The 10 Secrets to Getting Up Early

wake up early

Let’s face it, we would all like to be able to get up a little bit earlier in the morning…

Why? Oh, come on. As good as it sometimes feels to be warm and snuggly under that duvet you know that you would be much more productive, and in turn, much happier if you were getting up an hour (or two!) earlier every day feeling fresh and vibrant.

What could you get done with the extra two hours every day (an extra 14 hours per week?). You could go for a run, meditate, make yourself a beautiful and brilliant breakfast every day, learn to play an instrument or learn another language, practice yoga, take your dog for a walk, redesign your blog (that’s one for me), read a book, practice your hour of power, lift weights, do some painting, send emails to all of your friends and family (that you keep forgetting to do) or my favourite – practice laughing yoga (seriously, you HAVE to watch the dude in that link).

Whatever your reasons, of which there are gazillions, it makes perfect sense to give yourself more hours in the day. I mean, how many times have you moaned that there aren’t enough hours in the day, only to get up the next day with the minimum possible time before you have to get to work?!

The Secret to Getting Up Earlier

I have worked out my own means and methods, asked my most motivated, energetic friends, scoured the internet and read the papers, ebooks and reseach on sleep and circadian rhythms and this is the best of the best, most tried and tested tips, tricks and techniques for getting yourself up and at ’em two hours earlier than you currently do:

  1. Decide Your Time: just saying ‘I want to get up earlier’ once you are in bed and then setting your alarm for 6am just won’t cut the mustard. You need to think about this when you are up, motivated and thinking rationally. Think about it now – while you are really motivated. Now stick to it. Go set your alarm now. Having this clarity is the single most important tip in this list – as simple as it seems.
  2. Make it a Habit: set yourself a clear goal to do this every day for two weeks (or more if you are adventurous). On weekends, just set the promise that you will not set the alarm and will get up as soon as you wake up. If you can make a behaviour consistent then it becomes a self-sustaining habit. And habits are incredibly difficult to break. Even if you try.
  3. Get Leverage: why do you want to do this? What will it mean to you if you do this? What will you get done? How will it affect your life? Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers. Yes, actually get a pen and paper and write them down. Writing something has far, far more power than just thinking it. These are the emotional reasons why you will achieve this goal. Write as much as you can – things like: getting up earlier will give me the time to create my dream body, it will give me clarity and purpose; it will give me time to achieve my goals and love my life that I am creating; I will have time for myself to have a relaxed, enjoyable and fulfilling start to every day; I will have a hundred times more energy and will be buzzing with excitement from all of the goals I will achieve; it will give me quality time to spend with my kids/husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend etc because I will be able to get so much more done before everyone else starts the day; etc etc etc. Just think of how much better you life will be – and write down in as much detail as possible why.You need to have the emotional, life-changing reasons rather than the physical hard facts is because of the ‘now what’ phenomenon. For example – you say, I am going to get up early so I can do lots of sit ups and get a six-pack. By having a reason such as this you are creating two hurdles to your motivation. Firstly, you are not going to get enough feedback signals that tell you that getting up early is really worth it. But more importantly, let’s say you DO build a six-pack washboard – now what? So, you’ve got a six-pack. But does this actually mean anything to you? Is it going to keep you on track and getting up early? Of course not – it is the emotion that is attached to creating your dream body that is the motivator – how does this make you feel & how will it change your life for the better?So write this all down now, and then write it out every night before you go to sleep (or at least read it).Sorry to be so wordy – but this one is really important.
  4. Set Your Goals: so the last point is all about the emotional aspect, but it still helps to know the reasons why you are going to get straight out of bed tomorrow. This is also an incredibly effective technique because it tells your brain the exact reasons why it HAS to get you up and out of bed without even thinking about it. It helps if you can list a couple of goals that have some urgency to them and list the reasons why you ABSOLUTELY MUST get them done. So just list some of your must-do items for tomorrow morning.Now list all of the positive benefits of getting them done. And then – and this is a great trick – list all of the negative things that will happen if you don’t get them done. This will give you some serious leverage.
  5. Develop a ‘Warrior Mentality’: I love this approach. Create a war with your habit, and commit to winning. Commit to doing whatever it takes to win the battle. Give yourself a pep-talk, build momentum – and kick some ass.
  6. Reward Your Successes: this is essential. Giving yourself reward for reaching your achievement sends so much positive reinforcement than it almost guarantees that you will continue to grow and achieve. This is a great example (look on the right hand side bar for ‘Loss = Reward’).
  7. Learn From Your Mistakes: if you don’t get up at your desired time one day, don’t beat yourself up – learn from your mistake. What happened? What made you stay in bed? What kept you from getting up? If you are angry with yourself – now is the time to whip out that pen and paper again and brainstorm what you could do to make sure this doesn’t happen again! But don’t stay angry – use this energy to make you even more motivated and even more excited about how good it is going to be to succeed from now on! Just because you slipped up this time does not mean that you have undone all of your previous hard work. Just dust yourself off and learn from your mistake.
  8. Get Straight Up: As soon as that alarm sounds, get straight up. And I mean straight up. You can’t rely upn your conscious mind to come around, remember why you are getting up, mull over how warm you are and how cold it is outside of your duvet etc. Don’t give it a chance! Let your subconscious make the decision and GET STRAIGHT UP. Once you are up it really isn’t that bad. Over time your brain will make the association that this is just what you do – hear alarm, get up.
  9. Set 2 Alarms: this is a great ‘if all else fails’ plan to help you out in the beginning. If you really are going to find this a tough gig then just set 2 alarms. A pre-alarm that is right next to you and which goes off 15 minutes before your intended get-up-time, and another alarm that is on the other side of the room. If you can, and if your partner will not kill you for it – set this alarm to be an untuned radio and quite loud. Harsh, but effective.
  10. Take Regular Exercise: the one you were probably dreading, but it is one of the most important. Not only will exercise mean that you are physically ready for bed earlier (and therefore sleeping from an earlier hour -> waking up at an earlier hour) but it will also aid your digestion, improve your circulation and blood flow, will give you exposure to natural light (which releases the chemicals in our brain (melatonin) to correctly set our biological clock), and ensures a higher possibility of extended periods of ‘deep’ sleep (in which you are less likely to stir and have an interrupted sleep). However, it is important to finish your exercise at least 3 hours before you aim to sleep.

So there you have it! You now have absolutely no excuses not to start tomorrow!

If you have got any other ‘get-up-early’ tips then let me know! You could even prove it’s effectivness by letting me know in the comments at 6am!

More Resources:

Sleep Foundation
Steve Pavlina’s Blog

Ask Me a Question or Leave a Comment Here - I'd Love to Hear from You


  1. Sam Reply

    Nice one boss. I love the warrior mentality!

  2. donalyn Reply

    I tend to have a breakfast of kefir with 5 strawberries and 1/2 banana. I know you don’t like fruit consumption but the kefir from unpasteurized cows milk is my only calcium from a milk source.

  3. donalyn Reply

    How about sprouted bread with hummus and sliced cucumber for breakfast? Is that alkaline? I cannot have soy as I have a thyroid condition.

    • Ross Reply

      Hello Donalyn,
      Yes, you can have that for breakfast. That is very alkaline.

  4. Lila Reply

    I can actually set my tv to turn on at a certain time, so on a morning I wake up to the breakfast show which is really nice because waking up to the news and what is happening outside/around you, makes me want to actually go outside and partake in what is happening. I know that sounds crazy but its worked for me for the past 5 month when I decided to start jogging on a morning. And another positive is that within that 5 month i’ve lose 3 stone!
    You should see if your tv has that option, just search around the settings, it should come under ‘timer’. But I definitely recommend anybody to wake up to an informative breakfast show or radio channel.

  5. Xina - Nature's Parlour Reply

    This is a great post, so helpful – thank you.

    I’ve always wanted to be able to get up early effortlessly. The problem is that I naturally go to bed late and wake late. My grandmother used to call me a “night owl” because of my nocturnal habits.

    After reading self help and inspirational books, I learned that many great minds were early risers; I wanted to emulate them. I also wanted more time for meditation, exercise and work at a reasonable pace and I actually managed it. I’d read about Mary Kay getting up at 5am and being in a “5am Club” and got hooked. I managed to view going to bed early as an opulent indulgence, like a reverse lie in, and waking up early to meditate was intense “me time” that I deserved. In my work, I got a head start on my tasks and felt very much in control of my life.

    Unfortunately, due to some upheaval which included a move overseas, I fell off the wagon and went back to my night owl ways but I’ve been longing to return to an early bird routine which would now include green drinks, alkalised water, etc

    I’d like to thank you for your well timed post 🙂

  6. Joe Reply

    I purchased an alarm clock that has an external “lobe” that vibrates when the alarm sounds. At first I thought it wouldn’t work, but it is the most effective thing I have found yet. I just slip it under the mattress, and at 6:30 she goes off and wham, your up. Terrified me the first time, but you get used to it. Put it down buy your feet and it wont startle you that much. Just google vibrating alarm clock if you interested.

  7. Health and home Reply

    Wow! Now i have an idea how to get up early. This is one of my problems…trying to wake up early.

  8. Amanda Jane Reply

    Thankyou for the mention in your post! I like my reward system too, but I think I might have to switch a few things around because I want to have certain things sooner than other things like the gym membership. I really want to begin with weight training now rather than later. It is always good to reward yourself for hard work… and losing weight is hard work… just make sure the rewards are not food related 🙂 Greetings from Holland, Amanda Jane.

  9. Ross Reply

    Heh heh – I can see from my logs that loads of people are clicking on the laughing yoga link.

    Let me know what you think of it!!!

  10. Ross Reply

    Great strategies James – and thanks for sharing!

    I particularly like the idea of the music from another room – although my neighbors might not be best pleased!


  11. James Reply

    This morning I woke up at 5am to go jogging. It happened for two reasons:

    1) I know from experience that getting up and being productive is a more
    pleasure than a lie-in. I’ve never regretted getting up early – and I’ve
    frequently regretted having a lie-in. I told myself this, and I begrudgingly
    accepted 😉

    2) After I turned off the alarm I switched on a light and radio (background
    annoyance – even better if it’s not tuned properly), then refused to tempt
    myself with a lie-in. To fantasize about a lie-in is half-way towards giving
    in. Why sabotage yourself?

    I also sometimes give myself a ‘count down’ before doing anything unpleasant
    – getting up early, getting out of a lovely hot bath, etc. Three, two one..
    and I do it. No questions asked, no stalling. I think part of the reason it
    works is because my brain associates the countdown with uncomfortable
    change, and this shocks me out of complacency.

    I used to get up at 5am every day to go jogging. By the evening I would feel
    happily sleepy, which of course made it easy to go to bed early, and so to
    rise in the morning. I found it useful to ‘wind down’ in the evening – stop
    using the computer at a certain time, brush my teeth, then do something
    non-demanding – tidy up, read, listen to music etc.

    A friend of mine is woken every morning by her computing playing mp3s to her
    room. To turn it off she has to get out of bed, go into the living room,
    turn on the monitor and quit WinAmp. If it’s really loud there’s a double
    incentive – she worries about waking the neighbours.

    PS: Here’s a link that you might find interesting. It has amusing anecdotes and interesting stories about food, restaurants, meals etc.