In a 2009 Harvard study, Christoph Randler discovered that people who woke up early in the morning were more proactive in solving problems than those who were late risers. He describes proactivity as “the willingness and ability to take action to change a situation to one’s advantage.” Sounds like a great thing to have, right?
Of course, we probably don’t need a Harvard study to tell us that. We all know that early risers seem to be more productive, more energetic, more quick to get things done. We hear time and time again how the most successful entrepreneurs wake up at 5 am. The list goes on…
But does that mean us natural late risers are just doomed to be less successful in everything we do? Are we doomed to miss out on peak productive hours? Cursed to never be “proactive” enough?
Well, luckily we can become early risers through a combination of consistency, self-control, and employing a few tricks to help us make the shift.
So whether you want to become an early riser or not, these tips will help you regulate your sleep schedule so you at least have the right amount of energy and stamina to tackle your day.
Turn Off Screens
Screens like your ipad, cell phone, laptop, and TV emit blue light which keeps your body feeling like it’s still day time. Turn your screens off before your bedtime wind down time to give your internal clock the memo that it’s time to sleep. Instead of scrolling through social media or watching funny videos, try reading a bit before bed, meditating, or enjoying some calming music.
Control The Light
Besides blue light from your screens, there can also be light from outside windows or from other sources that cause your body to think it’s still day time. Get yourself some blackout blinds or a sleep mask to make sure no extra light is getting in and causing you to stay up longer.
Of course, controlling your light can go both ways. Get rid of extra light at night to get yourself to go to sleep, and increase the light you see in the morning to wake up easier. If you have trouble sleeping in, expose yourself to sunlight as soon as you wake up so your body begins the waking process.
Make Your Bed a Comfortable Place to Be
If your bed isn’t particularly comfortable, then it will be pretty difficult to fall asleep. You may find yourself tossing and turning for a long time before finally drifting off into a fitful rest. As expensive as beds can be, your sleep schedule is incredibly important for determining how well your day goes, and therefore, how your life turns out. So take the time to invest a little in your sleeping accommodations and make sure you feel super comfortable. Your health and wellness will thank you.
Set an Alarm With Upbeat Music
Sometimes alarm clocks can cause unnecessary stress for people who have a hard time waking up in the morning. The loud, obnoxious sound causes people to turn them off immediately, or snooze a hundred times, instead of waking up. So try waking up to upbeat music that makes you feel excited and ready to get on with the day. Turning your wake up into a fun, enjoyable thing will make you more likely to actually do it.
Try a Bit of Yoga or Meditation Before Bed
Yoga and meditation are practices that can help calm the body and mind. Through breathing exercises, you can smooth over the anxious thoughts from the day and get in a relaxed state ideal for sleeping. Follow a yoga or guided meditation Youtube video or app on your phone to start and work your way up from there. These practices have a strong emphasis on mindfulness, which is key to going to sleep not only at the right time, but also with a happy and quiet mind.
Avoid Naps During the Day Longer Than 20-30 Minutes
Naps can be an insidious friend. They can give us more energy throughout the day, but if we take naps that are too long, it can disrupt our sleep schedule and make it difficult to fall asleep at night. A 20-30 minute nap generally won’t cause a huge disruption in your sleep schedule if you’ve particularly exhausted yourself during the day. But if you’re aiming for consistency, try to avoid taking long naps that give you too much energy for the rest of the day and keep you up at night.
Melatonin is a hormone in your brain that causes your body to think it’s time for bed. If you’re struggling to go to bed early enough in order to wake up when you’ve set your alarm, try taking a bit of melatonin to make your body feel like it’s time to sleep. Ultimately, you probably don’t want to rely on this method long term, but it can help ease you into your new sleep schedule.
Create a Night Time Routine
In order to make going to sleep a bit more fun, you can implement a night time routine. Start your routine just 15 minutes before you go to bed, or even a whole hour before. Instead of your bedtime being a chore you have to do, think of it as a gift you give yourself. Make it a whole event by grabbing a good book, lighting a candle, listening to some soothing music or nature sounds. Turn your bedtime into “me time” where you get to just enjoy being with yourself and drifting off to sleep.
Create a Morning Routine
If you can make going to bed a fun part of your day, you can also make waking up a fun part of your day, too. Especially for those who find it difficult to wake up early, try implementing a morning routine that you’re excited about. Morning routines could be as simple as making breakfast for yourself and eating it in front of your kitchen window. Or you could dedicate a few minutes to meditation and reflection on the day ahead. Or you could spend the first hour of your day doing something you really love doing – like reading, or writing, or painting, or working on a personal project. This way, you have time set aside for something you love and are more excited about waking up to do it.
Keep Your Bed and Work Areas Separate
This can be tough, especially for people who work from home or are students. But creating designated spaces for work and for relaxation can make a huge difference when it comes to creating the perfect sleep schedule. When you distinguish between a work area and a sleeping area, your brain knows exactly what to do when it enters each environment. Because your bed is only used for sleeping, as soon as you get in it, your brain will go right to sleep. You’re essentially training your brain what to do when it enters a specific space.
Avoid Eating or Exercising Before Bed
Eating and exercising can wake your brain up, so try to keep away from those two activities before sleeping. Give yourself a few hours between your last meal of the day and bedtime, and try to schedule your exercise routine either in the morning or early afternoon when the energy you get from it can be put to good use.
Try Exercising Right When You Wake Up
Just as exercising will keep you awake at night, you can exercise right when you wake up to get your energy going. If you’re particularly struggling to get out of bed, try hitting the floor running and getting your body moving right away. Exercising in the morning helps your body wake up quicker and gives you a boost of energy for the rest of the day.
All these tips are used to reset the timing of your internal clock. This is the clock that tells you when it’s time to rest, and when it’s time to get up. But this internal clock doesn’t always work on the time that we want it to. Luckily, with a little applied effort, your clock can be set to run at new times that actually benefit you.
Our sleep is one of the most important factors determining our waking hours. How we rest impacts how we live. So taking the time to create a sleep schedule that works for you is super important.
When you can reset and maintain the timing of your internal clock and have a consistent sleep schedule, you’ll be able to wake up everyday with the energy, stamina, and peace to attack your day. And you might even be a little extra proactive.