How is it that some people are able to wake at 5:30 each morning, ready to tackle the day with energy, while others struggle to roll out of bed at 10? It's been proven that successful people tend to rise early; studies show that 90% of executives wake before 6 am, and nearly 50% of self-made millionaires wake up at least 3 hours before their workday actually begins. Everyone from Obama to Apple CEO Tim Cook have publicly extolled the virtues of waking up early, and attributed it to their success.
If you're a night owl that regularly binge-watches Netflix until 3 am and worries that you'll never be able to change, there's good news for you - you can train your body to become an early riser. Being a night owl is not a question of motivation or laziness; after doing it for so many years, your body's circadian clock is just hardwired for you to fall asleep and wake up at a later time.
If you want to change your body's circadian rhythm, it's completely possible - although it might not be easy. You'll need a lot of commitment and dedication to break your old habits, but with some time it's possible to reset your body's internal clock. Follow along our 5 steps below to make the process as easy on your body as possible.
Step One: Figure out your ideal sleep cycle
Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. To determine how many hours of sleep you need, you'll need to do a sleep cycle test. Luckily, we've created a guide on how to do that, which you can read here. Once you've determined how many hours you need each night, you can create your sleep goals, and figure out the ideal time that you'd like to go to bed and wake up.
Step Two: Set your alarm clock 15 minutes early
It's that easy: start by setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier than your usual wake-up time. Don't attempt to go cold turkey and wake up super early at your new desired time; it's too much of a shock to your system. Instead, gradually allow your body to shift its internal clock. The next day, set your alarm back another 15 minutes. For example, if you normally wake at 8 am but would like to start getting up at 6, set your alarm for 7:45 on Monday morning, 7:30 on Tuesday morning, and so on. This gradual process is a much easier transition on your body, and you'll be less likely to quit.
Step Three: Go with the flow for bedtime
When it comes to falling asleep earlier, don't try to immediately go to bed at the new bedtime and expect it to work. Instead of trying to force your body into a new bedtime, go to bed whenever you feel sleepy. Your body will automatically start adjusting to your new earlier wake time, and you'll find you tend to get sleepy earlier and earlier.
Step Four: Hit the ground running
When your alarm goes off in the morning, do anything possible to GET YOUR BODY OUT OF BED. Put your alarm clock on the other side of the room, get up and immediately open the drapes or go downstairs to make a coffee - ANYTHING to physically get your body out of bed. Your brain associates bed with sleep, so staying in bed (even if you're awake) will just make it harder for your brain to learn the association of your new wake time.
Step Five: Keep it consistent
For the first few months that your body is readjusting to its new internal clock, commit to waking up at the same time every day - even on the weekends. Your body and brain don't know it's the weekend, which will just make it that much harder to realign your circadian clock. Once your new status as an early bird has been cemented, you can start to exercise a bit of flexibility.