Self Improvement, Success Strategies

How to Wake Up Early and Feel Refreshed Without Sleeping More

11 Comments 01 February 2012

Since New Years I’ve been experimenting with the best ways to wake up early. I wanted to wake up early because I enjoy the quietness of the mornings and am most productive during this time period (6-11AM).

Here are some observations and suggestions on how to wake up early

  1. The sooner you’re exposed to light, the better. The winters in New England suck because you have to get up before the sunrise. Humans have evolved to wake up with the sunrise. As soon as you wake up, turn on a lamp. There are also Sunrise Alarm Clocks that get good reviews but I haven’t tried one yet.
  2. Get up during the lightest stage of your sleep cycle. You want to avoid being waken up when you’re in the deep/REM stage of your sleep. I’ve been testing out an iPhone app called the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock. You place your iPhone on the corner of your bed and it determines what part of the sleep cycle you’re in based on your movement. You set a time you want to wake up and a time window in which it’s ok for the alarm to go off. It’ll then wake you up at a better point in your sleep cycle and you will feel more refreshed. It works and it’s worth the 99 cents.
  3. Get warm quickly when you wake up. When it’s cold in the room when I wake up, I have zero desire to get out of bed just knowing that cold air will hit me. Your body temperature is lower than normal and you’re groggy. When it’s too warm, I tend to kick off the covers and feel more awake. If you can time your thermostat to get warmer in the morning, great.  If not, have a sweatshirt and some warm pants ready to go.  Cooler temperatures help you sleep, warmer temperatures help you wake up.
  4. Have a pleasant morning routine. Every time I’ve attempted to workout in the morning, the routine inevitably failed. It sucked to think the first thing I had to do was exert myself physically. The exception to this is when I was working out with a group. If the first thing you have to do in the morning sucks, you’ll just simply delay getting out of bed. I recommend taking a hot shower and having a cup of coffee as the first things you do in the morning. If you want to workout in the morning, wake up one hour earlier, shower, have your coffee, and then workout.

Hopefully these tips will help you wake up in the morning feel refreshed without actually going to bed earlier.

  • Ian

    awesome – didn’t know about the sleep cycle alarm clock, thanks for that

  • Albert

    Haha awesome Dale! We had all missed your posts over the last week.

    I’ve been experimenting a little with waking up early and one thing that’s working is practice. As in lying in bed with all the lights off (at a random time early evening when I’m not intending to go to sleep) and setting my alarm for 5 minutes later. Then I go and perform the first few minutes of my morning routine. It trains your subconscious, which is the only thing that influences your actions when you’re curled in bed in 6 am.

    Oh and sleep cycle alarm clock => now downloaded

    • Anonymous

      Ha I like your subconscious training routine. You should try adding a bunch of exercise in addition to the morning routine. Maybe then you’ll have run a few miles in the morning before you realize what happened.

      Let me know how you like the sleep cycle alarm clock. It’s pretty awesome.

  • bob pasker

    you obviously don’t have kids

    • Anonymous

      Nope. You probably need a separate iPhone for the kids loaded with kid friendly distracting apps. That is not currently a feature of the Sleep Cycle App ;) .

      On the other hand, you could probably try getting up earlier than your kids (assuming that you don’t already).

  • David

    Awesome post!  I look forward to trying out the app!  

  • Greg

    Thanks for the tips… I’ve heard that those Sunrise Alarm Clocks rock, but I haven’t tried one myself. It’s true what you say about getting up early to do something you enjoy. If you’re getting up early so you can hurry to your lousy job, it’s always a struggle. If you wake up early so you can sit and do nothing and drink the world’s slowest cup of coffee, it’s much easier.

    • DaleDavidson149

      Hey Greg,

      Thanks for the kind words. I may break down and buy one of those sunrise clocks. I wish there was a portable version or some sort of iphone attachment that lights up.

      The pleasant morning routine is probably the most helpful tip. It’s why I’ve never been able to consistently work out first thing in the morning. The thought of pushing myself physically just makes me want to hit snooze indefinitely.


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  • Roman

    What may  best as the first thing to do upon waking up in the morning is a short meditation with focusing on something — to raise SMR brainwaves (for a relaxed body but alert mind).

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