and getting peace at your most vulnerable point will improve your state of mind and mood for the whole day ahead.
4. You Will Have a Routine (You Will be a Man With a Plan)
To wake up early in the morning, you know what time you have to nod off.
It takes intention and purpose.
When you wake up, you obviously have a plan for what you are going to do, and will know how much time you have to do it in.
Simply having this as a map to guide you to productivity is a huge advantage.
5. You Will Have Energy to Get Through the Day
Night owls can, but often don’t have a sleep schedule.
As a result, they go to bed and wake up at all manner of times.
This screws up their circadian (sleep) cycle, which leads to sleep loss and many drowsy and unproductive days.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
Those who stick to a sleep schedule will be better rested and more energetic.
6. You Will get to Sleep Faster (And consequently have better quality of sleep)
A consistent schedule allows your body to know what to expect every day.
When it’s getting to bedtime, it will start to wind down.
The production of melatonin will kick in (the sleep hormone), which makes you drowsy and will allow you get you to sleep faster.
This will enhance your quality of sleep.
7. You Will Look Better
As you have predictable, complete sleep, you will look better.
You will not wake up looking like a sleep deprived zombie and have those really, really attractive black bags that everyone loves.
8. You Will feel Accomplished
Getting things done before the rest of the country have gone for their morning whizz is a great feeling.
Not only are the tasks that you will have completed beneficial to you, but you will also have peace of mind to know that you’re doing everything you can to live a full and happy life.
1. Decide what ‘early’ is.
You have to decide what time you want to get up in the morning.
For you, it might be 5 AM.
After this, deduct the amount of time that you want to sleep for from it.
So, if you want the recommended 8 hours of sleep, you will have to get to sleep at 9 PM the night before.
It will be likely that you won’t be able to get to bed straight away, so deduct 10 minutes from it.
I am left with the goal of getting to bed at 8:50PM every night, and waking up at 5AM the next morning.
Now that you have your goal, lets get to implementing it.
2. Build a routine around getting to bed.
To get up early and energised, you should be getting enough sleep so that you have the energy to get up.
Getting to bed on time is super important to consistently wake up early . This can be achieved with a good routine.
Perhaps an hour before you are due to bed in bed, say 7:50 PM, you should start your bedtime routine.
For example, my routine is turning off all of my electrical devices, a 20 minute ride on my exercise bike and a shower followed by brushing my teeth.
I know this whole process takes about an hour, and when I am done, It will be time to get into bed.
On top of this, a routine puts your mind and body in a relaxed state as it knows what is coming next.
3. Think about what you will achieve.
Thinking about what you will achieve in the morning will give you focus to get to sleep.
When you awake, you will be psyched from the night before and will want to get out of bed.
The want is ultimately what will make you get up.
If you don’t have a strong enough want, you won’t get up and will instead doze off again – your productivity will be lost.
4. Do it.
The first few times will be painful if you’re coming from a normal sleep schedule.
This is because you will be losing sleep for the first few days.
Set your alarm for the time that you should be waking up, and when it goes off, make sure you get your ass out of bed.
You have to do this regardless of how you feel.
Only by getting up immediately are you creating a new habit and telling your body that ‘this is the new time that we’re going to start’.
5. Repeat it.
If you stay consistent for a few days, you will get used to it.
The initial purge period will have passed, and you will be reaping the rewards.
For the first few days, you may be too low energy to do anything when you wake up.
In this case, you can do something that isn’t taxing and perhaps entertaining, such as watching some Netflix.
It will at least keep you up and allow you to get to the point where you can use that time for more productive things.
6. Make sure you don’t hit snooze
This will break your habit.
Don’t have an alarm right next to you.
So your alarm has gone off at 5AM.
You have, in theory, woken up early.
But you have not won yet.
If it is one of your first times getting up, you are probably drowsy, and really want to go back to sleep.
You need a little push to get up, and to remove some distractions to make sure that you don’t crash back down.
Get an alarm clock without a snooze button
The worst thing that you can do in this situation is hit the snooze button.
When you do it once, you will probably do it again.
It takes a while to get back into meaningful sleep once awoken, so you are doing nothing but procrastinating.
To wake up easier, you should remove the opportunity to go back to sleep.
Place your alarm somewhere in your room (That ISN’T next to you)
This way, you have to physically get out of bed and walk over to your alarm to turn it off.
Getting up and moving around will act to knock you out of that drowsy state.
Create an obstacle to make turning the alarm off more mentally stimulating
If you are using a phone alarm, find a setting that means that it will take brainpower to turn the alarm off.
Even something as simple as a pin number will require mental energy, which will again help to wake you up.
Have a beverage on standby – Introduce a reward for getting up.
I keep a beaker of cold water next to my bed so, in the morning, I can gulp it down and experience that deeply refreshing sensation.
It will be easier for you to wake up as you know you have something enjoyable coming up.
Be on a streak
If you have consistently got up early every morning for a while, then today could be the day that you don’t.
You will break your streak.
Make sure it doesn’t happen.
This cognitive process will help you to wake up easier.
As will be mentioned again later, a natural way to wake up easier is to make sure that you are getting enough light when the time comes to wake up.
Light signals to your body that it is time to get up, so melatonin (the hormone that makes you feel drowsy) production will decrease.
I’ve done everything you’ve suggested… but I’m SUPER TIRED – How do I wake up early and not feel tired?
The key to waking up early and not feel tired is having a schedule, the duration of your sleep, and the stage of sleep you wake up in.
As discussed earlier, sleeping will be more fulfilling if you have a set schedule.
That is, you know when you are going to bed and when you should wake up.
Your body will get used to it and be prepared for the rest you are giving it.
Duration of Sleep
In my personal opinion, you should be getting 8 hours of sleep per night to ensure maximum regeneration.
If you exercise, this allows your body plenty of time to recover from your activities.
Stage of Sleep You Wake up In
This is probably the most important point of the three, but unfortunately the one you can control least.
The sleep cycle is comprised of 5 stages, that, all together, take around 90 minutes to complete.
The first stage is very brief and is when your brain produces alpha and theta waves.
This stage is considered ‘light sleep’ where little disturbances in your environment can easily wake you.
This is the best time for you to wake up, as you are most alert.
Stages three and four produce delta waves, and is a deeper sleep. It is the hardest stage to wake up in, and is when your body builds up energy and repairs.
If you are woken up during these stages, you will be left disorientated and tired.
Therefore, the key to being able to wake up and not feel tired is to wake up when you are in light sleep.
This is the hardest category to reliably apply to your sleep though.
The time of one cycle, and the length of each stage, varies depending on your age, the time of day you are going to sleep, and many other factors.
Because of this, it is difficult to predict when it is best to wake up and get the most out of knowing this information.
How to Wake Up When you are in Light Sleep?
You have the option to wait and just wake up naturally, or you can try to tactically set your alarm.
Each cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes.
Knowing this, check to see if the amount of minutes that you sleep for is close to a multiple of 90.
Lets use the example of someone who sleeps for 8 hours.
5 sleep cycles will take approximately 450 minutes. This translates to 7.5 hours of sleep.
You should, in that case, adjust your alarm to go off 30 minutes sooner.
This is because your goal is to wake up when a cycle is just starting, as you will be in stage one sleep.
Even though you are reducing the sleep you are getting, you will be more alert when you wake up.
On top of this, you will have an extra 30 minutes to play with!
This can also work to your advantage if you have to stay up later than usual, but still want to wake up early and not feel tired.
If you’re looking for a more accurate way of taking advantage of sleep waves, there are some apps out there that claim to track your sleep cycle and wake you up when you are in stage one.
I have not tested any of them, and personally can’t see how this can be done without some external interference. Proceed with caution.
I get it.
Waking up naturally is better then being constantly pestered by that annoying beeping machine.
It also leads to feeling more refreshed when you get up, as your body wakes up when it feels that it is ready to go.
There are two main methods to naturally wake up early.
Train Yourself to Wake Up Naturally
If you make waking up early part of your daily routine, your body will get used to it.
You will feel tired earlier at night, and wake up earlier in the morning.
There is unfortunately no short cut to getting to this stage though, unless you incrementally change the times you go to bed and wake up (which will take a long time).
You simply have to repeat your new sleep pattern enough times so that your circadian (sleep) rhythm accepts and internalises it.
At first, you will have to employ some artificial method to get you up early.
Getting to bed at your normal time, you should set your alarm to 5AM (or whenever you want). When your alarm goes off, you HAVE to get out of bed.
You will be super tired that day as you have lost sleep, but this will allow you to go to bed earlier in the evening.
Repeat this for a few days, and it will become natural.
Simulate a Source of Light
Our bodies respond to light as an indicator that it is time to get up.
If you want to naturally wake up at a certain time, try installing some sort of light generator in your room.
This could be an app on your phone that turns the flashlight on, a timer on your lamp, an automatic blind opener, or a light machine.
You may be in the camp where you don’t really get much from going to bed early.
But what if you just want to spend less time sleeping instead?
Less time asleep, more time to do things, right?
“There’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead” – Gustav Graves, Die Another Day, 2002
The historic recommended amount of time that you should sleep is 8 hours a day.
Personally, I would stick to that.
When a person sleeps, they physically recharge and heal.
This is an important process that you want to dedicate the correct time to.
In fact, researches have found that those who sleep less than 6 hours a day are more likely to have a premature death or develop heart disease.
However, to the contrary, some research suggests that those who get between 5 and 6.5 hours are most likely to live a long life.
With these facts in mind, we can’t really conclude a definitive answer to the question.
To me, the higher amount just seems logical.
If I could get an extra 3 hours to heal up and regenerate , I would take it.
By cutting down the amount of sleep that you get to 5 hours, you will have three extra hours of the day to play with.
But is it really worth the risk?
The jury is really out on this one.
Don’t get me wrong, waking up early is a super good thing to get going.
But it isn’t for everyone.
There are some reasons that you may want to stay away from the activity…
1. Because of those around you.
I live with a bunch of night owls.
There’s not much I can do about it.
It is very difficult to get to bed, even with the door shut, when the TV is on in the next room at full blast.
Because of circumstances like this, you may not be able to make waking up early a habit.
Even if you do manage to dose off, walking around at 5AM doing whatever is sure to wake up those around you.
It may not be feasible for you situation.
2. It might not be for you…
I am biologically a night owl.
Changing such an innate part of my biology is not easy, and something that requires more than a little bit of effort.
3. It might be pointless
If you get all of the previously mentioned benefits in other ways, then you may not need to wake up early.
You may have the absolute discipline to get to the gym every day no matter what happens, and you may have a method to muster up some complete uninterrupted time during the day.
It could be that waking up early, especially if your body doesn’t agree with it, isn’t worth the work.
4. You may not be able to stick to it.
So, you may be capable of actually waking up early.
That’s all well and good.
But it requires you to go to bed earlier.
If you can’t stick to this every day, then you’re really going to struggle, and you’ll lose most of the benefits that are provided.
You will get less sleep, which will lead to low energy and a less productive day.
This is not what you want.
Conclusion – How to Wake up Early, Well and Ready to Kick Ass
In this article, we have covered several aspects on how to wake up early.
Although waking up early is not a requirement of success, depending on your schedule, it may be a change that will propel you forwards and greatly benefit you in many ways.