How to Wake Up Early If You Sleep Late

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Being a night owl in a world built for and hugely rewards early risers is tough. Schools start at 8 AM, and 9-5ers wake up pretty much at the same time. And even if you work graveyard shifts 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 noon 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! Here are tips on how to get up easier in the morning that work!

1. Ask Yourself Why You Want To Wake Up Early

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 woke 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. It is the first step to successfully learning how to get up in the morning.

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 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 sustainable because it’s just a minor change. You won’t even feel the 15-minute difference! The 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 as you begin training your internal clock for more adequate sleep.

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 disrupts melatonin production, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.

Use a real book and a night light if you want to read. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature. If you live in a noisy neighborhood, invest in soundproofing for your room or get an app that plays soothing sounds to drown out the noise.

4. Don’t Nap after 7 Hours Of Waking

A man napping in his show in the afternoon.
Napping too close to bed might keep you awake late.

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.

Napping when you shouldn’t or for more than an hour or longer puts you at risk of sleep inertia—you will fall into a deep sleep, making it harder to wake up from that sleep cycle.

5. Go Camping For A Week

Campers under a starry desert sky.
How to wake up early by camping without lights.

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 flash lights are allowed either 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, the news will stress you out, 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 you’ve already read.

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 and read a book for 15 minutes before bedtime. 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 also important to do these activities in order and at 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. Energizing foods helps your body be awake. They help you function better. You also want to avoid caffeine in the afternoon or at least four hours before bedtime.

9. Invest In Smart Lights Or Automatic Curtain Opener

Waking up in a bright sunny room will minimize your grogginess and make you feel more alert. 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 if your bedroom doesn’t have a window or if your window’s view is blocked. Sitting in this bright light of your room before getting out of bed in the morning can help set your body clock and teach it how to accept your wake up time.

Natural light is far superior to artificial light.

10. Trick Your Brain To Get Up

What’s your first reaction when your alarm clock 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 immediately, 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 on 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.

It also helps to make hitting that snooze button more of a challenge for you. Create an obstacle that doesn’t make it as easy to reach. Put your alarm clock on the other side of the bedroom, for example, so you have to get out of bed to hit snooze. You can also use a second alarm if you have difficulties getting up in the morning.

11. Use Your Pet As An Alarm Clock

A Siberian Husky licking a man's face to wake him up.
Dogs are great alarm clocks, especially when hungry!

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.

14. Eat A Nutritious Breakfast

Food gives us the energy and nutrients we need to tackle our day, so it makes sense to start our day with a good and nutritious breakfast full of protein and fiber to stay fuller for longer.

Research has also shown that people who take the time to eat breakfast exhibit a greater level of alertness and an improved mood. It also helps get you through the day until lunch, especially if you get up at 6 AM each day.

Skipping breakfast may also disrupt your sleep wake cycle. Follow a healthy diet that consists of proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk products.

15. Don’t Forget To Exercise

Regular exercise has many health benefits, including improving sleep quality. Regular exercise has also been found to help individuals fall asleep more quickly, allowing them to wake refreshed and ready to go. Stretching and yoga are great to end the day and are relaxing.

Exercise for at least thirty minutes a few times a week, avoiding heavy or strenuous exercise two to three hours before bedtime. Exercise close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep.

16. Take A Shower

What is your normal morning routine? Many people include a shower to help them become more alert after waking up. Try spending the last thirty seconds or so of your morning shower in cold water before getting out. This may provide you with higher energy levels.

17. Keep A Sleep Log

A sleep log not only keeps track of your sleep schedule but also keeps track of your feelings and energy levels. A sleep log allows you to switch your strategies up to see what works best when it comes to finding the best ways on how to get up easier in the morning.

Try to keep your bedtime and wake up time as consistent as possible to avoid confusing your circadian rhythm. Shoot for the same 15-minute wake up window daily and avoid hitting your snooze button.

18. Plan Something You Can Look Forward To Every Morning

To stop the urge to stay hidden under the covers and avoid excessive daytime sleepiness, try planning something you can look forward to.

Maybe it is something as simple as checking out your favorite website while you eat a nutritious breakfast, or it is going for a walk in your favorite park. Anything you enjoy that brings you happiness and pleasure will help you get up in the morning.

19. Take Some Time For Morning Meditation

Morning meditation is a great way to wake up and start your day, especially when it is early and you aren’t necessarily a morning person. Meditation helps cultivate peace of mind and prepares you to jump into a new day. It can reduce anxiety, lower stress levels, improve focus and concentration, and increase positive feelings.

What Happens In The Morning?

What actually happens to us in the morning when we wake up? The body starts preparing itself to wake up about an hour before we actually get up. When this happens, our body temperature begins to rise slightly, and our blood pressure increases. This is also when serotonin and cortisol make their way to the brain, and our neurons light up.

Sleep often ends during what is known as a non-rapid eye movement (NREM) time of sleep. If you use an alarm clock that goes off during a deeper sleep, you may wake up feeling groggy and out of it.

Sleep inertia is the process the body goes through to wake up. For some people, sleep inertia only goes on for a few minutes. However, for some, it can last for more than thirty minutes. This is common in those who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation.

The amount of sleep inertia one experiences depends on their sleep habits, internal clock, and circadian rhythm. Some people are predisposed to wake up earlier in the morning, while others naturally want to sleep later.

Final Thoughts

Are you a night owl struggling to survive in an early bird world? Try these tips and see how it goes for you. REM sleep is important for a good nights sleep. Try to get on a more consistent sleep schedule, avoid the snooze button like the plague, and develop a positive morning routine you are excited about.

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.

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18 thoughts on “How to Wake Up Early If You Sleep Late”

  1. thank you so much for the advice! i always used to be such an early-bird, and used to find waking up at 9-10am the most weirdest thing (only happened once) . but ever since ive become more and more busy + the lockdown ive become such a night owl. recently it was Ramadan and i used to stay up til 7- (sometimes pulling all nighters) and i’d wake up like 7 or 8pm.

    Reply
  2. Hi Charley,

    Nice blog article! Love the good tips, was searching into this, small habits to implement that actually work!

    Reply
  3. I really like reading to your advice through your blogs❤ I’m a new subscriber and feeling so grateful for founding your blogs and subscribing to it!

    Reply
  4. The best one is going camping, it helped me so much with sleeping issues. You are left with no choice but going to sleep early and waking up early.

    Reply
  5. Wow!! What a nice blog! Excellent write-ups. I would love to read your next blogs. And I am waiting for your next write-ups. It is really nice one

    Reply
  6. Hi Charley Mendoza,

    Thanks for sharing this blog. It is really helpful for me to wake up early in the morning. I’m also a night owl. I just want to try your 13 tips from now. Thank you for your great tips.

    Reply
  7. My natural circadian rhythm is aroumd 11 to noon wake up. I MADE my lifestyle and work conform to it. The other way is a life of misery and torture

    Reply
  8. #10 worked the best for me. I found alarm apps in the app store to make me wake up and I couldn’t use the snooze button.
    Try looking up alarms that make you do puzzles or go to a certain room in the house to turn off the alarm.

    Great post!

    Reply
  9. This is really seems helpful but still I need to give it a chance. My brain is powerful and smart enough to get me snooze button and sleep for more 2-3 hrs. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Thank you, Charley! Really good + scientific & sensible recommendations!
    I enjoy my best ideas and sharp thinking about 2-3:30 am, and I get from 6-8 hours of sleep… Yet I am going to try being a morning person to see if I actually feel even better than I actually feel… Which is already great! So, your #1 tip is right on point! Cheers!

    Reply
  11. Really helpful tips here, Charley. You’re so right in setting the reason/motivation at number 1. It’s what will keep anyone going. I particularly like number 3 because it highlights nature’s helpful natural rhythms and number 5 because it shows how devices interfere with melatonin production. On number 10, maybe putting the alarm clock out of reach will help since it will force one to get on her feet and move. Tossing a pillow at it may or may not work but will surely break stuff. So then, add avoiding broken stuff as a motivation to number 1? 🙂

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    • same its really hard, espically having to wake up 5-6 hours earlier then i usually do for school and then not wanting to sleep the night before, doesnt really help.

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      • I know what you are saying. For me I stay up all night watching tv. Then I end up waking up like at 1-3pm. And to be honest it is really hard to wake up even when I know it is so late in the afternoon. So what has really helped me is forcing myself to wake up even when I don’t want to. That way when I go to bed at night I would feel tired. That would also allow me to wake up early. That for me would create a routine so I would only have to do it once. You guys should try it.???

        Reply

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