Learning how to wake up early can be a tough goal, especially if all your life you've been a night owl and you're at your best after the sun goes down. If you're the type of person who has never quite understood how people can be so chipper and wide awake in the morning because you find the late hours appealing and almost electrifying, the prospect of learning how to wake up early may seem impossible.

Most people are creatures of habit and once in a routine, it can often be hard to change. Sleeping and waking patterns are no exception, because people tend to fall comfortably in sync with their internal clocks and live by them.

What happens if after years of being a night person, you are suddenly required to become one of those people who come alive in the early dawn hours? And what if your brain and body doesn't want to and, as a result, you can't seem to stay awake at the times you need to be alert?

Asleep at the wheel
Credit: Unsplash/Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Don't let yourself get caught snoozing at the wrong time of day. Re-train yourself to be alert.

Change is hard, but by taking a few new approaches you can effectively teach yourself how to wake up early. There are a few techniques you can use to train your internal clock to reset itself. This will result in your being able to better get up in the morning. Here's what you do:

Head to Bed Earlier

If you're up burning the midnight oil, you are not going to awake easily come morning. Each day make a goal towards ending your day a bit earlier, this way the change is not too drastic and your body can adapt a little at a time.

Even though you have to wake up earlier, you don't want to skimp on hours of sleep and, by giving yourself more time to rest, the morning will be much easier to face. Try not to make too many drastic changes at once. Instead, try going to bed a few minutes earlier - say 15 to 20 minutes - each night. Increase it a little each day. Over time you will re-train your body and reach the bedtime goal you need in order to get adequate sleep.

Sleeping woman
Credit: Juanedc accessed via Flickr/CC by 2.0

It's important to get adequate sleep and when tired, your body will eventually crash. If you need to be a morning person, trying some techniques can help you better adjust.

Use an Alarm

Each night as you go to bed an hour or so earlier, your ultimate goal is to learn how to start waking up at an early hour. Setting an alarm can successfully help you battle the desire to sleep into the late hours of the morning. One key factor to remember, even if you are tired and tempted to hit that snooze button, try really hard to resist that urge. Even if the sandman is strongly calling to you to follow.

Instead, ignore the sandman and force yourself to get up because if you use the snooze button repeatedly, this is going to disrupt your transition in training your body to wake up earlier. If the snooze button is too alluring, place your alarm clock or phone out of reach so you have to physically get up out of bed to turn it off.

Or, alternately, pick a really annoying tone and download to your mobile. Then place your phone across the room. Just remember to never fall asleep with your phone nearby - keep that phone totally out of reach. If you have trouble remembering to keep your phone away and it serves as your alarm, it's worth it to invest in a cheap alarm clock if you don't already have one. This way you can place the clock cross the room instead and reduce the desire to snooze.

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Plan for the Next Day the Night Before

If you feel less overwhelmed you are less likely to have that feeling of "dread" when morning approaches. Less stress will make you more apt to look forward to waking up for the day. If work or school is the reason you have to wake up early, the night before prep your clothes, lunch, keys, books or whatever else you need to gather. Morning will look far more appealing if you know you won't need to be running around trying to pull everything together to get out the door. Instead, you can approach the day with an organized and relaxed approach.

Get Immediately Out of Bed

For some people, pulling themselves out of bed and stumbling straight to the shower helps them to to wake up. A refreshing shower rouses the body and makes one feel more energized. Plus this helps the body adjust from sleep to wake mode. A shower is likely to give the jolt you need to get the vigor to start your day.

Breakfast is another good morning routine to add. Avoid late night snacks at bedtime, because this may disrupt your sleeping hours and you'll feel more tired come morning. Instead, plan to set aside a few minutes to eat a healthy breakfast. Eating breakfast will also help your body make the transition from night owl to early bird.

Even if you don't want breakfast, make coffee, prepare your lunch, do something.  Get your body up and around, don't lie in bed "waking up". John Zeratsky, in his article "How I Became a Morning Person", explains how the ritual of making coffee helped him get going in the mornings (as opposed to reading Twitter feed, email, etc.). 2 It's all about productivity.

Establish a Routine

Regularity and repetitiveness retrains your body to make the changes to being able to rise from slumber at an earlier time. If you stick to the same routine daily, after a few days or weeks you'll find it becomes easier and a bit more natural to wake up at an earlier hour. This will ultimately help your biological clock navigate towards earlier bedtimes and an earlier rise. 

People are naturally inclined to be either a morning or a night person, but internal clocks are not set in stone. The transition to change your sleeping and waking patterns can be difficult, but not impossible. By using some of the above techniques, over the course of time you'll probably find the morning routine isn't as hard as it initially was. The best way to train yourself to wake up early is stick to your new habits, and even when the temptation to revert to your coveted late hour schedule sets in, don't give in.

Woman sleeping with a cat
Credit: Laurence Simon accessed via Flickr/CC by 2.0

When used to being a night owl, it takes some time to teach your body to become an early bird, but after going through what might be a difficult transition, you can re-train yourself to successfully do it.