12 Ways to Smoothly Start Waking Up Earlier

You’ve likely read the studies saying that those who wake up earlier are more successful. You may even have set the goal to adjust your wake-up time, sure that an extra hour or two at the start of the day is all you need. But deciding to wake up early and actually following through are two different things. If you’d like to test out the theory that an early start is the key to success, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Set an alarm.

The first key to waking up earlier is forcing yourself to take those first steps. Don’t overthink it. Simply set your alarm for the time you want to wake up each day and force yourself away from the snooze button. If a traditional alarm is too abrupt, a gradual wake-up light alarm may be a more palatable option.

Move up gradually.

Unless there’s a specific reason, you don’t have to move your wake time up a full hour overnight. Instead, try waking up 15 minutes earlier every day until your body grows accustomed to the change.

Ask a friend to keep you honest.

It’s one thing to vow to yourself you’re going to start a new healthy habit. It’s quite another to make a commitment to someone else to do so. Accountability partners are a great way to hold yourself to a new commitment, including waking up earlier each day.

Make your bed.

There are a variety of reasons you should make your bed each morning, but one is that it reduces the temptation to climb back in. Instead of eyeing your warm, unkempt bed longingly, you’ll subconsciously resist, knowing that going back to bed means undoing your hard work (and having to do it again later).

Rely on caffeine.

No matter what health experts say, some people simply can’t get started without a hefty dose of caffeine. Set yourself up for success in advance, using your coffeemaker’s alarm to ensure you’ll have a pot of coffee ready when you stumble into the kitchen. For the many people who just can’t do caffeine, try alternatives.

Take a cold shower.

A warm shower is usually the first thing on the agenda for people trying to wake up early. However, warm water can make you sleepier. One tip that can help you wake up is to give yourself a blast of cold water for 30 seconds, switching to extremely hot for another 30 before going back to cold. Some people even forego the hot water completely and do a cold shower instead. Either way, if you inject cold into the shower routine, you’re going to wake yourself up very effectively.

Eat a healthy breakfast.

Coffee isn’t the only tool you can use to jolt your brain to alertness. Oatmeal, leafy greens, and even water will help you feel more alert in those early morning hours. Also, apples are known by some to be “nature’s caffeine.” They actually have no caffeine, but the fiber and natural sugar can help wake you up (plus they keep the doctor away).

Start with a workout.

Whether you take a run around the block, head straight to the gym, or just do some jumping jacks in your bedroom, a workout is the very thing you need to get your blood pumping. Walking is my favorite form of morning exercise because it’s an effective way to shake the cobwebs.

Listen to music.

Science has proven that music has a direct impact on the body. Feel free to put in your earbuds and blast your favorite music. Or invest in a shower radio that will help you multitask.

Go to bed earlier.

If you hope to wake up early and have a productive day, you’ll need to get plenty of sleep. That means going to bed early, even if you’re typically a night owl. Avoid electronic devices in the evening hours and gradually move your bedtime up until you’re getting the recommended eight hours of sleep.

Just say no to the snooze button.

You may think the snooze button gives you a few extra minutes, but it actually causes more harm than you realize. Force yourself to put both feet on the floor and stand after the first alarm.

Keep the same schedule on weekends.

Your natural inclination will likely be to sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays. This actually disrupts your body’s natural rhythms, which can possibly put your health at risk. For best results, keep that wake-up time the same no matter which day of the week it is.

An earlier wake-up time can kick off your day in the right way, helping you get more accomplished and feel better throughout the day. Don’t feel pressured to shift your wake-up time by hours overnight. Instead, make an effort to move your wake-up time forward gradually, letting your body get used to a new schedule.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com on September 26, 2017.

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