Make Your Mornings Easier With These Simple Solutions

Alarms, morning sunlight, caffeine, and sleep disorder treatments may help

It can be downright painful to drag yourself out of bed at an hour earlier than you are used to waking. Sometimes it is simply necessary to wake and get up early, however. What are the best ways to do so? Discover how to accomplish this with simple changes—such as alarm clocks, morning sunlight, and caffeine—that you can implement immediately for lasting benefits.

Woman waking up in the morning
oatawa / iStockphoto

Changing Your Wake Time May Depend on the Purpose

Consider whether you need to wake up early once, such as to catch an early flight, or if you are adapting to a new schedule that shall persist. This will help determine what solutions or techniques should be considered to help you. It may also be helpful to reflect on what your relationship to your alarm clock says about your personality. Difficulty waking may suggest underlying problems with the amount or quality of sleep.

Making Long-Term Changes to the Timing of Sleep

If possible, especially if this is a long-term adjustment to your sleep schedule, try to make changes gradually. For children or adolescents getting ready to resume school as the summer draws to a close, it is much easier to plan ahead and start waking earlier in the week or two before the first day back.

Begin by setting an alarm in the morning that is close to your current, natural wake time. Then, day by day, move the wake time earlier by 15 minutes. This could be adjusted as quickly as necessary or as slowly as comfortable. As a general rule, it takes 1 day to adjust to every 1-hour change in the timing of sleep (such as with jet lag). The wake time may be comfortably moved earlier every few days, for example.

Try to keep a regular bedtime and go to bed when feeling sleepy to avoid insomnia. It will not be helpful to crawl into bed early without feeling sleepy: it will just take longer to fall asleep. This desire for sleep will gradually shift earlier in increments, too. Listen to your body, spend time relaxing in the hour before your bedtime, and go to bed when you naturally feel sleepy. These incremental adjustments may help you to fall asleep and wake up more easily.

To optimize your sleep, maintain a regular sleep schedule (with consistent bedtimes and wake times) even on weekends or days off. To reinforce the wake time, get 15 to 30 minutes of morning sunlight upon awakening. If possible, roll out of bed, throw on clothes, and immediately go outside. Do not wear sunglasses or a hat; let the light hit you in the face (especially your eyes). The fresh air will wake you and the light will help to align your circadian rhythm and sleep pattern. If necessary due to where you live, consider the use of a specialized light box. Getting morning light exposure can be especially helpful for night owls with delayed sleep phase syndrome.

How to Wake and Get Up Early With Simple Solutions

Beyond making gradual adjustments and reinforcing the circadian rhythm with light exposure, there can be other simple solutions that may prove helpful to wake and get up early. Consider these potential options:

  • Set a loud, obnoxious alarm that is disruptive to your sleep.
  • Put the alarm clock across the room so that you physically have to get up to turn it off. Don’t go back to bed once you are up.
  • Consider setting multiple alarms on different devices (alarm clock, phone, etc.).
  • Set the alarm as late as possible so that you don’t have an option to hit snooze, but have to get up immediately—or be late.
  • Recruit others to help you wake up, such as members of the household who may already be awake or someone who can call you until you are up.
  • Once out of bed, immediately go to the shower.
  • Morning exercise or getting outside may also help to keep you awake.
  • Consuming caffeine may clear morning sleepiness until you naturally start to wake.
  • Avoid the use of sleeping pills as these may cause morning hangover effects.

Once you are awake and out of bed, you may still have a desire to return to sleep due to sleep inertia. This may be profound if you are waking significantly earlier than your usual wake time. It may feel like the middle of the night, and you may just want to crawl right back into bed. If this persists, you may consider reasons that your sleep is not as restful as it should be.

Make certain that you get enough hours of sleep to feel rested. Sleep needs vary, but most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. As we get older, beyond the age of 65, the average sleep need may decrease slightly to 7 to 8 hours. If you don’t get enough sleep at night, it will be more difficult to wake up.

Treating sleep disorders may also be necessary to make it possible to wake and get up early feeling rested. Insomnia may insidiously undermine sleep, reducing the total amount and compromising the quality. Restless legs syndrome (RLS) may make it hard to fall asleep. Obstructive sleep apnea may also fragment sleep, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness and other symptoms. If one of these conditions is present, testing and treatment may be necessary to resolve difficult waking.

In some cases, morning sleepiness may require further treatment. When it is due to a sleep disorder (sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or shift work sleep disorder) and interferes with daytime function, prescription stimulant medications may be used. These medicines may include modafinil (Provigil), armodafinil (Nugivil), or others such as methylphenidate (Ritalin). Speak with a board-certified sleep medicine physician if you feel like you are struggling more than you should be.

A Word From Verywell

As you adopt these changes to wake and get up early, initially have a fallback plan. Don’t just start by setting one alarm 2 hours before you naturally wake up and expect to jump out of bed refreshed; it may not go well.

Consider ways to adjust gradually and use the recommendations above to help reinforce this change. Get help from others, including a sleep doctor if needed, to keep you on the right path. It can also be helpful to acknowledge that with determination and grit you can do it. Don’t allow yourself to go back to bed. The first few days will be the most difficult, but it will get easier.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation recommends new sleep times.

  2. Roux FJ. Restless legs syndrome: impact on sleep-related breathing disordersRespirology. 2013;18(2):238-245. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1843.2012.02249.x

By Brandon Peters, MD
Brandon Peters, MD, is a board-certified neurologist and sleep medicine specialist.