How to Wake Up Early for Non-Morning People

How to Wake Up Early for Non-Morning People

If you were a morning person, you’d already be getting up early, right? Don’t worry, anyone can learn how to wake up early – literally anyone (even you!) While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all reason as to why we choose to try getting up early, there is a one-size-fits-all way to get up early that works for everyone – even if you find mornings difficult.

Before we continue, let me ask you a couple questions that I think are highly relevant for those striving to wake up early:

How many sacrifices you are willing to make to achieve your goals or pursue a passion? How much initial discomfort are you willing to endure to improve your life? These are the questions that face everyone who decides that waking up early is the path to success. You must be willing and able to give early rising everything you have if you intend to integrate it into your life without resenting it.

However, before you get scared off, understand that there is some good news on the horizon. The discomfort doesn’t last too long and the sacrifices soon become just another part of your strategy. Don’t let the obvious annoyances of waking up early (such as the fact that it’s so freaking early and no one else is awake!) sway you from heading down this path. You’re on the right track. No one who makes a true habit of waking up early ever regrets it – ever.

We all have good intentions about early rising, but some of us will find getting up at an early hour more difficult than others. Instead of resigning yourself to failure or declaring that you’re not a morning person, prove yourself wrong.

Learn to be patient if you find yourself in this situation. If you fail to get up early today, try again tomorrow!

Anyone, I repeat, anyone can become a morning person – even if you’ve never been one your entire life. I wasn’t one in the beginning either.

how to wake up early for everyone

My How to Wake Up Early Guide for Everyone

There are some universal truths when it comes to waking up early that will help anyone who is looking to undergo this journey of early rising. Regardless of whether you are a busy professional, overwhelmed student, overworked stay-at-home mom, or action-seeking retiree, getting up early will enrich your life and can be tackled with the same fundamental tips that we’ll dive into below.

evening routine - how to get up early

Develop an Evening Routine

Waking up early starts the evening before. Getting yourself into the groove of a regular evening routine that allows you to wind down and prep for the next day is the secret to early rising success. A little preparation goes a long way.

Try to help yourself avoid making too many decisions in the morning by making those decisions in the evening as part of this routine. For example, lay out your clothes for the next day, make lunch, fill up a glass of water and place it on your nightstand, pack your gym bag and put it by the front door, etc. You get the idea…

morning to-do list - how to wake up early

Write a Short Morning To-Do List During Your Evening Routine

Knowing exactly what you’d like to accomplish during your early morning awakening and then following through with it is the reward you’ll receive if you fight the urge to stay in bed.

However, since identifying what it is you want to cross off your to-do list first thing in the A.M. is a heavy mental task that you might not be able to perform at your best, it is ideal to take 5 or 10 minutes the evening before to lay out your plan on a piece of paper.

That way, when you wake up, you don’t have to think deeply, plan, or even remember anything because you already know your marching orders.

Keep the list short and you’ll be more likely to have the time and willpower to complete everything. There’s nothing wrong with slow, steady progress. The only person you’re competing with is yourself.

no electronic devices in bedroom - how to get up in the morning

Dim Lights and Turn Off Electronic Devices an Hour Before Bedtime

We all know that bright, artificial overhead lights, smartphones, tablets, computers, video games, and TVs interfere with our ability to wind down in the evening if we continue using them too close to bedtime. This is because these electronic devices emit blue light, which inhibits our production of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. Not enough melatonin equals an unnatural state of alertness that can keep up burning the midnight oil well past midnight.

It can make a world of difference to dim or turn off overhead lights at least an hour before bedtime and instead light some candles or turn on dim lamps.

dim lights - how to wake up early

I realize it’s easier said than done, but in order to successfully wake up early, we must be sticklers when it comes to powering down smartphones, computers, video game consoles, and the like at least an hour prior to bedtime. Listening to an audiobook or reading on an e-book reader such as my fav on Amazon that doesn’t emit blue light can be great alternatives to TV and smartphone browsing.

avoid news and stimulation at bedtime - how to wake up early

Avoid Reading the News or Engaging in Stimulating Conversations Too Close to Bedtime

The reason you should avoid these activities is pretty obvious. Getting all fired up and emotionally distraught is going to make you lie awake with endless racing thoughts, not lull you to sleep.

Nighttime is not the time for stressful activities if you want to get a good night’s sleep and be rested enough to wake up early.

yoga nidra - how to wake up early

Give Yoga Nidra a Chance

Yoga Nidra is a sleep-based yoga technique that grounds you in your body and allows you to gradually wind down and eliminate thoughts that stem from an overactive mind so you can fully relax and effortlessly fall asleep.

This woman explains Yoga Nidra better than I ever could, so I recommend watching this quick video:

Fully Guided Yoga Nidra Session

If Yoga Nidra piques your interest, here’s a fully guided session that you can try tonight:

early bedtime - how to wake up early

Go to Bed Early Enough to Get Adequate Sleep

I think this tip to wake up early goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. If you don’t go to sleep early enough, you won’t be able to wake up early and function like a normal person who can attend to daily duties.

Obviously, everyone needs sleep, and it’s important to respect your body’s need for sleep – however much sleep that means for you personally. Everyone requires different amounts of sleep, but the average is 8 hours per night. Don’t push your luck.


Use a Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock and a Light Box

Using a sunrise simulation alarm clock like this one on Amazon changed my life. It wakes me up gently at just the right part of my sleep cycle to a simulated (realistic) sunrise and to the sound of chirping birds. It is unbelievable what a difference this alarm clock has made in my life. I no longer wake up groggy or irritated.

Waking up and immediately sitting in front of a light therapy box like this one is a great wake-up technique that helps to quickly reset your circadian rhythm and help you become a “morning person” better than anything else I’ve tried.

5 Second Rule - how to wake up early

Use the 5 Second Rule

Mel Robbins‘ 5 Second Rule is simple yet effective. It works equally well for people want to wake up early and those who don’t.

Here’s how to put The 5 Second Rule work for you each and every morning:

  1. As soon as you wake up, intentionally avoid any thinking and instead count backward from 5 silently in your head. 5-4-3-2-1
  2. When you reach 1, immediately get out of bed and turn off your alarm.

That’s it! That’s all there is to The 5 Second Rule. Count backward until you reach 1 and be on your way.

It works so well because it prevents you from talking yourself out of getting up. The 5-4-3-2-1 interrupts your thought process and activates your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for making decisions, among other things.

The 5 Second Rule has been my secret weapon for over a year to train myself to wake up early, and now it can be yours, too.

morning routine - how to get up early

Develop a Morning Routine

When you employ The 5 Second Rule and find yourself out of bed earlier than you’ve managed in quite some time, now what? If you don’t immediately start up some sort of morning routine, you’ll likely fall victim to going back to bed.

To prevent wasting your time and energy waking up early, it’s a great idea to have some sort of morning routine either in your mind or written down before going to bed the night before.

What will you do first upon rising? Will you go straight to the bathroom? Will you drink a glass of water? Will you make your bed? What next? Figure all this out and after you’ve decided on a general routine that works well for you, try to repeat it every morning. Familiarity helps make waking up early easier and more productive.

gratitude joy - how to wake up early

Start Your Day with Gratitude and Joy

While I do my business in the bathroom, I like to mull over everything I’m thankful for in my head. Some people like to spend part of their morning routine writing down a few things they’re thankful for in a gratitude journal, which is a fabulous idea.

Flashing a genuine smile at yourself in the bathroom mirror can help, too, cheesy as it sounds…

By making a habit out of experiencing and expressing joy and gratitude immediately upon waking will give you the fuel and enthusiasm you need to make today better than yesterday. Be genuinely happy to be alive and your life will suddenly come alive in ways that might surprise you.

ambition - how to wake up early

Don’t Get Too Ambitious Too Fast

Some people might criticize me and proclaim that I’m giving people permission to make excuses, but I’m going to say what I feel to be true anyway. Here it is:

It’s tempting to want to tackle major goals and hit the ground running from the very first morning you wake up early. Ambition is a necessary tool to accomplish goals, but too much of it too fast when it comes to early rising will likely backfire. If you make too many changes too fast, you won’t stick with any of them.

Most likely, you are striving to learn how to wake up early because you want to pursue some passion or business that you currently don’t have time for. If you dissect the situation, those are 2 separate endeavors that need to be worked on one-at-a-time.

Start with the waking up early habit first because, without its success, you won’t have time to pursue your passion or business. To get some momentum going, simply focus on waking up early – and nothing else. Make sure you wake up (and get up) on time, similar to the way you would encourage and supervise a child to do so. When you get up on time, celebrate this small win with a cup of coffee or tea, or by doing something else you enjoy in the morning – not by pursuing your goals just yet. Slow and steady wins the race, so be patient.

Find Some Placeholder Activities that You Enjoy in the Interim

It can be a good idea to wake up early to do the activities you used to do late at night, such as watching Netflix or YouTube videos, indulging in social media if that’s your vice, etc. so that you don’t feel deprived when waking up early. What you’re doing is essentially shifting your schedule.

Don’t immediately expect yourself to be writing a novel or training for a marathon at 5am. Have some self-control and add on these ambitions later, after you’re used to waking up early and you have the habit in the bag. When the time comes to start stacking habits on top of your already-developed early rising habit, you can ditch the early morning Netflix watching and get started chipping away at your dreams.

Don’t Quit!

You will probably find that the first week or two of waking up early is going to be exhausting and awkward because you are not used to being awake so early. Hang in there and keep at it. This difficult time is when it’s going to take everything you have to avoid quitting. Be strong and don’t quit; you’ll be grateful you’ve stuck it out.

It will take some time for your circadian rhythm to acclimate to your new sleep-wake schedule and for your brain to rewire itself. Soon, though, you will find that you have increased energy and a new level of alertness early in the morning, essentially transforming you into a Morning Person.

protein breakfast - how to wake up early

Eat a Protein-Packed Breakfast

Don’t skip breakfast! Protein first thing in the morning will get your mind and body going strong. It doesn’t have to be meat or eggs; even just a yogurt parfait or protein smoothie can do the trick.

A high protein, low carb breakfast helps you feel full longer, keeps your blood sugar levels steady, and helps you achieve maximum alertness for whatever you intend to tackle after breakfast.

solve nutrient deficiencies - how to wake up early

Get Tested for Nutrient Deficiencies

Some common nutrient deficiencies are magnesium, potassium, iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iodine, and calcium.

It’s a good idea to visit your doctor and get a blood test done so you know definitively if you have any nutrient deficiencies. Work hard to rid yourself of any deficiencies via diet as much as possible (or with increased exposure to sunlight in the case of vitamin D deficiency.)

If you’re deficient in even just one nutrient, it can negatively impact your mood and energy levels to the point where you can’t continue waking up early because you’ll be so worn out. Waking up early (after you get past the initial acclimation period of a couple weeks) is supposed to energize you, not contribute to brain fog, fatigue, or other physical annoyances.

Some people have been deficient in multiple nutrients for much of their lives and don’t even know it, so getting checked out by your doctor is advisable whether you intend to start waking up early or not.

6 Months of waking up early

Stick With Early Rising for 6 Months Before Assuming It’s a Habit

Waking up early is one of those things that takes a very long time to rewire the brain to perform automatically. The standard advice that it takes 21 days to develop a habit, unfortunately, does not apply to early rising. From my experience, you will need to give it at least 6 solid months of consistent 5 Second Rule waking before you can confidently say waking up early is a bonafide habit.

When I was first learning how to wake up early, I remember falling off the wagon so many times I lost count. Trust me, give it 6 months of pure effort and implementation of the 5 Second Rule. At that point, you’ll be home free so long as you don’t allow yourself to think before physically getting out of your bed.

recruit others to wake up early

Try to Recruit Others to Get Up Early

The benefits of convincing others to wake up early are two-fold. First, you will be suggesting something that will drastically improve that person’s productivity and personal development. Second, by allowing yourself to constantly talk about what you’re doing (waking up early), you are reinforcing your desire to do it and more quickly rewiring your brain to make it a true habit. Talk about waking up early to as many people and as frequently as possible – for your own sake and theirs.

reset circadian rhythm by camping

Reset Your Circadian Rhythm By Going Camping

If you are having a hard time converting yourself to Morning Person status, it’s likely that it isn’t your fault. Your circadian rhythm probably needs a reset.

The best way to send your body the message that dark means sleep and sunlight means wake up is to go camping for a few days in a tent. That means don’t use any electronic devices and don’t sleep in an RV or van with lights. Just sleep in a tent under the stars.

Do outdoor camp activities during the day such as hiking, trail running, cycling, geocaching, fishing, photography, campfire cooking, wood carving, instrument playing, etc.

How do you think our ancestors all went to bed at sunset and naturally arose without issues at sunrise? Their bodies were in sync with nature. If you need help syncing up your body with nature, camping is the best, most efficient way to accomplish it. Voila! You will go back home a morning person, as long as you don’t undo your progress by going back to your late night Instagram scrolling, Netflix watching ways.

Not Everyone Can Wake Up Early

Call me Captain Obvious, but it’s worth mentioning that not everyone will be in a position in their life to get up any earlier than they already are until their situation changes. Either they have small children and must devote all waking hours to their care… or they are in a mental state that isn’t conducive to early rising and goal chasing. Either way, the person would be unable to 5-4-3-2-1 and get out of bed early. And that’s OK.

If You’re the Parent of a Young Child, Don’t Sweat It

For example, telling the parents of a 2-week-old baby to suck it up and just get up earlier if they want to fit in some personal development is horrible, insensitive advice that I’m not going to suggest on this blog! Moms and dads of infants need to sleep as much as they can, whenever they can. Telling a single mom or dad with young children of pretty much any age that same thing (about sucking it up, that is) can also be insensitive and simply not useful!

Mindfulness is More Important than Waking Up Early

Some people will be able to deploy a smooth, super early morning routine (hey, childless singles who don’t work the graveyard shift and retired people, I’m looking at you!), while others will have to be more flexible and do the best they can to balance family responsibilities and that lingering dream to wake up early for personal and spiritual development.

If you’re not currently in the position to wake up early (earlier) and pursue personal endeavors, don’t worry about it and instead, enjoy the present moment to the fullest. Your time will come.

This, my friend, is life and early rising in a nutshell: a little give and take, and lots of improvising. 

I'm the owner of and an enthusiastic early riser. Let's discuss why that is... and maybe I can make you a believer in magical mornings as well!

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