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At some point in your life, you will utter the words, “there just aren’t enough hours in the day”… if you haven’t done so already.
Personally speaking, I am notorious for feeling this way. I’m a freelance writer working from home, while virtual schooling my four elementary age school children.
Add to that the stuff that needs to get done around the house, errands and after school or work activities… and life can leave my head spinning at times.
But what can be done?
Well, for starters, you can add more time to your day by getting up earlier… 5am, to be more specific.
Now before you “x” out of this window, hear me out. There is actual scientific evidence to support the many benefits of getting up early, such as:
So while you may shutter at the thought of getting out of your cozy, warm bed even a few minutes earlier each day… you’ll likely end up feeling better in the long run.
In this article, I’m going to share my 7-step process for training your body and mind for how to wake up at 5am.
Step #1: Get Cozy with Your Sleep Chronotype
Chronotype is a fancy term for understanding your sleep routine.
Broken down into four categories, your chronotype shows you when to sleep based on your internal clock. It also gives you insight into your typical daily routine… such as eating, working, exercising, and socializing.
It’s more than trying to figure out if you’re a night owl or an early bird… chronotypes go beyond that to address the possibility of being a combination of the two. The end result will help you identify how and when you will be most productive during the day.
The four chronotypes are:
To find out your chronotype, read more about it here.
Once you establish the type of sleeper you are, you’ll be better able to plan your day around it and make the most of your time.
Step #2: Establish Your “Why” for Getting Up Early
We all need a bit of motivation now and again to get things done.
Perhaps it’s something you need to do… or maybe you just want to.
Now, focus on the one thing that you haven’t been able to get done and make it your “why” for how to get up at 5am tomorrow.
My “why” is using the time to finish an article, before I have to feed the kids breakfast and set them up for school at 7:30am.
What is your “why”? The one important goal you need or want to prioritize first thing in the morning.
By carving out time for it, you’ll make sure it doesn’t interfere with your standard morning routine… and get lost in the day.
If you make your “why” the first priority of the day, you’ll also come to realize which things can wait or aren’t really important.
It’s also ok to change your “why” daily. After all, your “why” may be more of a long term goal or lifestyle… such as getting up to run because you want to be your healthiest self for your kids.
Step #3: Practice the 10-3-2-1-O Rule
If there is a habit you’re looking to form, or break, there is likely a rule created by experts in their field to help you find success.
And the 10-3-2-1-0 Rule is just that.
The rule cuts off activities considered detrimental to your rest, within a certain number of hours before bed. The goal is to help you create a better evening routine, get to bed on time, sleep better, and wake up the next morning well rested and ready for battle. Here’s house it goes:
Caffeine takes up to 10 hours to get out of your system, so you really want to cut this off early so it doesn’t interfere with sleep.
Food and alcohol may make you feel satisfied, even sleepy; but they can cause indigestion and other sleep interrupting side effects.
Work and screen time can go bye bye 1 or 2 hours before bed as well, as we all know the mind can’t fully relax when it’s someplace else. And the crude light given off by many phones and tablets can really do a number on the brain when it comes to shutting itself down.
Finally, if you can’t clear your head before bed, try and do a “brain dump”. Write everything down that’s on your mind and then simply crumble it up or tuck it away until tomorrow. Chances are, it won’t keep you awake and you won’t even think twice about it in the morning.
Step #4: Get to Bed Early
My mother-in-law often tells me, “you need to go to bed with the kids”. In our house, that would be between 8-9pm on a school night.
While the bags under my eyes can appreciate what she is saying, I have a lot of trouble wrapping my mind around the idea.
Namely because my days are a blur of kid stuff, work stuff, home stuff…. which typically leaves me feeling as if I haven’t had a moment to myself at the end of the day.
If I went to bed when they did, I’d have no time to actually catch up with my husband. Unwind with a drink and a tv show or board game. Read a book. I’d feel my day was unfinished… and then I would have trouble shutting my brain down.
So while 8pm may not work for me… it’s not to say there isn’t something about going to bed earlier.
I suggest aiming for 1-2 hours earlier than your usual bedtime. Chisel away at it to ensure you’re getting that 8-9 hours of good sleep you crave. After all, not everyone has kids waking her at 6am like me… on a good day.
Also be sure to make that time just before bed peaceful and calming.
Draw yourself a bath or listen to soothing music. Brain dump in a journal. Sketch. Get yourself in a mindset to welcome a full night’s rest and leave the distractions out of the bedroom.
Step #5: Stock Up on Sleep Supplies
So for us Dolphins, or light sleepers, it can be super helpful to limit distractions as much as possible with sleep supplies.
Things like blackout curtains and sleep masks can go a long way in keeping unwanted light from disturbing your slumber.
They even make lavender scented and warming or cooling face masks, which can help relax the muscles in your face and decrease eye puffiness.
If your partner’s snoring, a cuckoo clock or some other noise around the house is your chief complaint, you can try ear plugs.
Conversely, if you’re looking for something more hypnotic to fall asleep too, you can try a sound machine.
Ocean waves, thunderstorms, rainforest creatures, a babbling brook or even white noise can now be a part of your bedroom atmosphere with the simple push of a button. You can set a timer or let it go all night. Some even have some cool projection and ambient light features.
Essential oil diffusers can be another great tool for getting your zzz’s on. Choose from a variety of pleasing scents for whatever ails you… headaches, insomnia, stress, mental clarity, allergies, cold and flu, arthritis. Or just enjoy the soothing fragrance as you fall off to sleep.
Finally, don’t forget the benefits of a misting humidifier during the winter months when the air has a tendency to dry things out, causing nasal congestion. A clear nose can clear the way for a better night’s sleep.
Step #6: Make It Hard to Snooze
When it comes to figuring out how to wake up at 5am, the first thing you need to do is avoid the snooze button… at all costs.
Think of it as the gatekeeper standing in the way of your productive morning.
It is all too easy and tempting to just reach over and slap your alarm clock to get yourself a few extra minutes… but what’s the point? Really?
After all, it’s not like you’re actually falling back into a deep sleep. You’re simply setting yourself up for segmented interrupted sleep.
So you need to make it hard to snooze. You can try:
You’re basically looking to make it as hard as possible for you to reach that button. In doing so, you’re less likely to give up and eventually even embrace the idea.
Step #7: Develop Grit
I’m not sure anybody actually likes the idea of waking up any earlier than they have to. For many, sleep is our sanctuary, that place where the world and life is quiet for just a little while.
But if you’re looking to be more productive during the day, it’s necessary to step out of your comfort zone and embrace those things that make you uncomfortable.
You need to develop grit.
In Angela Duckworth’s book by the same name, Grit shares ideas about the cultivation of tenacity… and how it can actually be a great tool for self-improvement and growth.
Duckworth touts that any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal.
For instance, when it comes to raising a child, neither a warm embrace nor setting high standards will work by themselves. There needs to be a marriage of ideas, some of which may make you uncomfortable at times.
Grit can be learned, regardless of IQ or circumstances, and once you’ve grabbed a hold of it… you will be able to pick yourself up anytime you fall.
If you utilize multiple steps, like the ones outlined here, to cement your efforts to wake up earlier each day… you will find greater success.
In this article, I’ve provided you with 7 actionable steps to help you get a better night’s sleep and be more productive as a result.
It all starts with convincing yourself that learning how to wake up before 5am is a good idea… a necessary idea for improving the quality of your life.
Sleep is crucial to one’s physical and mental well being… yet some people will still argue that the quantity of sleep is less important than the quality.
And that’s just not true. They go hand in hand.
If you understand how you sleep and how your mind functions, then take into account your level of physical activity and environmental stressors, you’ll be able to come up with a bedtime routine that works for you.
You will find yourself falling asleep faster and more soundly, which will ultimately make it easier for you to wake up early… refreshed and ready for the day ahead!
Keep your focus on your “Why” and you will reach your goals with ease.
Trust me. The benefits of getting up early far outweigh the cons… and before long, you’ll hardly remember the days when you used to enjoy sleeping in, watching the day drag on.
Nicole Krause has been writing both personally and professionally for over 20 years. She holds a dual B.A. in English and Film Studies. Her work has appeared in some of the country’s top publications, major news outlets, online publications and blogs. As a happily married (and extremely busy) mother of four… her articles primarily focus on parenting, marriage, family, finance, organization and product reviews.