We all have days where getting out of bed feels impossible. Whether you stayed up too late having fun or it’s simply the weekend, sleeping in from time to time is both natural and normal.
For some people, however, waking up early is a constant chore that never seems to get better. Failing to get a good night’s sleep and being unable to wake up early can be major burdens on everyday life, making it harder to be productive and attend early morning engagements on time.
The good news? This can be reversed. By setting routines and adopting healthy lifestyle habits, you can get on your way to jumping out of bed when the alarm strikes 6. Even if you’re a self-proclaimed night owl, here’s how to wake up easier and learn to love your mornings.
Why Waking Up Is Hard
We’ve all experienced feeling sluggish, tired, and unmotivated in the morning. In fact, nearly half of Americans said that poor sleep affects their daily life, according to a study by The National Sleep Foundation. Of those surveyed, 20% also said they didn’t wake up feeling refreshed the next day, and 25% rated their sleep quality as poor.
With data like that, it’s no surprise that so many people struggle to wake up in the morning. But what if you make an effort to go to bed at a decent hour? What if you maintain a healthy, active lifestyle — and still struggle to sleep well and wake up with energy? A number of sleep disorders could be to blame.
Sleep Disorders That Make Waking Up Hard
Certain sleep disorders and conditions can exacerbate the grogginess you feel upon waking up. For example, sleep apnea is a common sleep condition characterized by a partial or complete blockage of the throat.
Sleep apnea is when a person’s breathing involuntarily stops during sleep. Loud snoring is the most common symptom of sleep apnea, but it can also cause a person to wake up gasping for air or with a dry mouth or headache.
Struggling to fall asleep at a normal bedtime or having insomnia also makes it hard to wake up early. Waking up throughout the night, waking up too early, and suffering from daytime tiredness, irritability, and lack of mental stamina are all signs of insomnia. This sleep disorder is considered chronic when experienced for three months straight.
Sleep inertia is another common reason why you might struggle with grogginess and brain fog as you start your day. Though not a sleep disorder, sleep inertia is typically caused by being abruptly awoken either by an alarm clock or another force.
According to sleep medicine specialist Brandon Peters, “This phenomenon leads to sleepiness and cognitive and psychomotor impairment that can occur immediately after awakening.” Sleep deprivation and waking earlier than normal can disrupt slow-wave, or deep sleep, to trigger sleep inertia.
Circadian Rhythm Disruptions
Changes to your circadian rhythm may also be to blame for poor sleep. Responsible for your sleep-wake cycle, your circadian rhythm regulates when you feel sleepy, when you wake up, and how much energy you have during daylight hours.
Circadian rhythms are primarily influenced by light. The absence of sunlight after sunset is what triggers the circadian rhythm to release the hormone melatonin in the brain, which makes us feel tired so we can prepare for a good night’s rest.
Your circadian rhythm can be disrupted by a variety of sleep disorders, including delayed sleep disorder. This disorder, most common in teenagers, is when someone’s internal clock prevents them from going to sleep at a normal hour. As a result, they tend to fall asleep between 2 and 6 a.m., making it hard to wake before the rest of the world has started their day.
Your body’s natural sleep cycle can also be negatively impacted by lifestyle factors, such as working late nights and sleeping through the day. Shift work asks a person’s circadian rhythm to work in reverse and ignore the release of melatonin at night. This can make it harder for a shift worker to get the sleep they need during the daytime, making them chronically tired from day to day.
Additional factors that can disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm include frequently staying up late, having an inconsistent sleep schedule throughout the week, consuming high amounts of alcohol, and experiencing jet lag. Suffering from anxiety and ADHD can also affect a person’s ability to sleep well.
How to Wake Up Easier
Whether you struggle from a sleep disorder like sleep apnea or you’re simply prone to late-night Netflix binges, here are a few lifestyle changes that can make waking up more pleasant.
Clarify Your Motivation
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely you have a reason why you want to get up earlier. Do you want to exercise before work? Do you want to have breakfast with your family?
Getting clear on why you want to wake up earlier can make the change stick. Healthy living expert Michelle Segar suggests telling loved ones about the change you’re willing to make. Having an early morning accountability partner can be just the motivation you need to stop hitting snooze and get better quality sleep.
Create a Consistent Bedtime Routine
First and foremost, creating a consistent bedtime routine is essential for rising with gusto. If you go to bed at 1 a.m. one night and 8 p.m. the next because you’re so tired, your brain won’t have time to adjust to consistent sleep patterns. One way to help yourself fall asleep earlier at a consistent time is to set a boundary for your devices.
Since the bright light from smartphones and tablets can mimic the sun and disrupt your circadian rhythm, it’s best to limit their use after sundown. Sticking to this schedule on the weekends can also help you maintain consistency in your sleep-wake schedule to get your biological clock back on track.
Create a Consistent Morning Routine
Remember why you wanted to wake up earlier? A new schedule in the morning can help you get all of that done and then some.
A morning routine is something all early risers have in common. Some people use their time to meditate, exercise, or journal. Other people use it to pour a cup of coffee and read — as it might be their only moment of solitude in the day. Whatever you decide, make sure you’re exposed to ample sunlight. This will keep your circadian rhythms in check for better sleep that evening.
Try the R.I.S.E. U.P. Method
The R.I.S.E. U.P. Method is especially helpful for people who suffer from sleep inertia, but anyone who dislikes mornings can benefit from adopting at least some of these principles. Pioneered by Dr. Harvey of the Golden Bear Sleep Research Center, this technique helps you feel more alert and energized after waking up. This acronym stands for:
- Refrain from snoozing
- Increase activity for the first hour
- Shower or wash face
- Expose yourself to sunlight
- Upbeat music
- Phone a friend
Including even a few of these elements in your morning may be the trick to help you reshape your wake up routine. Plus, a number of these elements help reinforce other early-riser tips (such as phoning a friend, who can also be your accountability partner).
Wake Up Easier and Become a Morning Person
If you’re wondering how to wake up easier, you’re not alone. Millions of people suffer from sleep disorders and lifestyle factors that make it harder to fall asleep, get enough sleep, and maintain a consistent wake-up time.
Fortunately, changing your lifestyle to adopt a morning and evening routine can ensure that you readjust your body clock and create better sleep habits. So what are you waiting for? A more energized and productive morning awaits!