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It’s tough being a night owl in a world that’s built for and hugely rewards early risers. Schools start at 8 AM 9-5ers wake up pretty much the same time. And even if you work graveyards or have a flexible work schedule, most shops and banks close late in the afternoon. Not counting 24-hour convenience stores, gas stops and night school, it seems like the whole world runs on an early-bird schedule.
So what about night owls who consider waking up at 12 PM a huge miracle, is there hope left for us? Are there tips for waking up early that work, besides the usual early to bed early to rise cliché?
Yes, yes there is.
Rise and Shine! 13 tips to wake up early that actually work
1. Ask Yourself Why You Want To Wake Up Early In The First Place
Let’s be honest here for a minute. You can’t convince yourself to wake up early just because. Learning how to wake up early isn’t as simple as turning off the lights and going to bed early. The psychology behind it is important, too.
Before you sleep tonight, ask yourself, “What would I get if I wake up early?” Whatever you answer, make sure you really want it because that’s what you’ll use to convince yourself to leave the bed when your alarm goes off.
2. Apply Early To Bed Early to Rise In Increments
Train your body to anticipate sleep. Yes, you can do that by sleeping and waking up at the same time every day. But if you’re a night owl, sleeping every day at 8 AM won’t help you.
Waking up at 6 PM and then trying desperately to sleep by 12 midnight is impossible, too. Do it in increments, so instead of sleeping at the same time, say 8 AM, sleep 15 minutes earlier and wake up 15 minutes earlier.
Unlike other tips for waking up early, this is very sustainable because it’s just a minor change. You won’t even feel the 15 minute difference! Next day, you can adjust your sleep further back by 15 minutes, so you’ll wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual. If you do this continuously, you’ll be a morning person in less than a month.
3. Manipulate The Environment To Your Advantage
Block all sources of light, even the tiny red light indicating your TV’s turned off. Put your gadgets away and stop watching TV at least one hour before bedtime, as the blue light from these screens disrupt your body’s secretion of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.
If you want to read, use a real book and a night light. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable chill. If you live in a noisy neighborhood, invest in soundproofing your room or get an app that plays soothing sounds to drown out the noise.
4. No Napping After 7 Hours Of Waking Up
If you’re feeling sleepy, make sure you nap early—no later than 7 hours after you woke up. Napping after that 7 hour period will mess up your sleep schedule, leading you to sleep late and wake up late, again.
5. Go Camping For A Week
Researchers found that you can sync your body’s sleep schedule with the sunrise and sunset if you spend a week without artificial light.
Try going camping for a week, and leave all your gadgets at home or at least forbid yourself from using them after sunset. No torches allowed, too because it’s lights off whether you’re sleepy or not! After 7 days, you could be an early riser.
6. Read Fiction Instead of Reading Self-Help Books, News Or Emailing
Email reminds you of work, news will just stress you, while self-help books will excite and fill your brain with ideas—none of these will help you to sleep.
Read fiction instead, preferably short stories that don’t excite you or novels that you’ve already read before.
7. Create A Wind Down Routine
What you do before bedtime is your body’s trigger for sleeping, so try to keep these activities relaxing and stick to them like a routine.
For example, you could take a cold shower then read a book for 15 minutes before bed time. If you stick to this routine long enough, your body will soon recognize that these activities mean the day has ended and it’s time to relax. It’s important as well to do these activities in order and roughly the same time every day.
8. Eat A Heavy Lunch
Eat a big lunch, a slightly lighter breakfast and dinner, suggests Dr. Kenny Pang, an ENT specializing in sleep disorders.
9. Invest In Smart Lights Or Automatic Curtain Opener
Waking up to a bright sunny room will minimize your grogginess and make you feel more alert after waking up. Get an automatic curtain opener and program it to open the drapes at least 30 minutes before you plan to wake up.
You can also use a smart light, like , in case your bedroom doesn’t have a window or if your window’s view is blocked.
10. Trick Your Brain To Get Up
What’s your first reaction when your alarm goes off? Hit snooze and go back to sleep, right? For this tip, you can press snooze but this time instead of going straight back to sleep, get up—but only for 10 minutes or however that snooze is set.
This is called an inverted snooze. Instead of forcing yourself to get up right away, bargain with yourself, “Stick it out. It’s just 10 minutes.” What you do during those 10 minutes is up to you, but the condition is you can’t go back to bed—or sleep in the couch. You can open the windows, prepare coffee, or turn on the TV. So when your alarm clock goes off again, you’ll already be fully awake and not likely to hit snooze.
11. Use Your Pet As An Alarm Clock
Animals are good alarm clocks, especially if you time their feeding time early in the morning. They’re consistent, noisy, and relentless so they’ll hammer your door and jump in your bed to wake you up until you give them some food.
Of course if you love your pets, you’ll find this adorable but some of you might find this annoying, at least in the beginning, when you’re not used to waking up to such a ruckus.
12. Don’t Allow Your Brain To Deceive You
When you’re a night owl, your brain will probably reject all attempts to wake up early by convincing you that it’s better to sleep in. Don’t give in! If you give your brain a chance to rationalize with you, you’ll never be an early bird.
13. Resist The “5 More Minutes” Urge
By some awful twist of fate, you wake up 5 minutes before your alarm. What do you do? Sleep the remaining 5 minutes, right? Wrong.
Going back to bed could isn’t worth the extra 5 minutes because it can put you in a deeper sleep cycle, making it harder to get up when your alarm does go off. That’s why when people hit snooze and go back to sleep for 5-15 minutes, they wake up thinking the time went by fast.
Are you a night owl struggling to survive in an early bird world? Try these tips and see how it goes for you.
If you’ve tried everything – as in everything in this list plus tons of advice from a sleep specialist – don’t lose heart. No one said you had to wake up at 5 AM to be an early bird, much less a productive person.