How to Wake up Early in the Morning and Study
We have all experienced that feeling of waking up late and already feeling like you wasted the whole morning. So how do you avoid this? Well, don’t worry. In this post, we discuss the things that can help you wake up early in the morning and start studying.
In a rush? Here are the main things we talk about in this post:
- Decide if you are dedicated to waking up early
- Have good sleep hygiene
- Use a sunrise alarm clock
- Avoid coffee and screens before bed
- Study the most important and challenging material first
Before you start trying to wake up early, you should ask yourself why you want to in the first place.
Is it because you saw something on the internet that convinced you waking up early will revolutionise your life?
Or the fact that you can 10 times your productivity if you wake up at 4 am?
While turning a bad habit into a good one can be a catalyst for change, most habits die in the early stages of them being born.
Think back to all of the New Years’ resolutions that you have ever made. How many of them stuck for more than one month? If you’re lucky, you might have one that has stuck till today.
I am not trying to discourage you from waking up early. Rather, I am trying to get you to understand the challenges that might come up when starting this journey. You might fail.
However, if you push through the pain, I can guarantee that you will at the very least learn something very valuable by undergoing the steps that I outline below.
They will help you tale control of your life and wake up when you want to wake up.
These tips are not just for students. They can be used by anyone, at any stage of their life.
You don’t even have to wake up early to benefit; that’s because whether you wake up at 4 am or 1 pm, you need good quality sleep.
Benefits of Waking up Early
With that deep philosophical discussion out of the way, let’s discuss some of the benefits that might come out of waking up early.
- You are fresher in the morning – In the morning, you are fresh from a (hopefully) nice and healthy sleep. This allows a clear mind which is essential for studying.
- Get more done – You can easily get more done in the morning.
- Have a longer day – Do you feel like you never have time? Well, getting up early can make the day seem much longer than 24 hours.
- Fewer distractions – If you wake up early enough, there isn’t going to be anyone else awake to disturb you. You can get a good one to two hours of work done before even having breakfast.
- You feel good for the rest of the day – A good morning can make the rest of the day much more enjoyable as even if you are not able to get much work done, you still have that feeling that you did do some work in the morning.
How to Go to Sleep
Sleep hygiene is incredibly important for helping you get the right amount of sleep every night.
So what exactly is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is a series of practices and habits that help you get the best quality of sleep possible.
This 2017 study shows that one in three students meet the criteria for poor sleep quality. This can be attributed to societal and academic demands disrupting their sleep.
Below I have outlined some of the ways you can improve your sleep hygiene.
Get Some Exercise
You should try and get a good amount of exercise.
30 minutes a day is a good amount to aim for.
It will help you feel sleepy before bed and is just a healthy thing to do in general.
If you can’t do 30 minutes, even a short 10-15 minute walk can help.
This 2014 study states that there is no scientific consensus that shows late-night exercises disrupting sleep. Even still, it is best practice to avoid it.
No Screens Before Bed
You shouldn’t use screens before bed. It is known that using screens that emit a lot of blue light can interfere with your circadian rhythm and cause a poor quality of sleep.
This 2015 study had teenagers wear blue light blocking glasses. They found that these glasses helped with melatonin secretion (melatonin is a hormone that makes us sleepy).
They also found that even a relatively low amount of light exposure from screens is sufficient to suppress melatonin rise and therefore impair sleep.
So what should you do?
If you plan to go to sleep at 9 pm, try and make it so you don’t look at any screens for 1 hour before bed.
Read a book, talk with your family/partner. You could even get a few minutes of work done (that will defiantly make you sleepy!).
If possible, try and get your parents to buy some blackout curtains. They can especially help if your sunrise is at 4 am and you want to wake up at 6 or 7 am. Here are some relatively cheap blackout curtains on amazon.
“But I need to use my phone before bed!” I hear you cry. So are there any alternatives?
Well, there is one way to get around it, however, I would suggest to still try and avoid screens for at least half an hour before bed even with this tip.
That is, you can use the night mode on your phone which automatically reduce the blue light levels. On my Mac, I use an app called flux which works perfectly.
Whether you download an app or use your phones built-in night mode it doesn’t matter, just ensure that when you start using it you do the following things:
- Go into the settings and make the screen as red as possible (this turns the blue light filter to its maximum). This does make your screen look a bit red but it’s totally worth it.
- Have it to automatically turn on at sunset. If your sunset is at 4 pm then it’s fine to manually change it to 6/7 pm.
Reduce Nighttime Noise
Noisy nights can impair sleep by keeping you awake and distracting you.
If you live in a quiet neighbourhood, then you don’t need to worry. However, if your walls are thin and you can hear your neighbour’s music blasting into the sky every night, it might be time to invest in some equipment.
A cheap option would be to buy some earplugs. These work great when you go to sleep and for studying. Here are some £3 earplugs you can buy on amazon.
A more expensive option would be to get some noise-cancelling headphones. The downside of these is that they can be uncomfortable to wear in bed, and so you might only be able to use them for studying.
However, the upside is that you can even wear them when you go out and they will always block out the noise outside.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
It is scientifically proven that increased stress levels can be a significant reason for sleep disruption.
Although there is no quick fix to help reduce stress, there are some things you can do which can help.
- Meditate for 10-30 minutes before bed
- Stretch your muscles and do some yoga
- Keep a stress diary where you note down how stressful you felt every day
- Take a break from work and go on a vacation
It is important that at least 6 hours before you go to bed you should not have any caffeine. Ideally, if you can not have caffeine for 9 hours before bed then that would be even better.
It is known that the amount of sleep disruption that occurs is proportional to the amount of caffeine that you intake. This means that the more coffee you drink before bed, the worse your sleep.
However, you should have caffeine in the morning when you wake up to study.
When you wake up and study, try and have some coffee after about 1 hour of being awake.
This allows your body’s natural cortisol to wake up, ensuring the caffeine does not impact your natural body clock.
Coffee is a great tool that should be used to improve concentration. it is scientifically proven that it helps you study for longer and increases brain function (see my blog on scientific methods of studying).
Summary of How to Go to Sleep
Here are some key points on how to improve sleep hygiene:
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce nighttime noise levels
- Avoid coffee for at least 6 hours before bed, if not more
- Don’t look at any screens before bed without using night mode
How to Wake up Early
Use Special Alarms
If you are going to be using your phone to set an alarm then that’s fine, I use my phone too.
However, I also use another special type of alarm in conjunction with my phone – a sunrise alarm clock.
Having a sunrise alarm clock is one of the single best purchases I have ever made. It has allowed me to wake up at times I never knew even existed.
Do your homework before moving and contact any university that you want to apply to before making any major decisions.
It is extremely easy to set up; you only have to set the time you want to wake up.
The light then automatically turns on half an hour before your set time, gradually increasing in brightness.
Then, at the time you want to wake, it starts playing bird music (you have 5 sounds to choose from) which also slowly increases in volume but this time over a minute or two.
I wouldn’t recommend getting the exact clock that I got as there are newer and better versions out now. Here are a couple of options to choose from:
- For a cheaper option, get this Fitfort alarm which is only about £20.
- A more expensive option would be this Philips alarm which is up to £90. Go for this option if you value buying from a reputable company and want a well-built alarm clock that will last.
Alternatively, just go on Amazon and search for sunrise alarm clocks. There are plenty to choose from.
If you don’t want to splash out and buy an expensive alarm clock, you can use alarm clock apps for your phone instead.
There are loads of great alarm apps that ensure you wake up on time.
For example, some of them won’t turn off till you do a puzzle while others require you to do a bit of morning maths.
I did not find these as helpful as the sunrise alarm clock, but they might work for you, so definitely give them a shot.
Here are three apps you can choose from:
- Alarmy (iOS and Android) – The alarm is loud, obnoxious, and very annoying. It can only be turned off when you take a photo of something specific (like your downstairs coffeepot, your shower head, your toothbrush, etc.).
- Walk Me Up! Alarm Clock (Android) – This alarm blares at you until you get out of bed and walk around. You can’t mute it, you can’t snooze it, you can’t pause it.
- Alarm Clock Xtreme (Android) – Features of this app include being able to slowly increase in volume and wake you up gently. It also has options like having to solve maths problems to be able to turn it off.
There are plenty more out there so make sure you do your research.
Tips on Using an Alarm
If you are going to use your phone to wake up, or any alarm for that matter, you have to use it in the right way.
The right way is to place your phone at a far to reach location so that in the morning you have to get up to turn the alarm off. But doing this, you will be truly waking yourself up as you have to physically get out of bed.
A good place to put it would be on your desk or on top of your wardrobe.
When you get up to turn off the alarm, it is important that you never hit the snooze button or go back to bed.
Instead, you should:
- Go to the bathroom and brush your teeth
- Go downstairs to your kitchen
- Go for a walk in the garden/in the neighbourhood
Basically, anything to prevent you from going back to sleep.
This is critical and will determine if you can get that extra 1-2 hours of good quality studying done in the morning.
You might do everything else right, but if you don’t do this it will all be for nothing.
Morning routines are great for helping you get out of bed. They provide a consistent set of tasks that you do every day, helping your body wake up naturally.
Below is an example of a possible morning routine you could follow. You don’t have to do exactly this, but it is just to give you an idea.
- Wake up
- Go to the bathroom
- Study for as long as you can (typically 60-90 minutes), getting the most important things out the way
- Have breakfast for half an hour
- Drink some coffee
- Study for 50 minutes
- Short 10 minutes Break
- Study for 30-60 minutes depending on how tired you are
- Long 2-3 hour break
If you start this routine, you can wake up at 6 am and have all of your stuff done by midday. Wouldn’t that be an awesome feeling!
You should try and make this a daily routine.
Doing the same thing every day can seem boring, but when it comes to developing healthy habits, you must be consistent.
Go to Sleep Early
One of the fundamental things about waking up early is going to sleep early.
This may seem obvious, but it’s easier said than done.
So I have a great solution.
Even if you go to sleep late because of a party, you should still wake up at the same time.
If you come back home at 2 am, you still have to make sure you wake up at 6 am to do the work you planned that you would do.
If you do this, you will be tired the next day, which will help you get to bed on time.
However, if you don’t do this, not only will you not get anything done the next day because you will wake up at 11 am, but it will impact the following days too as you will struggle to get to bed on time.
Make Getting Out of Bed Fun
If you have already tried all of the above tactics, then there is one final course of action.
Try and make your morning routine into something you look forward to every day.
This is going to be different for everyone, but I have listed some things you can try out below:
- Listen to a podcast – Going for an early morning 10-20 minute walk might just be the thing you need to motivate yourself to get out of bed. You can hear the birds tweeting in the distance while you serenely walk around your neighbourhood.
- Play tennis/badminton/squash with a friend – This is a fantastic tip for those that love sports. It will motivate you to get out of bed. This along with not wanting to disappoint your friend will help you get up on time.
- Have a nice breakfast – If you’re a foodie, try and make your breakfast as nice as possible every day. This will get your taste buds tingling for some yummy food.
Study the Right Material
You will be most fresh in the morning.
Therefore, it is logical that you should study the hardest and most important material first, leaving the easier homework for a later time.
Not only will you feel great about getting the hard stuff out of the way, but you can also then be relaxed about doing your easier work later on.
Work Without Any Breaks
I find that in the morning, it is best to not have any breaks.
This might sound strange but hear me out.
There is something called the “flow state” where you are extremely focused on the job at hand and can do a large amount of good quality work.
In the morning, I find it particularly easy to get into the flow state.
However, as soon as I have a break, it goes away. This means when I start studying again I often spend the first 5 minutes being distracted by small things before I get into the flow state.
You have probably felt something similar when studying.
Now, if you simply want to go to the toilet or grab a glass of water, it’s okay. The type of break I am talking about is where you completely break your mind away from the work. For example, watching a YouTube video or going on TikTok. Try not to do these sort of things in a short break.
Therefore, limit the number of breaks you take in the morning, especially ones that will fully shift your focus.
Decide If It’s for You
When you have tried out waking up early for a couple of weeks, think about if it’s really for you.
You might be able to see an instant gain in the amount of work you have been able to do.
If that’s the case, great! Just ensure that you stay consistent as exams get closer and you’ll do just fine.
On the other hand, if you have found yourself feeling groggy and tired when trying to do work in the morning, taking over an hour to do simple tasks, you should change things up.
Try doing work at night instead as you might be a night owl.
If you are a night owl, waking up early and studying might not be the best for you.
However, try not to be discouraged if you don’t see a sudden increase in productivity after waking up early for one or two days. Don’t just decide you’re a night own without giving early mornings a fair shot.
Waking up at 6 am will make you hate your life initially, especially if you were previously waking up at 11 pm. It is a habit and making a sudden change to your routine will be hard initially.
However, if you stick through the hard times you might find yourself more productive than ever.
Disclaimer: The Amazon links included in the post are affiliate links which mean I get a small commission for every sale.
- Blue Blocker Glasses as a Countermeasure for Alerting Effects of Evening Light-Emitting Diode Screen Exposure in Male Teenagers (2015)
- Effectiveness of sleep education programs to improve sleep hygiene and/or sleep quality in college students: a systematic review (2016)
- Sleep quality, internet addiction and depressive symptoms among undergraduate students in Nepal (2017)
- The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence (2015)