Let's face it. Not all of us are morning people. But believe it or not, you can train yourself to wake up earlier if you focus on the right habits. First, we'll look at what the current science says for how to wake up earlier in the morning feeling happy, refreshed, and energized. Then, we'll turn these insights into actionable atomic habits that you can start incorporating into your daily routine.
If you are not familiar with "atomic habits", I highly recommend you check out James Clear's, "Atomic Habits". In summary, atomic habits is a methodology for focusing on small actions that compound rather than large, ambiguous goals. So in this article, we'll break down "waking up earlier in the morning" into small, actionable habits.
The real key to making a lasting change is tracking your habits. Research shows tracking your habits significantly increases your chance of sticking with it. It also helps build awareness. If you haven't tracked your habits before, don't worry. I have a tool that makes habit tracking super easy. If you have tracked your habits before, I have something More on that later.
How to wake up refreshed in the morning
This is all about your sleep habits. You can set an alarm for 7am and roll out of bed. But unless you're building good sleep habits, you're likely to wake up groggy and hating life (I've been there). There's a lot of science out there that helps us understand how to improve our sleep. Here are a few things, backed by science, that can help you get better sleep:
- Pick a bedtime. The CDC recommends at least 7 hours of sleep for adults. I prefer shooting for 7.5 hours since our sleep cycles tend to be around 90 minutes. Depending on how long it takes you to get ready for bed and fall asleep, work backwards to figure out a good bed time. If you set the right bedtime, you'll see how to wake up earlier in the morning gets easier and easier every time.
- Limit caffeine intake 6 hours before your bed time. This study found 6 hours to be the magic number for sleep disruption, so try to have your last cup before 3pm to be safe
- Avoid snoozing. Research shows this increases grogginess so if you're tempted to snooze try moving up your bedtime by 15 or 30 minutes
- Avoid screens 2 to 3 hours before bed. This one is tough, but research clearly shows that light, especially blue light from screens, affects our melatonin production and circadian rhythms
- Turn off lights in your home 1-2 hours before bed. Another tough one. If you like to read before bed, try getting a red or orange reading lamp
- Get more daylight exposure during the day. This will get your circadian rhythms back on track
- Avoid taking naps or laying down during the day. You gotta move around to and use some of that energy up so that you're tired when it's time to go to bed.
How to wake up happy in the morning
The most important thing to make sure you are happy when you wake up earlier in the morning is to wake up early for the right reasons! If you're doing it because you think that's what you SHOULD be doing, but don't actually have a plan or something you're looking forward to, you're less likely to stick with it.
Don't have a plan for that extra morning time? Here are some atomic habits you can do:
Walk for 10 minutes.
Stretch for 10 minutes. Read for 10 minutes. Work on a hobby or passion project for 10 minutes. Meditate for 5 minutes. Journal for 10 minutes. Play a favorite song and dance
How to wake up motivated in the morning
- Think of activities you enjoy doing and do them when you wake up
- Use those activities to create a nice ritual for yourself
- Take not of how waking up earlier makes you feel and use that as continued motivation
- Take small steps, if you're not feeling motivated right now. That's ok.
- Keep focusing on the small atomic habits that make you feel good, and those will compound over time into motivation
How to turn these into atomic habits you can track
As we know, putting all this information into action is the hard part. That's why I boiled all of this down. Here's a list of atomic habits that are easy and measurable:
- Start getting ready for bed by x time
- Plug in phone to charge in an outlet away from your bed by x time
- Turn off the lights by x time
- Get outside for 10 minutes before 4pm
- Have last cup of coffee before 3pm
- Walk for 10 minutes in the morning
- Stretch for 10 minutes in the morning
- Read for 10 minutes in the morning
- Work on a hobby or passion project for 10 minutes in the morning
- Meditate for 5 minutes in the morning
- Journal for 10 minutes in the morning
- Play a favorite song and dance in the morning
The real key to making a lasting change is tracking your habits. Research shows tracking your habits significantly increases your chance of sticking with it. It also helps build awareness. If you haven't tracked your habits before, don't worry. I have a tool that makes habit tracking super easy. More on that later.
Better than a habit tracking website
Now the next question is, what is the best way to track habits? There's a lot of different habit tracking apps and habit tracking websites out there, but most of them require you to download an app, create a login and password, and then remember to go into the app or website to track.
Harold is a habit tracker that is simple and easy to stick with. It's the best habit tracking app out there, and it's not even technically an app. Harold is a text-messaging bot that tracks your habits via text message. Harold will text you once a day at your custom check-in time, asking if you did your habit. Simply reply to the text "Yes" or "No" to track your habit and you're done. He'll then send you a recap of how you're doing every Monday.
The best thing: Harold lives in your text messages. So there is no password to remember or app to log into and get distracted with.
You can try Harold for free for 7 days and experience the magic of habit tracking yourself. It might just change your life.