It’s one of the most agreed-upon methods for productivity, and yet many of us just can’t force ourselves to start our day earlier. The benefits are undeniable, however: a 2019 study conducted jointly by universities in the UK and Australia found that participants who woke up earlier reported decreased feelings of stress and depression while experiencing increased levels of physical and cognitive energy felt.
Now it’s not about waking up at 4 a.m. or forcing night owls to become morning larks. Waking up earlier looks different for everyone, but its rewards are universal:
- You are giving yourself time to yourself that is not infiltrated with work or personal distractions. This time is sacred and can set the tone for the rest of the day.
- You will acquire valuable mental muscle building skills in terms of discipline, persistence, and positive habit building.
- You take responsibility for the day instead of your first act being a half-asleep slap on the snooze button.
As with most worthwhile habits, don’t expect results overnight. In fact, that expectation can be exactly what abuses any success you find. Unless you’re a natural early riser, start with 15 minute increments and slowly increase your time until you have at least an hour of morning time that’s entirely yours.
Try these tips to wake up earlier and tweak the process until it feels right to you.
- Adjust your evening routine. Good sleep starts with relaxation. Swap the TV time for a meditative sleep story and a cup of herbal tea. Leave your phone in the living room to avoid distractions.
- Create a non-negotiable alarm time. No sleeping, no hesitation. When the alarm goes off, your feet land on the floor. Even a moment of hesitation gives you space to dissuade yourself from getting up.
- Do not withdraw. Waking up earlier is not a punishment. It is a gift to you. If you’re struggling to fall asleep early enough to get your recommended amount of sleep, make time for an afternoon nap.
Hermosa Beach, California
Founders of Vowlá, ROCKINEVENTS and Jenny Chang
That is how long I would wake up on time or the first call from a customer or manager. I would swallow a cup of water and no one could tell. Often it was fear and haste that drove my impromptu success. But my energy was not what I wanted.
Waking up at the magic hour – for me 5:30 a.m. – is the most beneficial habit I’ve created as an entrepreneur. I feel most in control when I start each day as a service to myself or to others. At night I practice evening habits in order to end my day as consciously as I started it.
The most valuable muscle we can train is building a new muscle in whatever challenges us the most. If I don’t wake up to create the blueprint for my success, no one else will – so I might as well start now.
Edison, New Jersey
Nazranaa executive producer
The morning is the best time to have some peace and quiet, to put your thoughts together and get a head start on your day.
I woke up at 8:30 a.m. and spoke on the phone for 30 minutes before work. Now I wake up at 5:30 am and practice yoga and meditation. Getting up early allows me to stick to my practices, which in turn helps me cope better with stressful situations.
I recommend forgetting the concept of a break, vacation, or weekend. The concept of a break is detrimental to habit formation. If you are trying to make a habit, there is no Saturday or Sunday. You have to agree to this seven days a week, 365 days a year. If I ever have a long night, I still wake up at 5:30 a.m. I might take a nap during the day, but I won’t skip my wake-up time. It’s important to my day.
This article originally appeared in the May / June 2021 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Photos by @ ProjectP / Twenty20
Cecilia Meis is a full-time writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to SUCCESS, her work has appeared in Time Out Dallas, Rewire, Healthline, and others. Outside of work, she plays beach volleyball, tries home cooking, and works passionately to insta-famous her cat, Nola.