If you train yourself to gradually wake up earlier, you will have a much, much higher chance of becoming a consistent early riser – and actually enjoy getting up early to boot. With that said, here are 10 easy ways to undergo this training:
1 – Put Your Thermostat on a Timer
This isn’t something most people think ahead about, but it’s really important to regulate the temperature of your home about 30 minutes before your wake-up time. By making your gradual wake up experience pleasant, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it and even enjoy it.
The bathroom, in particular, is always freezing in the morning, and that’s the first place you go after waking up. Why not put your thermostat on a timer so it isn’t like the Ice Age in there? A comfortable bathroom temperature could be the difference between staying up and going back to bed.
I live in an apartment, but my neighbors and I got lucky recently when our landlord had this Nest Learning Thermostat installed. And wow, is that thing awesome! It took a bit of time for it to acclimate to my habits, but now it knows when I want what temperature. I love it and recommend getting it if you can.
Prior to getting a Nest, I just kept a $20 portable electric heater from Target in the bathroom and had it plugged into one of these cheap programmable timers.
The portable heater setup worked fine for the bathroom, which did the job to help me get up early and stay up. But… the rest of the apartment was cold because I didn’t want to sleep with the thermostat set too high (and obviously, the old outdated thermostat didn’t have a timer). My bedroom window faces north, which also doesn’t help…
2 – Use a Pleasant Alarm Clock
Most alarms are incredibly annoying – even the alarm tones on smartphones. They make sudden, startling sounds that jolt you awake like there’s a fire. That’s no way to start the day, yet I did it for years. No wonder I used to wake up angry…
My solution to this problem was to go back to nature… or as close to it as possible anyway.
I banned my phone from the bedroom, for starters.
Then I started using this wake up light alarm clock and haven’t looked back. It wakes you up gradually with a simulated sunrise that incrementally gets brighter as your wake-up time approaches – just like a real sunrise. When your wake-up time finally rolls around, it can play 7 different nature sounds. I chose the chirping birds.
A wake up light alarm works well because it puts the body more in sync with nature. Since most of us sleep in a dark bedroom, it’s easy to fall asleep, but difficult to wake up in the morning because our bodies aren’t yet exposed to the sunlight, which is a signal that it’s time to get up.
Pretty simple really. I wish I had known about that alarm clock sooner. It would’ve saved me years of agony.
By experiencing a sunrise simulation, the body is finally getting the signal that morning has arrived. And thus, it becomes easier to wake up early. It just becomes a matter of implementing the next tip, which is…
3 – Push Wake Up Time & Bedtime Earlier By 15 Minutes Every Week
If you want to wake up early, it’s best to gradually wake up earlier and work toward earlier and earlier wake-up times.
Let’s be honest: Waking up early is not likely to happen at all if you start out by waking up and going to bed at times that are significantly earlier than what you’re doing currently.
Make waking up early easy on yourself by only moving your wake up time and bedtime earlier by 15 minutes per week. This gives your body time to adjust to the new schedule and you won’t feel exhausted like you would if you suddenly start waking up at 5am (when you currently wake up at 8am, for example).
Going with the 8am example, let’s assume you go to sleep at midnight. To start gradually waking up earlier, for the first week you would go to bed at 11:45pm and set your alarm for 7:45am. The second week you would go to bed at 11:30pm and set your alarm for 7:30am.
You get the idea… Do this until you reach 5am (or whatever early time you choose). It takes longer to reach your goal, but it also happens more effortlessly and with less of an impact on your daytime energy levels. After all, you still have to function during the day and get on with your life. Waking up early is meant to enhance your life, not make it more difficult.
So don’t rush it; gradually wake up early even if it’s tempting to jump into it cold turkey.
4 – Never Hit the Snooze Button
The snooze button is not your friend, even though it pleads otherwise through its irrestible, silent invitations to press it.
As my one of my favorite Mel Robbins quotes goes:
In all of modern history, no single invention has so perfectly captured the perverse power of the mind to defeat its own best intentions as the snooze button.Mel Robbins
By hitting the snooze button, you are resigning yourself to failure first thing in the morning. It takes practice, but you can stop having the automatic response to hit the snooze button and resist starting your day.
The solution lies in the next tip for training yourself to gradually wake up earlier, which is…
5 – Use the 5 Second Rule
The reason you can’t quite get yourself to wake up early or why you can’t wake up early consistently is simple. Your brain talks you out of it. You allow your brain to impose its thoughts on you upon waking, which always instructs you to hit the snooze button, roll over, and go back to sleep.
Instead of thinking and acknowledging the feeling of dread you get every morning when your alarm goes off, try the 5 Second Rule, which is this: Count backward from 5-4-3-2-1 to interrupt your thought process. When you reach 1, physically get out of bed before your mind resumes its excuse-laden thoughts.
This is when you go straight to the bathroom, which will be warm and inviting if you implemented tip #1.
6 – Have an Enjoyable or Inspiring Activity You Only Do in the Morning
Make waking up early a reward. You can only pull this off if you’re getting up early to do things you enjoy or something that inspires you. This could be anything as long as it’s sacred to you.
The early morning hours are magical and generously give you a block of time that won’t cause other people or outside noises to interrupt your flow. The early morning is peaceful and extremely conducive to living passionately.
To make this time extra rewarding, schedule some activity (or multiple activities) that you only do when you wake up in the morning. Make these activities something you are passionate about – something you can’t live without.
Then, force yourself to only undergo whatever it is in the morning so that you will actually wake up early. It’s even better if this is something you currently don’t have time to pursue because then you’ll be extra motivated.
7 – Don’t Take a Day Off
Since you are on a mission to gradually wake up earlier, it’s important that you don’t miss a day of waking up early. Gradual progress means that every day matters. You must wake up early every day (even the weekend) in order to establish the habit of waking up earlier.
Re-wiring your brain to encourage this new behavior pattern and stop reinforcing the old, unwanted behavior pattern of hitting the snooze button and sleeping in is an everyday task. It requires daily reinforcements – or else all your hard work will be for naught.
Just one weekend of sleeping in could potentially undo all your progress. Is it really worth it?
Consistently get enough sleep instead so you don’t have a chronic sleep deficit to deal with. That’s the real solution, even if that’s not the one we want to hear. 🙂
It’s important to remember that this isn’t about torturing yourself – it’s about training yourself to gradually wake up earlier.
You Can Still Stay Up Late & Sleep In… Occasionally
Obviously, once in a while you are going to stay up late, which will require sleeping later so you can get enough rest. And that’s perfectly OK as long as it’s only sometimes and doesn’t happen too much as you’re still establishing your wake up earlier habit.
After you become a mature early riser (lol), these late-night anomalies will affect you less and you’ll bounce back within a day – with no temptation to continue waking up late if it’s not necessary.
As a quick side note that is somewhat relevant here: As my own habit of waking up early has matured over the past year, what I’ve found to be really interesting is that I actively avoid staying up late. Staying up past 10pm is uncomfortable for me and violently disrupts my circadian rhythm.
I genuinely prefer sleeping early and waking up early these days, whereas before, I loathed the thought of waking up before 9am and regularly stayed up past 1am. This is proof that as a habit (even an unlikely one that had initial resistance) becomes wired in the brain’s circuitry, the habit sticks around. 🙂
8 – Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Nap
During the initial process where you gradually wake up early, there might be days where you feel tired. Taking a power nap can help bridge that gap and ease you into your early rising.
There’s no shame in taking a short 20 to 30-minute nap. Just don’t make it longer than that or you’ll wake up groggy in the middle of a sleep cycle. Set a timer. Also, don’t nap too late in the day so that you can still make your bedtime. Ideally, nap at the halfway point between when you woke up and when you’ll go to bed.
Even after you make waking up early a normal part of your life, there’s nothing wrong with continuing your nap ritual as well. I personally don’t take naps except on the rare occasion that I’m extremely exhausted, but that’s because I can’t fall asleep in the middle of the day. That’s just me. Maybe you’re different.
During the occasions I have managed to take a short power nap, I woke up refreshed and I was able to sufficiently cope until bedtime. I highly recommend power naps.
9 – Use Sadhguru’s Tip to Gradually Wake Yourself Up in the Morning
Sadhguru, an Indian yogi, has a very interesting yet effective way to train yourself to gradually wake up early and increase alertness upon waking. Because I found it so interesting, I also included it as #39 in a previous blog post about ways to wake up. (And yes, I have tried it). I frequently combine this technique with the 5 Second Rule, as explained in #5 above.
According to Sadhguru, here’s how to be instantly alert:
Rub your hands together and cover your eyes while gently rubbing across your eyes with your fingers. In this video at the 10:17 mark up until about 10:50, Sadhguru demonstrates how to do it:
10 – Find Motivational Quotes That Resonate With You & Post Them in Your Bedroom
The idea here is to remind yourself every morning why you want to wake up early. You need to see your own personal why each and every morning from the second you wake up.
If you post signs that contain quotes or phrases that inspire you to action – and hang them in a place where you can see them from your bed, you will get up early much more easily and consistently.
If you don’t yet have any quotes that speak powerfully to you, keep looking. My post with 125 of my favorite morning motivational quotes might also be helpful for inspiring you to wake up early, in general.
One of my absolute favorite quotes ever (which I have hanging on the wall in front of my bed) is this Grant Cardone quote from The 10X Rule:
As long as you are alive, you will either live to accomplish your own goals and dreams or be used as a resource to accomplish someone else’s.Grant Cardone
Because I want nothing more than to quit my soul-draining office job and take my side business to the next level, that quote never fails to get my lazy butt out of bed and wake up early in the morning without the inner struggle.
Since printing out a sign with that quote on it 6 months ago, I have woken up at 5:30am every morning. I haven’t missed a single morning.
I recommend that you read through motivational quotes to find one or two that speak to you – and then print or write them out on paper to hang where you will see them as you wake up.
Make it part of your morning routine to read the quote (or quotes) on your wall – then make the right choice and get out of bed.
As you find new quotes, add them to the quotes already on your wall or replace the old ones if they no longer inspire you. Just as you can learn how to gradually wake up earlier, you will also gradually evolve when it comes to what inspires you to action.
Just roll with it and keep looking for inspiration so that you will continue waking up early even as you start accomplishing some of your goals. There are always new goals to strive toward, which will probably require new quotes. 🙂
Do you see how all this works? Make everything easy and construct your external environment with conditions that are as favorable as possible when you first wake up. As a result, you will train yourself to gradually wake up earlier – and the habit will stick because you’re not torturing yourself.