It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”
-Aristotle

Time is the essence of life, and while we can’t create more time, we can maximize the potential of the time that we do have. Some choose to stay up late and take advantage of the night, but there are those who prefer to wake up early. Many successful people such as Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines), Winston Churchill, Howard Schultz (Starbucks), and Theodore Roosevelt are of the latter group, rising with–or before–the sun to begin their day. In addition, construction workers, bakers, cab or bus drivers also get up early to begin their service, but I suspect out of necessity rather than personal preference.

So much of life happens in the early hours of the morning, but most of us miss it while we lay dreading the soul-shattering alarm. There is another way. It will require discipline and sheer will, but with the methods in this guide, you can discover more days for you to live. For example, if you wake up an hour earlier each morning, you can theoretically add at least two weeks to your conscious life per year.

Read that line again: If you wake up an hour earlier each morning, you can theoretically add at least two weeks to your conscious life per year.

Consider the following formula:

(X hrs x 365 days) / 24= Y days gained

Or…

(1hr x 365 days) / 24= 15.2 days gained

Is that not exciting?

In this guide, you will learn how to wake up early by reading the following: 

  • The 3 main benefits of waking up early.
  • The 2 main obstacles you may face and how to overcome them.
  • The 12 different tactics you can use to get up at your desired time.

Before you continue reading, do a quick self-check. If you don’t think you will read this whole thing, or don’t have time, bookmark this guide. Come back later or save it for future reference.

What are the benefits of getting up early?

Everyone has their own reason, but the majority seem to revolve around maximizing the quality of one’s day, and in turn, one’s life. There are three main benefits to waking up early:

More Time.

Rising even an hour earlier provides a significant amount of time gained per year. If you increase the quality of your sleep, you won’t have to go to bed earlier to have the energy to get up (this is relative to each person depending on how much sleep you need to function). The options for what you can do with that time are virtually limitless.

Mental Preparation for the Day

For those of us who don’t like our jobs, it’s nice to have some time to wake up before racing off to work. Having that extra half-hour of more each morning can really change the way our day goes. A positive mind-frame in the morning can last all day. Being happier at work or just at home has many benefits in itself (better performance, better social interactions, etc).

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
-Benjamin Franklin

Increased Productivity:

Be honest. How likely is it that you will accomplish all that you want to once you get home from work? Aside from already being tired, your family deserves your attention, chores have to be done, food needs to be eaten, and you also need some time to wind down. What’s left for your goals? Waking up early and tackling your goals right away ensures that you can work on them at least once a day, every day. You can go to work knowing that you are more in control of your life.

Invest in the quality of your days, because they are numbered. So write your novel. Lift those weights. Work on your side-hustle. Cook breakfast with your partner. Meditate. Go for a run. Make your choice and see it through.

Remember: The quality of your life is directly related to the quality of your actions.

How to Overcome the Obstacles of Waking up Early:

If getting up early is so great, why isn’t everybody doing it? Probably because it can be ridiculously hard to drag ourselves out of bed when the alarm goes off. People give up, and justifiably so. Every cell in our bodies scream “SLEEP, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!”. It’s rough.

Yes, there are obstacles. But they can be overcome.

Genetic Disposition:

Research suggests that each person has an innate biological preference to the morning or night. It may be harder for some people to wake up than others, whereas it might be harder for some people to go to sleep at night. It depends on the individual’s circadian rhythm.

According to The National Sleep Foundation,“Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals”.

How do you overcome this? Through repetition and discipline, you can alter your body’s sleep cycle. Wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Ensure you are getting quality sleep and living a healthy lifestyle. It may be difficult to overcome your body’s natural preference, but it’s possible.

Lack of Motivation:

When the alarm goes off, we typically just want to roll over and go back to sleep. It’s a pretty powerful force we have to overcome, and it’s easy to rationalize giving up. As you will see in the next segment, there are tactics you can use to create purpose and motivation that will aid you in your endeavor to defeat this force.

“The time just before dawn contains the most energy of all hours of the day. This has helped me become an early riser and an early doer…. When I wake to see that it’s light out already, I feel the world has started without me.”
-Terri Guillemets

morning coffee wake up early

The Tactics:

1. Find your “why”.

The act of setting goals for yourself in itself is powerful, but actively pursuing them? That changes your life. Determine what you want your life to look like, set goals to make it happen, and begin working on them (I’m using brevity here for length purposes, but there will be articles in the future about this). Find your “why”, and use this motivation to spur you out of bed. If you fully commit to this, it’s a powerful tactic. As a person who is a zombie upon waking up early, it’s currently the most effective strategy I use.

2. Use an alarm clock.

This one is the go-to method, but is it truly effective? It can be, if used properly. When it’s not, it can actually hinder us. Hitting the snooze button to get a few more minutes makes you more tired. You will not get restful sleep, and it will only serve to make you want to stay in bed longer.

Choose an alarm that you know will wake you up, and set two 3 minutes apart. That way if you miss one, the second is likely to wake you up. It’s not the same as hitting the snooze button. Place your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up to turn it off (be careful with this if you have low blood pressure).

3. Utilize the formula above as incentive.

Most people work an entire year to get two weeks off, not realizing that they have another two weeks available if they wake up an hour earlier each day. Yes, it’s cumulative, and it’s not the same as a vacation, but working toward your goals each day with this extra time can transition you into a life you won’t need a vacation from.

To save you from scrolling back up, here it is again: (X hrs x 365 days) / 24= Y days gained

4. Use caffeine.

This is arguably the easiest, but it’s also artificial. Most of the Western world runs off caffeine, which is a stimulant drug, and we can easily develop addictions and dependencies (I’m already there, unfortunately). I’m not recommending the use of caffeine to wake up early, but it’s highly effective. That being said, I do love a good cup of coffee in the morning. The smell and taste makes me happy.

5. Use the Gradual Start method.

Set your alarm for ten minutes earlier than you normally would, and after a couple days of that, set it for another ten minutes earlier. Repeat the process until you are waking up at your desired time. This helps you ease into it and doesn’t shock your system.

6. Use the Pedal to the Metal method.

This is reserved for the hardiest of souls who can bear it. Set your alarm to the time you want to wake up and just get up and white-knuckle the rest.

See also: How to Become Tougher: A Man’s Guide to Action

7. Gamify it.

Turn the whole process into a game. This is an effective method of building a habit. Mark an X on a calendar for each successful day and don’t break the chain. Use tokens, tallies, or whatever else you can think of. Give yourself rewards after you reach a certain amount of X’s, tokens, tallies, etc.

8. Create a night routine.

What you do the night before heavily affects the following morning. When you have a great routine, your body will respond to it in time, recognizing the cues to start winding down for the night. Use all or any of the following tactics to incorporate into a night routine before bed.

Get a good sleep. Being sleep deprived will ensure your failure. Go to bed earlier. Take melatonin if you think it might help you. Don’t drink too much before bed so that you don’t have to wake up to use the bathroom. Read before bed to quiet your mind (or meditate, exercise, etc), and don’t use technology before you go to sleep. The light emitted from screens can mess up your brain’s ability to sleep properly.

Wash your face, brush your teeth, and have a clean bed. Eliminate caffeine consumption a few hours before sleeping (or more, depending on your caffeine sensitivity). Prepare for the next day by setting out your clothes, making your lunch, write down tasks and/or goals for the next day. Know what you are doing ahead of time if possible.

9. Create a morning routine.

As with the body getting used to a night routine, it can also benefit from a morning routine. Exercise (which definitely wakes you up), a cold shower, food, music, or anything else you enjoy can help you get out of your bed and not crawl back in.

See Also: The Ultimate Guide to Waking Up Earlier

10. Take advantage of the body’s internal clock.

If you can get yourself out of bed each morning at the same time, it will become a habit. Your body will naturally start to wake up at that time, making it easier for you to get up. This is all related to the circadian rhythm mentioned in the “Genetic Disposition” section. The act of repeatedly doing something over a period of time is effective in changing the way the brain responds to certain stimuli and triggers, and you can modify your internal clock to aid you in this endeavor. It does get easier.

BONUS: Use this application to help you get optimal sleep: http://sleepyti.me/

Input the time you want to wake up and it will tell you the best time to go to sleep. I am not affiliated with this site. It’s just useful and cool.

11. Cultivate a healthy lifestyle.

If your body is healthy, you will operate at optimal levels. This includes your body’s ability to benefit from sleep. Your diet, your fitness level, water consumption, and mental health all work in synergy to provide you with a good night’s rest, and a body that rests efficiently can wake up efficiently.

12. Use accountability.

This can be with your spouse, friend, family member, or just with yourself. Recognize that if you plan to get up and don’t, you will be disappointed in yourself. You also want others to think you can’t do it, or are too weak to make it happen. This sets the tone for the whole day. Don’t begin every day in disappointment. It’s likely this will leech into other areas of your life, and that could be disastrous long-term. Don’t live your life disappointed in yourself.

The difference between rising at five and seven o’clock in the morning, for forty years, supposing a man to go to bed at the same hour at night, is nearly equivalent to the addition of ten years to a man’s life.”
-Philip Doddridge

Wrapping It Up:

It must be said that these are not foolproof. It comes down to your willpower, discipline, and the quality of sleep you get each night. Just one of the above tactics may be enough to tell you how to wake up early, but you may need multiple. Combine them for powerful results.

Do you have something to add, or want to share your experiences with these tactics? Leave a comment!

Thanks for reading, and good luck.