We've all heard some celebrity tell us the benefits of waking up early.
More productivity, no insomnia; an end to hectic mornings.
But come on, right? That's for overachievers and people in boot camp, not average joes with average willpower.
And that's where you're wrong. You already have everything you need to become an early riser – you might just need a few early morning hacks to get the ball rolling.
It's time to stop telling yourself the sunrise belongs to extraordinary people – and realize that YOU are extraordinary.
5am Morning Hack 1. Get A Dog
Okay, so this is pretty drastic. And there's no guarantee your dog will wake you up at exactly 5am.
But dogs learn our routines, and need us to participate in theirs – when your alarm rings, you're not going to be able to make excuses if you know your dog needs to go outside or for a walk.
A dog is like an accountability buddy who depends on you as part of their team. And not to get sappy, but it's a lot easier to face the early-morning darkness after a few puppy kisses from your best friend.
2. Wake Up Early To A Real Alarm Clock
Yes, your phone has an alarm.
But it also has continuous notifications.
Keeping your phone by your bed means notifications interrupting your sleep as well as the temptation to scroll through social media.
If you can't face being away from your phone altogether – put it on airplane mode before you go to sleep. That will block notifications as well as disconnecting your WiFi, meaning you'll at least have to pause and think before getting lost in the internet.
3. Record A Custom Alarm
Nothing makes you wake up and pay attention more than a recording of yourself shouting “Get your lazy ass out of bed!”. Try it. It works!
4. Don't Hit Snooze
This one is important. The research is clear: snoozing in the morning does nothing for you.
Snoozing doesn't work: It takes 90 extra minutes of sleep to feel significantly more rested.
All that extra 10 or 15 minutes is doing is making you late.
5. Set A Reasonable Bedtime
I go to bed at 9pm. I know. It's early. But I'm up at 5am.
I know people who don't go to bed until past midnight.
You need to aim for at least 8 hours sleep a night to give yourself a fighting chance to get up at 5am.
It's also tempting to reach for stimulating activities, like TV or video games, that wake up your brain. Try listening to an audiobook or some great music instead. The decreased sensory input will help you transition to sleep.
Deliberately start winding down your day an hour or two before bedtime. If you have kids and need to get them to bed, you're obviously going to need more time. Find a schedule that works for you.
6. Don't Break The ‘Wake Up Early' Streak
Try to see how many days in a row you can get up and at it. Every day, there's a little bit more pressure – you don't want it to be the day you break the streak.
A calendar or habit tracking app can help you keep your eye on how you're doing.
Start to love your mornings.
7. Get A Better Night's Sleep
That sounds simple, but it requires deliberateness.
Don’t drink alcohol before going to bed.
Don’t drink coffee after noon.
When you’re going to sleep, make sure you go to sleep in a dark room.
Even a little bit of light can throw your circadian rhythms off.
8. Leverage The Power Of Light To Wake Up Early
On that note, you should try to make use of the way light affects your brain. Throughout the day, expose yourself to light.
Get outside – try to be out for an hour total.
It's also important to know when to turn the lights down.
About 2 hours before you’ve got to go to bed, you want to reduce the amount of light that you’re exposing yourself to.
Be especially cautious with blue light.
That’s what’s emitted from your phone and computer screens. Its ability to stimulate your brain is very powerful.
Either use a screen tinting app to cut those blue wavelengths, or avoid screens in the evening altogether.
9. Have An Accountability Partner
Say you want to go to the gym each morning – find a friend or family member who will commit to go with you. Now, if you don't wake up early, you're letting someone else down, not just yourself.
Our commitment to other people is very powerful from a psychological perspective.
Breaking a promise to yourself is a bummer, but breaking a promise to your fellow man can have true interpersonal and social consequences.
You can use this natural sense of accountability to lift each other up and achieve your goals.
10. Make A Commitment You Have To Wake Up Early For
In the same vein, committing to a duty or appointment in the morning can foster a sense of responsibility around waking up early.
Make breakfast for your family, meet your friends or co-workers for coffee, or join a training group at your local gym.
Put yourself in a situation where other people are depending on you and let it spur you forward.
11. Break Out Your Morning In Detail
Know what you're going to be doing and when you're going to be doing it – leave nothing up to chance.
Make a careful decision about what the first thing you do when you wake up is going to be (and don't be afraid to change it if it's not working).
Try drinking a big glass of water the minute your alarm goes off.
Not only is the hydration good for you – even if you fall back asleep, you'll be waking up pretty soon.
12. Allow Yourself Early Morning Treats
Get yourself a French press and the best coffee, cream and sugar you can afford, and upgrade your morning java to something you can really savor.
Or spend some time in the hot tub or sauna after your workout. Or spend some time with your spouse.
Basically, don't save enjoyment for the weekend. Make your mornings worth waking up early for.
In our hectic world, it's tempting to escape into shallow, low-effort distractions whenever we unexpectedly have a moment to ourselves.
Waking up early is a discipline of intentionally creating time for yourself. Use it to do the things that really matter to you.