How to Wake Up Early Even If You Love Sleeping Late

by Becky Bracken
Originally Published: 
How to Wake Up Early
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There are plenty of natural instincts that kick in the nanosecond you become a parent — other stuff takes a little more effort. Of course, it’s different for everyone. Some parents struggle with feeding, others with naps and bedtime. For plenty of folks, it’s the early hours that feel most brutal. If that sounds like you, you’re now wondering how to wake up early and have enough energy left over to make it through the rest of the day. The good news? It’s possible, even if you’re a die-hard late sleeper.

Before you have kids, people tell you about the hours, but it’s hard to understand until you’re in it. Sleep when the baby sleeps, they say. So when is everything else supposed to get done? Get on a schedule, they say. But, c’mon, someone tell that to the kid! And melatonin isn’t exactly a solution, either. As any parent will assure you, it’s not getting tired that’s the problem; it’s scheduling the right amount of time to sleep.

Bottom line: Getting up early is a lifestyle. As in, yep, this is your life now. But buck up, Mama, because it won’t suck forever. You can do this! We’re here to help with some sleep-deprived-parent-approved tips.

Why is it so hard to wake up?

It’s normal for some people to have a natural rhythm to their sleep cycles, which means they’re at their best when they stay up later and sleep in later. So if you’re like one of the millions of people who have trouble getting up and going in the morning (same), you’re not alone in finding early wake-up calls difficult.

But why is waking up such a struggle? Like, to the point you feel like you can’t keep your eyes open? Feedings and early morning cries may be excellent alarm clocks, but fighting the urge to go right back to sleep can be damn near impossible. Well, that groggy feeling is called “sleep inertia” and is a natural transition state from being asleep to fully awake. It just takes a while to shake.

But babies aren’t particularly helpful in that sort of situation, and you need not to hate the rest of the day. What’s someone with an early morning aversion to do, then? Keep reading, fatigued friend.

What’s a solid bedtime routine to wake up early?

This certainly isn’t breaking news, but getting to bed earlier (consistently) is the best first step to training yourself to wake up early. It’s tough for parents to resist staying up late to watch rated-R movies and drinking wine to celebrate a few quiet moments, but there are plenty of reasons to avoid late-night self-care gluttony sessions if you’re trying to wake up early.

The late hours aren’t helpful, but neither is booze or snacks. A nightcap will actually mess up the quality of your sleep, even though it might help you fall asleep faster. Why? Alcohol jacks up your circadian rhythms and other biological sleep regulators. According to experts, your body is also less equipped to metabolize alcohol late at night than it is earlier in the day, ultimately making it harder to wake up early in the morning. Ditto for hoovering down that bag of Doritos. Digestion and acid reflux are not conducive to a good night’s rest.

Overall, consider treating your bedtime with the same reverence as you do the kids’. Set a schedule and stick to it. Come up with a nighttime routine to help get settled and signal to your body it’s nighty-night time. Put some thought into the best sleep position to ease you to dreamland. You go through the elaborate nightly bedtime choreography with the kids because it works. Give yourself the same reliable schedule.

What are some early morning rituals for success?

Our natural internal clocks, called circadian rhythms, are influenced by exposure to light, especially two hours before bedtime and one hour after waking up. To get to bed early, start dimming any bright lights about two hours before bed — including devices and screens. And when you wake up, get that light on you to signal it’s time to get up and get going.

Once you’re up and bathed in the glow of the morning sun, eat something. Even if you’re not a “breakfast person,” giving yourself some fresh energy to kick start the day is a good idea. Think about healthy breakfast options that will help fuel you, rather than empty calories or a short sugar high. You can also drink that cup of coffee you dreamt about all night long to kickstart your system with a little caffeine. Getting a bit of exercise in the morning will also help get you going. Just start with something gentle and get moving. Bonus points if you exercise in the sunshine, though!

Finally, we probably don’t have to tell you — but we will, because it’s easier said than done — that you have to resist the urge to nap. That includes “resting your eyes,” just “laying down for a minute,” or any other excuse tired parents will shamelessly use to grab a couple of extra winks.

It’s not easy, but if you can force yourself to stick to a routine, waking up early will become easier. We can’t promise you’ll turn into one of those annoying “I just can’t sleep past 5 a.m.!” people (FWIW, we still love you), but it will make mornings much more manageable.

How to Wake Up Early Tips

Mornings are hard, but they can be easier to conquer than you think if you follow these tips. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind.

  • Before going to sleep, turn off your phone, laptop, and any other screens. Your body needs a chance to wind down, and the blue light from electronics can mess with your melatonin levels and cause you to stay up longer.
  • Do you find you’re hitting the snooze button a million times before actually getting out of bed? To wake up, put your alarm clock on the other side of the room or in the hallway, so you’re forced to get up and turn it off.
  • Avoid late-night snacking. Sometimes it can cause acid reflux, which makes it harder to doze off. Often hunger is mistaken for tiredness, so instead of taking a trip to the fridge, stay in bed and wait until the morning.
  • Keep your curtains open so sunlight can come through. This will help your body wake up with less of a start and in a more calming way.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine for yourself before going to sleep. This will help you fall asleep faster, which allows you to wake up earlier.
  • Exercise. If you’re trying to train your body to fall asleep early so you can get up early, work out before bedtime. After a relaxing shower, your body will be good and ready to sleep so you can wake up refreshed.
  • Avoid eating before bed as it can cause acid reflux, which makes it harder to fall asleep.

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