Early risers, how do you motivate yourselves to get up early?
November 14, 2014 2:25 AM   Subscribe

Early risers, how do you make getting up early a regular habit? How do you overcome grogginess and laziness? How do you resist the temptation of sleeping late the night before? How do you prevent yourself from hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock? I would ideally like to start my day at 5 am every morning. But its hard! I'd appreciate any suggestions and opinions. Thanks!!
posted by synapse2512 to Health & Fitness (49 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
I wake up at 5am every morning - I leave an espresso shot next to my bed the night before and scull it when my alarm goes off
posted by Chrysalis at 3:00 AM on November 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

We sleep in 90 minute cycles. The idea is that if you wake up in the middle of a cycle you will feel less good than if you wake up at the end of one. Sleep hackers exploit this in various ways - but if you wanted to getting up at 5am - and you wanted to try yourself on just 4 cycles - then you would need to going to sleep at 11pm the previous night. So you could actually set two timers: one to wake you at 5 and another for 10.30 - to be in bed and trying to go to sleep at 10.45.

The whole practice is way harder if you are a part of the world and time of year when it is dark at 5 or if you are not a morning person (this is not merely a lightly held preference but something which appears to have a genetic component and which affects the times of day at which we are physically or mentally strongest).

Finally - if you are getting up early then consider trying to arrange a nap in the afternoon. After a mid-day meal is a good natural time to schedule this - and it means that you are a little less constrained by a very early bed time.
posted by rongorongo at 3:02 AM on November 14, 2014 [8 favorites]

i am an early bird, and for me the key is getting 6.5 hours of sleep. Your needs will be different. If I go to bed at 10, I wake at 4:30 without an alarm clock. You might also try making a shift during the summer, when it is light earlier, or when the clocks fall back for daylight savings time.

If you are actually asking how to get along with less sleep, someone else will have to step in.
posted by apparently at 3:03 AM on November 14, 2014

I am pretty sensitive to light, so that if I leave the blinds/curtains open, I will unavoidably get up before 6am every day. I also allow myself the indulgence of idle web browsing just after I wake up. Together those things make it very hard to actually sleep in most days.
posted by dontjumplarry at 3:03 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get a cat. ;)
posted by joebakes at 3:03 AM on November 14, 2014 [30 favorites]

My workday starts at 6, so that mandates me getting up early. It also starts with a meeting (not super important, and is more for others in my group than me), so if I hit the snooze an extra time and don't get to work until 6:03, there's an element of public shaming. This is a big motivator. Can you make appointments that early? Maybe a check-in with the boss or something?

Also, I make incentives for myself - if I leave the house early enough, I can stop at the cafe with fancy donuts on the way in. If you don't want to leave the house, maybe do something like have 2 kinds of coffee - fancy premium stuff that you get if you get yourself out of bed by 5, and regular Folger's or whatever if you don't.

It seems to get easier as you get older too, at least in my experience. Whether I go out or not, I'm normally up by 7ish on the days I can sleep in. This is a relatively new thing that started in my 30s.
posted by Fig at 3:09 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Go to bed earlier and drink more water. Avoid late-night screens, caffeine and sugar. When tempted to do something late, remind yourself you can spend the same amount of time after sleeping and get more out of it.
posted by michaelh at 3:14 AM on November 14, 2014 [7 favorites]

I've been there! After many years of having that problem I overcame it. I read a blog online where a guy claimed he found the secret and that it was to wake up at the same time every day no matter what time you went to sleep the night before. His idea didn't entirely work for me, but it's somewhat incorporated in what did work. I think the general idea is- make the first thing you do in the morning something you sincerely WANT to do... AND wake up each morning to do it no matter what time you went to bed. If that thing happens to be physically active in some way- that's even better.

In my case, I took up chanting meditation (that's like what you sometimes hear in some yoga classes etc) and in the hindu religion it is customary to begin reciting the Gayatri Mantra just before the morning twilight. I started to set up my alarm clock so that I could do this mantra on my meditation cushion facing east towards the soon to rise sun as traditionally done. Then after that I would start to do yoga which is traditionally done during the sunrise.

You may be rolling your eyes right now, but since it was important to me to do these things at the traditional times they are meant to be done, that meant I HAD to make myself get up and do them at those times. Because those times of day have certain religious significance and You don't get the gloaming and the sunrise from that day back ever again. Once the moment was lost, it was lost forever.

The problem with me has always been that I tend to fall asleep very late which was why I couldn't wake early. So the first week I would often take long naps in the middle of the day to make up for the lack of sleep. But the important thing was to wake up at the right time so I kept waking up each morning to do them. After 2 weeks, my body started to naturally wake up at that time and my body started to get tired earlier in the night so that I would go to sleep earlier too. The truth is that my body still likes to go to sleep late sometimes so that hasn't been completely solved yet, but waking up early is no longer a problem for me. I'd say- think of something that sincerely interests you and make that the first thing you do in the morning. If the first thing you need to do in the morning is something you enjoy or are very interested in then you'll be way more motivated to get up in order to do that thing. Then wake up at the set time to do that thing EVERY day- no matter how little sleep you got. Remember if your body needs more sleep you can always go back to bed and nap later. The important thing is just to wake up at the same time each day. Even if you end up going back to sleep 2 hours later, eventually you will get used to waking up at the right time and staying up.

Having a daylight lamp alarm is also a big help if you wake up at an hour when it's still dark out.
posted by rancher at 3:18 AM on November 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm bad at getting up in the morning, but here are a few things I've found that help:

-- Set an alarm for a few minutes before when you need to go to bed and then actually do that.
-- Keep the alarm across the room so you have to get up to turn it off.
-- Keep your alarm set for the same time every morning, regardless of when you actually get up, but don't use the snooze button. If you need to be up by 5 on weekdays and don't care when you get up on weekends, leave your alarm set for 5 every single day and just wake up and turn it off and go back to sleep on weekend. If you're like me, and you need to get up at 6 some days and 7 some days and whenever some days, have alarms set for 6 and for 7. Leave the 6am alarm on every single day, and turn the 7am alarm on when necessary. Something about waking up at the same time every day becomes a thing your body gets used to. I am almost invariably awake when my 6am alarm goes off, and it's way easier to get up if you're already awake than if you get rudely awakened from a sound sleep.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:33 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

If answers don't inspire, op, definitely do a search on ask.metafilter.com as this question has been asked lots and lots of times, and there a great variety of answers that might assist, I know cause I was just looking it up myself not two weeks ago!
posted by smoke at 3:36 AM on November 14, 2014

A programmable coffee maker is a giant part of my good mornings. Smelling fresh coffee when my alarm goes off is key to my getting up.
posted by checkitnice at 3:38 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

In all seriousness (sorry about the cat joke earlier)...

I bought an inexpensive alarm clock app for my smartphone that helps me wake up early. It has a feature that requires you to scan a barcode to turn off the alarm. I put the barcode on my refrigerator, so I have to get up, walk to the other side of the house, and take a picture of it before the alarm shuts off. As an added incentive, my wife is not a morning person, and she gets super cranky when something wakes her up at 5am. That means I hop up right away when my alarm starts to go off, because I don't want it to wake her up.

The app is called "Sleep as Android." There's probably something similar for the iPhone. If you go this route, just make sure you disable the alarm before traveling. You don't want to end up staying at a friend's house and not being able to disable your alarm.

Three additional tips: no caffeine after noon (half-life of caffeine is 6 hours), no alcohol before bed, and no late-night snacks.
posted by joebakes at 3:38 AM on November 14, 2014 [9 favorites]

Get a 3-year-old! Haha, kidding.

In all seriousness, I am up most mornings at 6, regardless of my kids. The biggest thing I've found is: early, consistent bedtime, NEVER hitting snooze and getting light in my face ASAP. I am in bed every night by 9:30 and asleep by 10. I know that sounds dreadfully boring, but if I stay up any later than 10, waking up in the morning is infinitely more difficult.

When my alarm goes off I grab my iPhone and check Facebook or something. The light from my phone really does wake me up enough to get moving. If it's not the dead of winter, usually the sun is up by then so I have one of my blinds in a certain way so the sunlight hits me right in the face as I'm waking up.

And as I said, never hit snooze. It just makes you more tired.
posted by sutel at 3:50 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I once read somewhere (paraphrasing here) that if you hit the snooze button once, it's not as great as getting right up (heading straight to the coffee machine to hit the button and then jumping in the shower, singing "9-5" by Dolly Parton in my head for me)...but if you hit snooze more than once, you're screwed. The second time you hit snooze, you're now ten minutes behind. That ten minutes is a killer if you're on the wrong side of it.

So, try to only hit snooze once. It worked for me.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 3:51 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Much like joebakes - my SO is not a fan on being woken up in the morning, and doesn't appreciate me hitting snooze. This is the single largest factor in me getting up on time.

I like to have time to get all my stuff together and be early - I hate the rushed/late feeling, so that also helps.

And, I get to hang out with the bunny in the morning, and I really enjoy that.
posted by needlegrrl at 3:51 AM on November 14, 2014

Go to bed early. Prepare as much as you can the night before so you aren't scrambling trying to find a clean shirt. Keep the alarm clock out of reach. Hit the snooze once if you're like me and can't bear getting up at the first alarm, but never ever more than once. Allow for some sleep inertia: you likely won't leap out of bed ready to take on the day, you've got to stumble through a little grogginess first. Give yourself a good chunk of extra time in the morning to relax and get things done at a gentle pace, because you are not going to be super efficient; if you want to wake up early for the purpose of cramming more activity into your day, you'll likely dread waking up.

And I find the most important thing is to enjoy waking up early on some level. If liking mornings is your motivation to get up early, it'll be easier for you to do.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:06 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Being well hydrated helps a lot to mitigate grogginess. I usually have a glass of water right before I go to bed, and I have a full glass on the nightstand waiting for me for when I wake up.
posted by vignettist at 4:08 AM on November 14, 2014

Go to bed earlier. That's the basic key for me: I can survive early gets ups for a little while with less sleep, but its bad news long term. How much sleep you need will depend on you, but I try to be in bed by 10 at the latest for a 6 am get up, as I will usually read once in bed. Snoozing.. hmm, I am of the opinion that it is best to avoid snoozing, but sometimes that can be really difficult. If you must, make sure your alarm clock is actually inconvenient to get to, so that snoozing is not easy, and make sure that whatever the alarm is is sufficient to wake you up and keep you awake.

A glass of water next to you to help hydrate, and a consistent morning ritual helps too. The trick for me has always been simply putting the effort in: changing you sleep cycle may be deeply unpleasent initially, but if you can get your body used to it then it becomes much more managable.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 4:37 AM on November 14, 2014

The real trick is motivating one's self to go to bed at the right time. If you can do that, waking up isn't a problem.

If you're going to bed late and still waking up early, I'm not sure I want to be driving the same roads as you.
posted by amtho at 4:48 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

You have to sleep train yourself. Get up at 5:00 am every morning, including weekends, until you start to do it without the alarm. Cut sugar out of your diet as much as possible and have no caffeine after lunch. Get plenty of exercise during the day so that you sleep better and have at least 20 minutes of pure sunlight hitting your body at some point during the day. Go to bed at the same time every night and use your bedroom for sleep and sex only. If you have trouble winding down in the evening, start your bedtime routine early, like you would a child. Have a long bath and a cup of sleepy time tea. Avoid anything stimulating (except for sex).

If all that fails, find a treat to reward yourself. Give yourself 15 minutes to do whatever useless, wasteful pursuit that you love and never do.
posted by myselfasme at 4:50 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the blog post rancher is talking about is this one.

Consistent wakeup time, no snooze, bright light and a shower work for me. The biggest thing is making it a habit (particularly if, like me, your willpower is lacking for the first hour or so).
posted by inire at 4:53 AM on November 14, 2014

Assuming you get enough sleep, getting out of bed in the morning is a matter of realizing that were you to stay in bed longer or go back to sleep, you won't feel any different and may even feel more tired trying to get up later.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:59 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's 5:25 am right now and I'm standing here in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to be done so I can make the first cup of coffee. The alarm went off four minutes ago. I don't hit snooze - the alarm goes off and my feet his the floor. This is habit, now. The way it got to be habit is I just did it over and over and over. There's the kettle - time for coffee.
posted by rtha at 5:30 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

1. Know how much sleep you need to feel good and go to bed at a time that insures that you'll get it. I need somewhere between 7.5 and 8 hours. I go to bed around 11:00 and I wake up naturally at around 6:45.

2. Move your clock across the room. Can't hit the snooze button without getting out of your warm toasty bed, and once you're up you may as well GET up.

3. Turn on lots of lights, light helps you wake.

4. Commit to getting up and out of bed when the alarm goes off. Know that once you've moved around for a minute, you'll not be groggy or sleepy. Press through any thoughts or feelings that tell you differently.

5. After you've peed, get in the shower. Once there, you're up. Feeling good. You might even sing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:42 AM on November 14, 2014

I sleep by 10 or 11. Sleeping early is the most important thing.

Also, all the lights in my room are off - including the computer and the WiFi. It helps if you need to be somewhere outside very early in the morning, I find that that motivates me to get up earlier. I usually don't drink coffee or tea after 12pm.
posted by rozaine at 5:45 AM on November 14, 2014

Counterintuitively, the trick for me was to start getting up *even earlier* than I needed to. If I get up fifteen minutes earlier, then I don't have to be up and raring to go right away - I just have to pry myself out of bed and groggily stumble to my couch, and then I allow myself those fifteen minutes to cuddle with my cats, catch up on the internet or read a chapter of a good book, and generally have a bit of wake-up time that is just pleasant and not running around trying to force myself into being productive immediately. The lost fifteen minutes of sleep is worth how much less grumpy it makes me to be able to ease into my morning.

Another thought - do you have any friends who have to be up that early? I wonder if you might be able to recruit someone to give you wake-up calls for a week or so. Once you can get into a habit, your falling-asleep time will probably start to adjust itself and make things easier for you.
posted by Stacey at 5:51 AM on November 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

We moved our bed so that I sleep up against the wall. In order to turn off my alarm on my phone, at the other end of the room, I have to stand up on the bed and gingerly climb over my partner's legs (and usually our cat). I also have a glass of water on my desk at the end of the bed, and a sip from that, combined with the clambering routine, pretty much wakes me up.

Once I'm out of bed and I'd have to clamber back over my partner to get back into bed, it seems like less effort just to pick up my glass of water and my towel and get in the shower. Now it's a habit, and it's a pretty rare day that I even consider getting back into bed. Honestly, we could probably move our bed back into the middle of the room and I'd still get up now, but I don't mind it, and it gives us more space.

It's dumb, but it works. Turned me from a dedicated snooze-buttoner to getting up at 0530 on the dot pretty much overnight. Getting more sleep, going to bed at a time that works in a 90 minute cycle from 0530 (I use sleepyti.me to work this out) and cutting both caffeine and brightly lit screens in the afternoon and evening all helped, but ultimately it was establishing the routine and making it more hassle than it was worth to get back into bed was what cracked it for me. I struggled to figure this out for a decade, and all it took was this change.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:01 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have serious work reprecussions if I show up late- there's risk... both reputational risk (don't want to keep other regions or team members waiting) and operational risk (when I'm running late I fuck things up- like forget my glasses and can't see, or don't quite read numbers right)

In my case, the payoff (working on neat stuff at work, salary, year end bonus) are all impacted if I'm not in and functional in the morning. and if I slip up a day, I notice, if I slip up for a few days, my colleagues notice... In the end it came down to realizing that I'd rather work a cool job with brillant people for good pay than a job that lets me stroll in at 9-9:30 and no one cares.

My tricks are the same as many of those above- as a night owl (ideal working time- 8pm-3am) I have trained myself with many of the same tricks the above posters use- preparing clothes, lunch and breakfast the night before, setting multiple "you should go to bed now" alarm, training myself to roll as soon as the alarm goes off- no snooze. and mostly it just sucks.
posted by larthegreat at 6:11 AM on November 14, 2014

How many hours of sleep do you need? Go to bed early enough that you are getting that much of real sleep (so add in the time it takes to fall asleep: for seven hours of sleep and getting up at 5 am, that means asleep by 10pm, and everyone is different in what that means in terms of when they would have to be actually in bed ahead of that). Some lucky people fall asleep the minute they lay down; others of us have to allow some time for tossing and turning.

And then do that every day until it is ingrained and feels natural.

And lastly, I think that it is true that some people just aren't morning people, just like I'm not a person who likes to sleep until noon. Unfortunately almost all jobs, schools, etc, are set up for one specific schedule, so if you can't adapt you are screwed.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:18 AM on November 14, 2014

For what reason do you want to get up at five? You need to have a reason to get up and it needs to be compelling enough to overcome the pleasure of a warm bed. If you have a 6am flight or a meeting first thing you need to prep for or your dog is threatening to pee on the floor .... in those situations you hop right out of bed at the crack of dawn, no matter what.

Personally I am up at 4.30 or sometimes earlier. I go to the gym, walk my dogs and I have a big, healthy breakfast that I love before a lot of people are dragging themselves up and scrambling to get out. The key is I love and look forward to all these things and I know how much it adds to my life/happiness/energy to do them and do them unrushed before I go to work. And I am not a natural morning person, I bartended for years which skewed me to nights. Stuff that is more a case of "meh, don't want to do it" because it's some worthy but boring goal or a chore will not get me up.

I used to try to set my alarm for 4.30 on weekends too and it never worked, even though I was getting enough sleep. Getting up early "just because" was useless, I always knew in the back of my mind that in reality I had most of the day Saturday to work out and whatever else.

Once you have your reason and it's good enough you can work on making sure you go to bed at the right time or have your clothes set out the night before and the other "tactics". After that it's building habit which there is a zillion words of advice about here and elsewhere online.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:34 AM on November 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

I go to bed very early and have an incentive to being out of the house by 5:30 a.m. With those two things, it's really hard for me to sleep past 5. I've been doing it for years now though, and so, unfortunately it has set my body clock to where I can barely stay awake past 9 p.m. YMMV.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:38 AM on November 14, 2014

Getting up early is sooooo hard, and I am sooooo bad at it. Everyone else's suggestions are probably infinitely more grown-up/healthier, but when I HAD to get up at 5 AM (to take a college class before going to work), here's what worked:

- Putting my only alarm clock across the room, so I had to get out of bed to snooze it.
- FORCING myself to keep my eyes open as soon as I woke (it's easier for your sleep-fogged brain to achieve "KEEP EYES OPEN" than "GET UP AND BE PRODUCTIVE MEMBER OF SOCIETY").
- As soon as you hear your alarm go off, fling off your blanket and flop onto the floor, where it's less-comfortable.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:43 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm a morning runner, so if I'm not up before 5:30 or so, my run doesn't get done, and I feel bad about myself the rest of the day. It's pretty great motivation. Also: sunrise.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:51 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not a natural early riser, but I have to leave for work by 7:30 and I'm very unhappy in my day if I don't have at least an hour, after showering, to drink my tea and screw around online in the mornings, so I've been getting up between 5:30 and 6am.

The SleepCycle alarm app has helped a great deal for two main reasons. It "grades" your sleep, which has gamified going to bed early because it seems to give great weight to the time spent sleeping, and I'm competitive enough even about meaningless things that I want to get high Sleep Quality scores. It also has a "progressive snooze"; you set the alarm to wake you up during a half-hour time period, and the alarm goes off during your lightest sleep phase during that period. If you snooze it more than once, the time between the snoozes gets shorter and shorter, and when you reach the end of that half-hour range, the alarm just keeps going until you turn it off (no more snoozing). The shorter and shorter intervals seem to make getting up much easier for me, as does knowing that if I fall back asleep after turning off the alarm, I'm screwed.
posted by jaguar at 6:59 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm up at 5:45, but I'd sleep until 10 if my early morning alone time to get stuff done wasn't so precious.

* I need about 8 hours sleep, so I'm in bed no later than 10. End of discussion.
* Get a programmable dimmer light or sun-simulating light of some sort (I use phillips hue, but there are others). It comes on at its lowest brightness 5 minutes before my alarm.
* do not press snooze. Ever. Get up immediately when the alarm goes off, even if you're so groggy you walk into the wall. Pee, then shower. Those two will wake you up, and can be done while still gaining consciousness.
* have an amazing breakfast everyday that's worth looking foreward too
* if all all fails (and I'm only sorta kidding) get a cat and feed it right when you get up for a week. The rest of it's life it'll be the last alarm you'll ever need.
posted by cgg at 7:02 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have never used the sun-simulating light but I completely agree with you. If I press the snooze button, that is a wrap. I will not wake up until 7 or 8. I get straight up and get in the shower. I can pretty much get going just fine with a morning shower. It gets me out of line if I just get out of bed and head out the door. My breakfast though is ussually either a large coffee or a RedBull (or as I like to call it 'The Necktar of the Gods').
posted by BadBoyMowerParts at 7:37 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Honestly, if you just force yourself to get up early, you become so tired at night that you just start passing out at 10 or 11. Or, at least it's that way for me.

Also, if you drink a glass of water before sleeping, you'll get up pretty quick when your alarm goes off because you'll have to pee.
posted by Kurichina at 7:41 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cut back on your sugar intake, especially sugary foods in the evening.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 7:42 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Write down all the crap you have to remember for tomorrow before going to bed, so you won't have to lie awake worrying about all the crap you might have forgotten.
posted by scruss at 7:55 AM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Give yourself something worth going to bed earlier for, and give yourself something worth waking up earlier for.

I get up at 6 most mornings because it means that I'll have time to make superior coffee and a delicious breakfast before trundling off to work. In order to do that I'm generally in bed by 9:30 PM. It's a lot harder for me to hit the snooze button when I know it means I'll have to drink hospital coffee (blech) instead of Blue Bottle.

Going to bed can be harder, because it's a lot easier to stay up late than to get up early. My bed is awesome. I let myself read anything engrossing -- even a trashy young adult novel -- but only in bed before going to sleep. I light a scented candle that smells great (that I only use at bed time, so the smell means "bed time" to me). I drink some ginger tea. You get the idea. I don't delay going to bed at night because going to bed is fun.
posted by telegraph at 8:17 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Two-part suggestion here.

1. Set up everything you need for your morning routine before you go to bed. Lay out your work clothes, pack your lunch, put your ticket and wallet wherever they're supposed to be, all that stuff.

2. As you close my eyes to go to sleep, repeat to yourself "When the alarm goes off, you have to get up. When the alarm goes off, you have to get up."

When the alarm does go off, I find I get up and start moving, even if I'm not actually awake until I'm in the shower.
posted by Tara-dactyl at 9:13 AM on November 14, 2014

I have a Sunrise Alarm Clock like this one. You can set the light to slowly come on over the course of 15 or 30 minutes. I use 15 because just a little light will start to wake me up. It's on my side of the bed, and I'm generally awake well before it gets to full brightness and it doesn't bother my husband. You can set it to beep at you in case the light doesn't do the trick, but I keep mine on silent--the light will wake me up eventually. And then my cats, who have figured out what the light means, will pester me until I get out of bed, but really the light does the job anyway.
posted by ceejaytee at 10:23 AM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you're not a runner/ jogger/ daily exerciser, morning exercise is great to wake you up. I used to get up at 5 and run with my dog, then get back home, shower, and get on my way.

I wasn't always happy to be up at 5, but after about 5-10 minutes of jogging, I was pretty well awake. The shower at the end helped, and then I didn't need any coffee in the morning, even with an hour of sitting on a train on my way to work.

Otherwise, I agree with the regular bed time with enough time to fall asleep and sleep through a set number of 90 minute sleep cycles.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:15 PM on November 14, 2014

Part of the problem might be that you are not actually sleeping well. I just recently got a new really nice mattress (which was not cheap, let me tell you). For the past, oh 3 years, I have always had problems getting up, no matter what time I went to bed, or what time I had to get up. It was a nightmare of aches and grogginess, and my body yelling at me to stop moving.

The first night I had the new mattress? Slept through the night, woke up feeling pain free and rested. The bed was super comfy, but my body finally said to me "you are well rested", and I was able to actually get up and move about with out feeling like I wanted to jump right back under the covers.

I know a lot of people are saying you should go to bed early, but I have actually found (YMMV) that as long as I get at least one good sleep cycle (the 90 minute thing), I feel rested and am able to wake up much better now that I am actually sleeping comfortably.

The alarm clock on the other side of the room thing is a good idea if you don't have a sleeping partner who is waking up on a different schedule, but I find the "guilt" motivation part of it (if you have a sleeping partner) to be a not so great motivator in the long run. The alarm might not wake them up, but you jumping out of bed to dash across the room will likely disturb them in some manner, no matter how agile you might think you are.

So my #1 suggestion is: Get a really good mattress.
posted by daq at 12:27 PM on November 14, 2014

I once read a book about sleep debt - the idea that every time we sleep less than own personal ideal amount, our body ends up carrying around that extra amount of sleepiness until we pay it back by sleeping over what we need. Importantly, their experiments seemed to show that it was approximately additive. So if you need 8 hours of sleep a nice, but you only get 7 per night (not unreasonable, right?) you'd have to compensate every weekend by sleeping 10.5 hours both weekend nights (not likely!).

This book suggested that in order to find it easier to get out of bed in the morning, you should try spending two weeks sleeping for at least ten hours per night to 'pay down' your sleep debt, and then see how your sleep habits were. I found after 10 days I was feeling better, getting up easier (and earlier) and feeling 100% better all the time. After that two weeks, you also get a pretty good idea of how much sleep you actually need, as you won't be able to sleep longer than that. So hard to keep the discipline up though.

So my suggestion is to at least *start* with this two week period of getting silly amounts of sleep, then use the tendency to wake up early and the feeling well rested to make this a habit and cement your new, earlier bedtime.
posted by kadia_a at 12:33 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Light in the room (a faux sunrise alarm clock, before that, a floor lamp on a timer) has been the game changer for me. I usually set an audible alarm as a failsafe, but my body is well-trained at this point to wake up with the light. I know it seems kind of ridiculous to spend $100 on an alarm clock, but the difference it makes in how I wake up is immense. It's like my body is more ready to be awake with the light, so it's more of a gradual waking process, rather than a noise jolting me suddenly awake, which seems easier to jump right back into sleep from.

Also, I don't know about yours, but my half-awake consciousness is pretty dumb. There's always going to be a part of me that wants to sleep until the last minute, no matter how much I know that if I'm already awake, I'm not going to get in an effective sleep cycle. So I make "bargains" with Sleepy Me. Sample dialogue:

Rational Me: Time to get up.
Sleepy Me: mmmrheh sleep more.
Rational Me: Come on! It's time.
Sleepy Me: ssmwuo too tired.
Rational Me: That's cool, you can go back to sleep tonight!
Sleepy Me: sleep comes in tonight too?
Rational Me: It totally does. You can even go to bed early tonight if you get up now!
Sleepy Me: Oh word, let's get up now then.

As long as part of you is aware enough to keep the part that wants to sleep occupied, you just keep bugging it until the rest of you wakes up.

And yeah, going to bed early helps on its own, but Sleepy Me is not together enough to remember all the times I've lied to her about going to bed early in order to bribe her into waking up. Usually just the reminder that I get to sleep again is enough.

This is also how I convince myself to exercise in the mornings.
posted by Francies at 12:39 PM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

It seems to get easier as you get older too...

Oh sweet Morpheus, don't I wish that were true!

All of the above, enough sleep, drinking plenty of water (means I pee at 2am,) blinds open, daylight alarm--tried the android as well as the iphone apps, yadda yadda yadda...

I still hate to get up early. It's slightly better in the summer with increased daylight, but I think I'm just not a morning person, as you may not be.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:50 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh hey, I just did this, successfully. I am now waking up two and a half hours earlier than I used to. My entire life I just thought I was doomed to poor sleep (even had a sleep study done) and struggling (REALLY struggling) to get myself out of bed in the mornings and needing coffee to get through the day only to feel like shit mid afternoon. Here is what worked for me:

1. Getting up right when the alarm goes off, which I learned from Metafilter. I used to snooze for up to an hour some mornings. I actually did this first for about a week before trying to shift my schedule.

2. Drinking more water. I can't believe I got to the age of 34 without ever really drinking enough water. It makes a HUGE difference in my energy levels during the day and I feel like it makes it easier to get up in the morning. The biggest benefit though is that I don't wake up 5 or 6 times during the night to pee which I know sounds counter intuitive but for some reason it works, wish I knew the reasoning behind this. I know sleep more solidly through the night.

3. Preparing for my morning the night before. I tend to worry and beanplate while in bed trying to sleep. Making sure I have things set up so I don't forget anything helps cut that down.

4. Having a reason to get up early. I love alone time which I don't get much of since I live with my SO and we have similar schedules. When he leaves in the morning, I have 2 and a half hours before I need to be at work. That's two and a half glorious hours. I eat breakfast, have coffee, do chores, watch tv shows, read books, etc. I really enjoy my mornings now. Before I would only get up with enough time to get ready for work and get to work on time, which sucks. Why the hell did I do that to myself?

And to jump start the schedule change, I forced myself to get up super early on a Monday even though I went to bed late the night before. I was so exhausted by the evening that I went to bed early. Rinse and repeat. I feel better now than I ever have, this is the schedule that I never knew my body needed, always thought I was a night owl.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:44 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been getting up earlier in the mornings lately so that I have time for a 30-40 minute run instead of a 20 minute run before work. This means that rather than have my wife wake me, I'm waking up (pebble silent vibration alarm) before my wife, and quietly going out in the dark to get the dogs fed and walked before she wakes up.

What I've been doing, is when the alarm goes off, and my body says, "Hey, lets just go back to sleep." I point out "I'm already awake, the sleep I'd get would just leave me feeling more groggy, and I want to have a good run more than I want 30 minutes of bad sleep.

Also, as many others, I've got as much as possible of my morning tasks done; kids oatmeals are in the fridge only needing microwaving, lunches are packed, etc.
posted by nobeagle at 7:14 AM on November 17, 2014

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