A ridiculously simple way of waking up early

I’m not a morning person and I’ve got to say, one of my favourite things is sleep. Without an alarm, I’d most likely sleep in until 10 am. However, over the past two weeks, I’ve been spending most of my day in an intensive French language course.

The only way I’ve been able to fit my necessary activities into my day (research and writing my PhD) has been to wake up earlier than normal.

But here’s the problem. I’ve historically been unable to wake up early. My attempts to rise early usually involve my alarm going off at 6.30am, followed by hitting the snooze button every 10 minutes till 7.30 am, after which I realise I’m probably not going to wake up early so I just turn my alarm off altogether and end up waking up at 9 am as usual. I then panic as I realise I needed to be at work at 9 am, so I quickly get dressed and sprint out the door, forgetting my lunch and my gym gear.

However, over the last two weeks I’ve been waking up at 6.30 am every weekday morning without fail. I’ve come up with a ridiculously simple way of waking up early 100% of the time.

The internet is full of weird and ridiculous techniques about how to get up early – from doing practice sets of waking up immediately to your alarm without hitting snooze, to using stupidly overpriced ‘dawn simulator’ alarm clocks.

By contrast, the method below is an absolute breeze.

However, before we get to the process of waking up early, you need to ask yourselves whether it’s actually necessary to wake up early.

Many people operate under a false assumption that all ‘successful people’ (whatever that means) wake up before 6 am and that the earlier you wake up, the more successful you’ll be. This type of logic is just plain bullshit. The world is full of examples of people who have accomplished great things while waking up late: James Joyce and Gustav Flaubert, for instance famously wouldn’t start the day before 10 am. [1] Realistically, there’s no reason why you must wake up early.

Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to the technique.

  1. You need to want to wake up early

This one might seem a little obvious but it’s important that you actually want to wake up early. It shouldn’t just be some half-hearted thought that “it’ll be nice to wake up early, so I’ll set my alarm to 6.30am tomorrow and see how I feel”. So before you fall asleep at night, you need to prime yourself for waking up early the next morning. This is a pretty simple process of telling yourself that you’re going to be waking up early the next day, and there aren’t going to be any excuses for sleeping in.

  1. Download the ‘Step Out!’ app from the app store

The Step Out! app is the main trick here. It’s an iPhone app that requires you to walk 30 steps before you can turn it off. Frustratingly for your morning self, there’s no way you can snooze the app. Walk Me Up! is the equivalent product for Android (and, no I’ve got no idea why they’ve both got exclamation marks in there).

These apps force you to get out of bed, while the 30 steps you need to take does a great job of waking you up.

I’ve found that once I’m up out of bed and have spent about 30 seconds walking around, the initial haze of transitioning from sleep to awareness seems to dissipate.

You’ll find you won’t have any last-minute desires to get back into bed, because you’ll now be fully awake and have mentally prepped yourself the night before for getting up early.

  1. Reward yourself

You need to look forward to waking up early and reward yourself for doing just that. This is another important technique in convincing yourself to stay awake, rather than return to sleep.

I personally really look forward to waking up, making a coffee and spending half an hour reading the news. But maybe you’d be more interested in a nice hot shower and a delicious cooked breakfast – find out what works best for you, but make sure you give yourself some form of immediate gratification for waking up early.

And there you have it – three simple steps to waking up early. Good luck!



[1] Currey, M. 2013. Daily Rituals. Knopf: New York.


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1 Response

  1. September 26, 2017

    […] I’ve described previously, I typically like to read the news for half an hour when I wake […]

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