Have you ever wondered how becoming an early riser can make a difference in your life?
Imagine the you that are struggling to wake up in the morning, and constantly presses the snooze button only to wake up at the very last minute. You then frantically put everything in your bag, get ready in the quickest way possible, and rush to your school without even knowing which room you should go.
Then visualize you waking up hours earlier than usual, get ready, take some time to think about yourself, have an awesome breakfast, a fresh cup of coffee, and then take a look at your planner and make sure you have everything you need for the day. You are motivated, determined, and living with intention.
I am sure you can imagine the difference between the two. The second you is definitely more put together, more prepared, and possibly happier. The second you is more ready for the challenges ahead.
Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.
I’d like to think a morning routine means that you can have some extra time to yourself before the day begins. This is the moment for you to reflect upon yourself, help you regain your focus and garner motivation and determination to make progress in the day.
In other words, it’s a valuable time that you should treasure, and it’s vital to your success.
Before we jump right into what kind of morning rituals and morning routine you should adopt, it’s essential to tackle the basic question – how can we wake up early?
If you’ve long been a night owl, transforming to be a morning person or early riser may seem insane. You might be thinking that being a night owl is just your nature – you just can’t work in the morning.
But is that true?
In this article, we are going to cover:
- Am I a night owl or morning bird? Can I change that?
- What are the benefits of waking up early?
- How can you be an early riser?
- Free apps to help you fall asleep and wake up early
Am I a Night Owl or Morning Bird?
Have you ever wondered whether there is really such thing as a night owl?
To answer this question in a simple answer – yes, there is.
But it’s not as simple as you may think. I would think that there are only two types of people, namely the early birds and the night owls, and we all should be either one of them.
But that’s not it.
It turns out that there are four different chronotypes, including the early riser, the late evening people, the middle, and the insomniacs.
So yes, you can be neither the morning bird nor the night owl. And, apparently, the chances of you being the middle is actually much greater than that of being an early riser or being a night owl.
Research shows that around 15 percent of people are early birds, and another 15 percent of people are night owls. Almost 50-55 percent of people are the middle, and 10-15 percent are the insomniacs.
So yes, the vast majority of people are often the most energetic during the day, instead of in the morning or in the evening.
But Can You Change Your Waking Up Habits?
Let’s say if I am a night owl, can I change my habits and wake up earlier in the morning?
After all, we all have to wake up at 7 am or even earlier to go to school or work. The external time boundaries mean that we have to work or study even though it doesn’t seem to match our bio clock, and we are obligated to work effectively at times when we probably are not in our best conditions.
Being a night owl doesn’t seem to give us excuse to have our exams in the evening instead of 9 am in the morning, right?
A sleep researcher Dr. Simon Archer tells us that we all have good chances to switch to an early bird if we are willing to adopt some new habits.
It is not all to do with your genetics. You can choose to follow a particular life pattern. You can override your genes.
So yes, you can be an early riser too, no matter what type of persons you fall into. You are capable of overriding your genes.
The Benefits of Waking Up Early
With just a brief search on the internet, you’ll be able to find endless benefits for being an early riser. The benefits range from being more productive (the obvious one) to reduce the chances of obesity (what?).
Now if the concept of waking up early doesn’t really appeal to you, here are some reasons backed up by research that shows you all the benefits of being an early riser.
You will be more proactive.
Being proactive means taking responsibility for your life and actions, take active control of everything you do, instead of just waiting passively for things to happen.
It is reported that if you are proactive, you will be able to anticipate any possible problems and actively seek solutions. On the contrary, if you are reactive, you’ll be reluctant to make changes and only putting minimal effort into your work. Being proactive also means that you are better able to endorse the growth mindset, and hence make greater improvements and then achieve success.
It is also shown that students who are linked with being proactive often have better job performance and career success.
Waking up early has a role to play in you being more proactive.
Harvard biologist Christoph Randler surveyed undergrad students and found that more morning people agreed with statements that reflect a go-getter and proactive mentality (e.g. “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen”).
Related Reading: The Power of the Growth Mindset for Students
You will be happier.
Everyone wants to be happier. Many of us are constantly trying to understand the key and ways to happiness.
Waking up maybe one of the key factors. According to Prevention.com, researchers from the University of Toronto have conducted research by surveying more than 700 adults regarding their sleeping habits and mood. It was found that morning person who wake up before 7 had up to 25 percent increase in feelings of happiness and cheerfulness.
You can get better grades.
Yes, you can increase your academic performance by waking up early.
In a research conducted in 2015, students at 5 German high schools were studied. It was found that evening types had lower grades than morning people, having taken into account of their cognitive abilities and motivation.
Similarly, a study of more than 800 students conducted by the University of North Texas in Denton shows that early risers had a GPA that was a full point higher than that of their night-owl peers (3.5 vs. 2.5).
This is likely because morning birds are more likely to get to classes on time, have more time to study in the morning, and are less likely to drink excessively or do leisure activities at night that may harm their academic performance.
Waking up early may also allow you to live more intentionally, without having to constantly rush to class or frantically complete your assignments before deadlines at night due to procrastination. This may explain why early risers tend to get better grades
You will have better mental and physical health.
A study by the University of London shows that people waking up before 7 am have a lower chance of being depressed and obese. Similarly, a Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine study shows that people who are outside in the morning have lower BMIs than people who go outside in the afternoon.
One plausible explanation to this is that early risers are likely to have breakfast. If you skip breakfast, your body is likely to go into starvation mode. When you eat something, you may then overeat and crave unhealthy foods.
Related Reading: 5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Busy College Students
You will be more productive.
This is probably the one reason why many people hope to wake up early. It seems that early riser always seems to be very productive and get so much done during the day.
Why is that?
It’s likely due to the distraction-free environment that morning can give you. When you wake up early (say at 6 am), people often aren’t awake yet. You can treat this time as your “me time”, and focus on your growth, improvements, and needs. You can also take the time to get things done without any distractions.
When I was in middle school, I started waking up one to two hours early on the day of tests or exams to go through everything once. The distraction-free environment gives me the time and silence I need to do my final revision, and I feel more confident after studying everything one more time. I kept the same habit till now.
On top of that, since you are clearly aware of the need to wake up early the next day, you are more likely to consciously go to sleep earlier (or at a regular time) instead of working mindlessly till late night. This means that you are more likely to have a good night sleep, which then gives your body all the energy it needs to work effectively the next day.
Establishing a sleep routine is also said to improve your sleep quality, which again will increase your effectiveness during the day.
How Can You be an Early Riser?
The above gives you some detailed reasons on why you should wake up early. They provide you with two conclusions.
- Getting up early is beneficial to your health, mood, productivity, and performance.
- Waking up before 7 am is likely to generate these benefits.
But how can I do that? How can I change from waking up at 10 am or 11 am, to as early as 6 am?
You may even ask, how is that even possible?
Making a change is never easy. It requires a lot of courage and determination. And more importantly, you need to do three things.
- Understand why you want to wake up early. Give yourself a reason.
- Develop an evening routine and sleep earlier.
- Actually get up early.
1. Understand Why You Want to Be an Early Riser
How many of us have the experiences of just waking up early at 6 am, then realize that there is no point for you to wake up that early anyway and go back to sleep?
How many of us have tried to wake early, set your alarm clock, but when it goes off you just have no motivation at all to actually get up?
I bet many of you have experienced this, and the main solution to this is to understand your motive.
Why do you want to wake up early anyway?
It could be because of the benefits I just mentioned, and it could be because you want some extra time to yourself to be productive and nurture your creativity.
In other words, you need something to look forward to when you wake up.
You can set some goals for yourself, requiring yourself to complete certain tasks in the morning. These goals can motivate you and give you some directions as to what you have to do every morning.
It also gives you the urge to wake up and get things done.
This is also why a morning routine is necessary – it is a major source of motivation that gives you something to anticipate about every morning.
2. Your Evening Routine
If you want to wake up early, you will need to develop an evening routine. This is one aspect that many people seemed to ignore.
Having an evening routine can ensure that:
- You have a fixed sleeping schedule;
- Your sleep quality is great;
- You are prepared for the next morning.
What does an evening routine consist of? Your evening routine should have activities that can help you relax, get you in a comfortable state, and hence get to sleep easier. An evening routine is the key for every early riser.
Turn off your electronics
Are you guilty of using your phones before going to sleep? I’m sure many of you are nodding your heads right now.
Yet, it is reported that artificial light from your electronic devices promote wakefulness. The signaling of light generated from your devices you get you to be more alert, which makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
The blue light, in particular, emitted by phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrains the production of melatonin (the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle). This makes it even more difficult for you to fall asleep and keeps your brain alert.
Hence, if you want to get a better sleep quality and fall asleep earlier, it is essential for you to stay away from your gadgets 30 minutes before you go sleep. This also gives a signal to yourself that it’s time to go to bed so that you can take your mind off of work.
Evaluate your day
Taking some time to think about what happened during the day may be a perfect ending to your day. You may take a look at your to-do list and think about what achievements you have made today, or any room for improvements that you may make. This is the time for you to gather some thoughts and reflect on yourself.
Get prepared for the next day
I mentioned that you need to have a sense of purpose in order to wake up early the next day. Planning your next day will help you give you the motivation to wake up.
You can look at your planner and think about the top 3 priorities that you have for the next day. They can be the events you anticipate about, the goals you set for the next day, or anything that you are looking forward to.
Make sure you endorse a positive attitude so that these top priorities wouldn’t be something you want to escape from, but things that you actually are eagerly waiting for.
When you wake up the next day, you will then remember these priorities, and will then get excited about the next day.
Do relaxing activities that you love
Many include activities like yoga, light exercise, drinking warm milk, taking a bath, reading etc. These activities are usually very light and relaxing and can help you to get to sleep.
I personally like to listen to interesting podcasts before I go to bed, or using an app that plays some soothing sound to get to sleep. (If you are interested to know what this app is, you can go and download the app list here!)
Go to bed at the same time
Having a fixed and consistent sleeping schedule can help you better endorse that biological time clock and you will eventually be able to get used to sleeping at that time. This also helps you to better fall asleep.
Using the gradual method to get to your desired sleeping time may be an ideal start to be an early riser.
You can try to get to bed 15 minutes earlier each day until you reach your desired sleeping time. This gradual change makes it easier for your body to adapt to that sleeping time, and it will have a minimal effect on your energy given that it’s not a sudden change.
3. Actually Get Up Early
Now comes to the final and most important part of becoming an early riser- how to actually get up early.
After you have the intention and determination of waking up, coupled with a good sleeping habit and quality, waking up early won’t be that difficult. All you need is just a little more assistance.
These are some things you can do to help you be an early riser and better get up in the morning.
- Don’t hit the snooze button. Hitting the snooze button will make you feel drowsier and less willing to wake up in the morning.
- Move your alarm clock across the room. Very often we just lack the urge to actually get up and stay away from our bed. Putting your alarm away from you will force you to get yourself off your bed. This also prevents you from hitting the snooze button and creates energy for you to start off the day.
- Have a regular morning ritual. When I wake up, I tend to drink a glass of water and go to the bathroom to get ready. This regular action actually wakes me up and becomes a signal to myself that I need to start my morning routine.
Free Apps to Help You Fall Asleep and Wake Early
Looking for some tools to help you fall asleep easily, get better sleep quality, and wake up at an earlier time?
I’ve got some awesome free app recommendations for both iOS and Android devices for you to help you be an early riser! You can click here to download the pdf with some great apps that can help you fall asleep easily, track your sleep, and get you out of bed.
Let your friends know about the benefits of waking up early!