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Last updated February 23, 2024.
Writing is already one of the last things I thought I’d be doing as an adult, but writing about how to wake up early in the morning? Without an alarm? And I’m calling myself a morning person, too? Major whoa.
Like many, I grew up cherishing the idea of being a morning person but never really thought about committing to it. I was busy spending my college years chatting with friends and playing Halo until 5 am, then somehow showing up for psych lectures at 9 am, running on nothing but a Rockstar energy drink or two.
Now? I wake up at 5 am unprompted and the morning is my favorite time of the day. Not only do I wake up refreshed and eager, but I’m usually determined to crush shit and get shit done. For anyone wondering how I’m able to juggle my website, freelancing, and building a startup, this is the secret. Well, one of them.
To set yourself up for success, you have to start with successful foundations, and there’s nothing more foundational than the morning and how you approach it. It only took years of reading about successful people waking up early, setting routines, and taking a holistic approach to all things life for me to figure that they might actually be onto something.
Waking up early in the morning has many benefits, including increased productivity throughout the day and improved sleep. Yep, starting your morning early means you have to be responsible when it comes to your bedtime in order to get in your recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
But waking up and starting your morning doesn’t have to be some chore you stumble through. Here are some easy beginner tips on how you can start waking up early to crush the day… even if you’re not a morning person yourself.
How To Wake Up Early In The Morning Without An Alarm… Even If You’re Not A Morning Person!
1. Be consistent with your sleep schedule.
One of the fundamental tips when it comes to developing not just a new sleep habit but any kind of habit is consistency. You’ll find it difficult to wake up at five or six in the morning if you’re going to bed at 9:30 pm some nights and 12:30 am others.
The best way to figure out when you need to go to sleep is by working backward. Decide when you want to wake up in the morning, and then subtract the number of hours you need to sleep.
Example: I want to wake up around 5:30 am each morning. Knowing that I sleep for 7½ hours, I plan to be in bed by 9:30 pm, giving myself 30 minutes to fall asleep.
Determine how much sleep you’re getting right now and evaluate how you feel. Are you tired throughout the day or do you feel energized? This will help you figure out if you’re getting enough sleep or you need to adjust your sleep schedule.
For starters, try falling asleep about 7½ hours before you want to wake up. If you’re able to wake up without an alarm, or the alarm wakes you and you feel good throughout the day, then this could be your sweet spot.
If you still feel tired, don’t go back to sleep. This might cause you to start another sleep cycle and leave you feeling worse. Instead, move your bedtime back 15-30 minutes and continue to gauge how you feel until you’re waking up with your alarm and just before it feeling pumped.
Do you know how many hours of sleep you need each night? The average person needs anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
2. Plan for the day the night before.
Oftentimes, getting out of bed in the morning is hard because of dread. The thought of what awaits us when we leave our cozy mattress and warm, fluffy comforter. Life. And responsibilities. Queue the fun music now.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. I’m a firm believer in changing perspectives and, in this case, manipulating your environment if that’s what it takes.
When I was younger, I wasn’t a morning person. My sleep schedule was all over the place, and I generally hated mornings. It took me setting up my living space and establishing a solid morning routine to fall in love with the early hours.
I now look forward to the mornings with such eagerness to the point that it can actually be annoying. Sometimes, I have mornings where I want to sleep in but my body’s like “you’re good. The birds are chirping. Let’s go.”
So, believe me when I say planning can help you become a morning person.
That can mean writing out what needs to be done the following day and creating a checklist or making sure everything is in order and where you need it to be, so you can start your day efficiently and (hopefully) ride that wave throughout the rest of the day.
Here are some other ideas on things to do the night before to make waking up earlier that much easier:
- Set up your coffee station.
- Pick out your gym clothes.
- Prepare your journaling area for a morning session.
- Tidy your office and desk so you’re ready to go.
- Create a to-do list to keep you on track.
- Decide on your work outfit for the day.
Sketching a to-do list for the following day may be the most important suggestion. Having a game plan for the next 24 hours gives me a general idea of how my day is going to look, making it easier for me to navigate my workday and problem-solve should any last-minute meetings, time conflicts arise, or cancellations.
And they always do.
Do you have to do all of those things? No, but you catch my drift. Create an atmosphere that aligns with the goals and lifestyle you’re trying to achieve. All that’s left at that point is for you to get up and do it.
3. Sleep and wake according to the sun.
This is legit old people standards right here, but I promise you that it’s absolutely rewarding and worth the investment if your schedule permits.
Utilizing the sun to maximize your sleep and daily routine is one of the easiest and most powerful things you can do for yourself. Natural light tells our bodies what to do and has positive effects on sleep, the circadian rhythm, and mood.
Have you ever worked a grave shift? It’s a struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep because it’s against nature’s rhythm. Not a good time.
You want to either wake up to natural sunlight or get some sunlight first thing in the morning as it triggers your body to wake up and gets your day in motion.
Along with going for a morning walk or jog three to five times per week, I take a break on my patio most afternoons for at least 15 minutes or spend a quick hour by the beach where I just soak up the sunshine. My mom calls me a hippie but I like to think of it as a natural way of recharging. And research backs me up.
Studies have shown that those who get a good dose of morning sunlight have lower levels of depression and stress. Most importantly, it’s easier for them to not only fall asleep at night but stay asleep.
Here’s how you can let the sun guide your sleeping patterns:
- Aim to fall asleep within three hours of the sun setting. That can be anywhere between 9 pm and 11:30 pm depending on the season and where you are.
- Keep your blinds slightly open and allow natural light to peacefully wake you up.
- Get some sunlight soon after waking up (going for a morning walk or jog is great for this). The sun helps alert the brain to get your day started.
- Try to soak up some sunshine throughout the day to help your body stay in sync with the natural rhythm of the day.
4. Be passionate about what you do.
Waking up early in the morning without an alarm is 10 times easier if you actually enjoy what it is that you do in life.
While not everyone is working their dream job, everyone has the ability to change their perspective or attitude about work, or how they choose to approach their day.
For instance, I was lucky to find an associate job that paid $15/hr back in 2014. The money seemed decent for a 24-year-old college senior, and it allowed me to get my first apartment and be independent. The job was nothing to write home about though.
I worked in a small, hole-in-the-wall, gaming (read cardroom) establishment with patrons who were rude, filthy, and racist, crying over eviction notices, and celebrating double dragon on Baccarat, all in about four minutes. Plus, my shifts were 10 pm – 6 am and I regularly worked six days a week. #glamorouslife
Waking up sucked, but I always kept my goals and dreams top of mind. After coming to the realization that I was not going to become a doctor or nurse like my Nigerian parents and aunties and uncles had all prayed and wished for, I went back to my main interest: business.
I began reading startup books and was on Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com by 6 am every morning. Personal development became an obsession and I didn’t want you in my circle if you weren’t supportive, ambitious, didn’t update your LinkedIn profile, or had no clue who Gary V was.
Before my first day on the job, I knew the casino industry was not for me, but I could easily work my way up the corporate ladder and learn how to be a leader, as well as how not to be a leader, which is actually of equal if not greater importance.
So, if you’re not in that dream job or position right now and are toiling away to keep a roof over your head and food in your stomach, first of all, kudos to you. It’s not easy to be out on your own figuring stuff out, especially at a time like now, while keeping things handled. Stay focused and the struggle and sacrifice will be worth it.
Ask yourself the following questions to keep perspective of your path:
- What can I learn from my work environment that can better serve me and others in the future?
- Are leaders making decisions that you don’t agree with? Are they not in the best interests of you and your team members? How would you handle it?
- What’s holding me back from my goals and how can I leverage my current position to get there?
- Can I be passionate about my work, or bring my passion to my work? If not, how can I use my passions to be a force at work?
If you haven’t read Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, highly recommended. They delve further into passions and reframing perspectives to live the ultimate life by design, and, as you may have guessed, are one of the many inspirations of this blog.
5. Set an alarm just in case.
Yes, after all these tips, we’re wrapping it up by saying you still might need to set your alarm.
Because even after you try all these tips and maybe others that aren’t covered, you’ll find that you’re still going to need to use an alarm now and then.
Just learning how to sleep without an alarm? You, most especially, need an alarm clock in the beginning when you’re just getting started.
When my sleep schedule is in a rhythm, seldom do I need an alarm. The latest I wake up is maybe 6:30? And that’s considered sleeping in for me.
Not everyone has this privilege though, and you don’t want to try this if you’re just starting. The truth is that I still have to set an alarm for some days. If I have early morning virtual coffee chats with friends or meetings to attend, I’ll set one just in case, even if I predictably wake up an hour before it.
While waking up to an alarm has never been the idea of a pleasant introduction to the morning, there are ways to set an alarm and not start your day annoyed.
Use an alarm for the first two to three weeks and familiarize yourself with your sleeping patterns. After a few weeks, if you have the liberty to not set an alarm, give it a shot, starting on weekends, and see how your body responds.
In the beginning, you’re still going to need to set an alarm clock. I highly recommend using an actual alarm clock rather than your phone if you’re able to. Even if I tell myself I’m only using my phone for the alarm, it’s way too tempting to take a glance at my notifications or emails first thing in the morning. Removing that temptation has helped.
Another helpful tip: whatever you choose (phone or actual alarm clock), try leaving it across the room so that you’re forced to get up and turn it off in the morning. Hitting the snooze button and trying to get in a few more minutes of sleep can lead to the start of another sleep cycle and have you feeling worse than you did 20 minutes ago.
Plus, once you’re out of bed and moving, it’s easier to get your day started.
Start your day right and get organized.
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