Organisation and Productivity Lifestyle Personal Development

How To Get Up Early In The Morning If You Are A Night Owl

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Are you an early bird or a night owl? I love the idea of getting up early, but I think I am naturally a night owl and I have always gone through phases of struggling to get up early in the morning. Once I’m up, I love the early mornings, but actually getting out of bed is the difficult part.

Getting up early is a necessity for some, to meet the demands of a job or school. Others, myself included, just want to get up earlier to boost their productivity. In this blog post, I want to share with you some of the tips and methods I have used over the years to help me get up early in the morning despite being more of a night owl.

A woman just waking up and stretching in a bed with white bedlinen.
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Why get up early?

Everyone has different rhythms and routines, and getting up early won’t work for everyone. But here are some of the possible benefits that getting up early could give you:

  • You’ll get more done in your day
  • The early morning hours are quieter with less distractions
  • More time to get ready = less stressful mornings
How To Get Up Early If You Are A Night Owl

How To Get Up Early In The Morning If You Are A Night Owl

Practise getting up to an alarm during the day

I learned this tip many years ago from a blog post by Steve Pavlina. You can read it to get the whole process but, basically, it involves repeatedly setting your alarm during the day and practising getting out of bed when it goes off. This sounds ridiculous but it supposedly programs the response into your subconscious mind so that you automatically get up when your alarm goes off. I’ve tried it and it does work, although I found that the effects wore off after a while and I had to practise more. It’s worth a try to see if it would help you.

Prepare your morning routine the night before

What do you normally do right away when you get up? For me, it’s to put on some warm clothes and have a hot drink. Therefore I’ve got in the habit of preparing these things the night before – putting warm clothes on the chair by my bed and filling a flask with hot water. Then I can roll out of bed into some warm clothes and pour myself a hot drink right away. Bring whatever things you need first thing in the morning into your bedroom so that you don’t have to go far from your bed when you get up. This makes it feel like less effort to get up in the morning.

A green mug with steam rising from the contents, on a wooden bedside table. In the background is a bed with crumpled bedlinen.
Photo by David Mao on Unsplash

Use a sunrise alarm clock

If you struggle to get up early on dark winter mornings, a sunrise alarm clock can really help. It imitates the sunrise by gradually lighting up in the half-hour or so before your wake up time. This helps you to wake up more naturally as though with the sun, rather than being jolted awake in the pitch dark.

Use a sleep app

There are many clever sleep apps that can monitor your sleep and wake you up at the optimal time. I tried one called Sleep Cycle the other day and was impressed with how it worked. It uses your phone’s microphone to listen to sounds including your breathing and movements, and from this, it works out what sleep phase you are in. You can set a window of time when you’d like to wake up, and the alarm goes off when you are in a phase of light sleep. This way you feel more refreshed when you wake up.

However, I don’t recommend actually keeping your phone in bed with you because this is a fire risk as well as a possible health risk with the phone’s radiation so close to your body. Try to find an app where you can leave your phone on your bedside table (Sleep Cycle is one) or ideally even further away. I personally prefer to turn my phone off at night, but it’s interesting to see my sleep analysis so I will have to find a balance if I want to keep using the app.

The statistics page of Sleep Cycle sleep app, showing a graph of my sleep stages during one night.

Go to bed earlier

This can be easier said than done if you are a night owl. However, going to bed earlier really is a huge factor in getting up earlier. I’ve found that the best way to get myself to go to bed earlier is to start winding down early. Currently, I have set myself a wind-down time of 9 pm. I try to get all my tasks for the day finished before then, and after 9 pm I will get ready for bed and only do relaxing activities such as reading. Then, by around 10 pm I start to feel sleepy and ready for bed. I recommend making a similar evening routine that ensures you will wind down in time to go to bed at your chosen time.

Related post: How To Make Yourself Sleepy Before Bedtime – Featuring WellBeSleep

Set up a reward system

Rewards can be a great incentive to get up early. This year I have made a chart to record when I manage to successfully get up at 7 am or earlier. Even just having this chart keeps me accountable and encourages me to get out of bed so I can check off that day. You could promise yourself a reward for the day such as a sweet treat or a fun YouTube video to watch if you get up at your desired time, and deny yourself the reward if you don’t manage it. This will help train you to get up early.

A flat lay of a clock showing 8.07 and a mug of tea or coffee. These are laid out on a beige scarf and some soft, fluffy material.
Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

Plan and prepare for your day the night before

I recommend planning your day the night before and preparing everything you will need for the day. This includes writing a to-do list, picking out an outfit to wear, and packing your bag.

You might be thinking that if you get up earlier, you will have more time to plan and prepare for your day in the morning. This is true, but if you wake up and realise you have a whole lot of planning and organisation to do, you’re likely to feel reluctant and tempted to sleep in a bit longer to avoid the hard work and activity. On the other hand, if you wake up and remember that you prepared everything the night before, you’ll probably find it easier to get out of bed. All you’ll need to do is the basics of getting up, washed and dressed and having breakfast, and you can do this at a relaxed pace without rushing.

Smile when you wake up

When you first wake up, even if you feel really tired and groggy, smile and say to yourself, ‘it’s going to be a good day’. This sets the tone for the day and puts you in a positive mindset. If you make this attitude into a habit then you’ll consistently find it easier to get up earlier because you’ll feel positive about starting your day.

A man laying in bed, holding a cell phone and smiling.
Photo by Good Faces on Unsplash

Gradually get up earlier each day

One time, I’d been getting up around 8.30 but I wanted to start getting up earlier. I made a timetable and over several weeks I got up 5 minutes earlier each day until I reached my desired wake-up time. So the first day I got up at 8.25, then 8.20, then 8.15 and so on. The daily differences were hardly noticeable so this method gradually eased me into getting up earlier.

Get up with the sun

It can feel really unnatural getting up in the dark. If you especially struggle with this, and you can afford to be flexible, you might want to consider adjusting your wake-up time so you get up with the sun, or when it’s light. You could look up the sunrise times and make yourself a timetable to wake up, say, half an hour after sunrise each day. Or to keep it simple you could get up really early in the summer and later in the winter. Over the course of the year, it will even out so you needn’t feel bad about getting up late in the winter.

A sunrise shining through the window of an apartment.
Photo by Chris Becker on Unsplash

Do you find it hard to get up early in the morning?

What time do you get up in the morning? Do you find it easy or a struggle? If you find it difficult to get up early, I hope this blog post has given you some new tips and ideas to try. Do you have any of your own tips for how to get up early in the morning? I’d love to hear them – let me know in the comments below!

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How To Get Up Early In The Morning Even If You Are A Night Owl

2 Comments

  1. Great article Sophie. I am also a night owl, and will read in bed until way too late. And then I struggle to get up feeling refreshed.
    I’m going to try a few of your ideas, particularly the reward chart one.
    It’s now the school holidays in my country (New Zealand), so I don’t have to get the kids up and ready, but I could get so much more done if I get up earlier than the rest of the family!

    1. Sophie says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this article, and I hope the reward chart helps you to get up earlier! It’s great that it’s the school holidays so you can spend the early morning hours getting things done.

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