Even if you’re more of a night owl by nature, you can train yourself to become an early bird. It’s worth the extra effort: Early risers have been shown to get better grades, work out more, be more productive, and get better sleep. These tips can help you get plenty of rest so you can pop out of bed without slamming the snooze button, then tackle your toughest project before lunch, and maybe even get a workout in before it’s time to check your e-mail.
Reset Your Clock
Willpower alone won’t make you fall asleep any earlier. You’ll need to retrain your body’s internal clock by gradually adjusting your sleep-wake cycle. Here’s how to do it: Each day, get up 20 minutes earlier in the morning, and go to bed 20 minutes earlier each night. Once you reach your ideal wake-up time—say 6 a.m.—stick with the schedule and you’ll start to feel naturally alert in the morning.
Beware of Beverages
You know that a post-dinner coffee will sabotage your sleep, but late-afternoon lattes are off-limits too. Research shows that caffeine consumed six hours before bedtime can disrupt the quality and quantity of your sleep. Also, nix the nightcap: Although alcohol initially makes you drowsy, it also interferes with your slumber, making you toss and turn during the night.
Wind Down Before Bed
About 90 minutes before you crawl under the covers, treat yourself to a hot shower or bath. As you get out of the tub, the quick drop in your body temperature will help you relax and sleep more deeply. Also, save the channel-surfing and e-mailing for the next morning and opt to read a book to quiet your mind. Electronic devices like your phone, TV, and iPad emit blue light, which suppresses melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep.
Keep the Room Cool
If you’re tossing and turning, check your thermostat. Sleeping in a hot room disrupts your sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Use an air conditioner or fan to keep your environment a cool and comfortable 75 degrees or less. It will help you wake up more refreshed and ready to go.
See the Light
When you wake up, immediately expose yourself to sunlight. It will tell your brain that it’s time to wake up. Open your curtains or lace up your sneakers for a brisk walk to feel the early rays. If it’s still dark out, flipping the lights on is the next best thing to the sun’s rays.
If you want to be a morning person, it’s important to stick to a regular sleep schedule, which means you need to wake up at the same time every day—including weekends.