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Want To Wake Up Early? Sleep Experts Explain How To Do It In 9 Simple Steps

Sarah Regan
June 12, 2023
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
June 12, 2023
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They say the early bird gets the worm—but how does one actually become an early bird if waking up early doesn't come naturally to you? Here, we're unpacking why waking up early is beneficial, why you might struggle with it, and how to become a morning person once and for all.

9 tips to wake up early:


Give yourself enough time for a full night's sleep.

While some adults might fare fine with seven hours of sleep and others might need closer to nine, the general rule of thumb is that adults need roughly eight hours of quality sleep a night to wake up feeling rested.

According to Janet Kennedy, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor, here's how to figure out when you should go to bed, based on when you want to wake up:

  1. Consider the time that you need to be awake, and set a recurring alarm for that time. If you don't have schedule constraints, pick a time that fits your lifestyle.
  2. Working your way backward, figure out what time you should be going to bed every night to clock the number of hours of sleep your body needs.
  3. Stick with this new schedule for a couple of weeks. Wake up at the same time every day without pressing the snooze button.
  4. Track how it's going with a sleep diary. Take note of what time you start getting sleepy at night. That's a good indication of your sleep needs.
  5. Tweak your sleep-wake schedule until you fall into a routine that feels manageable. Eventually, with enough consistency, your body should get used to this new wake-up time and you might not even need an alarm to get up.

Figure out your sleep chronotype.

We all have a circadian rhythm that influences when we feel energized versus when we feel sleepy. But here's the thing—everyone's circadian rhythm is a bit different. As board-certified sleep specialist Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. tells mindbodygreen, most people fall under one of four "sleep chronotypes," or circadian rhythm patterns, that can help you figure out the most optimal schedule for your circadian rhythm.

"[Struggling to wake up early] is often an issue that involves people not being aware of their chronotype, [which is] a genetically driven sleep schedule that lets you know if you are naturally an early bird or a night owl," Breus explains.

Here's a quick quiz to figure out whether you're a bear, lion, wolf, or dolphin chronotype. Once you know yours, here's our guide to the optimal daily schedule for each chronotype.


Get natural light during the day.

One simple way to influence or reset your circadian rhythm is by using light to your advantage. Light is actually what lets the circadian rhythm know when it's day versus night, with Breus recommending to get natural light in the morning to help wake you up (and let your body know that that's when you should be waking up consistently).

"There are many sunrise alarm clocks that will help with this," Breus adds. (Here are our favorites, to that end.)

And in addition to getting light in the morning, keep in mind that as the evening winds down, you'll want to avoid light, and especially blue light at that.


Have an accountability partner.

If you have a partner or roommate at home—or a fellow friend who wants to wake up early—consider enlisting them as an accountability partner. "I have one patient who has a wake up accountability partner where they both wake each other up with phone calls," Breus tells mindbodygreen. 


Keep a consistent daily routine.

The circadian rhythm thrives on routine; the more consistent your daily schedule is, the more likely you are to wake up at the same time every morning with ease. As Breus notes, things like meals, exercise, and when you start to wind down are all important factors. "Exercising at the right time based on your circadian rhythm can be quite helpful," he adds. (For example, bear chronotypes do better exercising first thing, while wolves have a prime exercise window in the early evening.)


Try a quality sleep supplement.

Waking up early starts with setting yourself up for a good night's sleep, which is where a quality sleep supplement comes in.

Of course, there are so many options on the market today, so you'll want to look for research-backed ingredients, such a magnesium bisglycinate or jujube seed extract.

Here are our top picks for the best sleep supplements available right now to help you get started.


Watch your caffeine and alcohol consumption.

This one might sound obvious, but you might be surprised to learn that caffeine can linger in your system longer than you might think. According to Breus, research has indicated you should avoid caffeine at 1least1 six hours before bed1—if not more—so falling asleep isn't an issue.

And when it comes to alcohol, despite its seemingly sleep-inducing effects, it can actually disrupt sleep. That's because it affects your body's natural production of melatonin2—and can cause or ramp up symptoms of sleep apnea3, such as snoring.


Don't hit snooze.

Point blank, just consider the snooze button your worst enemy to waking up early. As integrative medicine physician Dana Cohen, M.D., previously told mindbodygreen, until your new sleep schedule is consistent enough not to need an alarm, you'll still need to set one. And when it goes off, force yourself to get up right away.

"Just do it. Get out of bed when the alarm goes off. Do not hit snooze," Cohen says. While it's not always easy, you can get up! Be sure to check out our tips for getting energized in the morning to put some more pep in your step.


Make your mornings enjoyable.

Last but not least, you'll be much more likely to wake up early if you have something to look forward to as your day begins. Maybe it's your favorite breakfast, an amped-up workout, or a morning stroll through your neighborhood. 

"If you really enjoy your morning shower, then remind yourself how good you'll feel when the water is hitting your face and back," holistic psychiatrist Ellen Vora, M.D., offers as an example, adding, "For some people who get into the groove of meditation, that can give them a little high they can look forward to."

Benefits of waking up early

There are plenty of benefits of waking up early, even if your version of early is a bit later than someone else's. Remember, your bears and lions might be waking up at 6 a.m. with no problem, but if you're a wolf who wakes up closer to 7 a.m. and that feels early enough for you, don't feel like you have to force yourself to get up earlier.

Once you're routinely waking up at the same time, you count on your morning routine to add consistency and reliability to your day. You know what to expect, and so does your body—so you'll be much more likely to wake up feeling alert and potentially even without an alarm at that.

Beyond that, some research suggests that getting up early could also improve productivity4, not to mention you'll simply feel like you have more hours in the day to get things done.

And when you can keep your wake time consistent, even on the weekends, you'll avoid "social jet lag" (aka throwing off your sleep schedule in order to sleep in when you can), which research suggests can negatively impact your cholesterol5diet6, and cardiometabolic health7.

Why can't I wake up early?  

There are a number of reasons you might struggle to wake up early, with Breus telling mindbodygreen that you are likely working against your circadian rhythm and chronotype if you're tired in the morning.

"For example," he says, "a night owl who sets their alarm for 6 a.m. may find their biology is working against them because their melatonin (sleep hormone) hasn't worn off and won't until 7 or 8 a.m., Breus explains.

And if you're a notorious snoozer, that's definitely going to throw off your ability to wake up. When you hit snooze, Vora previously told mbg, "Nobody wins. You're not getting great rest, and you're also not having a leisurely, relaxed morning."

Other issues might include, according to Breus, too much caffeine or alcohol, stress, an inconsistent routine, or even a sleep disorder. "Following a good sleep routine and not being sleep deprived will help tremendously," he says.

Once you've addressed all the tips in this article, if you're still struggling with your sleep and/or waking up when you want to, that's when you should consider talking with your doctor about sleep disorders and potential treatments.


How can I force myself to wake up early?

If you need to force yourself to wake up early, go to bed earlier than usual the night before, do not hit snooze when your alarm goes off, and do something to pump yourself up like dancing or getting natural light. Consider having an accountability partner to give you a wake-up call if that helps, too.

Why is it so hard to wake up early?

A number of things can make it difficult to wake up early, including your own circadian rhythm and daily schedule, hitting snooze, not getting enough sleep, and more.

How can I train my brain to wake up early?

To train your brain to wake up early, consistency is key. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day according to your sleep chronotype, and keep your daily routine pretty much the same in terms of when you work out, eat, start winding down, etc.

The takeaway

Whether you're naturally an early bird or more of a night owl, sometimes life requires us to wake up early. The good news is, with a consistent routine and a few helpful morning hacks, anyone can be a morning person—and you may not even have to set an alarm.