It seems like some people are just a “morning person” while others are not. There is science to back this up. Sleeping patterns, sleep cycles behaviors, and characteristics all vary from person to person based on age, activity level and sleeping conditions. These behaviors are classified with “chronotypes,” or the specific circadian rhythms that define individual levels of alertness and activity throughout the day. People typically fall into one of four chronotype categories: the bear, the wolf, the lion, and the dolphin. Each chronotype is loosely based on the relative animal’s sleep patterns and habits. To quickly summarize, a Bear doesn’t have much trouble waking up in the morning and is very alert first thing after waking up, a Wolf is most productive at night and likes to sleep in late, a Dolphin is nature’s Insomniac and needs helps settling down for the night, and a Lion feels most alive in the morning with energy levels peaking before noon. Both a Lion and a Bear are typically able to complete their daily tasks and work before lunch.
That’s not to say if you’re a Sleep Chronotype that prefers to stay up late and sleep well into the morning you’re totally out of luck. There are things you can do to wake yourself up in time to be fresh and rejuvenated for an early meeting, a day filled with family activities, or to make it to the airport on time. You can wake up in the morning, even if you’re a Wolf! In truth, knowing how to wake up early is a skill you’re able to learn and practice, just like any other.
Why Waking Up Early is Important
Before we can discuss how to wake up, it’s first important to say why you should want to do so. An early morning routine has been shown to be good for your mind, body, and overall wellness. According to the academic journal Nature Communications, early risers are less likely to develop mental health problems. As well, the Obesity Society also found a link between waking up early and having a more balanced diet. This doesn’t even mention what waking up early does for your productivity!
Top 6 Habits: How to Wake Yourself Up
Music makes us happy! Listening to the right music first thing in the morning can do wonders for your energy levels. It increases dopamine levels, which is one of the “happy” hormones directly connected to pleasure. It also reduces grogginess. If you wake up to a playlist you love, you’ll experience lower levels of morning grogginess, you’ll wake up faster, and you’ll be more alert. It will have an energizing effect that gets you pumped up for the day ahead.
Some smells, like lavender, are known to make people sleepy. Others have the opposite effect. Experts recommend energizing rosemary, uplifting grapefruit, and clarifying pine needle oils for early morning. Your sense of smell is strongly tied to your memory. If you diffuse the same scent day after day, you will learn and eventually associate that particular aroma with waking up.
Open Your Window
Let the natural light in! Long ago before clocks, people knew to go to sleep and wake up based on whether it was light or dark outside. Your body still recognizes sunlight as nature’s alarm clock; you simply need to show yourself it’s morning. It’s important to note here that artificial light doesn't have the same effect as unfiltered sunlight. Open your drape or blinds and let the sunlight into your home.
Take a Shower
Another way to tell your body it is time to wake up is with heat. Your body likes to be dark and cool when you’re asleep, and waking up requires the opposite- light and heat! It will boost alertness. Experts recommend a somewhat cooler, but not cold, shower to avoid raising your body temperature dramatically. For those who have a hard time waking up, a morning shower can make a big difference. Plus, you want to wash off the sweat and bacteria from the night before anyway!
You don’t eat or drink while you’re asleep, and your body knows to consider this period of intermittent fasting as a time for rest. One of the best ways to wake yourself up is to hydrate your body, which tells your brain that the period for fasting and resting is over! Research has shown that drinking water upon waking improves mental performance. You’ll be more alert and ready to tackle the day.
If you have a hard time getting up in the morning, move your workout to the first part of the day. Right now you may be thinking, “I can barely get out of bed on time, how do you expect me to work out?” A brisk morning exercise has many health benefits! You’ll boost your metabolism, make healthier choices, and reap the mental benefits of exercise all day. Working out in the morning tells your body that it is time to get up and get going!
It is possible that not all six of these suggestions will work for you. The best way to learn how to wake up in the morning is to find a routine that works well for you! We encourage you to read our guide to sleeping better. Just like your sleep system and your bedtime routine are personal to what works the best for your likes and lifestyle, your wake up routine is too! It may be that an early morning walk and a brisk shower does the trick, or a rockin’ playlist is all you need. Go ahead and spend the next few mornings working on a routine that works well for you.
Give it time. It can take three to four weeks to adjust to a new morning routine. You’ll find it and love it, even if you don’t identify as a morning person. Successfully knowing how to wake up early is possible for anyone and everyone!