How to become an early riser in 5 simple steps

49 replies
If you've ever tried to become a "morning person" and failed, this post might just give you the tools you need to make it happen.

The benefits of getting up early are pretty obvious. Personally, my best work is the work I do before sunrise. And if you have young kids in the house, like I do, then early morning might be the ONLY time you can work on high-level tasks without fear of interruption.

I've been waking up at 4:45 AM for the last four and a half years. And just to be clear, I am not a "morning person" by nature.

Here are the simple strategies that work for me:

1. Get an alarm WITHOUT a snooze button

Snooze buttons are a terrible idea. They make no sense. Let yourself sleep soundly RIGHT until waking time, then get up. Don't torture yourself with twilight-zone "snooze > alarm > snooze > alarm" loops. Know this: the snooze button was created to coddle you and pander to your lower nature. Like most forms of procrastination, having a button to push might feel good in the moment, but in my experience, you feel absolutely BLAH after waking up this way. So here's permission to throw away your current alarm clock and go get a travel alarm without the snooze option. Trust me, it will make a huge difference.

2. Put your alarm clock across the room

Here's another "alarm clock management" tip. When you keep your alarm clock on your beside table, it's too easy to turn the thing off while still lying in bed. Instead, you should place it on the other side of the room. That way you'll have to physically get your carcass out of bed to turn it off. Once you're up, it's that much easier to STAY up. If I break this rule of mine, more often than not I'll wake up an hour or two later with the alarm clock in my fist.

3. Give yourself something to look forward to

If you find it difficult to get up early, you might need to give yourself a more enticing carrot. I used to wake up early and go work out. Now, I wake up early and read for an hour. I love to read, so the "incentive dynamics" surrounding my morning are completely different. I WANT to get out of bed. If you love working out, by all means, consider doing that first thing. But if not, give yourself permission to start your day with something else instead. A little treat like an hour of reading or a hot cup of tea can go a long way in making the "early riser" habit stick.

4. Sleep consistent hours

You can have the best alarm clock management in the world, but if you're constantly going to bed and rising at different hours, you're going to have problems becoming an early riser. The key here is to pick a "to-bed" and "to-rise" time and then stick to it. For example, I usually go to bed at 10:00 and get up at 4:45 AM. About 7 hours of sleep. That's what works for me. Figure out what works for you.

5. Give yourself free days

Many diets let you take a "free day" once a week, where you can eat anything you want. These diets build that in because it's easier for us psychologically to stick with something if we know we'll get periodic breaks. In the same way, let yourself sleep in every once in awhile. Personally, I sleep in on Sunday mornings. That way I still get to indulge that part of me that loves to sleep in WITHOUT having that be my default setting.

...

There you have it. These five simple approaches made all the difference for me.

If I can become an early riser, you can too.

Go get 'em.

-Bryan
#early #riser #simple #steps
  • Profile picture of the author garyv
    Those are awesome!

    I did it in one step...

    1. Have a kid.

    But honestly those are some great tips.
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    • Profile picture of the author rackverse
      Originally Posted by garyv View Post

      Those are awesome!

      I did it in one step...

      1. Have a kid.

      But honestly those are some great tips.
      That worked for me too! In fact, today I was up and at em at 2:30am!

      I have another one...

      - Go to bed early
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      • Profile picture of the author kimberly Aita
        Originally Posted by rackverse View Post

        That worked for me too! In fact, today I was up and at em at 2:30am!

        I have another one...

        - Go to bed early
        That's just what I was thinking even before I opened the thread hehe
        There are days I have laundry dishes vacuuming and more done before 6am

        and I don't really go to bed early, but my animals have me in the habit of getting up before 5am quite often.
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    • Profile picture of the author deertrail
      Originally Posted by garyv View Post

      Those are awesome!

      I did it in one step...

      1. Have a kid.

      But honestly those are some great tips.

      Ha Ha! Yeah, no kidding.

      I was just changing a diaper at 4:00 this morning... :rolleyes:

      -Bryan
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    • Profile picture of the author paulie888
      Originally Posted by garyv View Post

      Those are awesome!

      I did it in one step...

      1. Have a kid.

      But honestly those are some great tips.
      That sounds like the perfect alarm clock that'd be impossible to ignore. The only snag is that you can't control when it goes off, lol!
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    • Profile picture of the author Marculi_the_Ghost
      Originally Posted by garyv View Post

      Those are awesome!

      I did it in one step...

      1. Have a kid.

      But honestly those are some great tips.
      Too funny. Too true!

      Those first months were b-r-u-t-a-l.

      I have tried and tried and tried to be an early riser, but no matter what I try I tend to feel sluggish thoughout the day. In addition to the tips above I've been known to keep a cup of water next to my bed so I can splash it on my own face!

      Not sure what's worse, that or just staying up all night when I have an early important meeting. I simply do not trust myself.
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    • Profile picture of the author StephA
      Originally Posted by garyv View Post

      Those are awesome!

      I did it in one step...

      1. Have a kid.

      But honestly those are some great tips.

      Gary - that's so true. After four of them, I'm starting to think I'll never sleep longer than four hours for the rest of my life.

      But most of the time, they're worth it!
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    • Profile picture of the author Steve Holmes
      Originally Posted by garyv View Post

      Those are awesome!

      I did it in one step...

      1. Have a kid.

      But honestly those are some great tips.
      What are these kids I keep seeing mentioned and where can I get one?

      Are they expensive?
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    • Originally Posted by garyv View Post

      Those are awesome!

      I did it in one step...

      1. Have a kid.

      But honestly those are some great tips.
      LOL!
      Gary, that will do it.
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    • Profile picture of the author jamjar919
      Originally Posted by garyv View Post

      Those are awesome!

      I did it in one step...

      1. Have a kid.

      But honestly those are some great tips.
      Yay! I'm an alarm clock!

      Hey mum, where's my choco milk?
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  • Profile picture of the author LMC
    This is a great read. I am the worst person ever in self motivation to wake up.

    I get to my office late almost everyday... but hey, that's what freedom is all about.
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  • Profile picture of the author DireStraits
    I became an early riser by setting my alarm early and rolling out of bed as soon as it went off.

    Though half the time, in the colder months, I'd turn on an electric heater and then fall asleep for another hour in front of it. But hey, at least I arose; everything is bound to rise and fall.
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    • Profile picture of the author paulie888
      Originally Posted by DireStraits View Post

      I became an early riser by setting my alarm early and rolling out of bed as soon as it went off.

      Though half the time, in the colder months, I'd turn on an electric heater and then fall asleep for another hour in front of it. But hey, at least I arose; everything is bound to rise and fall.
      It definitely gets harder to wake up in the cold winter months. I remember once having a class in university that started at 7:45 in the winter months, and I could never wake up and get to that stupid class on time! The sun wasn't even out when I started trudging out from my dorm room into the cold (and sometimes snow) to rush to class like a maniac at 7:40 (I was trying to make it in 5 minutes when it was actually more of a 10 minute walk!)
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  • Profile picture of the author tandren544
    Originally Posted by deertrail View Post

    3. Give yourself something to look forward to

    If you find it difficult to get up early, you might need to give yourself a more enticing carrot. I used to wake up early and go work out. Now, I wake up early and read for an hour. I love to read, so the "incentive dynamics" surrounding my morning are completely different. I WANT to get out of bed. If you love working out, by all means, consider doing that first thing. But if not, give yourself permission to start your day with something else instead. A little treat like an hour of reading or a hot cup of tea can go a long way in making the "early riser" habit stick.
    This is the secret, right here. I remember being a little kid and jumping for joy at 4:30 AM on Christmas morning because I had big plans for that day.

    Find what you like, and do it at 7:00 AM.

    For me, it's a long run and a cup of hot coffee.

    This post is full of great advice.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    Excellent tips Bryan.

    Getting to bed earlier has helped me immensely in this department. Cut out the late night TV or movies. Read a self-help book or meditate before sleeping.

    Also, working hard during the day does wonders for the "I can't get to sleep early so I wake up later complaint." Your mind eventually surrenders and listens to your body, getting to bed earlier and waking earlier.

    RB
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    • Profile picture of the author paulie888
      Originally Posted by ryanbiddulph View Post

      Also, working hard during the day does wonders for the "I can't get to sleep early so I wake up later complaint." Your mind eventually surrenders and listens to your body, getting to bed earlier and waking earlier.

      RB
      Ryan, I find this so important to maintaining a regular sleep schedule. If you aren't tired from working hard and are just being lazy, it's really easy to stay up late way past your set bedtime. On the other hand, if you're working hard at things (even if it's just mental and not physical), you tend to find it so much easier to get to bed at the end of the day.
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  • Profile picture of the author FrankieTP2
    Good post! I am going to apply these tips asap! I have a big problem waking up early...
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  • Profile picture of the author Don Schenk
    Thanks, good ideas Bryan.

    I put the alarm far enough away that I must get up, and have a large dog who, as soon as the alarm wakes her too, decides she needs to get outside to pee. "Now! Right now Don, come on, come on, quickly. Let me out"

    :-Don
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    • Profile picture of the author RealExpert
      Those are some really nice tips. I use my phone as an alarm clock and keep it away from the bed or at least where I can't reach it.

      I have also found that if you waking up a consistent times, you tend to wake up sometimes without the alarm.

      Thanks for sharing the tips with us.
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  • Profile picture of the author tpw
    I am happy to go to sleep when I fall over, and get up the second time I go pee.

    My sleeping schedule varies by the day.
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  • Profile picture of the author danayala
    It's really tough to break bad sleeping habits, but once you overcome them, it starts having great effects on a lot of things from health to productivity.

    Great post!!
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  • Profile picture of the author JamesJeffery
    I love waking up early. But, if you prefer waking late and working late continue doing that. Don't become an early riser because the world says so. If you current sleeping pattern is causing no problems to your life why change it?
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    • Profile picture of the author Ashley Gable
      Originally Posted by JamesJeffery View Post

      I love waking up early. But, if you prefer waking late and working late continue doing that. Don't become an early riser because the world says so. If you current sleeping pattern is causing no problems to your life why change it?

      This is how I am currently thinking

      For my whole life I consistently think I am being a bad person for going to bed later and waking up later.

      I like the idea of waking up early, and when I can I do.

      But I write so much better late at night that I have just started to make it my routine and be happy with it.

      Its not permanent and I can always change it, but I think you are right in saying that whatever works, works.
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  • Profile picture of the author cevin
    I agree ... huh, nice post!
    This fellow is right about everything.
    The best think is to put your alarm somewhere that you can't reach. This definetelly gets me out of bed.

    Keep productive!
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  • Profile picture of the author Odhinn
    My biggest problem with waking up early used to be that it was difficult for me to go to sleep at an earlier hour. Now, I make sure that I exercise a lot more during the day, and that got me tired enough to go to bed around 10pm instead of 1am, and of course, now I wake up earlier, and not only that, I'm more productive while I am up.
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    • Profile picture of the author Gail_Curran
      My best working hours are between 4 am and 8 am. But I like to go to bed early.
      .
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    • Profile picture of the author deertrail
      Great point. Regular exercise helps alot.

      -Bryan


      Originally Posted by Odhinn View Post

      My biggest problem with waking up early used to be that it was difficult for me to go to sleep at an earlier hour. Now, I make sure that I exercise a lot more during the day, and that got me tired enough to go to bed around 10pm instead of 1am, and of course, now I wake up earlier, and not only that, I'm more productive while I am up.
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  • Profile picture of the author greekboy112
    I've been trying to get myself to wake up early forever now..
    The alarm clock across the room is a good idea.
    Thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author ksandra
    I don't have a problem waking up early... I just hate going to bed early.

    But really, I am at my best from 10 pm to 2-3 am. As soon as the boys (I mean my kids) go to bed and I make myself a huge cup of tea, it's as if my day is just beginning and I can work for several hours.

    Unfortunately no matter what time I go to bed, I have to wake up early ... and so I struggle.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
    Why would I want to be a morning person? All the best stuff happens after 2:00 a.m.
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  • Profile picture of the author mattjay
    i LOVE getting up early. and i was not a morning person when i started my trend. currently, i get up at 330-4 am every morning. i am adjusting my real job work schedule so that i no longer work late evenings, off by 8 every night at the latest. i have to survive about two more weeks of late working but after that it's to 8 and no later. i find i can get up early, then go to bed between 8 and 9 and sleep comfortably. when i wake up early, i get a lot done before the real job. mainly seo on my own sites and client sites, reading up on info, etc. some days when i'm off work or i work late i take a little 2 hour nap or so. but i can honestly say i get a ton of work done getting up before the sun. not only that, but on weekdays, i can catch matlock reruns at 5 am. who i am i kidding. i have all his available seasons and watch him constantly lol

    happy holidays
    matt jersan
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  • Profile picture of the author txconx
    I would add - try to train yourself to get quality sleep when you sleep, so you sleep (or try to sleep) fewer hours.

    Don't drink a lot of fluids for the last couple hours of your day. Don't eat late.

    Consider a nap. I find that afternoons aren't terribly productive for me, no matter how much sleep I get at night. If I take a 30-minute nap, I'm back up and running until I go to bed at around 11 p.m., then I'm back up and ready to go at 5 a.m. My most productive hours are 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., so I've put in more than half a day before lunch.
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  • Wow, great post! There are still some good reasons to get up early: responsibility, purpose and work. That's it!
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    • Profile picture of the author KevinTorrence
      I'm a night owl through and through. Me and the morning are not friends. haha Over time, I've figured out my energy / motivation rhythms throughout the day, and they just don't happen in the morning.

      But at the same time, I have no obligations to need that energy in the morning anyway. I used to get up a 4:30 every morning to workout (weights one day, sprints the next) before work at 7:00 and went to bed at 9:00 every night. HATED IT! Glad I don't have to do that anymore.

      In college I almost always did my work after midnight. It was quiet and my roommate was the same way. Worked awesome until I overslept for my VERY FIRST final early in the morning. Man, that sucked. I jumped outta bed, ran to class, and slammed that final out as fast as I could in the remaining 15 minutes or so of class. Luckily the professor was laid back. Made a decent grade too now that I think about it... haha
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  • Profile picture of the author sunnygc
    I agree with the comment on kids. I've got three and that helps (or hinders) if you need to get up early.
    Another one is to have really big goals. You'll find if you have some powerful goals you'll be wanting to get up and get things done.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rich Struck
    Getting up early would defeat the whole purpose of being self-employed.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mohammad Afaq
      Originally Posted by Rich Struck View Post

      Getting up early would defeat the whole purpose of being self-employed.
      Maybe for you but for me getting up early changes everything. I am 10x more productive when i get up early after I have had enough sleep of course.
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    • Profile picture of the author deertrail
      Originally Posted by Rich Struck View Post

      Getting up early would defeat the whole purpose of being self-employed.
      ...Unless kids are in the picture.

      I've got three kids -- two of them under five, so if I want to get quality work done, I need to do it when they aren't awake. The night owl route works better for some, but for parents who need to get kids dressed and off to school in the morning, I think early rising makes more sense.

      I could rent office space, but that also would defeat the whole purpose of being self-employed.

      -Bryan
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      • Profile picture of the author smartlazy
        Banned
        Thanks for the helpful tips. Although I don't like waking up early because I love to sleep, and also I love my freedom to sleep as much as I want, I've realized that I can be more productive I start working on my business at 9 or 10 AM instead of after lunch.
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  • Profile picture of the author ivcan
    The easiest way that I find to get an early start, that is effectively, putting the clock far from the bed. There is no better way of waking up, and if one rewards itself it increases the self-esteem and enclosure, that turns back one I inhabit and one one sleeps earlier and better.
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  • Profile picture of the author petranker
    It's really my struggle to wake early in the morning. But the above mention tips are very nice and realistic. I will try to apply those things. Thank you for sharing.
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    • Profile picture of the author AprilCT
      Great tips to get up early. I do two alarms (both have batteries in them in case the electric goes out...so no excuses).

      Nothing wrong with having one of them beside you as long as the other one is out of reach.
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  • Profile picture of the author tomcass
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    thanks for this little guide, I've always wanted to be an early riser.
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  • Profile picture of the author Stefan Pylarinos
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  • Profile picture of the author Bojan_Djordjevic
    This is my biggest sticking point, because I enjoy working at night. But that makes my day ****ty as hell...
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  • Profile picture of the author kimberly Aita
    For those who say they just turn the alarm off and go back to bed try doing some really vigorous jogging in place for 5-10 minutes. It will wake you up and you'll be amazed at how much more energy you have all day. Plus you might actually lose 5 pounds in a day or 2.

    I did it just for fun one morning and was surprised I wasn't tired by 2pm and I actually had lost weight by the end of the day. Usually I weigh 5 pounds more in the evening.
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    • Profile picture of the author donhx
      It is interesting to me that so many people still think there is some virtue in getting up early. Very Benjamin Franklin, but hardly relevant since electric lights came into vogue.

      Yes, it is important to get enough regular sleep, but I know I do some of best work between 10 PM and 2 AM. It is often a highly productive time of day for me.

      Virtue is found in how you spend your time once you're awake, not the time you get out of bed.
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      • Profile picture of the author deertrail
        Good point. The important thing is to figure out when your most productive time of day is, then organize your life so that you can work in that "sweet spot."

        -Bryan


        Originally Posted by donhx View Post

        It is interesting to me that so many people still think there is some virtue in getting up early. Very Benjamin Franklin, but hardly relevant since electric lights came into vogue.

        Yes, it is important to get enough regular sleep, but I know I do some of best work between 10 PM and 2 AM. It is often a highly productive time of day for me.

        Virtue is found in how you spend your time once you're awake, not the time you get out of bed.
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