How to Wake Up Early and Feel Refreshed

Waking up early is usually not high on anyone's preference list, but when a job or other obligation requires it, you find yourself eager to discover ways to get out of bed and beat that sluggish feeling that typically comes along with rising early.

Tired Family Image - Masterfile

Starting the day "too early" isn't just a problem for adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in August 2015, fewer than 1 in 5 middle and high schools in the United States begin the school day at the recommended start time of 8:30 a.m. or later. These early start times can prevent adolescents from getting the sleep they need for good health, safety, and success in school. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most teens need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night. Good Sleep Habits can be helpful for adults and adolescents alike.

The Dos of Waking up Early

Teaching yourself how to wake up early is a process that may take a few weeks. But once you have settled on your new routine you will find that sticking to it becomes a habit. Here are some things you can do to rearrange sleep routines, optimize rest, and train yourself to wake up early:

  • A large part of changing habits is having the right attitude. Write out a list of why you need to change your sleeping habits and read through it at least once a day. Include the benefits an early start will offer.
  • Go to bed earlier. The average person needs eight hours sleep per night. Decide what time you need to get up and deduct at least eight and a half hours off this to get a time to retire for the night. (The extra half an hour affords you some time to nod off.)
  • If there is a discrepancy of thirty minutes or more between your actual and desired bedtime, it is a good idea to make small changes to get you closer to your goal. Go to sleep 15-minutes earlier, then add another 15 minutes the next night (and so on) until you are going to bed at the optimal time. This will give your body a chance to better adapt.
  • Be careful about what you do during the hour before going to bed. Ideally this should be a time when you unwind and relax. Chatting with a partner, reading a book or having a warm bath are good activities to engage in. Experiment with what works best and form new habits around this.
  • Set an alarm to help you awake at the desired time. A soft musical alarm is less intrusive than a loud jangling one and may help you to wake in a better frame of mind.

If You Have Trouble Falling Asleep

Knowing that you need to hit the sack is one thing—putting that into practice can be another. To help yourself more easily fall asleep:

  • Don't watch violent or dramatic television shows before bed, which can keep your mind racing.
  • Request that noisy housemates keep it down. If noise is still a concern, try a white noise machine or turning on a fan to drown it out.
  • Don't nap during the day—napping can interfere with night sleep, especially if you are going to bed earlier than you are used to. It is best to avoid sleeping during the day as much as possible if you are getting adequate sleep at night.
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee, chocolate and rich heavy meals at bedtime. All of these can cause wakefulness.
  • Try a hot milky drink, which can help with relaxation. Don't drink too much or you may need to get up to use the bathroom during the night.

Once your body clock has adjusted to the earlier starts, you will find that you start to wake up at the same time most days. On weekends, don't go back to sleep when you stir as this can interfere with your new sleep routine. Rather, read a book in bed or get up immediately and do something you enjoy.

Written by: Debbie Roome

Sources: Mayo Clinic. 10 Tips for Better Sleep. Available at: Accessed May 27, 2011. U.S. Department of Health & Human Service. Get Enough Sleep. Available at: Accessed May 27, 2011.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 15 Jun 2011

Last Modified: 13 Aug 2015