15 Things You Can Do Today to Get up Earlier Tomorrow
This story originally appeared on BusinessInsider.com.
Not everyone is a morning person.
But if you're finding that you're consistently late for work or skipping workouts, or if you're generally feeling like you don't have enough time in the day, you might want to consider moving back your wake-up time a little.
Lots of people have tried it, and have shared the tips and tricks that worked for them. Business Insider browsed a bunch of Quora and Reddit threads and rounded up the most creative strategies we found below.
Try them all and see what helps you — we promise it won't be as horrible as you're anticipating.
Limit your caffeine intake in the late afternoon and evening
"Some people are extremely sensitive to caffeine," says Quora user Kevin Jon, "and don't understand how it can still keep them awake much later."
One study found that consuming 400 milligrams of caffeine — that's about how much is in a Starbucks Venti coffee — even six hours before bedtime disrupted sleep. Specifically, those who consumed a caffeine pill six hours before bed slept about an hour less than they slept when they didn't consume caffeine.
The researchers suggest that people limit their caffeine consumption to before 5 p.m. at the latest. You can do your own experiment to see if cutting yourself off earlier helps you get a better night's rest and wake up feeling rejuvenated.
Take on the responsibility of waking someone else
That's a suggestion from Quora user Shikhar Gupta.
So tell your best friend or your brother that you'll be their human alarm clock by calling them when they're supposed to get up. That way, you'll be sabotaging someone else's success when you oversleep, giving you an even more pressing reason to get out of bed.
Set a bedtime alarm
It can take a lot of willpower to say to yourself, "I need to be up in eight hours. So I'm going to bed right now."
To make that behavior easier, Quora user Ben Mordecai says, "you just need to set an alarm both for when you want to wake up and when you will need to start going to bed."
The bedtime alarm won't necessarily force you to start putting on pajamas, but it will jolt you out of whatever non-sleeping activity you're currently doing, like browsing your Facebook News Feed.
Create a custom alarm that inspires you
It's tempting to crawl back under the covers and hide there if your alarm clock is of the beeping or blaring variety.
Quora user Nela Canovic has some suggestions: "Make a recording of your own voice saying a positive message, then save it as your alarm tone. Queue up some music that you find uplifting and energizing, and schedule it to play when you need to wake up."
Don't interrupt a sleep cycle
If you slept a solid eight hours and still woke up feeling groggy, you may have unwittingly interrupted a sleep cycle.
A single sleep cycle typically lasts around 90 minutes, during which your body moves through five stages of sleep, according to psychologist Amie Gordon on Psychology Today.
As Quora user Ganeshram Rajakumar puts it, "When using an alarm clock, you run the risk of waking up in the middle of one [cycle], which is gonna make you feel like a truck hit you."
Rajakumar recommends using an online calculator to figure out your ideal bedtime. For example, if you want to wake up at 6 a.m., the calculator will tell you to go to bed at 9:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m., 12:00 p.m., or 1:30 a.m. (and leave an extra 14 minutes to fall asleep).
Set one — and only one — alarm
It makes sense to think that the best way to ensure you get up early is to set multiple alarms. That way, even if you miss or ignore one, you'll hear the next five.
Redditor rjjm88 disagrees: "Do NOT hit that snooze button, do NOT set multiple alarms — that will give you a false sense of security. When you hear that alarm, get up, go take a shower."
Even in your sleepy state, you might realize that if you shut off the alarm, you'll be sunk — so you'd better wake up.
Start an enjoyable nighttime routine
Researchers recently identified a behavior called "bedtime procrastination." Basically, people put off hitting the hay even though there's nothing explicitly keeping them from going to sleep.
One potential way to conquer that habit is to create a nighttime ritual you enjoy and that lets you ease into bedtime more than, say, closing your computer, brushing your teeth, and shutting the lights.
Quora user Simon Haestoe shares his experience with this strategy: "My sleep was stably horrible for 15 or so years. I stayed up late, because I always managed to find fun things to do, and going to bed felt so, so boring."
Eventually, he realized that he could start a nighttime ritual hours before he planned to go to sleep:
"I didn't have to do things that bored me. Instead, I could watch non-intense movies, listen to relaxing music, and I could turn the whole thing to an experience I enjoyed and that I looked forward to having, all day long."
Place your phone or alarm clock across the room
One survey found that the majority of Americans sleep with their phone right next to them. If you use your phone as your alarm clock, that makes it all too easy to hit "snooze" or turn off the alarm entirely.
Instead, take a tip from Quora user Ho-Sheng Hsiao:
"I put the charger of my phone and my glasses in a place that forces me to get up and walk across the room to turn off. I had noticed that moving the body and physically getting out of bed helps start transitioning from sleep to being awake."
Register for an early-morning activity
"Sign up for an early class, something that requires attendance and you are really, really, really interested in," writes Quora user Anita Singh, who started hitting a 6 a.m. yoga class. "Once you have a stake in the cause you will be more likely to follow through."
Preferably, the class should be something you pay for, since research suggests that the prospect of losing money can be motivating for people.
Put all your worries on paper
It's pretty normal to have trouble falling or staying asleep because you're still consumed by the day's anxieties.
Quora user Kavitha Uthappa's solution is to "write down all the pending work you have on a diary; it will help you stop thinking about what you have to do tomorrow when you go to bed."
Uthappa is onto something: One study found that simply jotting down how you plan to complete any uncompleted tasks the following day can help prevent those worries from popping up.
Have something to look forward to
If the only thing you have planned for the early morning is showering and trekking to the office, then it's no wonder you can't find the motivation to get out of bed.
That's why Quora user Paul DeJoe says, "You have to be excited about something to do in the morning. If you're not, then sleeping in as an option is always gonna feel better."
DeJoe breaks it down further, telling readers to take some time at night to write down five things they'd like to get done the next day.
Whether those goals include reading a chapter of a new novel, going for a run, or simply eating a nutritious breakfast, knowing that you have a bunch of pleasurable activities lined up may make it easier to greet the day.
Cut your screen time before bed
Resist the siren call of Netflix, Instagram, and Twitter.
"We are actually more sensitive to artificial light and computer screens than we realize," writes Quora user Steven Ericson, "so stay completely away from screens and any brightly lit environments for three to four hours before your target bedtime."
Indeed, a growing body of research suggests that staring at the blue and white light emitted from digital screens prevents your brain from releasing the hormone melatonin, which lets your body know when it's time to sleep.
So it becomes harder to fall and stay asleep — and presumably to wake up feeling refreshed the following morning.
Chug a glass of water before bed
An anonymous Quora user recommends drinking a full glass of water before going to sleep so you have to relieve yourself in the morning.
"After some trial and error, I realized that drinking 300 mL of water before going to bed would wake me up exactly at 7 a.m.," the user writes.
You can do your own experimentation to figure out how much water you need to drink to wake up at the desired time.
Leave the blinds open
Especially if you live in a busy city, it can be tempting to close the blinds and shut out the bright lights. Try not to.
Redditor jehaniswhut recommends leaving them open; inDiscovery adds: "The morning sun beating into your eyes is enough to piss anyone off to the point of getting up."
Don't sleep more than you need to
It's pretty obvious that you have a harder time waking up when you've gotten only fewer hours of sleep.
But experts say that sleeping too much can also leave you feeling lethargic. That's because any change in your normal sleep patterns can throw off your internal clock and increase daytime fatigue.
That was Quora user Jeff Smith's experience: "For months I repeatedly had trouble getting out of bed. I would keep snoozing or turn [the alarm] off and think just 15 minutes more would help. Nope."
Finally, he realized: "The reason I had such trouble was because the longer I over-slept, the worse I felt. I needed to recognize how long I needed."
Figure out exactly how much sleep your body requires and make sure not to get more than that on any given night — even weekends.