According to the National Sleep Foundation, impaired work performance due to sleep loss costs U.S. companies billions each year. Whether or not you are worried about your production in a professional setting, poor sleep habits could be reducing your efficiency with daily tasks. One key to getting a good night’s rest and increasing productivity during the day may be rising earlier, but it can be difficult to learn how to wake up early while still getting the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye.
If you want to cash in on productivity and peace that early morning hours can bring, here are 7 tips on how to wake up early without burning the candle at both ends.
1. Start Tomorrow
Get serious about making a change in your sleeping pattern and plan to start tomorrow. Putting off a change in habit only prolongs and strengthens the habit you already have. There is never going to be a perfect day to start waking up early. You might like to round things out by starting on a Monday, but there is nothing wrong with Wednesday or even Friday.
2. Kill the Snooze Button
The snooze button is your secret door. This is your way out of the entire plan to wake up early, and no matter how much you think you can stay away from it, at 5 a.m., you are going to slip through that sucker faster than the White Rabbit and Alice.
Hitting snooze allows you to tumble back into sleep, sometimes for up to another hour, as you hit that button over and over. You wake up gradually, which can reduce your overall morning energy level. If you can’t avoid the temptation, opt for a simple alarm clock without the snooze option.
3. Start the Night Before
A good start for the morning begins the night before. Experts recommend that most adults average seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Count back from the time you want to wake to determine when you need to be in bed. If you want to wake at 5 a.m., for example, then you need to fall asleep around 10:00 p.m. Don’t worry if you miss that window on occasion, but aim for it four or five nights a week.
4. Plan for Sleep
If you want to be sleeping, or nearly there, by 10 p.m., that doesn’t mean you turn off the television and grab your toothbrush at 9:55. It can take up to an hour to complete pre-bed activities and allow your mind to wind down.
Try turning everything off at least 30 minutes before sleep time. This includes the television, computer and any other stimulant. Drink a cup of hot tea, but avoid caffeinated or high-sugar items. Get ready for bed, and then do something relaxing for a few minutes, like browse a magazine article. At the appointed time, turn off the lights and settle in.
5. Time Your Coffee
If you enjoy coffee, opt for a coffeemaker with a timer option. Set the machine to brew a pot of your favorite flavor just before your alarm goes off. The lovely aroma will start to wake you, and you will be more willing to get out of bed when the alarm goes off because your favorite mug is calling your name.
6. Make the Morning Rewarding
Sometimes, we hunker down under the blankets because the morning that awaits us is full of stress, noise or busyness. By waking up before anyone else, you can make the morning enjoyable. Many people look forward to the quiet of the house, a great cup of coffee or breakfast item, time to contemplate, or a few moments of exciting production.
Many novelists, for example, wrote their books in the wee hours of the morning. Give yourself a reason to get up and make the experience rewarding. You will be surprised how fast you learn to rise in the cool, dark hours when you are properly motivated.
7. Keep Trying
Practice makes… well, most of the time, practice makes a pretty good attempt. Chances are you aren’t going to be perfect with your early morning routine. There will be times when your body and mind actually need to sleep in. Give yourself those times on occasion, but keep trying to be consistent with your schedule. One person I know even wakes up early on the weekends, because he finds it easier not to interrupt his schedule.
Once you learn how to wake up early, you may be surprised at the little changes you see in your life. There are numerous blogs devoted to rising early, and the authors claim increased peace, productivity, and enjoyment of life. Even converted night owls love their early morning hours once they get used to the schedule.
If you learned to wake up an hour before everyone else, how would you spend that time?