One of The Easiest Ways to Get Excited to Wake Up Early

posted by Andrea | 06/10/2019

As you might remember, Dave and I decided to start waking up at 4am last summer — crazy, I know! Now, after a full year of sticking to our plan, I have a few thoughts to share… including one of the easiest ways to get excited about waking up early! 

But first of all, I want to mention that I don’t think waking up early is essential for productivity or a lifetime of success. It’s completely possible to sleep in and be productive during different times of the day… HOWEVER, based on the number of emails and comments I’ve gotten asking about our 4am wake up time, I figured it was time for another blog post. 

If you have no desire to be a morning person — check out my Facebook feed or my blog archives instead, and then come back tomorrow for a delicious Southwest Spaghetti Squash Casserole! 🙂

If you ARE interested in learning to become a morning person (something I DO think you can learn), I hope the 4 tips in today’s post will help!

Tip #1: Don’t Stress Out About Bedtimes

Whenever anyone realizes that Dave and I wake up at 4am, the first question they almost always ask is, “oh my word… what time do you go to bed?!?!”

Yes, we obviously go to bed earlier than most other adults, but I really don’t think it will be that big of a deal once you get on your new schedule. 

Dave and I are almost always in bed by 10:00, often earlier — but we both prefer to be awake early in the morning versus late at night, so this is not a hardship for us at all. 

It might be more challenging once our children are older, but I’m confident we’ll figure out a way to adapt whenever that times comes. For now though, we will happily sacrifice a bit of our evening social life for a huge amount of quiet time every morning. 

If you feel like you could never go to bed early enough to make this work, I’d like to challenge you to at least give it a try. However, don’t start out trying to go to bed significantly earlier than normal. Just go to bed at your normal time but set your alarm earlier in the morning. After a few days, your body will naturally be tired earlier in the evening and it will be much easier to get to bed on time. 

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Tip #2: Don’t Let Yourself Nap

I’ve never been a napping person — but if you start taking naps during the day, you basically start a really vicious sleep cycle where you’re not tired at bedtime so you stay up later to finish your to-do list, but then it’s harder for you to wake up since you went to bed so late, so you’re groggy in the morning (and not as productive as you could be), but then you’re exhausted by mid-afternoon again, so you decide to take a nap and the whole process starts all over again. 

I’m not saying it will necessarily be easy or enjoyable for the first few days while your body adjusts to the new time-frame, but after the first few days, it will get so much easier… I promise! 

Drink lots of water, have healthy snacks ready for your afternoon cravings, have easy meals planned that you can tackle even if you’re super tired by that time of day, etc. etc. Just don’t let yourself take a nap! 

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Tip 3#: Have a Plan for When You Wake Up (and make it fun):

I’ve mentioned over and over and over again how we ALWAYS have some sort of a to-do list ready to go before we go to bed at night. You know I don’t use the word “always” that often — but when I say “ALWAYS” in regards to our to-do list, I truly mean “ALWAYS”! 

I can’t remember a day in my adult life when I went to bed without knowing what my plan was for when I woke up the next morning. This was important long before I decided to start waking up so early, and it’s even more important now. 

In fact, I think that having something FUN planned for when you first wake up is one of the best and easiest ways to get excited about waking up early! 

Just think, would you really have a ton of motivation to wake up at 4 am if you had absolutely no plan in place for how you would use that time? No way, you’d just press “snooze” and roll over again. However, if you knew you were going to read your favorite book, work on a hobby you enjoy, go for a walk, enjoy a special breakfast, or take a nice long hot shower with no interruptions, I have a feeling you’d be a little more excited to actually get out of bed. 

Just because you’re waking up early doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun…. 

Dave and I regularly use our early morning hours to read a book (or various articles we’ve saved online). I often use my early morning hours to bake or cook or roast vegetables. Dave often goes running. We enjoy a piping hot breakfast together before the kids get up. 

And yes, we do try to tackle several other more mundane to-dos on our list as well… but our early morning hours definitely are not “all work and no play”. 

I can’t tell you how many people I know personally complain about “not having enough time for ________” (insert something they enjoy doing). I just want to tell them: “Wake up at 4am and you’d have time!”… but I don’t! 

However, I WILL say it here! If you want more time to exercise, read, watch Netflix, work on digital photo books, bake, cook, journal, or do anything else just for you, I can almost guarantee you will find that time if you wake up earlier — AND it will be easier to get out of bed if you have something fun to look forward to once you’re awake! 

As an added bonus, you’ll be much more awake and alert when others in your home finally roll out of bed, which will most likely result in a less-stressed, more enjoyable morning for your entire family. 

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Tip #4: Start RIGHT NOW!

I know you might be tempted to wait until school starts up again or even until the New Year to change your habits, but I really think you’d be smarter to start right now (maybe even tomorrow morning). 

In my opinion, Summer is a FANTASTIC time to start waking up early because it gets light outside so much earlier than in the winter. Plus your house is nice and warm already, making it easier to get out of bed instead of staying snuggled up under the covers.

So while I realize you might want to sleep in over your summer vacations, I would highly encourage you to use the summer months to develop this new habit that you can hopefully carry on with throughout the rest of the year!  

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I want to reiterate that I honestly do not think early mornings are the right solution for every person or every season of life. However, I also feel very confident that if you want to be a morning person, you can most definitely train yourself to be one. It might just take a little time (like any other new habit). 

Just for fun, I’d love to know…

What time do you wake up? 

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31 comments

  1. JJ

    06/11/2019

    Now with the time change, I can get up later. I wake up around 5:20. I start teaching at 6. And I actually started taking power naps. When all of my kids lie down for “power naps” it enables my youngest who was fighting naps(but I’m too stubborn and could tell he still needed them..so hard when older brother and sister are up for room time!). So the rule in the book said you CANNOT sleep longer than 30 minutes, or you will definitely have the issues you described. And I will say for me, it has been a crazy boost of energy, and I have no issues falling or staying asleep at night. I set my phone timer, and it has worked well. Also my 6 and 5 year olds have a nice time to just lie still and rest. My oldest even takes short naps when he has a growth spurt. In China many people(including kids!) come home for lunch together(2 hour break). Grandma normally cooks, so they also have healthy meals. They often take a nap, too. I can totally see how they pack so much into a day and have the energy to carry on. I used to think it was odd to have a 5 year old student taking a class that ended at 9PM their time. But knowing they get a mid-day nap makes sense that they are able to sustain the evening. So for those who are more night-oriented, that might help boost productivity! I have always been a morning person–much to my husband’s dismay.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Very interesting — I do think I’ve read about 20 minute naps. I guess I’m just too nervous that I won’t be able to sleep at night if I take a nap! Right now, I sleep AMAZINGLY well all night long — but I can definitely see the benefit of a short nap or rest time (especially if we know we’ll need to stay up later at night for something like a vacation or party).

    Thanks for sharing!!

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  2. Cathleen Marie

    06/11/2019

    I followed your lead last year (with a twist). I work outside the home full-time. I made a list of the things that I really hate to do at the end of the day when I get home from work or I hate to give up my weekend time to do them.

    Now I get up an hour earlier to do the things that I had on that list in the morning.

    More than the time, I love how my feelings of resentment towards the time spent on the task and my procrastination of the tasks went away. In turn, I feel like I gained more than just time in the evenings and weekends– I also gained a happiness.

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    Andrea Reply:

    This is so great to hear! Thanks for sharing Cathleen!
    I love that you made my ideas work for you and your life! That’s my hope for all my tips, posts, ideas, etc.

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  3. Avia

    06/11/2019

    Starting the routine of getting up at 4 during the summer is a great idea for me! Currently I get up at 5 but my bedroom has a lot of windows and I am regularly woken up at 4 anyways by the sunlight (although I power through and still try to sleep). I keep meaning to get black out curtains but maybe I should just go with my natural alarm clock. The more quiet time I get in the morning before the kids are up the better human I am during the day!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I totally agree with “being a better human during the day” if I have some alone time in the morning before the kids wake up!

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  4. Rebecca

    06/10/2019

    I am a big fan of rising early and have woken up at 5 am on a regular basis in the past. But I have a 7 week old right now (my 3rd) and he’s still up twice a night so I struggle with balancing my need for rest with waking up and getting stuff done! I try to just remember it’s a season and I’m a better mother to all 3 when I sleep a little later and can return to waking up early sooner than I think 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes, definitley get your rest!
    I should have put a disclaimer in this post that it doesn’t apply to anyone with children who still wake up at night! 🙂
    You’ll be back to waking up early soon enough — for now, get your rest whenever you can and try not to think about all the things you could be, or should be, doing (easier said than done, I know!)

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    Rach Reply:

    This is exactly what I came here to say! When my 8 month old sleeps through the night I feel amazing with my 5am wake up time. But he’s still up once or twice a night usually and I know I need my sleep. Your doing amazing with a 7 week old!

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    Andrea Reply:

    YES YES YES!! With babies who don’t sleep, there is not use trying to get up early only to be a zombie all day long!

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  5. Margaret

    06/10/2019

    As a 3rd-shift worker, evenings–I usually get up around 5p–are my productive times anyway, since I shower and go to bed right after I get home.
    What I’ve struggled with for years, though, is waking super-early (think 230/3a) on my nights off. It’s not enough sleep, but I can’t usually get back to sleep, even if I stay in bed, which can be massively frustrating. I’ve finally learned to just get up and do stuff. Last Saturday, for example, I had 3 loads of laundry washed and on the line, my sheets changed, dishes from the day before washed, the house dusted, vacuumed, and mopped, and the bathroom cleaned all before i went to the farmers’ market at 8a.
    I was pretty much done with productivity by 330p, though. In the afternoon I groomed one of my dogs, and then sat outside and read, heading for bed around 730p.
    My Sunday early-rising is usually dedicated to the week’s food prep.
    I have found that when I’m off for an extended medical leave (has happened several times) that after about a week I’m getting up 430p5a, and going to bed around 930, which seems sustainable.

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    Andrea Reply:

    my sister used to work nights and it was really tricky for her too! I sure do appreciate people who are able to work 2nd and 3rd shift — I know it would be VERY difficult for me to get in that routine!

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  6. Natalia

    06/10/2019

    Agh! I’m all over the charts! My 4 yo wakes up constantly (2-4x, but that feels like a lot) during the night and wants me with her (until she falls back asleep). Sometimes I fall asleep next to her, other times I make it back to my bed, yet other times I just can’t fall asleep because my mind is awake. Still, my body is craving more rest… So, many times I’ll be up at 3:30, other days I sleep until 7, or – very few times – even 8!

    I’m grateful for the idea you just gave me: working on digital photo books. Why didn’t I think of that?!? For some reason, I felt like that’s something to do when everything else is done (probably because I enjoy doing it!) Same with sewing. Now THAT’s something I could look forward to doing on those early mornings when I wish I could just still sleep instead…

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh my — I think you get a ‘free pass’ for sleeping in whenever you want to!
    I should have put a disclaimer in this post that it doesn’t apply to those with children who wake up in the middle of the night!
    That said, I’m glad to give you the idea of working on photo books (Or other fun projects) definitely a great way to use some alone time 🙂

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  7. Kathy Coy

    06/10/2019

    This is a very good post for me to think about. I just retired last September and have tons of time to accomplish tasks so that is not an issue. My issue is that I go to bed around 10:30 and get up around 8 (get up once in the night for bathroom break). I feel like this is the amount of sleep I need each night, but it is a pretty ridiculous amount of sleep time when you think about it. PLUS I HAVE A NAP most days for about 20 minutes to help me get through the evening. But think of how much more I could accomplish if I at least get up at 7 am and try not to nap. I don’t want to become lazy or slothful just because I seem to have the time right now. So, good topic for me to consider and start setting an alarm clock. I can at least try it for a while!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that is a lot of sleep 🙂 but better to get too much than not enough, I suppose 🙂
    I do think you could probably get buy with 1 hour less if you wanted to try setting your alarm for 7 — just think of what you could accomplish with 7 extra hours every week!

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  8. Debby

    06/10/2019

    I get up at 4 am weekdays. I made a commitment to myself to go to the gym and I have struggled with finishing goals that I set for myself. So, I wanted to challenge myself to something difficult and gave myself an end date. I can tell you that after 6 weeks of getting up at 4 I don’t intend on stopping once my end date has passed. (I really gave myself an end date so that it was a measurable goal with a specific time frame). I go to the gym, have a nice workout, make my breakfast and coffee, shower, get ready for work, AND then I sit down with a good book or magazine along with my nice fresh coffee for 30 minutes before I leave for work. It has been a game changer for me. I love it. I usually start a load of laundry when I walk back in from the gym and then dry it when I get home from work. I am not quite to the point of doing it on the weekends yet because I don’t go to the gym on the weekends. I do find myself waking up earlier though. My children are grown but I still enjoy quiet time. I even have my skeptical husband on board 🙂 and he loves it

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — good for you!

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  9. Rhonda

    06/10/2019

    I get up between 5:15 am and 6 am, usually. It varies because of my variable work schedule. I do like waking on the earlier side, and prefer it. However, due to the open concept of our ranch-style house, early risers tend to wake our kids a little too early (which is in part also because of our dogs waking early when one of us wakes early). I think it will get easier not to worry about that as the kids get older (usually teenagers can sleep through just about anything). Even if I don’t get a lot of work done in the early morning, even a 15 minute walk with the dogs or 20 minute yoga routine is helpful for my day.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, our kids are upstairs so we don’t have to worry about waking them up (and we don’t have a dog!) I suppose you’ve solved your own issue by just taking the dog for a walk though — get him out of the house so he can’t make noise and get your exercise in before anyone else wakes up!

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  10. Calliope

    06/10/2019

    You know dear Andrea…consider me convinced!
    I already wake up at 6, so by 10 at night I am already sleepy and usually in bed.
    I intend to start running in the early mornings or clean my house as later is too hot to even think! But I still have to overcome a few parameters:
    1. Summer vacation is coming! And this in Greece means staying up with friends waaaaay too late so as to enjoy some coolness in the air. So then I wake up later…and you know how this will go…
    2. We have 3 big trips planned (Oslo, Crete, England) and I don‘t know how to make it work while traveling.
    3. Siestas during summer are crucial to survive the constant heatwaves. This will be hard to quit!

    So I think I will start small. Until the july 6 I intend to wake up super early, but not on the Weekends. After that date, traveling begins, but I expect by then my body to have adjusted to the new system…so maybe I will continue it! We will see! I am very curious to try this out. I have a hunch though that for me wintertime (with school, routines, really early bedtimes) may be easier for this experiment. I will let you know how it goes! Thanks for the kick in the butt!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you know what, taking a nap in the afternoon might just work for your schedule though!
    That way you can wake up early, stay up late, and beat the heat — win, win, win!

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  11. Shelley

    06/10/2019

    You know, by nature I’m a morning person and I love having most of my chores crossed off my list by 8-9 AM. It leaves me in a good frame of mind for homeschooling and it leaves my afternoon open to put together a nice meal or organize my pantry – something that can be done today, tomorrow etc.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I like crossing off the majority of my list by 7 or 8 — it’s a great feeling for the rest of the day!

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  12. Jess

    06/10/2019

    We are in an extremely busy season right now (lots of work travel and getting ready to put our house on the market busy!) and I was trying to stay up and be productive in the evenings but it was. not. happening. Thanks to your earlier posts, I decided that I needed to work on getting up at 4:00am/4:30am because I have so much more energy in the mornings than at night! I already get up at 5:00 normally because I leave with three kids for work/daycare at 6:30, but even with that schedule I can squeeze an extra hour of productivity in. I love your idea of ALWAYS having a list for what needs to be done in the morning. I usually just decide when I wake up, which isn’t a good system for me.

    As always, thanks for your great tips!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    whenever I’m super busy, my “solution” is always to go to bed even earlier (sounds crazy, but it works because I’m even more productive the next morning!) Glad you found a system that’s working for you for now.

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  13. Meghan

    06/10/2019

    Andrea, this is a perfectly timed post for me! During the school year I wake up at 5:50 to get myself ready for the day, pack lunches, and get out of the door by 7:05. I’d do a few home tasks on my lunch break, and often my daughter would be napping when I got home so I’d workout and have my Bible time before my other kids got home from school. She has since stopped napping, so the last couple months have been rough. We just started summer break and I’ve been getting up at 5:30 to run and have Bible/ devotional time. But my daughter woke up at 6:30 today instead of 7:00. I really need to wake up at 5:00 so when this happens it doesn’t throw off my day. My biggest issue is going to bed at night. My big kids go to bed at 9:00, and I like a couple hours to decompress and talk with my husband. He leaves for work at 6:00 so there’s not a good morning time to do that and he usually meets us in the evening at whatever baseball game we are at 😉
    Thank you for the encouragement!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, I still have that too with Clara — she’ll wake up in the morning and need me to “sit in the chair with her” for a bit. Thankfully, I’m up early enough that it doesn’t totally throw off my morning!
    What about going to bed at 10 and waking up at 5? 7 hours of sleep, 1 hour with the hubby at night, and I’m guessing your husband wakes up by 5am anyway, right?

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    Meghan Reply:

    You are right – I need to make a commitment to get to bed at 10:00! I’m one of those people who never feels rested and “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” when I wake up. It doesn’t really matter if I get 6 hours of sleep or 8. I just like my bed! But I’m assuming 7 hrs of sleep is healthier for me than six.

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  14. Jamie

    06/10/2019

    I started last week waking up at 5:30 (which is super early for me). I would much rather be up late and sleep in later the next morning. But I have 4 kids and they are up around 7. I honestly really hate waking up so early but I am trying to stick with it and give it a chance. It is nicer being up before the kids so I can have time to do my devotions and get myself ready for the day before they get up and want breakfast. I don’t have as much freedom in my house as you do. Two of my kids have a bedroom right next to the kitchen and are disturbed by either the light or noise if I work in the kitchen. My other two kids are next to the laundry room so even getting laundry done sometimes wakes them up. But I am trying to at least get the dishwasher unloaded, breakfast prepped or completely made, my shower done, and then start a load of wash closer to their wake up time. We have also been following a schedule because there are things my husband and I constantly say we want to do more ____ with the kids or with each other, etc. Time gets away from us and weeks have passed and we still have not done what it was that we wanted to do. So now it goes on our schedule. It definitely takes some getting used to but I am hoping for it to be more “normal” for us by the time school rolls around again.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good for you! Give yourself a goal of at least 2 weeks straight — you need to give yourself a chance to adjust to the new schedule (your mind and your body!)

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