How to wake up early, even if you’re not a morning person

March 24, 2022 - 15 min read

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Why is it so difficult for some people to wake up early in the morning?

Why should I wake up early in the morning?

Morning person vs. night owl

Melatonin and circadian rhythms

How can I start waking up early?

8 tips to help you wake up early

When should I see a doctor?

Your next move

"Just five more minutes," you say, hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock for the second time. 

We all know that waking up early is a pain. Your bed is too comfortable. It's too dark in your room to feel awake. You're not a morning person, and that's that.

But why do you struggle to wake up in the morning? Trust us; it's not just about how soft your pillows are. 

With a better understanding of our overall health and bedtime routine, you can learn how to start waking up early without any ill feelings towards your alarm clock. We're here to teach you how to wake up early and make your morning routine more enjoyable.

 

Why is it so difficult for some people to wake up early in the morning?

Struggling to wake up early isn't about whether you hate mornings but how you sleep at night. Lifestyle factors like your social life or work schedule, medications, and medical conditions all determine your sleep quality. The reason you struggle to wake up early might differ from your partner or family members.

To develop better sleep hygiene, we first need to understand some of the causes of your lack of proper shut-eye. 

Here's a list of causes of lack of sleep that can impact how you wake up early in the morning:

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Why should I wake up early in the morning?

Hearing that the early bird gets the worm is tiring, but knowing how to sleep early and wake early has plenty of benefits.

Beginning your day late is a rotten feeling. It creates negative consequences that we know we could avoid when we're running late. Starting your day earlier with healthy sleep habits can give us the energy levels to accomplish our goals. If you have a lot of errands to run or work to get done, jump-starting your day can put you on the right track.

Waking up early has excellent mental health benefits, too. Learning how to start waking up early improves our overall wellness because we feel ready to take on the day. We feel organized, are in a more productive mood, and can soak up more vitamin D as the sun rises.

Once your circadian rhythm recognizes a clear sleep schedule, it'll easily become habit. Soon, you won't flinch at an early morning.

A sustainable morning routine is crucial for the long haul. ​​Sticking to new habits is tricky, especially waking up early in the morning every day. But once the habit exists, you’ll have an easier time maintaining it.

Morning person vs. night owl

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Being a morning person or a night owl has several causes. Certain occupations force early mornings, like being a baker, while being a nurse that works night shifts results in sleeping during the day. Other lifestyle interests and social activities also impact whether a person prefers the morning or night.

Here are a few characteristics of morning people and night owls:

Morning person

  • Goes to bed early and wakes up early
  • Enjoys the morning the most
  • Struggles to stay up late
  • Has less energy as the day goes on

Night owl

  • Loves to stay up late
  • Tends to sleep in most of the morning
  • Most productive during the evening hours
  • Has difficulties staying alert during the day

Melatonin and circadian rhythms

Let's talk more about the science behind your sleep patterns.

Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally. It works to regulate and encourage sleep by spreading a sense of sleepiness through your body. Your melatonin levels rise in the evenings in response to darkness. It's why you yawn or become sleepy after watching a movie in the dark, even in the middle of the day.

Melatonin production works to help your circadian rhythm stay on track. It tells you when it's time to wake up, feel hungry, and go to sleep. You really notice your circadian rhythm when you travel to a different time zone when jet lag throws off your internal clock.

Taking doses of melatonin will help your sleep routine if you find you need a boost. It winds down your energy levels if you don't have naturally high melatonin levels or need to adjust to a new time zone. It's available to purchase as a supplement at many stores or pharmacies to help your circadian rhythm understand when it's time to sleep.

As far as the dosage goes, less is best. It's recommended that you take 1–3 milligrams about two hours before your bedtime. If you're new to taking melatonin, try talking to your healthcare provider first. They'll consult you on how much is best to take and how frequently.

If you find that taking melatonin isn't working to help you sleep and improve your morning routine, stop taking it. It could hint that you have some underlying health issues that must be resolved first.

How can I start waking up early?

Waking up early can seem natural and easy for some, but it can take a while to fall into a steady routine for others. Having a solid night routine is key to having a morning routine. Here are six tips for waking up early that you can try out starting today:

1. Limit screen use before bed

We’re all guilty of scrolling through social media too much. Losing track of time and scrolling before bed can cause our brains to stay awake for longer. A few hours before your bedtime routine, try to limit notifications and your exposure to blue light. Too much artificial light could reduce melatonin production.

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2. Pay attention to when you eat before you sleep

Indigestion or heartburn could inhibit your sleep. To avoid acid reflux, limit snacking before bed. Too many late-night beverages can also make you get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and thus interrupt your sleep.

3. Stay consistent with your routine

Keeping a consistent bedtime routine helps you stay on schedule with your goals. Your body's internal clock will recognize when it's time to start relaxing because you have a consistent sleep time.

4. Try sleep medicine or tools

If you've been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, you can take sleeping aids to help your body relax. Breathing devices can help people with sleep apnea, and prescribed sleeping medications can help you sleep through the night.

5. Get your daily exercise

Sometimes when we haven't moved our bodies enough, we don't feel the need to sleep because we've been constantly resting. Exercise can fight against excessive sleeping and help people with anxiety that might keep them up at night. Something as simple as a morning walk or going for a short bike ride can make a difference.

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6. Be consistent

Having the same bedtime and wake-up time is crucial to getting a good sleep. If you know you'll get enough sleep — and have the same hours of sleep each night — you'll have an easier time waking up the next morning. Your sleep quality will improve as your body adjusts to this new schedule.

7. Create a relaxing evening routine

It's difficult to fall asleep when you're overstimulated. Creating an evening routine full of relaxing habits will help you sleep better and make your early morning less difficult. Think about what your mind and body need to relax. That could be reading, stretching, or meditating.

8. Make an effort to get enough sleep

One reason why early risers feel energized to wake up early is that they get enough sleep. It's recommended that adults get 7–9 hours of sleep each night to take care of their bodies and store energy for the next day. Review your sleep patterns now and see how far off you are from the recommendation. Perhaps just an hour or two of more sleep will make a difference.

Some of these strategies might be difficult to establish by yourself. With a BetterUp coach, you'll work on a personalized plan that caters to your needs — not what works for everyone else. Experience what it's like to have support from someone focused on seeing you reach your goals with one of our coaches.

8 tips to help you wake up early

If you’re taking all the steps to an early morning but you’re still having trouble, we understand. But you also can’t expect yourself to go from an 8 AM wake up to a 5 AM wake up in a week. Here are some more useful tips to help kickstart your morning:

When should I see a doctor?

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If you’ve done all that you can to improve your sleep and learn how to wake up early in the morning but with little success, it could be time to check in with your doctor

If your worries are becoming overwhelming and stressful, there’s no shame in seeking professional help. Seeing your doctor can put your mind at ease that you don’t have any underlying health concerns impacting your sleep and energy levels. 

If you do see your doctor, you should keep a sleep diary. Recording your sleeping habits, how alert you feel after waking up, and any other issues you notice can help your doctor understand what’s going on.

Your next move

Adapting a new routine allows you time to pause and work to understand yourself better. What works? What doesn't? What do you want out of this new routine?

Learning how to wake up early will serve you well in many aspects of your life, empower you to keep it up, and help you make peace with your alarm clock.

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Published March 24, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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