Those first few minutes after your alarm rings can be a major struggle. You're finally in a comfy position and feeling so cozy under the covers, and then... reality sets in: It's time to get up. Sometimes, the only thing that can coax you out of bed is the thought of a hot (or iced) cup of joe. But when that doesn't work and you end up running late day after day, it may be time to check out some new ways for how to wake yourself up in the morning.
Why do some people have so much trouble getting up in the morning to begin with? There are a few reasons, according to Navya Mysore, MD, a primary care physician at One Medical Group who specializes in sleep. Eating a heavier meal at night, drinking alcohol, or staring at screens before bed can impact the quality of your sleep, making you feel extra groggy in the a.m. Even the weather can be a problem: In winter, cold temperatures and dark mornings really do make it harder to get up, Dr. Mysore says—it's not just your imagination.
And you may want to rethink your bedroom decor. Blackout shades are great for sleep hygiene, especially if you have a hard time falling asleep, but it makes it that much more challenging in the morning to get out of bed because there's literally no light coming inside, Dr. Mysore says. (More on the importance of some early morning sunshine in a sec.)
Whether you love springing out of bed or staying up all night is determined by your body's circadian rhythm, explains Shelby Harris, PsyD, a sleep psychologist in private practice in New York City and the author of The Women's Guide to Overcoming Insomnia. But night owls can totally become early birds—it's just not going to happen overnight. Making small changes to your morning and evening routines and being consistent will help you get there.
Here are 12 expert-approved tips for starting every day off on the right side of the bed.
1. Start by getting your nighttime routine in check.
Harris and Dr. Mysore agree that the amount of quality sleep you get each night can affect how easy it is for you to wake up in the morning. So, the first step is making sure you're winding down properly every p.m. Follow these tips for a better night's sleep.
- Put all screens down at least two hours before bedtime. And, don't use them when you wake up in the middle of the night.
- Address any snoring issues or sleep apnea, if you have them.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol at night.
- Keep your bedroom cool and quiet.
2. Invest in a good alarm clock.
Harris recommends the Hatch Restore, which connects to your phone so you can customize its features like the kind of light, color, music and sounds, and more. You can even set it to gradually come on 20 to 30 minutes before you want to wake up, for a softer kind of alarm.
Not sure sunlight and bird calls will do it for you? Try an alarm clock on wheels that rolls off your nightstand and makes you catch it to turn it off. Clocks that will vibrate your pillow or while attached to your wrist for a gentle (but firm) wake-up call, says Harris.
3. If you use your phone as an alarm, experiment with a different app.
Prefer having your phone wake you up? Try a puzzle alarm app rather than the standard version that comes with your device. It makes you do something cognitive to get your brain going. Your alarm will only stop ringing if you can successfully complete a task in the app. Now that's smart.
4. Put your phone or alarm on the other side of your bedroom.
No matter what kind of alarm you choose, try placing it somewhere far away from your bed. This way, "you're forced to get out of bed" to turn it off, says Dr. Mysore. Then, once you're up, you're much more likely to think, "Okay, well the hardest part is done. So now I can just start my morning," she adds.
5. Open your shades right when you wake up.
"Our bodies are meant to sleep when the sun goes down and then wake up when the sun comes up," Harris explains. As the sun sets, your brain starts to naturally make melatonin, which makes you sleepy. (This is why you should avoid screens before bed—their light can disrupt this natural cycle.)
In the morning, by letting some sunlight in, you're essentially helping to stop the melatonin production. So, the sooner you throw open those curtains after your alarm goes off, the better.
6. Set your alarm a few minutes earlier every day.
If you're used to sleeping in, start small. Dr. Mysore suggests setting your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than you usually wake up each day. Over a few weeks, you'll start to feel more comfortable with waking up earlier.
7. Wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
It's easy to understand the appeal of wanting to catch a few extra z's on your off days. But if you wake up later, that's going to shoot you in the foot in terms of trying to get yourself into that habit, says Dr. Mysore. So, stay consistent for the best results.
8. Try different ways of getting out of bed.
Rethinking the way you roll out of bed can help you kickstart your morning. Dr. Mysore suggests two options. You can throw the covers off right when your alarm goes off. Or if that's too jarring for you, try a more gradual approach. First, uncover your feet, then your legs, and finally your core. After a few minutes, your body temperature will adjust, and it might be easier to get up.
If you're used to doing it one way, try the other—Dr. Mysore says it may help combat that oh-so-cozy feeling that comes when you're dreading getting out of bed.
9. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.
"We're often so dehydrated in the morning, and that can make us feel very lethargic," notes Dr. Mysore. So get out of bed, put your feet on the ground so that you feel more grounded, and then have a glass of water. It'll help you wake up *and* add to your total daily hydration—a true win-win.
10. Get moving as soon as possible.
"Not everyone is a morning workout person," says Dr. Mysore. "But I really think working out or moving your body, at least even if it's just stretching, is so helpful to start your day."
Get your heart rate up however you like—it could even be as simple as taking your dog for a quick walk. "Any way where you are getting some form of movement is really helpful to wake yourself up," she says.
11. Lay out the things you'll need for your morning routine the night before.
Try picking out your workout outfit the night before, or setting up other items you use every morning near your bed. This is not supposed to be stressful, though—meaning your work laptop filled with emails that need answering is off-limits. "But something that's going to help you feel engaged to start your day," says Dr. Mysore.
12. If you're still having issues waking up in the morning, talk with your doctor.
If you're consistently getting enough sleep, but you still feel so tired in the mornings that it's difficult to get out of bed, then definitely talk to your doctor. "There's probably stuff that's impacting your sleep quality that you need to have addressed," says Harris.