You know the drill: your alarm goes off, you procrastinate waking up for as long as possible, and you finally crawl out of bed 20 minutes after you told yourself you’d get up. Unless you’re a rare and lucky morning person, this is probably how most weekdays go for you, and you’re not alone. Just 10–15% of the population exhibits a preference strictly for mornings, yet society’s nine-to-five structure is far kinder to those who enjoy rising early.
Even if you’ll always be a night owl at heart, a few simple changes to your routine can make waking up in the morning far less painful. Start with these five strategies, and you might find yourself enjoying the pre-noon hours more than you ever expected.
1. Stop Hitting Snooze
If you find yourself regularly snoozing your alarm clock more times than you can count in the morning, you’re not really helping yourself get more sleep. In fact, you’re wasting time you could be using for more productive pursuits, like cooking yourself a healthy breakfast before work. Sleep experts generally agree that snoozing your alarm clock can actually make you groggier when you do finally get up. As you hit snooze and fall back to sleep, your body enters a new sleep cycle that should last about 90 minutes. Eight minutes later, when your alarm goes off again, you end up interrupting your body mid-cycle, which can leave you feeling drowsier than if you’d just gotten up 10 minutes earlier.
Further, if you’re logging enough sleep, you shouldn’t need the snooze button. While you might be able to blame some morning drowsiness on being a night owl, likely you’re also not getting enough shut-eye if you’re snoozing repeatedly. If you need help breaking your habit, try an app on your phone instead. This list of innovative alarm clock apps aims to make snoozing the alarm difficult or impossible, so you’ll be forced to adopt more proactive wakeup habits each morning.
2. Adopt a Productive Evening Routine
Unsurprisingly, how you feel in the morning depends a lot upon how your previous evening goes. If you have a packed schedule all day long, sitting back and relaxing at night is tempting. Before you put your feet up, however, carve out a few minutes to get organized for the next day. Pack a lunch, set clothes aside, or tidy up the house so that you don’t dread waking up to a lineup of chores the next morning.
After that, make time to wind down. Drink tea, read a book, write in a gratitude journal—the more time you can spend relaxing, away from screens and social media feeds, the better equipped your body will be for a good night’s sleep. Plus, sticking to a dedicated evening routine will eventually signal to your body that bedtime is near. While you’re relaxing, make sure you go to bed the recommended seven to eight hours before your alarm goes off the next morning.
3. Wake Up to Music or the Radio
Regardless of which bright, peppy ringtone you try and adapt to, you can’t get comfortable waking up to the blare of an alarm clock in the morning. That’s okay—think beyond an alarm clock to find a better way to greet the morning each day.
Consider investing in quality speakers, or even this futuristic speaker pillow, to simplify waking up to music or the radio. You’ll have control over what sounds you first hear in the morning instead of feeling forced to listen to the harsh blare of an alarm clock. If you find news relaxing, give it a try, or if classical music is more your style, embrace it—there are no wrong answers. Check out this list of songs to wake up to for a little inspiration if you aren’t sure where to start.
4. Give Yourself an Incentive to Get Out of Bed
If all you have to look forward to when you finally climb out of bed is a harried rush through the house getting ready, searching for keys, and grabbing a granola bar on your way out the door, you’re more apt to try and hang onto your moments of peace in bed for as long as possible. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to yourself in the morning, do one thing that you’ll look forward to when your alarm goes off.
Whether you focus on sitting down to a real breakfast (outside in the sun, if possible), a hot shower with invigorating essential oils, or a morning run, having one or more incentives to get you out of bed might be just the push you need to get up on time. If you choose to start working out in the mornings, you might find yourself more accountable—a recent fitness tracker study showed that users who logged workouts most consistently were usually morning exercisers. Once you get used to a shift in your routine, you’ll realize you have more to lose by staying in bed if it cuts into a morning routine you’re looking forward to.
5. Drink a Glass of Water
Do you think a physical cue to wake up might help you more than a mental one? Before you go to bed at night, try leaving a glass of ice water—in a thermos, if you really want to keep it cold—on your nightstand or near your bed. When your alarm goes off the next morning, sit up in bed and take a swig. The jolt of cold will encourage adrenaline production, helping you feel more alert. Plus, drinking water first thing in the morning hydrates your body at a time when it’s usually mildly dehydrated.
Getting out of bed in the morning doesn’t have to be a miserable experience, even if you’re convinced you’ll never throw off the covers happily at the first sound of your alarm. By incorporating thoughtful changes to your morning routine, you can shift the way you think about the first hours of the day and hopefully set yourself up for happier, more productive weeks.