6 Tips for Waking Up Early and Not Feeling Like Garbage

A few weeks ago, I started a new job that requires me to wake up early.

Like, early early.

Like, 5 a.m. early.

I know, I know… for some of you, this is old news (I’m lookin’ at you, farmers). But for me, the earliest I’ve ever had to regularly wake up for a job (or school) was 6 a.m. – and even THAT was really difficult for me (you know the drill. Wake up. Hit snooze. Wake up. Hit snooze. Wake up. Debate hitting snooze one more time. Hit snooze. Wake up 30 minutes before you need to leave. Panic. Splash your face with water. Toss on your yoga pants. Sprint out the door, smoothie in hand, regretting every decision that led up to this moment).

Not a great start to the day… right?

Since this new job requires me to be high-energy early in the morning, I needed to find a way to wake up (and REALLY wake up) earlier, consistently.

Two weeks into the process, here are my best tips:

6 Tips for Waking Up Early and Not Feeling Like Garbage:

Tip #1: GO TO BED EARLIER.

Yeah, I know, I know. This one should be obvious. But how many of us actually do this consistently?? I swear, if I could go back in time and slap myself across the face for continuously going to bed at midnight and waking up at 6 for my nannying job, I would. HELLO SISTER, YOU’RE TIRED BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP. DUH. WHY ARE YOU NOT GETTING THIS. SIX HOURS IS NOT ENOUGH. YOU’RE A HUMAN BEING, NOT A FRUIT BAT. GO TO BED EARLIER, YA DINGALING.

But seriously: shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep. Any less or more on a regular basis, and you’ll probably feel like poo. Of course, this number is different for every person – find the amount of sleep YOU need, and get it – regularly. You deserve to not feel like a zombie. Also, the people around you deserve a you who doesn’t feel and act like a zombie. Amirite?

Oh, and if you’re one of those people who really struggles with getting to bed on time (I’m looking at me here), set an alarm on your phone for 30 minutes before you need to be asleep. When this alarm goes off, DROP WHAT YOU’RE DOING (I know. It’s hard. Just do it.), and start getting ready for bed. Your morning self will thank you for it!

Side note: Melatonin also rocks. On nights I need to get to bed earlier (especially after going to bed later for a couple nights – like weekends), I’ll pop a 3 milligram Melatonin before getting ready for bed. By the time my teeth are brushed, I’m ZONKED. Works like a charm! (There are also higher doses, for those of you who might be resistant). You can find this magical stuff over the counter at basically any grocery or drug store.

Tip #2: Break up with your snooze button, for good.

Breakups are always hard. Trust me on this one. But your snooze button? It doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Your snooze button wants you to stay in bed alllllllll day. Your snooze button wants you to start your day with the worst possible decision: “Eh, I think I’ll just go back to bed.” I mean, really?! THAT’S going to be your first decision of the day?!! No thanks. Just, no.

Here’s what happened when I stopped hitting snooze: it became so. much. easier. to. wake. up. early.

I mean, think about it: what’s the actual worst part of waking up?! It’s the initial moment when your alarm goes off and your brain is all “NO. NONONONONO. NOPE. NOOOOOO WAY. NOPE. SORRY. NOT HAPPENING. NUH-UH. NO THANKS. NAMASTE IN BED, BITCHES.”

And what does hitting the snooze button do?

REPEAT THAT MOMENT – OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

RIGHT?! So counter-productive. No thanks, SB. We’re DUNZOS.

One and done, guys. Turn your alarm off, get out of bed ASAP, and get on with your day. You’re too important and amazing to be snoozin’ the day away!

Tip #3: Drink water RIGHT AWAY.

Okay this one is simple too, but it actually blew my mind.

I used to wake up and get ready first thing, which would leave me feeling really sluggish and sometimes with a baller headache (yay, dehydration!).

Nowadays, when my alarm goes off (and I don’t hit snooze 😉 ), I get out of bed, grab my water bottle (which I put on my nightstand the night before), and head for the bathroom. Then, the FIRST THING I DO (okay… maybe I pee first, but you get the idea), is drink 8-12 ounces of room temperature water, before getting ready for my day.

(Why room temperature? Cold water is a little too shocking to your system first thing in the morning. Most experts recommend room temperature or warm liquids first thing in the morning. That’s why I fill my water bottle BEFORE bed, and place it on my nightstand – by morning it’s room temperature. Perfect!).

If you don’t think this will make a difference, just try it for a week. Seriously. You’ll be amazed how quickly your entire body wakes up just by getting a little H2O first thing.

Tip #4: Get better sleep.

Okay – so we know we need roughly 7-8 hours of sleep per night… but what if you get enough sleep, but still wake up feeling drugged?? SO FRUSTRATING.

The culprit could be your actual quality of sleep.

If this sounds like you, try these things:

  • Start sleeping in complete, 100% darkness. No night lights. A little light from the moon is okay, but most importantly, no artificial light! If you need to, buy an eye mask. I use this one from Amazon and it’s AMAZING. Blocks out ALL light, even when my hubby is up late watching movies on his tablet. 😉
  • Buy a white noise machine. My husband & I didn’t use one until we co-slept with our daughter for a year, and now, we’re hooked. We sleep SO MUCH MORE DEEPLY with white noise in the background. First of all, it blocks out tons of noises that would normally wake us up – cars honking, thunder, the occasional yelling hooligan – we are HUGE fans. Secondly, it becomes a sort of Pavlovian response – when I turn on the white noise machine, I immediately get sleepy because my body associates it with sleep. Some nights I don’t even need to take Melatonin, because I can just turn my noise machine on 30 minutes ahead of time and – boom – my body is tricked into getting sleepy. Boss! We use this one, and LOVE it. You can adjust the level and quality of noise to your comfort. It’s pricey, but so worth it.
  • Exercise 2-3 times a week. If you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep, exercise needs to be your new best friend. Whether it’s yoga, walking, jogging, or weightlifting (really – ANYTHING), you’ll find that just a few short workout sessions a week will konk you out at bedtime. Your quality of sleep will improve majorly. Don’t believe me? Try it. Certainly can’t hurt anything!

Tip #5: Listen to music.

Remember above, when I mentioned that I grab my water bottle and head straight for the bathroom to get ready? At this point, I also turn on my favorite “feel good” playlist (quietly, because my husband is still asleep). Nothing wakes me up faster than my favorite music. 🙂 So go ahead and grab your phone and start making a wake up playlist – make sure it’s full of upbeat, positive songs, so you’ll start your day feeling optimistic and ALIVE!

A few of my fave wake-up-early songs:

  • “Ain’t No Man” by The Avett Brothers
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
  • “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld
  • “Brand New” by Ben Rector, and
  • Chocolate” by The 1975

and finally…

Tip #6: Ditch the pre-bedtime screens.

Biologically speaking, our bodies are wired to wake up when faced with light. Think about it: our ancestors didn’t have artificial light – for the most part, they would go to sleep and wake up along with the sun’s falling and rising.

When you spend 30 minutes or an hour staring at a bright screen before bed, and then wonder why you can’t fall asleep – it’s because your body is WIRED! (Pun intended?).

Ditch the screens at LEAST 30 minutes before bedtime (an hour would be even better). Get ready for bed. Read a book (yes, an actual paper book! What?! You heard me. PAPER. OLD SCHOOL, SON). This tip, combined with all the others (especially Melatonin & a white noise machine), will BLOW YOUR MIND. You’ll be asleep faster than you can say “Wow I can’t believe how sleepy I a-.” See what I mean?

And you’ll wake up ready to start your day, feeling as bright & bushy-tailed as those “morning people” you usually want to choke to death.

You might even (dare I say it?) BECOME one of those morning people.

GASP! SAY IT ISN’T SO!

Do you have any more tips for waking up early? Comment below, I’d love to hear them!

Now I just need to work on waking up earlier on the weekends… someone help! I am SO bad at this! Does anyone else sleep in during the weekends and end up feeling super gross and messed up?? Please tell me I’m not the only one! Haha.

Until next time!

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