A Guide to Waking Up Early

alarm clock

According to neurolinguistic programming, one of the ways to increase your efficiency and success rate is modeling the lives of people you admire. If you look at the habits of the most successful people in the world, you will see that many of them have a habit of waking up early, including Tim Cook (CEO of Apple), Richard Branson (Virgin Group), Indra Nooyi (Pepsi CEO). It is possible, you have also tried to do it (getting up early), only to fail after a few days. So here a detailed guide to the best way to wake up in the morning. We’ll start with the benefits.

Why should you get up early?

Waking up early can have a tremendous impact on your life and change your life for the better. It not only gives you several hours of extra time (which you would otherwise have spent asleep) but also gives you a feeling that you are in control of your life. It can help you start your day in a relaxed state of mind and then go about your daily work with intention.

Here’s some proof to back it. A 2008 study by a Harvard biologist called Christopher Randler found that people who do their best work in the morning, are more likely to achieve career success than those who reach their peak performance in the evening.

The study involved 367 university students, who were asked what time of the day they felt more energetic. A large percentage of the students who woke up early, agreed that they were able to give more time to think about long range goals and that they felt empowered to change things to their advantage.

Morning people also tend to do better in business. People who reach their peak performance in the evening or at night are hopelessly out of sync with the corporate world. Morning larks also manage to get better grades in school and college, which helps them crack better colleges, leading to better jobs. They also anticipate problems better and take steps to minimize them. Next, we’ll see what are some of the best ways to wake up early.

Tips for those planning to wake up early

If you want to wake up early, you should take all those actions which can help you wake up early. In a way, waking up early is a form of delayed gratification. – resisting an immediate reward in anticipation of a greater reward later. Delayed gratification been connected to a host of benefits like improved physical health, social competence, and even academic success.

The idea is, if you can resist sleeping in after you’ve heard the alarm ring, you will collect benefits other people (who can’t wake up to the alarm) won’t earn in the long run. Here are a few more things you can do to increase your chances of getting up early.

Think about your ideal morning

According to British philosopher Bertrand Russel, most people would rather die than think! If you want to improve your life, introspect about it. Introspection is frequently recommended in psychotherapy as a tool to help people gain insights into their behavior and life. Sit down for a moment and think about what did you accomplish today? Did you make any progress towards your goal? Think about the things you can do if you wake up early and it will motivate you.

Keep your devices a few feet away from bed

Notice that you tend to feel sleepy around the same time every night. This cycle also repeats for energy levels. This cycle is called the circadian rhythm and it is regulated by lighting conditions. Fiddling with your cell phone or watching television before going to sleep can mess up your circadian rhythm and you may not be able to get up early. The short wave, blue light produced by these devices also depresses the effect of melatonin (the sleep hormone), while increasing the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. The best thing to do is to keep your electronic devices a few feet away from your bed so you don’t end up using it instead of going off to sleep.

Don’t drink any stimulants before going to bed

Don’t drink alcohol or any other type of stimulant (energy drinks, coffee or tea) before going to bed. A group of researchers at the University of Melbourne found that while drinking alcohol can make you drowsy, it is not so good for the quality of sleep. The team studied the quality of sleep of 24 people – 12 men and 12 women. They found that people who drank alcohol experienced higher delta activity sleep (a slow-wave sleep cycle associated with memory formation) for the first few hours. But in the next few hours, many of them began to show disruption in their sleep, including more awakenings. The same goes for coffee and tea. One study found that drinking coffee 6 hours before going to bed, reduced the time of sleep by one hour.

Try reading a book

According to a study conducted at the University of Sussex, reading a book for six minutes in bed before sleeping can reduce stress by up to 68% and help you cope with insomnia. According to the study author, Dr. David Lewis, reading is not just a distraction but it engages the imagination actively and stimulates our creativity, helping us enter an altered state of consciousness. You can read anything you want, even the newspaper, as long as you read something.

Use an alarm app to help you wake up

This seems cliched, but the best tool in your arsenal to get up early in the morning is still the humble alarm clock. Luckily, there are many alarm apps to help you wake up. But the problem with many of these alarm apps is that they have a snooze button. It has been found, using the snooze button can revert your brain back to the start of your sleep cycle, which is probably the worst time to wake up. A good way to train yourself to wake up early is to try an alarm that doesn’t give you an option to wake up, like Larky alarm.

Drink coffee after you wake up

Anyone who’s ever had coffee knows it can make you more alert. The chemical in coffee that brings about this effect is called caffeine. This is how it works. As we go through the day, the body builds up a store of a chemical called adenosine. Along with melatonin, this chemical is responsible for making us sleepy. Caffeine blocks the effect of adenosine on the body, while also enhancing the secretion of stimulation chemicals such as serotonin, cortisol, acetylcholine, and others.

Exercise after you wake up in the morning

One study found that people who exercised early in the day, burned 20% more calories than people who work out later in the day. It might seem counterintuitive but exercise can help you wake up. It is because exercise produces endorphins or feel-good hormones, which make us more alert. Exercising also raises the body temperature and gets the blood flowing to the brain, waking us up. The best kind of exercises for waking up are light exercises like yoga, planks, calisthenics or even running. Avoid hard exercises because you’ve just woken your body from hours of stillness (sleep) and hard exercises can cause injuries at this point. It is best not to exercise just before going to bed.

Maintain a healthy diet

A good diet, specifically a diet rich in natural sugars (fast acting fructose, glucose, and sucrose), can do a lot to help you wake up early and stay awake than many other things. The right morning food will replenish your body’s store of glucose and give you a solid start for the rest of the day. So don’t avoida good breakfast. On the other hand, avoid sugary foods like sweetened fruit juice, sugar-coated cereals because they can make you cranky and contribute to weight gain. Try fruits, eggs, milk, oatmeal and other healthy foods instead. Substitute sugar with honey, a healthier alternative.

Keep drinking water throughout the day

The first thing to do after you get up early in the morning is to drink a glass of water. You haven’t had a sip of water for hours when you were sleeping and your body is dehydrated. Water is necessary to remain hydrated and maintain general wellbeing. Drinking water also helps your body stabilize its hormone levels, improve digestion, burn more calories and achieve a better quality of sleep. Drinking water can also make you more alert. But don’t drink too much water before you go to sleep because it increases your chances of nocturia or urge to urinate at night.

How to stick through the plan?

Most people want to ‘build’ but few want to ‘maintain’. Afterall, ‘building’ seems more interesting than ‘maintaining’. But as Pablo Picasso said, ‘A goal can be achieved only with the help of a plan. Once you’ve set a plan, act on it fevrently. That is the only way to succeed’. Now that you have the tools to wake yourself up, it is time we talked about how to stick to it. First of all, here are a few things you should not do with your extra time, including checking emails, social media or even the news. So what can you do with your extra time?

Do some meditation

Morning meditation can help you set the agenda for the day. It can help you become more focused and optimistic. Your perspective will broaden and you will bring balance into your life. You don’t have to sit in meditation for hours. In the beginning, try to meditate for as less as three minutes. Sit quietly in a corner and practice mindfulness. If you can, meditate in natural sunlight because it has been found that reducing exposure to sunlight delays your internal body clock or circadian rhythm.

Prepare for the next day before going to bed

There is no doubt that early waking can be uncomfortable and your body is going to look for excuses to make it more so. So you have to minimize the chances of this occurring by sitting down and setting out a plan, the night before. Start by planning your breakfast, laying your clothes out and putting the alarm out of arms reach. Some people have a plan for what they are going to do in the first half of the next morning – exercises, meditation. This creates a routine which will put you in good shape to achieve your goals for the rest of the day.

Start slow and build on initial gains

You’ve taken a decision to wake up early and now you have to put your plan into action. A mistake that most people do when they first attempt something new is jump right into it without preparation. The fact is, if you want to wake up early, you will probably be more successful at it, if you ease into it. The plan is to make it into a sustainable process.

For example, if you typically wake up at 7.00 am but want to wake up at 5.00 am, try to get up at 6.30 at first (for a week or two), then wind the alarm back to 6.00 (for another week or two), then 5.30 am (for a week or two) until you reach your goal of waking up at 5.00 am. This not only makes your goal manageable and stress-free (giving your body time to adjust to the new waking time) but also allows you to build on intial achievements, making the target more sustainable.

Conclusion

Many people attempt to wake up on time but only a few succeed in doing it consistently. However, it is also true that anyone can do it with the right knowledge and training. Here is a rule – the percent rule. It says small increments in performance over a period of time can lead to a significant edge in benefits over time, over other competitors.

So if you want to get up early, try setting a small target for yourself, initially and then build on it. Finally, there are many alarm apps to help you wake up on the Google Store, including Larky – one of the best free alarm clock app for Android. So please try them out.