How to Wake Up Early: Rise Earlier and Get More Done

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.

Waking up early, some people claim this keystone habit is the cause of all their success in life, while others struggle in the mornings, wishing things were different. Waking up early is championed by so many for a good reason; early risers tend to get more done, but how do we break the habit of sleeping in late and begin a new life as an early riser? This post explores the usual and a few unusual ways to wake up early.

Why Do I Need to Wake Up Early?

If you’re reading this post, you probably don’t need convincing of the power of waking up early, but in case you do, let me pass you over to the experts.

“What you need to do is, when the alarm goes off, you get up and you go get some,”

Jocko Willink

“Treat every day like it’s your first day on the job”

David Goggins

Swapping a couple of tired evening hours for bright-eyed morning hours is a good trade-off. Here are a few reasons why you should wake up earlier:

  • Get more done
  • Time to exercise
  • Focus time before everyone else wakes
  • More energy
  • Less of a rush

1. Get Enough Sleep

We all know that we need to get enough sleep; we even know the amount of sleep we need – 8 hours. But how many of us get it? If you wake up at 7.00 am like most people, you need to go to bed at 10.30.

You might be thinking, “That doesn’t add up,” but let me show you that it does.

It takes the average person 10-20 minutes to fall asleep after getting in bed. Add to this the ten minutes you spend between deciding to go to bed and actually getting in bed, doing things like getting a glass of water, closing windows, tidying up, locking the front door, and brushing your teeth, and you have 30 minutes.

So ask yourself, are you getting as much sleep as you think? Alternatively, an inexpensive sleep tracker will give you even more accurate times.

2. Get Quality Sleep

Let’s say you get enough sleep, but is it quality sleep? Again, the best way to track the quality of your sleep is by using a sleep tracker like the one mentioned above. It will tell you if you’re waking up in the night, if your sleep cycle is being interrupted or if you’re not getting the right kinds of sleep.

One quick way to improve the quality of your sleep is to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, i.e., go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning.

Talking to a certified sleep coach is a good idea if you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep or wake up in the night and can’t fall back asleep, especially if you have underlying health concerns.

Here are the best tips to wake up earlier, create better sleep habits and go get some!

How to Wake Up Early

3. Have Something to Wake Up For

When you have something important to do, you might find that you’re more likely to get up early. A good example is going on vacation. When you need to catch an early flight, it doesn’t feel so hard to wake up early, right?

If this is the case for you, it means that you don’t value what do, which is why you lack the motivation to get up early. Unfortunately, there is not an easy fix; the problem is more significant than simply being unable to wake up. You’re not satisfied with some major aspect of your life (probably your job.)

If you’re reading this and this is you, the solution may not be a hack to wake up earlier; it may mean you need to start to look for a job or lifestyle that you find more meaningful.

4. Don’t Eat Before Bed

Eating before bed can result in poorer quality sleep. Though studies show that eating certain things before bed can make you fall asleep faster, the reduction in sleep quality is not a great compromise.

5. Reduce Caffeine

You may have heard that the half-life of caffeine is 5 hours, which means that after 5 hours, half the caffeine you consumed is still in your system. You might not have realized that 10 hours after consuming caffeine, a quarter of it is still affecting you.

If you drink a coffee at noon and go to bed at 10, the amount of caffeine affecting you is the same as drinking a quarter cup of coffee before bed!

On the other hand, if you’re drinking other caffeine-based drinks such as cola or energy drinks, try cutting it out and see if it helps you wake up earlier in the morning.

6. Reduce Screen Time Before Bed

This is a tough one!

Once my son finally goes to sleep, all I want in the evenings is a little uninterrupted me time watching a little YouTube or surfing the web. But he doesn’t get to sleep till after 9 pm, and I try to go to bed at 11 pm.

There are days when I wake up and can feel the effect on my body’s internal clock of staring at my computer screen the night before. So when that happens, I’ll give myself an hour screen-free before bed by committing to a reading habit in the evenings.

If you’re not ready to give up your evening screen time, try using a blue light blocker on your device like f.lux. Another great option is buying some blue light-blocking glasses so you can watch guilt-free!

7. Don’t Drink Alcohol

Enough has been said about the effects of drinking on sleep, and I’m not going to regurgitate it here. But, needless to say, if you drink too much in the evenings, it’s going to kill your mornings and your sleep. Even if you wake up early, you’re going to wish you hadn’t.

8. Morning Light

Our bodies know when to wake up mainly due to the light sensors we have in our skin and eyes. So when light hits us, it sends a chemical signal to the brain telling it to wake us up. This is done mainly with the hormone cortisol (this is the reason we don’t want to get too much light from screens late at night). All this is to say, allowing natural light to hit you in the morning will tell your body to help wake you up, so leave the curtains open to wake up earlier.

9. Alarms and Apps

It’s impossible to write a post about waking up early in the morning without talking about all the apps and alarms that are available. So rather than do a complete breakdown here, check out this post on the best FOSS alarm apps to wake up earlier.

10. Switch to the Keto Diet

This may surprise you as a tip to wake up earlier, but it works! When I’m on keto, I’ve just gone back to keto, one of the first things I notice after getting into ketosis is that I’m wide awake the second I open my eyes in the morning. It almost feels like I had my morning coffee while I was asleep.

If you’re the kind of person that wakes up but doesn’t get up, instead choosing to snooze, nap, or fall back to sleep, keto will completely change your life! (or at least your morning)

11. Start a New Morning Routine

Changing up your morning routine is a great way to add a little excitement to your morning. It gives you something to look forward to and a reason to get up each day. Knowing that you’re going to spend 15 minutes learning to juggle each morning, reading a great book, or having your favorite preprepared drink or breakfast food might give you the motivation to get straight out of bed.

There are so many morning routine ideas to choose from; find something that you want to do, that’s fun, and you’d feel proud of to get your juices flowing for it.

12. Get a Child or Pet

Anyone who’s had a child will tell you that it instantly turns the staunchest night owl into a morning person.

Having a child to help you wake up earlier may be a little extreme, but if you’re an animal lover, getting a pet may not be. That little bit of responsibility that your dog needs to be fed or walked first thing might be just what you need to break your habit of sleeping in. Not to mention that once your dog is used to morning walks, she’ll wake you up, lead in her mouth.