How to Wake Up Earlier in the Morning
I’ve NEVER been a morning person, but for YEARS I have told myself that I should get up earlier because it would be a “good thing”. I always thought that getting up earlier would mean that I’d have a more relaxing morning and be more successful, because I had read, again and again, that all successful people wake up at 5 a.m. every morning.
Turns out, I have tried to wake up at 5 a.m., but I just can’t seem to do it on any morning. However, I have tried and tested 7 ways that have gotten me up at least 45 minutes earlier (and sometimes almost 60 minutes earlier) on weekdays before work. It has made a HUGE, positive difference on my mornings and my days, but not without some noticeable negative effects on my how I felt throughout the day.
I’m a lawyer in private practice and my work days are LONG and hard. If you want to read my story and why I started this website, click here. But, getting up 45 minutes earlier has allowed me to feel more in control of my mornings and allows me to do WHATEVER I WANT in those morning minutes.
I was tired of feeling guilty when I couldn’t get up at 5 a.m. and decided to lower my expectation for myself and break it down into something smaller and more manageable. I actually started by trying to get up 15 minutes earlier on weekdays, because that didn’t seem as bad as 1 hour and 45 minutes if I was to start waking up at 5 a.m. Interesting, though, I like getting up early on weekends. I feel like my day is being wasted, unlike on work days I could just stay in bed — this is especially true on cold, dark days.
By lowering my expectations of myself, putting less pressure on myself and starting by getting up 15, 30 and then 45 minutes earlier, I’m able to get up earlier most weekdays with the 7 ways below.
The Pros. Getting up earlier has resulted in:
1. Set an alarm outside of the room that you sleep in, so you HAVE to get out of bed to turn it off.
I have an alarm clock that I have set to go off at 6:15 a.m. every weekday. It’s set to radio and the volume is maxed. (I thought about setting it to the buzzer noise, but I feel like that would just make me really angry and that’s not how I want to start the day.) Having to get up to turn the alarm clock off has been one of the main reasons I have been able to get up earlier. It forces me to get out of bed, and once I am out of bed, the hardest part is over (physically getting me out of the warm sheets). I also have the alarm on my phone set to go off 5 minutes after the alarm clock, and if I hit snooze on my phone alarm, it will sleep for 5 minutes and go off again.
Mr. OYP doesn’t get up early with me, so he’s not really a motivator to getting up early. He has the opposite effect actually.
However, there was a period of time when this stopped working so well. What I started doing was turning off the alarm and then crawling back into bed because my brain had tricked me into thinking that I “needed more sleep” or gave me some other reason why I should crawl back into bed. This leads me into my next point.
2. Don’t think. Just do.
Don’t let your brain start thinking about excuses or reasons why you should go back to bed or not get up early. If your brain starts to do that, don’t listen – cut it off. You can only hold 1 thought in your mind at a time, so make it a positive thought – I think about my WHY (see #3 below).
When I debate about getting up earlier, my brain comes up with SO MANY reasons why I shouldn’t get up early. Everything from it’s cold outside, it’s dark outside and you went to bed late so you need more sleep otherwise you will be tired all day. Let’s be real though, there are very few times when you’re up and go back to sleep that you actually get more sleep. When I’ve been convinced by my brain’s pleasure seeking thoughts (more sleep), I end up having an interrupted sleep and I don’t feel refreshed at all. Then, I wake up feeling guilty for not getting up earlier.
Don’t let your brain think. Just get up. If you are going to listen to your brain, think about your WHY.
3. Get Motivated by Your “Why”. Why is it that you want to get up earlier?
What are you going to do with that extra time? Maybe it’s nothing but looking out the window; maybe it’s meditating or sipping on your coffee or tea while reading the news. You need to find out and identify to yourself the REASON that you want to get up earlier.
Actionable Tip: Once you have identified your why, say it to yourself to get yourself out of bed. Let that be your only thought.
Your “why” will motivate you to get yourself out of bed. I’ve heard people talk about “finding your why” but I didn’t really understand it or have a why, I think, until I started this website. I’m motivated by this website to get up earlier, and it’s my reason for getting up earlier. Because, it means I get to spend 45 minutes in the morning, by being in control of my day before the work day starts, doing what I want to do with my time. I feel in control and that I am “owning my life” in those 45 minutes.
Compared to days when I wake up later than I had hoped, get ready in a hurry and race out the door, getting up 45 minutes earlier has made me feel like I have accomplished something in the morning. Which is another feeling I love – because, hey, what do you expect, I am super Type-A and a list-LOVER.
I think this goes hand-in-hand with finding your passion. Being able to identify what you’re passionate about will get you out of bed with minimal effort (on most days) because you WANT to get out of bed to work on it or to do that activity. I know that the website is a passion of mine because I WANT to get out of bed earlier, but not every day, which is why I use all these techniques together.
4. Get all the stuff you need for the morning set up the night before.
Get yourself organized for the next morning the night before, so you don’t have to worry about doing those things in your precious 30 minutes that you worked so hard to get up for. This way, you can spend those 45 minutes doing whatever YOU want to do.
I work full-time, so here is what I need to do the night before a work day: (You might have a different list of things to do to prepare for the next morning, so go ahead and make your own list that’s personalized for you.)
Doing these things the night before gives you the freedom to enjoy your cup of coffee or tea a little longer or get out for a longer run.
5. Make it so that you have to make the least amount of effort to do your why.
Set yourself up so you can DO your why. So, if you want to get up earlier to go for a run, set yourself up for the morning by making it so EASY for you to go for a run. Working out in the morning was my jam when I was younger, and so here is what I’d do to break the barriers down and get myself to workout. I’d put my socks, runners, headband and clothes out next to the bed, so I didn’t have to think about what I was going to wear; have my water bottle full and by the door along with my headphones and a banana picked out for me to eat.
- If I wanted to journal or write morning pages or write in a bullet journal in the morning, I’d have my desk set up with minimal clutter with my favourite writing pens and notebook.
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- If I wanted to meditate in the morning (I’m still working on this one), I’d have my sitting area set up with my yoga mat. I’d have my meditation clothes out, so I didn’t have to think about what to wear and have my music picked out and cued up.
- For me to work on the website in the morning, I need my work area tidy (I find that having a cluttered work area overwhelms me) and a list of what I need/want to accomplish in those 30 minutes. Without a list, I find that I waste the time away on nothing because it’s early and I tend to have no focus that early in the morning.
Make it so that you have to make the least amount of effort to DO your why. Taking these steps will reduce the amount of excuses you can come up with for yourself in the morning to convince yourself NOT to get up early.
Save this Pin for Later, so you can come back to these tips when you need a refresher:
6. If you find you’re struggling to get yourself out of bed, count to 5.
On days when I am struggling to get out of bed and I’ve snuck back into bed after I turned off the alarm clock, I get myself out of bed by counting to 5. I tell myself that I will count to 5 and after I count to 5, I have to get up. When I count, I take long and deep breaths in and out and then (most times) don’t let myself think but just get out of bed.
7. Go to bed earlier if you want to wake up earlier.
This is something I was not doing, but encourage you to go to bed earlier if you want to wake up earlier. I found that I was staying up later getting everything organized to get up earlier, that I was not helping how I was going to feel the next day. By staying up later and then getting up earlier, my body was not used to it. I noticed that throughout the day, I felt light-headed, kind of dizzy, my left eye was twitching and lastly, tired. A second cup of tea helped with the tiredness, but I really didn’t like the eye twitching, light-headedness and dizziness I felt on and off throughout the day. I read that eye-twitching is nothing to worry about, but could be caused by a number of things. Some causes being fatigue and stress.
I’m working on getting to bed 30 minutes earlier, and I think that my body needs time to adjust to the new sleep schedule I’ve started. I will continue to monitor how I feel throughout the day, but not let it be an excuse to stay in bed.
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- Set an alarm outside of the room that you sleep in, so you HAVE to get out of bed to turn it off.
- Don’t think. Just do.
- Get Motivated by Your “Why”. Why is it that you want to get up earlier?
- Get all the stuff you need for the morning set up the night before.
- Make it so that you have to make the least amount of effort to do your why.
- If you find you’re struggling to get yourself out of bed, count to 5.
- Go to bed earlier if you want to wake up earlier.