Waking Up Earlier: How To Get In the Habit
There is no sound more hated than that of a ringing, buzzing, clanging alarm going off on the nightstand, ripping you out of your sleep with a violent jerk, and causing your heart to pound in your throat. Millions of Americans experience this at least five days a week, and yet it feels horribly unnatural, and like a personal attack, each and every time. So how do we end the cycle of abuse that we endure at the hands of our bedside clock every morning? By taking some of the angst out of waking up, we can learn to adopt the habit of early rising. Read on for our top tips and tricks to help you to get into the habit of waking up earlier.
What Brings You Joy?
The number one tip on the list is to find something that you really enjoy and put it on the agenda for first thing in the morning. A good way to start is by setting your alarm for half an hour earlier than necessary in order to schedule some time to ease into the day.
Perhaps, like me, you love to read a good book. I keep my current book on my bedside table, ready for the morning. Yes, my first thought upon waking is still, “Wow, I really want to go back to sleep.” But then my second thought is, “But won’t it be nice to enjoy a cup of coffee in bed and read a chapter of my book before everyone else awakens and I have to launch into my busy day?” This inspires me to turn on the light. The idea of engaging in something enjoyable is SO much easier than just jumping into the dreaded morning routine.
If reading isn’t your thing, think of something else you enjoy and then set your alarm early enough to give you time to do it. Perhaps you are binge-watching a favorite series and allow yourself an episode? Or maybe you simply like to enjoy a cup of coffee on your porch, but haven’t thought about making time for it during the work week? Maybe you love a warm bubble bath, but never thought of beginning your day with one?
Whatever it is that you enjoy, scheduling it for immediately upon waking can make your transition from sleep to wakefulness so much more pleasant.
How About Coffee?
Set the timer on your coffee pot the night before! This is a simple, but very effective method of helping to take the pain out of getting up early. Yes, it’s awful to have to leave your warm bed, but knowing there is a steaming cup of coffee at the end of your trudge into the kitchen can be the light at the end of the tunnel. If your coffee maker doesn’t have a timer, you can still set it up the night before so that you only have to press the button to brew in the morning.
Let's Talk Exercise, Which Isn't For Everyone First Thing
Don’t schedule exercise for first thing in the morning, unless it’s something you truly love. Yes, there are some people who genuinely find physical activity thrilling and a reason to jump out of bed, but for the majority of us, the idea of immediately engaging in vigorous physical activity upon awakening seems like further punishment for unknown crimes, and is likely to cause you to hit snooze and pull the covers over your head.
Reconsider Your Sleeping Space
Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Another thing that’s likely to make you want to bury your head back into your pillow is waking up to a messy room. If your room is neat and attractive, it makes it a little easier to turn on your lamp and face the day. I like to keep a scented wood-wick candle by my bedside so I can enjoy the comfort of a crackling flame while I sip my coffee and read a book. The idea that I have half an hour to enjoy this small comfort goes a long way toward taking the ache out of waking up.
Grown-Ups Need Bedtimes, Too
Go to bed early enough to allow six to eight hours of sleep! This seems like a no-brainer, but a surprising number of people get less than the desired amount of sleep on a regular basis, making it very difficult to wrench themselves off the mattress in the morning. Stop all caffeine after 4 pm in order to be more sleep-ready at an earlier time.
You can try eating foods that are high in natural melatonin, such as milk (yes, your mother was right about the cup of warm milk before bed), cherries, pistachios, and walnuts. It’s also helpful to limit the amount of white or LED light that you expose yourself to in the evenings. Bright light interferes with circadian rhythm and melatonin production.
Studies have shown that yellow or red light, such as candlelight or firelight increases melatonin production and can help you to become drowsy earlier in the evening.
Let's Make It Simple
Adapting to an earlier bedtime and allowing yourself a more pleasant experience upon waking should become a regular part of your daily routine. Allow at least half an hour of a relaxing morning activity before beginning your day in order to foster the habit of waking up earlier. Then your alarm clock is no longer your worst enemy!