How to Go to Bed Earlier So You Can Wake Up Earlier
Are you a natural night owl but want to become a morning lark? If you’re working towards waking up earlier but finding the transition difficult, you’re not alone. We are creatures of habit, and changing one thing in our routine, such as waking up early, can feel unnatural.
Whether you’ve had a change of schedule or simply looking for more time to yourself in the morning, the best way to adjust to rising earlier is by going to bed sooner. Take the advice your parents always gave you as a child and hit the sheets.
How to Become a Morning Person
Different people have different morning routines they want to adopt, whether it’s to get more done or to practice better self-care. However you plan to spend your extra time in the morning, you’ll enjoy it more after a restful night of sleep.
Sleep is critical to your physical and mental health, allowing your body and mind time to repair and rejuvenate. Before you get too enthusiastic about the idea of waking up earlier, remember that it’s more important to prioritize getting enough sleep.
Becoming an early riser isn’t as simple as setting your alarm earlier than usual. People who wake up earlier also go to bed earlier, meaning they’re still getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. To become a morning person, you need to shift your sleep schedule so that you’re falling asleep sooner.
To get your body on a new sleep schedule, you need to take a gradual approach that won’t shock your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Here are some ideas on how you can shift your patterns to wake up earlier.
Change Your Bedtime Incrementally
Every person has a natural circadian rhythm—a built-in sleep clock based on a 24-hour period. Based on your habits (and the time of day), your body knows when it’s time to wake up and time to go to bed. Shifting this sleep-wake cycle can be hard on your body, which is why you need to make gradual shifts rather than sudden changes.
The healthiest way to adjust your sleep clock is to move your bedtime ahead incrementally. Giving yourself a few weeks to adjust to the new routine can also make it easier for you to stick to your goal.
Begin with a new target bedtime. For example, if you typically go to bed at 11 pm but want to be in bed by 9, start going to bed at 10:45 pm for the first five days. On days 6-10, go to bed at 10:30 pm. On days 11-15, go to bed at 10:15, and so on.
In a few weeks, you’ll feel more adjusted to going to bed earlier and waking up earlier.
Develop a Nighttime Routine
Whether you realize it or not, you probably have a routine you follow every night before you go to bed. This routine might consist of pouring yourself a glass of water or brushing your teeth and washing your face. Many people even check emails or scroll social media platforms before shutting their eyes.
Developing a consistent and healthy nighttime routine is key to changing your late-night habits. Climb into bed with a favorite book instead of checking those work emails that can wait until morning. Or perhaps, engage in some evening stretching, listen to a podcast or meditate to help your brain and body unwind.
Choose a nighttime routine that you look forward to. Having a relaxing and peaceful evening ritual will make bedtime more enticing, promoting a healthier relationship with sleep.
Learn more about how to develop the perfect evening routine for better mornings.
Improve Your Nighttime Environment
To improve your quality of sleep and the time it takes you to fall asleep, make your home or bedroom more comfortable and relaxing. Dim or completely turn off the lights and turn down the heat—cool, dark environments are conducive to deep rest. Get your bed ready and adjust the pillows to your liking. Making your room comfortable and inviting may make you more inclined to go to bed earlier.
It’s also important to turn off or put away your phone. In a small 2020 study, researchers instructed participants to stop using their phones 30 minutes before bed. After four weeks, the group fell asleep faster, slept longer, had better sleep quality and had improved mood and memory.
Plugging in before bed keeps your brain active and can make it more difficult to nod off. Your mind needs time to slow down before shutting off for the night. And the blue light your phone and other screens display is keeping your body from producing melatonin, or the hormone that helps you relax and stay asleep.
Additionally, simply reminding yourself that you can crawl into a warm, cozy and comfy bed will help you remember that sleeping makes you feel better and is a positive activity.
Promote Deep Sleep
Falling into a deep sleep is vital to achieving a good night’s rest and feeling refreshed in the morning. But there are some things that can prevent you from achieving deep sleep.
For example, while regular exercise is beneficial for promoting a night of restful sleep and can even improve your sleep quality, exercising too close to your bedtime can make it more challenging to get to sleep. Aim to complete your workout at least an hour before you go to sleep. If you must do some form of physical exercise before climbing into your sheets, try yoga or gentle stretching.
Additionally, avoiding caffeine from coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks in the afternoons can help you have a better sleep in the evening. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it can temporarily keep you awake and alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain. Caffeine also stays in your system long after you’ve ingested it. A 2013 study found that participants who consumed caffeine within six hours of bedtime had significant sleep disturbances.
If your goal is a 9 pm bedtime, then be sure to finish your last cup of coffee by no later than 3 pm.
If you’re used to going to bed without any particular time frame, then you might benefit from setting a bedtime reminder. There are many apps designed to keep you on track with your evening routine and remind you when it’s time to unwind and head to bed to achieve your sleep goals. These apps can do anything from dimming the lights on your phone to monitoring the hours you spend sleeping to reminding you it’s time to go to bed, and more.
You can also find ways to remind your brain and body that it’s time to start winding down. Giving your body physiological cues can help you naturally relax before an evening’s slumber. For example, avoid eating a few hours before going to bed. Additionally, reducing bright lights can also signal your body that it’s almost time to sleep.
Interested in how technology can improve your evening and morning routines? Read Best Sleep and Wake Apps and Gadgets of 2020.
Find Your Motivation
If you’re ever feeling like you just can’t make the switch to becoming a morning person, you might want to remind yourself why you started in the first place. Was it to give yourself time before work to pursue your passion projects? Or maybe it’s to fit in a longer workout or eat a healthier breakfast.
Becoming an early riser can help you achieve your daily goals quicker. Your body can reach peak wakefulness on its own before you put your brain to work, without relying on that shot of caffeine.
If you’re looking to take advantage of the morning or tackle your priorities of the day, you must determine what motivates you to get out of those comfy sheets each day.
Early to Bed, Early to Rise
Waking up early is not just about increasing productivity and getting more done. It’s also about prioritizing your own needs and well-being and giving yourself the gift of morning peace and stillness.
By following the tips in this guide to earlier bedtimes, you’ll be able to adjust your natural sleep cycle in a healthy way so you can wake up earlier, feeling refreshed and ready to pursue your dreams.