Tips for Waking Up Early

What to do to wake up earlier? How to make it into a habit? What could you do to make the adjustment as easy as possible?

I have become accustomed to a sleeping rhythm that makes me wake up naturally, without an alarm, in the early hours of the day. This has been one of the most pivotal reasons I get things done. I tend to have my most creative and productive moments in the mornings, and while I know it might not be so for everyone, I truly think there is something extremely helpful in waking up early. When you look at the habits of the most successful people out there, the majority of them seem to be waking up early.

Anyone who knows me will be very familiar with my tendency to wake up early. I was living with my best friend when we were 19 and she came to the kitchen at 6 am to find out the source of a weird rustling sound. Well, that was me, folding plastic bags sitting on the floor. My head is spinning with ideas when I wake up, sometimes the ideas are great, and sometimes, perhaps for the most part, not so much. But in any case, I wanted to share some ideas for how to start waking up more early!

I also managed to start waking up at 4 when I was working as a cleaner in my first year of university, just by using the tips I am about to share. Try them out and let me know if they help! Don't forget to share your tips for waking up early if you have any. And if you have any tips for staying up, I need them! I need to start adjusting to Guatemala's time zone, as it is 8 hours behind.

1. Go to bed early
This is an obvious one, but I really mean it. What helps me is to turn off my phone quite early in the evening. I try to grab a book instead of staring at screens (eliminating blue light). I have started leaving my phone in another room to charge so I won't be tempted to look at it near bedtime. I also try and avoid consuming caffeine after about 3 pm. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you could consider giving it up completely. My husband is more of a night owl, but he has been able to start waking up at 7 (sometimes at 5, when it is the football season) by doing this. He doesn't consume caffeinated drinks at night, goes to bed early and grabs a book. And while I fall asleep in a record time, his sleep takes longer to come, but it helps to be mindful about it.

2. Make small adjustments
I wouldn't recommend starting to wake up at 5 am cold turkey. Slowly adjusting to the changes is the best way to go, especially if you really want to make this a habit. This is what my husband has been doing lately, setting his alarm 15 minutes or so earlier than the day before and also going to bed a bit earlier each day.

3. Get up immediately
I don't use the snooze button, and you shouldn't either. Count to five and get up. What helps me is to have my outfit for the day in another room or something else that forces me to leave the bedroom, such as my phone charging in the office. After washing my face and changing my clothes I don't feel like going back to sleep. I also try and jot down a to-do list for the morning the day before, so I have a clear plan for what to do with my time. Often it is reading (one of the reasons I was able to read so many books) but lately I have been using this quiet time to write. It becomes routine-like very quickly.

4. Get some light
You might be able to wake up to the sun shining through and if that is a case, I am a bit jealous. The winter months in Finland are awfully dark, and as you can only see a glimpse of the sun at around 10 in the morning, there is a need for extra light. I use a light therapy lamp in the mornings. It helps with seasonal affective disorder (feeling blue when there is no light, which does not surprise me) and it helps me feel more awake.

5. Reward yourself
In this case, I think carrots work way better than sticks. You might be able to threaten yourself out of bed every once in a while, but it is not a good way to create a habit. I look forward to sipping my tea and reading a good book when it is all quiet and nice, I love the tranquility and it makes me feel accomplished. It really helps to notice how much you can get done and how you can get ahead just by waking up earlier, it is a reward in and of itself. I would recommend thinking of something you really like and doing it in the morning. 

Waking up earlier can be hard sometimes, and it is okay to sleep in and listen to your body every once in a while, especially on the weekends. I wouldn't recommend changing your sleeping rhythm too drastically and trying to stick to it in the weekends as well, but the most important thing is to stick with it. After reading a lot about habit formation, I have noticed how similar the steps are for creating any habit: planning, rewards, and consistency. 

Are there any habits you have been adopting recently? What is the hardest part about it and why do you want to make it a habit? At the moment, I am trying to start exercising more consistently, 4 times a week. The hardest part for me is that some days are harder than others. It takes some time and optimizing, but I know it can be done!

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