In this article I’m going to discuss how to get up early without an alarm and why doing so should be your goal. You’ll feel better and life will be so much simpler without the alarm clock dictating your sleep cycles. It’s actually really easy to wake up without an alarm once you know some of the basics that must be implemented into your bedtime and morning routine.
Peaceful and restful slumber awaits you, just like in the days of your youth. You’ll just need to take a few pointers from some people who manage this feat all the time: kids.
Most kids happily wake up naturally without an alarm and get up with more than enough time to get dressed, eat, play, and go to school. Why can’t we adults do the same thing? We can – we just have some stressful hurdles to jump over that kids don’t have to worry about. This is essentially what my entire blog is about, but this blog post focuses on it in detail.
How Do Kids Wake Up Early Without an Alarm Clock?
This one is pretty easy to answer. It’s because they have a consistent schedule and are getting enough sleep, which is more than you can say for the average adult. Their circadian rhythm causes them to sleep and rise on a predictable schedule without the use of an alarm.
Parents help facilitate this by setting an early bedtime that causes the kids to go to bed at the same time most nights. Doing so allows their bodies to adjust to this day-to-day schedule and as a result, their bodies know what to expect and adjust the circadian rhythm accordingly. Because it’s so predictable, the kid wakes up at approximately the same time early in the morning, always after getting sufficient sleep.
Adults and Teenagers Do the Opposite of Kids
Most adults and teens aren’t nearly as consistent due to the countless responsibilities that are simply a part of life as well as bad late-night habits that usually involve electronic devices. This creates sleep issues such as sleep deprivation and we attempt to remedy the problem with reliance on alarm clocks, caffeine, or worse – drugs. Obviously, these are all things little kids don’t normally experience unless they are introduced to them.
Only us “corrupt” adults and teens introduce external disturbances and stimulants into our lives in an effort to help us get through the day and fall asleep at night. Kids don’t need those things, and if we wean ourselves off them, we don’t need them either.
Most adults and teenagers go to bed at erratic times. If you are in this camp, you will need to figure out why you go to bed at erratic times and determine if it’s self-inflicted or if it’s out of necessity due to a job or other obligation.
Most of the time, it’s self-inflicted; i.e., you are binge watching a Netflix series or got sucked into the social media vortex. Be honest and correct your behavior, if necessary.
Why Go to Bed Earlier and Ditch the Electronic Devices?
Staying up late with bright electronic lights in your face throws off your whole schedule (and hormone production) and puts you on a perpetual treadmill where you’re always playing catch up or using caffeine to compensate for groggy mornings.
By setting an earlier, consistent bedtime, you won’t be missing out on Me Time, because if you go to bed on time, you will wake up early and be able to indulge in your guilty pleasures in a more alert, energetic state. Just shift your schedule a little bit earlier and you’ll probably be able to do even more than you were doing before.
Why is Waking Up Without an Alarm the Ideal?
To answer this question, let me ask you
In the first case where you wake up before your alarm disturbs you, you accidentally reaped the benefits of waking up without an alarm clock. That is why waking up on your own is ideal. It starts your day when your body is ready to awaken – not when it’s forced to awaken. Anything that is forced is always going to cause problems. Because you woke up when you were ready, you felt alert and extra energetic that day.
By training yourself to wake up without an alarm, you are setting yourself up to experience that same alert, energetic state every day. Awesome, right? Who wouldn’t want to feel that way every single day?
How to Wake Up Early Without Your Alarm
Now that you know why you should try to wake up naturally without the help of an alarm, all that leaves is the how part. How exactly do you do it? Let’s get back to the basics…
Training Yourself to Wake Up Sans Alarm Clock
It all comes down to consistency! Consistency is pretty much the “how” piece of the puzzle for anything in life, but I digress…
Your body loves a consistent schedule and has its own internal alarm clock, which is referred to as your circadian rhythm.
Your circadian rhythm responds to and is based on your exposure to light and darkness over a 24 hour period. Training yourself to sleep and wake on a predictable schedule is easily within your control and is easier to accomplish that you would think. It just takes a little, well… self-control and dedication.
How It’s Done, Step by Step
It’s all very simple: Expose yourself to light at the same time every day and expose yourself to dimmed lights and darkness at the same time every evening. Then make sure to go to sleep at the same time every night. By repeating this process on a daily basis, you will start to wake up at approximately the same time in the morning… like clockwork. 🙂
Sometimes it will take your body a few days to adjust, but many people discover they start waking up at the same time every morning right away. I personally noticed it right away after the second day. I was waking up around the same time within just a few minutes. It’s never going to be exact, but it’s very, very close. Amazing!
How to Get Up Earlier than Usual
OK, so maybe you’re on board with the no alarm thing, but also want to train yourself to get up early – or earlier than you normally do. Great! Keep reading…
To get yourself to wake up earlier than usual, set a new schedule where you go to sleep earlier, still making sure you get sufficient sleep. Sufficient sleep for most adults is 7 to 9 hours per night. For me, it’s 7.5 hours.
If You Don’t Know – Experiment!
If you don’t already know your ideal number of hours per night, it will be well worth the effort to experiment and find out your magic number. You can fine tune this by moving your bedtime either earlier or later by 15 minutes every week until you hit your sweet spot.
I originally thought my optimal amount of sleep was 8 hours per night, but by means of patient experimentation (which I explained in this blog post in the Experimentation is Key section), over the course of 5 weeks, I was pleasantly surprised to learn I thrive on 7.5 hours of sleep per night.
Who would’ve thought that more isn’t necessarily better?!? Now I have an extra 30 minutes in the morning to do all the YouTube surfing I used to do in a zombie-like state at bedtime. 🙂
That just goes to show you that you should never assume what your body needs. Experiment, respect, and obey your body!
As you get older, you will also probably find you need to continue experimenting because your sleep needs change with age.
The 9 hours I needed as a teenager and college student would be way too much for me now that I’m in my 30s. In fact, on the occasions I have slept for 9 hours, I feel like crud the next day.
What if You Want to Wake Up Wayyy Earlier?
Be careful in this case, and don’t move too fast. Give your body adequate time to adjust to new bedtimes and wake-up times so you’re not exhausted during the day. Getting up too early when you’re not used to it is the quickest way to fall off the wagon and hate early rising forever.
If there is a huge difference (more than 15 minutes) in the time you want to get up versus the time you get up now, your best bet is to gradually adjust your bedtime and temporarily use an alarm to wake you up at the new designated time in the morning.
You do this by going to bed 15 minutes earlier and setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier for an entire week. Then repeat another 15 minutes earlier each week until you reach the desired wake-up time.
After you’ve been going to sleep and waking up at your new early time for a week or two, ditch the alarm and let your internal alarm take over.
Set an Emergency Alarm, Just in Case
Just because you have the ability to wake up without using an alarm doesn’t mean you should ditch your alarm altogether. The body and its circadian rhythm are amazing and extremely reliable, but it’s still a good idea to set a backup alarm in case you do oversleep one morning.
Sometimes life happens and you are forced to go to bed too late, or maybe you’re not feeling well and had to get up throughout the night. In those situations, you will likely not wake up at your normal early time because you didn’t get enough sleep. This is another reason the human body is so amazing: it prompts you to continue sleeping until you get enough sleep.
When things like that happen, you aren’t always privy to them the evening before (especially when you get sick in the middle of the night) and if you’re in the habit of not setting an alarm, you would oversleep.
Even though I’m usually up somewhere between 5:30 and 6 am, I always set an alarm for the absolute latest I must get up (8 am) – just in case. Setting my alarm allows me to always feel at ease knowing I will never oversleep. Nothing freaks me out more than being late.
Seal the Deal with a Good Reason to Get Up Without an Alarm
Your internal alarm works great, but I have found it helps you wake up on time without an alarm when you have an appealing reason to get up. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Have a purpose!
Kids leap out of bed because the world is exciting and they want to get up to explore and play. Why not rediscover the wonder and enthusiasm of your childhood? Get up early so you can have some Me Time to do whatever makes you happy.
This will help you get up with a smile because you’ll finally have the time to do something you enjoy. Life is not just about work, work, work, after all. Set aside time to play… just like a kid does.
A Quick Recap: How to Get Up Early Without an Alarm
Your body wants you to get enough sleep, so as a side note: If you are consistently depriving yourself of sleep, stop the abuse, as it is not sustainable long term. Sleep deprivation also prohibits your circadian rhythm from working like clockwork to wake you up early without an alarm. Getting enough sleep always takes precedence.
The recipe for getting up early without an alarm is very simple: Go to bed 7 to 9 hours before you need to wake up every single night, shut off all electronic devices and TVs and dim the lights an hour before bedtime, and have a solid reason to get up early. That’s all there is to it.