Do you want to find out how to get up in the morning on a regular basis? Do you consider yourself a “night person”?
When I was in college, I often avoided scheduling any classes before noon because I knew that I would oversleep. Even when I made it to my morning classes, I was so groggy that I didn’t retain much of the information. I thought that I was just my bad luck to be a “night person” in a world that caters to “morning people.”
But I’ve found that our own actions can largely counteract our natural inclinations to wake up at a certain time. Nowadays, I wake up at 6:00 AM every day and I don’t feel groggy.
How to Get Up In the Morning
Waking up early actually consists of two distinct phases: the first 2 minutes after your alarm goes off, and the next hour.
The first 2 minutes are the hardest. If you’re a night person, you’ll want to turn your alarm off and go right back to sleep. It’s critical that you fight past this! If you can stay awake for even a few minutes, you’re much less likely to go back to sleep.
I have some tactics that help me get up right away when my alarm goes off.
Get a wake-up light therapy lamp
I use a light therapy lamp to help me wake up in the morning. Our circadian rhythm is partly based on the presence of blue light, which is why it can be hard to fall asleep at night after watching TV or using the computer. But in the morning, we can use this to our advantage by using a light therapy lamp.
Put your light therapy lamp on your nightstand and turn it on as soon as you wake up. Or better yet, with some lamps you can set it to gradually start brightening 30 minutes before you wake up in the morning, so that your body has time to start waking up even before your alarm goes off. This will make you less tired when you finally do get out of bed, and less likely to hit snooze. I currently use a Carex light therapy lamp and it’s very effective. If you feel depressed during the winter, a light therapy lamp can help with that too.
Schedule an embarrassing social media post
I use an app called HootSuite to schedule a Facebook post each morning for 6:15 AM. The post says “It’s 6:15 AM and if you’re reading this, it means I overslept because I’m lazy. The first person to reply to this post scolding me and/or making fun of me gets $5 via Paypal.”
When I wake up at 6:00, the first thing I have to do is cancel that post before it goes out. Otherwise, I’ll be out $5 and I’ll be publicly embarrassed. I’ve been doing this for four months now, and I’ve only overslept once.
Plan your morning routine
Between the light therapy lamp waking you up, and the social media post forcing you to get out of bed, that should be enough to help you fight past the first groggy minutes of your morning. You’ve already done the hardest part! But knowing how to get up in the morning shouldn’t be your only goal. The idea is to make the most of your morning, and in order to do that, you need to have a routine.
Think about what you want the first hour of your morning to be like, and write out all of the things you want to do during that hour. You should plan to wake up at least an hour before you need to leave for work or sit in front of a computer screen (aside from turning off your social media post).
For example, my morning routine looks like this:
- 6:00 AM – Wake up and turn off alarm
- Use the bathroom, put in my contact lenses, oral hygiene, get dressed
- Turn off embarrassing social media post
- Make a double espresso and drink it while listening to a podcast
- Do a 7-minute workout
- Eat breakfast
- Turn off podcast and meditate for 10 minutes
- 7:00 AM – Block all distracting websites and get to work on my computer
What this routine does
I’m not saying that you need to exactly copy my routine, if it doesn’t fit your lifestyle. The important thing is that you find a routine that works for you, and critically, that you write it down and try not to deviate from it.
We’re most likely to get distracted or go back to bed when we don’t know what to do next, which is why it’s so critically important that we do the same things in the same order each day when we’re learning how to get up in the morning. We humans are creatures of habit, and the more that we can habitually go through our morning routines on auto-pilot, the more likely it is to stick.
Consider switching from coffee to espresso
If you’re a coffee drinker, consider switching to espresso. A double shot of espresso has almost as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, but you can drink it much faster.
For me, drinking a hot cup of coffee takes too long to be effective for my morning routine. I have to wait for it to cool a bit, then drink it one sip at a time. That just takes too long. Minimizing the amount of time you waste in the first hour of your day is critical. For me, espresso is an important part of how to get up in the morning. Just be sure you don’t go overboard with caffeine, or it may be counterproductive and keep you up at night.
My espresso maker is a Nespresso Citiz, which is basically the equivalent of Keurig for espresso. I love this machine because it’s incredibly low maintenance. All I need to do is pop in a cup of espresso and press a button. I can get my caffeine fix in less than two minutes, instead of the 20-30 minutes I’d spend drinking a cup of coffee. (If you’re on a budget, the Nespresso Pixie is a good alternative.)
Exercise your body and your mind
If you’re struggling with how to get up in the morning, part of the problem may be that your morning routine isn’t invigorating enough. You should be exercising your body and mind in the morning.
I’m a fan of an app called the 7-minute workout. I’m certainly not suggesting that 7 minutes of exercise is enough for the whole day, but not everyone has the ability to spring out of bed and hit the gym first thing in the morning. The goal here is just to wake you up and get you pumped for the day.
The 7-minute workout will most certainly wake you up, and it will help you start the day off on the right foot. It’s a full-body workout that encompasses both aerobics and strength training, and requires no equipment other than a chair.
You should also exercise your mind. Some people like to do logic problems or word puzzles. I’m a fan of meditation. If you grew up in Middle America as I did, meditation might initially seem like weird metaphysical hocus-pocus, but it doesn’t have to be like that.
All that happens when you meditate is that you’re training your brain to focus on the present moment. This has been shown to have lots of psychological benefits, and in my experience it helps me focus on my tasks throughout the day.
Just sit upright in a chair for 10 minutes (you can set a timer), and focus your attention on your breath. Every time you catch your mind wandering, as you inevitably will, just gently refocus on your breath without judging yourself. That’s really all there is to it.
I recommend that you exercise before you meditate, and if you’re a caffeine drinker, get your caffeine in before you meditate too. That will make you less likely to fall asleep while you’re meditating.
Don’t forget your late-night routine too
If you find it difficult to wake up in the morning, there’s a good chance you simply aren’t getting enough sleep. Planning a late-night routine just before you go to bed can also be important, but that’s a topic that deserves an article of its own.
Those are my tips for how to get up in the morning. Get yourself a light therapy lamp, schedule an embarrassing social media post so that you have to get out of bed, plan your morning routine, switch from coffee to espresso, and exercise your body and mind.
What are your favorite tactics for waking up early?