Some of the world’s most successful people – such as Apple CEO Tim Cook and Vogue editor Anna Wintour – are known to start their day before sunrise.
But being an early riser might have more benefits than giving you a head start on your unread emails, as a new study has found that people whose sleep pattern goes against their natural body clock are more likely to have depression and lower levels of wellbeing.
Researchers from the University of Exeter concluded that getting up early can have a protective effect against mental health issues, and those who do it tend to be happier.
Read more: Study shows it pays to rise early
So, how can you stop hitting the snooze button and become a fully fledged morning lark? Here are a few simple tips for getting the job done.
1. Nudge your alarm by five minutes each day
With any new habit, it’s tempting to launch yourself in head first, but if you usually sleep in until late, then setting your alarm for 6am might not be realistic.
It’s much easier to get into the habit of waking up early if you gradually ease your body into it, by adjusting your wake-up call by five, 10 or 15-minute increments each day.
If you currently wake up at 9am, set your alarm for 8.50 or 8.45am. Give yourself a few days to get used to it, and then step your wake-up time back to 8.30am. Do this until you reach the time you want to wake up.
2. Go to bed a little earlier each night
In the same way as adjusting to an earlier wake-up time, start adjusting your bedtime. Typically, if you try to go to sleep an hour earlier than usual, you’ll have trouble getting to sleep. However, aiming for just 15 minutes earlier should be manageable.
3. Put your alarm on the other side of the room
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, but putting your alarm on the other side of the room really does work.
Because you’re forced to remove the covers and get out of bed, you remove the opportunity for half-consciously snoozing your alarm and immediately going back to sleep.
Read more: Wakey wakey – a history of alarm clocks
There are also alarms that will only turn off after you’ve taken a photo of something that you set the night before. It could be your coffee machine or your running shoes, anything that means you have to get out of bed and leave the bedroom.
Start with a glass of water, walk around your living room, or go outside for a few minutes. These will help you wake up and become more alert.
4. Give yourself a reward for waking up early
After you become more alert, the next thing you need to do is remind yourself why you are getting up early. Keep reminders in places you see them, so they can help keep you motivated.
Many of us wake up and start rushing around to get ready for work or the day straight away, but having an extra hour in the morning means you can luxuriate with some free time.
Whether it’s taking a calming yoga class, going out for an early morning coffee or spending an hour on a personal project, give yourself something that will motivate you to get up and out of bed.
These motivations and rewards will help you create the habits of an early riser. They will make it more pleasurable and help you fight the barriers that keep you from getting up.
5. Use light to your advantage
Light acts as a natural cue for our bodies to wake up. While darker, sunset-coloured light causes your body to release the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, daylight kickstarts our bodies into action.
Read more: How to wake up brain and body
Just as limiting your exposure to blue light gadgets at night can help you to drift off more easily, using a sunrise lamp that gradually fills the room with simulated daylight can help you to wake up more naturally.
6. Be consistent
Going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time is key to shifting your sleep pattern, so make sure you aren’t sleeping until midday at the weekends.
On average, it takes more than two months before a new behaviour becomes an automatic habit, so don’t worry if you struggle to get up in those first few weeks – it’s helpful to see your new morning routine as a marathon effort, rather than a quick sprint.
Are you a night owl or an early bird? Why not share any tips you have for getting up early in the comments section below?
– With PA
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