Here’s How to Wake Up Early If You Sleep Late – This Hack Works Every Time!

Here’s How to Wake Up Early If You Sleep Late – This Hack Works Every Time!

Since there are a lot of night owls out there, you might be asking how to wake up early if you sleep late. There is a hack for waking up early after going to bed too late, and I’ll outline it for you here so you won’t be walking around sleep deprived. I’ll do my very best to help you out with this so that you, too, can reap the benefits of waking up early.

You really can have a healthy dose of both worlds (staying up later and waking up early), but you have to be strategic about it.

Before I get too heavy with the details, here’s a quick hint about what this technique entails: Timing, environment, and psychology!


how to wake up early if you sleep late - timing matters

Why Timing Matters

Waking up during the correct part of your sleep cycle makes you more likely to wake up refreshed when waking up early – regardless of how late you went to sleep and how many hours of actual sleep you got.

If you don’t believe me, try it out for yourself. I’ll show you how you can easily wake up at the right time below.

How to Wake Up Early (At the Right Part of Your Sleep Cycle)

The most important part of how to wake up early if you sleep late is to allow yourself to be awakened during stage 1 or 2 (the lightest stages of a sleep cycle). But how can you make sure this happens? And why should you make sure this happens?

Let’s begin with the why: Awakening during stage 1 or 2 (light sleep) virtually eliminates grogginess. This is probably why some people swear by 4 hours of sleep per night. It’s not because 4 hours is some magic number; it’s because they’re waking up during one of the light sleep stages.

4 hours per night has never worked for me and quickly catches up with me after a couple of days, so I try to stick with closer to the traditional 8 hours (7.5 hours, actually), but that’s entirely a personal preference.

In my blog post about how to sleep less and have more energy I go into detail about how I discovered 7.5 hours of sleep per night is my ideal. Cutting back to 7.5 hours makes me feel just as energetic (if not more so!) than 8 hours, so I added 30 minutes of productivity and personal time onto my day without sacrificing anything. Who knew? 🙂

Have you ever noticed how you aren’t groggy on mornings you allow yourself to wake up naturally without an alarm clock? That’s because the process of waking up naturally means waking up during light sleep.

You ease yourself into the day instead of being jolted awake by an alarm clock that disturbs you at 5am or 6am sharp (or whatever time) – regardless of which stage of the sleep cycle you’re in. Jolting yourself awake never does you any good.

But most people have to wake up at a certain time most mornings. Most of us don’t have the luxury of waking up naturally every morning.

Or do we?

This is where the how comes in: How to wake up early when you sleep late is attainable, even for those of us with a job, child, or school to push us out of bed.

sleep tracking apps - health benefits of waking up at 4am

How to Wake Up Early When You Sleep Late: Use a Sleep Tracking App

To wake up early when you’ve gone to bed too late and don’t have time to gradually train yourself to wake up early (AKA you NEED to wake up early tomorrow and actually be functional!) – use a sleep tracking app. There are many sleep tracking apps available for free.

You can find the one I’ve used on my Android phone here. It worked well for me. This one is available for both iOS and Android devices, but I haven’t used it. It looks legit, though. 🙂

Even if you’re not in a hurry and have the patience to train yourself to wake up early, a sleep tracking app still might be a helpful tool. These apps help you make the most of the hours you do sleep and start nudging you awake naturally during the golden window of stage 1 or 2.

Once your circadian rhythm corrects itself in a week or two, you might not need an alarm at all. That’s one of the many amazing things about the human body! I have written a blog post about how to get up early without an alarm that dives into details about how to successfully reset your circadian rhythm with consistency and aligning yourself with nature.

How Does a Sleep Tracking App Work?

A sleep tracking app does exactly what it sounds like it does: It tracks your sleep. It’s able to do so by using your phone’s accelerometer to detect movement and the microphone to detect snoring and other sounds.

Prior to bedtime, program your target wake-up time and the app will wake you up with a wide assortment of sounds. I prefer the bird song because it doesn’t startle me and puts me in a good mood when I hear it.

At bedtime, just place your phone face down on the upper corner of your mattress *in Airplane Mode!!!* (so no one can disturb you and so that you’re not transmitting electromagnetic frequencies through your body while asleep). Don’t put it under your pillow or under thick blankets so it doesn’t overheat while charging.

The app will track your movements and sleep cycles throughout the night.

By default, the app will choose the best time to wake you up within a 30-minute window of your wake-up time. You can adjust this window in the settings if you want to wake up earlier, yet don’t want to miss your “window of opportunity”.

The best time to wake you up will be when it detects you’re in the light sleep stage (stage 1 or 2) of your sleep cycle. I guarantee you’ll feel the difference when you wake up…

I must say, after analyzing the chart I was presented with upon waking, I was surprised how good the app was at correctly identifying whether I was awake or simply flipping over onto my side while sleeping. It correctly identified when I got up to use the restroom, too.


how to wake up early if you sleep late - environment matters

Why Environment Matters

There is something to be said about quality over quantity – especially when it comes to sleep. If you make it a priority to create the ideal sleeping environment in your bedroom, you will find that you can function much better on less sleep. You will find that waking up early, even if you slept late isn’t as much of a drag because you’re allowing your body to fully relax and recuperate while you sleep.

Attending to details such as the temperature and lighting (or lack of lighting in this case) can make an hour of quality sleep more restorative than 4 or more hours!

Adjust Your Thermostat

If your bedroom is too warm or too cold, it’s very difficult to sleep – especially when it’s too warm. At least when it’s too cold you can add layers of blankets. When it’s too warm and you’ve stripped down to nothing, well… there’s little else you can do if you don’t have a window, fan, or air conditioning.

According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature to help you sleep is between
60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (for non-Americans that’s between 15.5 to 19.4 degrees Celcius).

nest learning thermostat - gradually wake up earlier

A nifty gadget that I have installed in my apartment is this learning thermostat. It learns your habits and automatically adjusts the room temperature based on your pre-determined settings. It really is awesome. It keeps my bedroom nice and cool at night and about an hour before I wake up, I have it programmed to start warming up so my bathroom isn’t freezing when I go in there at 5:30am. 

how to wake up early if you sleep late - dim lights avoid electronics

Dim Your Lights & Avoid Electronic Devices at Least an Hour Before Bedtime

Making a habit of dimming the overhead lights or turning them off completely and using lamps or candles is going to help you fall asleep fast, regardless of your bedtime. Falling asleep fast is key when it comes to waking up early when you’ve gone to bed late.

Turning off or putting away electronic devices an hour before bedtime works wonders, too.

In fact, you’re better off dimming the lights and turning off all blue light-emitting electronics and waiting an additional hour before trying to fall asleep than to turn them off and head straight to bed.

Why? Because that hour will give your body time to start producing the sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin. In short, you’ll fall asleep much faster and won’t be lying in bed anxiously waiting to get sleepy!

But what about the sleep tracking app…?

I do realize that I suggested using a sleep tracking app, which requires having your phone in the bed with you while you sleep, but I am not a hypocrite. Hear me out…

An hour before bedtime, put your phone in Airplane Mode, plug it in, and put it face down on the upper corner of your mattress. Don’t use the phone during that hour. Go do something else – read an actual book under a lamp, take a hot bath, meditate, do a crossword puzzle, have a chat with your family, whatever… just stay away from that phone!

When you climb into bed, have the self-control to start the sleep tracking app and put the phone back down.

Because it will be in Airplane Mode, having self-control will be easier because it will have blocked any notifications you might’ve received during the past hour. You won’t see them until you wake up in the morning and turn off Airplane Mode. 😉

soundproof bedroom - how to sleep faster

Get Blackout Curtains or Blinds

Making sure your bedroom is completely dark is another key element in maximizing the quality of your sleep if you’re pressed for time. When outside lights peek through standard curtains or blinds, it can really keep you awake – especially if you live in a city.

Picking up some blackout curtains like these is an affordable, effective way to block out 100% of outside lights. I’ve found they’re also really good at muffling loud sounds or sometimes even flat out blocking sounds.


how to wake up early if you sleep late - psychology matters

Why Psychology Matters

I am of the belief that I am my own worst enemy. I psyche myself out of so many things. However, I have also motivated myself and pushed myself to do so many wonderful things. It really is all up to me how successful I am at anything I pursue.

If I choose to go to sleep with the intention of falling asleep quickly, sleeping well, and waking up refreshed, more than likely I will achieve that goal.

We are our thoughts. Thoughts become things. What do you want your thoughts to become? Adjust your thoughts and intentions accordingly. I’m not here to lecture you, but rather, to remind you of the amazing things you’re capable of – as long as you cooperate with yourself and set positive intentions.

With that said, here are a few tips I have to help keep your head in the right place as you attempt to wake up early when you sleep late:

Don’t Rush or Pressure Yourself to Sleep

You might’ve stayed up too late because you were watching TV or entranced by something on the Internet, or maybe you just can’t fall asleep early. The reason you’re up late doesn’t matter.

If you can get over the fact that you’re still awake when you know you should be asleep, you are halfway to falling asleep.

The more you pressure yourself or feel guilty, the longer it will take you to fall asleep.

Relax. Accept that you’re awake and enjoy the moment.

how to wake up early if you sleep late - dont expect it to be pleasant

Don’t Expect Waking Up Early to Be Pleasant… At First

Whether you go to sleep early or late, waking up early isn’t pleasant for anyone at first. For me, it was a month of pure hell, but I’m more stubborn than most people. I stuck with it because I believed this would change – and it did. I have learned to love waking up early and can’t sleep in anymore. I also can’t go to bed late anymore.

For at least a week, maybe two, you’re probably going to be tired during the days you wake up early. In this case, the quickest way out of the storm is through it. Just push through it and accept that you’re going to be tired for a few days because… well, read the next section to find out why.

how to wake up early if you sleep late - circadian rhythm will correct itself

Your Circadian Rhythm Will Correct Itself

With a little bit of time, patience, and training, your body’s built-in clock called the circadian rhythm will reset itself to align with your body’s sleep and energy needs. You don’t need to do anything to train it other than to go to sleep and wake up at consistent times – and only expose your eyes to bright lights during the day. The most important thing to speed along the training is to be especially strict about waking up at the same time every day.

Shifting your sleep-wake times will result in getting more sleep eventually. The time you start getting tired in the evening will shift earlier because you’ve been diligent about waking up early. Your body will be encouraging you to go to sleep early to combat waking up early so that you aren’t sleep deprived.

Pretty awesome, right?

You’ll no longer have to worry about how to wake up early when you sleep late because you won’t be able to fall asleep late anymore. Problem solved!

I'm the owner of WhyGetUpEarly.com 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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