How to Wake Up Earlier

UPDATED: May 21, 2024
PUBLISHED: May 14, 2021
How to Wake Up Earlier

It’s one of the most agreed-upon methods for productivity, and yet many of us simply can’t force ourselves to start our day sooner. Yet the benefits are undeniable: A 2019 study jointly conducted by universities in the U.K. and Australia found that participants who woke up earlier reported decreased feelings of stress and depression while feeling increased levels of physical and cognitive energy.

Now, this isn’t about waking up at 4 a.m. or trying to force night owls into becoming morning larks. Waking up earlier looks different for everyone, but its rewards are universal:

  • You gift yourself alone time that isn’t infiltrated with work or personal distractions. That time is sacred and can set the tone for the rest of the day.
  • You earn valuable mental-muscle-building skills in discipline, consistency and positive habit-building.
  • You take charge of the day instead of your first act being a half-asleep swat at the snooze button.

As with most habits worth doing, don’t expect overnight results. In fact, that expectation can be the very thing that hijacks any success you find. If you’re not a natural early riser, start with 15-minute increments, slowly upping your time until you have at least an hour of morning time that is completely yours.

Try these tips for waking up earlier, and tweak the process until it feels right for you.

  1. Adjust your evening routine. Good sleep starts with winding down. Swap TV time for a meditative sleep story and a cup of herbal tea. Leave your phone in the living room to avoid distractions.
  2. Create a non-negotiable wake-up time. No snoozing, no hesitation. When the alarm goes off, your feet hit the floor. Even a moment’s hesitation allows room for you to talk yourself out of getting up.
  3. Don’t deprive yourself. Waking up earlier isn’t a punishment. It’s a gift to yourself. If you’re struggling to fall asleep early enough to get the recommended amount of sleep, make time for midday naps.

Jenny Chang
Hermosa Beach, California
Founder of Vowlá, ROCKINEVENTS and Jenny Chang

For so long, I’d wake up just on time or upon the first client or executive phone call. I’d gulp down a cup of water, and no one could tell. Often, it was the anxiety and rush driving my improvised success. But my energy didn’t match my desired outcome.

Waking up at the magic hour—5:30 a.m. for me—is the most advantageous habit I’ve created as an entrepreneur. I feel most in control when I start each day as service to self versus service to others. At night, I find myself performing evening habits to conclude my day as consciously as I’ve started it.

The most valuable muscle we can exercise is to build a new muscle in everything we’re most challenged with. If I’m not waking up to create the blueprint for my success, no one else will—so I might as well start now.

Shashank Gupta
Edison, New Jersey
Executive Producer of Nazranaa

Mornings are the best time to have some quiet and stillness to compose your thoughts and get a head start on your day.

I used to wake up at 8:30 a.m. and be on my phone for 30 minutes before work. Now, I wake up at 5:30 a.m. and practice yoga and meditation. Waking up early allows me to stay consistent with my practices and that, in turn, helps me better handle stressful situations.

I recommend forgetting the concept of a break, holiday or weekend. The concept of a break is detrimental to forming habits. When trying to form a habit, there is no Saturday or Sunday. You have to be consistent with it seven days a week, 365 days a year. If I ever have a long night, I still wake up at 5:30 a.m. I might take a nap during the day, but I won’t skip my wake-up time. It’s essential to my day.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Photos by @ProjectP/Twenty20