How to Wake Up Early (And Why It Makes a Difference)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 23, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The key to making a day successful might be as simple as waking up early. This can help you in both your personal and professional life. Learning how to wake up early can make it easier to maximize the time you have available to achieve things each day. In this article, we discuss how to wake up early, why it can make a difference to your routine, and the benefits of getting an early start.

How to wake up early

Getting an early start can be a simple habit to cultivate. Here are some steps you can follow to turn waking up early into a positive habit:

1. Establish why you want to rise early

Decide why you want to wake up earlier. Planning what to do with a few extra hours can give you something to work towards. These goals might include making a healthy breakfast or doing an exercise routine before work. Make sure that you set SMART goals. SMART stands for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

Setting smaller goals at first is helpful, especially if you find it challenging to get up in the morning. You could set a goal to only snooze your alarm once. Also, you could try to go to bed earlier, which may make it easier to get up in the morning. Knowing what you want to achieve from the start can motivate and inspire you when it's time to get out of bed.

Related: What to Do If You're Always Tired at Work (With Tips)

2. Have a plan

Having a plan can increase your chances of adopting this habit successfully. Think about the specific steps that might make up your morning routine. For instance, if you want to wake up early to work out, setting out your workout gear the night before can make it easier to stick to your goal. As another example, if you want to eat a healthy breakfast, try preparing these meals in batches or the night before.

By thinking ahead, you can better prepare yourself for a successful morning. Something else you might do to make your morning easier is to set up your coffeepot before you go to bed. That way, when it's time to get up, you can simply turn it on so that it's ready by the time you're set to start your day.

Related: How to Make Work Schedules (With Tips to Make Your Own)

3. Start gradually

If waking up early is not part of your routine, try starting gradually so that your body can get used to the change in schedule. For example, if you're normally up at 7:30 a.m. and want to change that to 5:30 a.m., consider setting the alarm for 7:00 a.m. during the first few days. From there, you can steadily work up to rising at 5:30 a.m.

Generally, it's a good idea to start with incremental changes when trying to achieve a goal. This allows you to adjust to a new routine steadily instead of all at once, reducing the chances of setbacks. By letting yourself make progress in small steps, you can increase your chances of future success.

4. Have a routine

A routine can help you to keep rising early even when it may be a challenge to do so. As the human brain can quickly recognize patterns, creating a consistent pattern of routine can make it easier to follow. It also helps minimize how much work your brain does first thing in the morning. Reducing the number of decisions you make when you wake up can help to make mornings easier.

For example, if you plan a routine that involves waking up, getting dressed, working out, and then brushing your teeth, you can train yourself to stick to this pattern. Even if you wake up feeling sleepy or groggy, your brain can still remember the pattern of the routine. This can make it easier to get going at the same time every day.

Related: 8 Important Wellness Activities to Include at the Workplace

5. Use incentives

You can motivate yourself to follow a routine with an incentive. If you like a particular hot drink in the morning, you could buy the mix at the store and keep it in your kitchen. Small changes like this can provide an enormous boost to your motivation when your alarm goes off.

Something else you might try is to motivate yourself to get into bed earlier in the evening. The extra rest this provides can make it easier for you to wake up early. Reward yourself with a favourite restful activity before you go to bed at night, such as reading a chapter of a book or doing a crossword puzzle.

6. Keep it consistent

One reason why some may find it a challenge to establish an early morning routine is a lack of consistency. Your brain establishes your sleep cycles based on your internal circadian clock. A circadian clock uses bright and dark light to tell your brain when it's time to sleep and when it's time to wake up.

Try waking up early consistently every day, even when it's not a workday. This is especially true if you work Monday through Friday and have the weekends off. Practising strict consistency helps you to maintain your routine, keep to your early morning habits, and regulate your circadian clock.

7. Monitor progress

Adjusting your morning routine can take time. As you try out different methods, such as snoozing just once or motivating yourself with a treat, assess the difference that each makes. Keeping track of which habits work for you can help you decide how to move forward.

For instance, examine how many days per week you eat breakfast or how frequently you make it to the gym before work. You can then use this information to decide how to adjust your routine. For example, if you notice that you always miss the gym on Wednesdays, you could plan Wednesday as a rest day and go to the gym at the weekend.

Why early mornings make a difference

Numerous studies demonstrate that waking up early provides benefits. One advantage is the chance to eliminate sleep inertia, which is a slow-moving period between the time when you wake up and when you become fully awake. It typically lasts two to four hours. Getting up right before it's time to go to work means you may start your workday while your brain is still sleepy.

Sleep experts also link waking early to a more positive mood and less chance of developing mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. Getting up earlier may also help you to feel tired later in the day and ready to sleep earlier. This can help to lessen the time you spend lying awake in bed and maximize how much time you get to rest.

Benefits for morning people

While there are several scientific reasons to get out of bed early, there are also a number of personal benefits for early risers. Some of these benefits include:

Increased productivity

Waking up earlier can give you more time in the day to accomplish your goals. Consistently waking early can also give your body more energy and motivation, as it can better regulate its sleep schedule. Some studies show that this extra morning time is especially beneficial if used for reflection and self-care.

Personal reflection and self-care are two ways to spend your time to better prepare yourself for a successful day. For example, you can try mindfulness activities, like journaling while drinking a cup of tea or practising walking meditation. Another way to practise self-care and reflection each morning is to make a gratitude list.

Related: How to Practise Gratitude While Working Remotely

More personal time

Depending on your lifestyle, waking early can give you extra time for personal activities. This is important for keeping a healthy work-life balance. For people with a busy schedule, early morning hours provide an excellent opportunity to prioritize their well-being. Self-care and balance can be vital to achieving a successful career. Having time that is just for you each day can help you avoid burnout and stay productive.

Related: How to Deal With Burnout

Time to eat

Some people may have such a busy schedule that they end up skipping breakfast. Your brain can function better after a nutritious morning meal. Waking up early gives you an opportunity to prepare something healthy and enjoyable so that your day gets off to a good start.

Opportunity to work out

Exercise is an important part of daily life for many people, but it can also be hard to fit into busy schedules. Working out first thing in the morning can be easier because your energy levels are high. It also helps you avoid postponing self-care and running out of time to work out.

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