There are thousands of articles online that explain the benefit of waking up early. You can exercise, read, meditate, eat a proper breakfast, and perform work uninterrupted. Some articles go as far as saying waking up early is a trait of every successful individual. But if you are anything like me, despite knowing all the benefits of waking up early, actually doing it is quite another beast. So today, I want to share with you some scientific methods and tools that helped me to wake up earlier, and hopefully help you as well!
1. Monitor your sleep cycle
Humans sleep in cycles. This means while you sleep through the night, you actually go through cycles of “light” versus “deep” sleep. In scientific terms, these are REM (rapid eye movement) or NREM (none rapid eye movement) stages. REM corresponds to light sleep, when dreams typically visit you. And NREM corresponds to deep sleep, where you brain and body really gets refreshed. Looking at a sleeping cycle graph, we all cycle between REM and NREM several times a night.
So how does understanding sleep cycle help you wake up earlier? Well, the trick is to wake up in on the top curve of your cycle and not when you are in deep sleep. If you ever have an alarm clock jolt you from slumber you know what I’m talking about. Personally, I started using an app called SleepTime that monitors my sleeping patterns using my phone’s accelerometer. Then within a period of time that I need to wake up, SleepTime rings the alarm when I’m in the lightest sleep. Usually, I find I’m already conscious by the time the alarm rings.
Although some guides will suggest sleep cycles are usually 90 mins so you can manually calculate your alarm. From looking at my own data over the past several months, I find my sleep cycles vary a lot, from 1 hour to 2.5 hours – so the realtime measurements does a way better job.
Try it! It’s not about sleeping more, but sleeping right!
2. Circadian (light based clock)
Similar to sleep cycles, this 2nd trick is also about waking up naturally, when your body is ready to get up. The circadian rhythm is the body’s biological clock. It controls various biological functions so your body revitalizes and repairs during the night and then is energized during the day. Light is an important stimulus to the circadian rhythm. Before humans had artificial light, we slept when the sun went down and rose when the sun came up. So exposure to light is very important to resetting to circadian rhythm and telling the body it’s time to wake up. That’s also why most often waking up to an alarm in the dark is veryyy painful.
Luckily for those who don’t have direct sunlight when they need to wake up, there are light alarm clocks. Instead of a musical alarm, these clocks gradually fill your bedroom with light around 30min before you need to wake up – naturally adjusting your body. No more snoozing!
3. Problem solving alarm clock
This is for anyone who loves hitting the snooze button and then falls right back to sleep. Creators have came up with various innovative and fun apps that gives you a mental challenge in order to silence that annoying alarm – making you wakeup in the process. These tasks range from puzzle solving, math questions, to mini-games. Perhaps you will make the challenge so hard to solve that you’ll wake up before the alarm just to disable it!
4. Sleep early
I had to mention this even though it’s not really a tip or trick. But honestly from many struggling mornings the best thing to wake up refreshed and happy is to sleep early. Some humans just need a certain number of hours of sleep per night. And those hours don’t just appear magically. So while you plan to wake up earlier, also plan to sleep earlier. That’s the only way to healthy, sustainable way to approach this.
5. Get someone to wake you up
Finally, if all the biological stimulus still can’t get you to wake up early, it’s time to put on some social pressure. Wakie is a service that connects people to wake up people. Instead of waking up to an alarm clock, some stranger (perhaps from the other side of the world) will give you a call to wake you up. Imagine all the interesting conversations you will have! And now instead of dreading the alarm clock, you may actually look forward to it. Find out more about Wakie on their website here https://wakie.com/how-it-works/.
Enjoy these tips? Try them out tomorrow and share this article with others who you think could use an extra hour in the morning!