Mind & Body

7 Tips for Becoming an Early Riser

Imagine waking up at 5 a.m., well-rested and ready for the day. The sun hasn't risen. Everything is quiet. You drink some tea, do a crossword, and achieve self-actualization. It sounds like a fantasy, but it's far from impossible.

Why Not Sleep as Much as Possible?

Sleep is definitely amazing, but the early morning is also a great time to get things done. At 5 a.m., no one at work expects you to chat or reply to emails, and no one you live with expects you to make them breakfast or listen to their morning pump-up jams. It's sort of like you're the lone survivor of the apocalypse, in a non-scary way.

The peace and quiet is great for tackling challenging projects, whether that's "eating the frog" by tackling your biggest task early or squeezing in a workout before work. (Last-minute obligations often crop up at night, but a morning workout is a pretty sustainable routine.) As Edith Zimmerman put it over at the Cut: "My early-morning self makes the day more pleasant for my regular self."

That might even be soft-pedaling the early-morning self's power. Throughout history, there have been tons of successful early risers. Thomas Jefferson used to get up every day with the sun to record the weather, and Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly gets up at 3:45 a.m. It might not always make you a renowned leader, but a little extra time in the morning means, at the very least, that you have time to lay out goals for the day and put on matching socks.

7 Tips for Getting Up Early

It's not for everyone — some people might just be genetically predisposed to being night owls — but if you want to give early rising a try, here's how.

1. Take it slow. When you're just starting out, push your wake-up time back 15 or 20 minutes each morning. if you normally wake up at 8, waking up randomly at 5 will make you feel like a zombie.

2. Go to bed earlier (and do it right). You don't want to be sleep deprived, so set a bedtime for yourself and stick to it. If you're not tired when bedtime rolls around, at least get in bed and read until you doze off. No screens after bedtime — the light they emit makes our bodies think it's daytime.

3. Have a morning plan. What do you want to get done with your wide-open morning hours? If you don't have an objective, you'll just wander back to bed.

4. Eat breakfast. Getting up earlier means going longer before lunch, so breakfast becomes unmissable. Plus, a tasty breakfast makes an early morning something you can (theoretically) look forward to. Make it one with lots of complex carbohydrates and fiber to help you feel alert.

5. Use a gentle alarm clock. If waking up early still feels like ripping out your fingernails, try the Sleep Cycle app. Instead of waking you up at a set time, it wakes you up near your desired time during a light patch in your sleep cycle. It makes waking up less startling, and it's recommended by at least one frequent oversleeper.

6. Also, put your alarm clock far from your bed. If you have to hike across your room to turn it off, you're less likely to hit snooze. If you use a phone app for your alarm, this can do double duty by keeping your device out of arm's reach once you climb in bed for the night.

7. Stick with it. The first early morning is the worst early morning, but bodies adapt. You can do this!

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For time-management advice from the busiest people on the planet, check out "Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind," a book of 20 essays by power players like Cal Newport and Tony Schwartz. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Mae Rice January 2, 2019

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