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9 hacks to help you wake up early and not feel tired after sleeping

A woman smiles and stretches in bed after a great night's sleep
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If you’ve ever wondered how to wake up early in the morning without feeling groggy, you’re not the only one. Even if you are sleeping on the comfiest, best mattress for your body, feeling refreshed in the morning isn’t always easy. 

How to banish morning fatigue: quick tips

1. Don't hit that snooze button
2. Drink water as soon as you wake up to hydrate
3. Open the curtains and let light in - this signals to your circadian rhythm that sleep time is over
4. Do some light stretching to warm-up your body
5. Eat breakfast soon after waking
6. Have something to look forward to

This can lead to a serious snooze button habit, which isn’t great for your sleep (even if it does feel wonderful to sink back under those warm covers for an extra 10 minutes).

Starting the day feeling tired and groggy can also lead to a lack of focus and reduced motivation, so the siren call of caffeine gets all the louder. But as caffeine has a half-life of up to eight hours, it could still be in your system come bedtime. Luckily, there are things you can do to get out of this cycle.

So if you’re tired of feeling tired in the morning and want to know how to wake up early and still feel refreshed, we explore exactly that right here. The best approach? Take it day by day to avoid overwhelming yourself with too many changes. You’ll soon be waking up early in the morning, feeling refreshed and ready to go.

How to wake up early and not feel tired

If you’re addicted to the snooze button, the idea of waking up early and feeling good about it may sound like utter fantasy. Truth is, while it’s hard to begin with, after a while you can train yourself to wake up early naturally (without the use of an alarm clock - yes, really) and enjoy it. Here’s how:

A man with dark hair sleeps on his side covered by a white comforter

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1. Get seven to nine hours' sleep

  • Ample sleep means you won't create a sleep debt that makes you tired

Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night, so the first thing to do is work out how much rest you need in order to wake at your chosen hour. At first, start by going to bed 15 minutes sooner than you normally would, then gradually get earlier until you wake more easily when the alarm goes off. 

While the results might not happen (literally) overnight, experiment a little until you hit the sweet spot. The key is to then maintain this bedtime and wake-time hour to support your body’s circadian rhythm.

2. Stick to a bedtime routine 

  • Routines train your brain to spot the cues for sleep

A bedtime routine helps prepare your body for sleep by letting your brain know it’s time to switch off. This involves winding down around 60 minutes before bed, so set a reminder to switch off screens, dim the lights and relax. 

You could have a warm bath, read or do some breathing exercises. We're big fans of the military sleep method, as well as the 4 7 8 sleep method for falling asleep faster.

Keep your sleep and wake times consistent so that your body gets used to your new routine. You’ll soon find you’re better prepared for sleep, making it easier to wake up once the alarm goes off in the morning.

3. Don’t hit the snooze button

  • Snoozing makes you feel groggy and less alert

Pressing snooze can have negative effects on our sleep, as these micro periods of snooze don’t allow the body enough time to fall back into restorative sleep. Not only does this add to ‘sleep inertia’ (that punch-drunk feeling), but, says Reena Mehra, M.D., M.S., Director of Sleep Disorders Research at the Cleveland Clinic (opens in new tab), it can have a detrimental effect on blood pressure and heart rate.

Black alarm clock on a white bed

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Prioritize getting enough sleep each night so you aren’t creating a sleep debt and can get out of bed without feeling the need to hit the snooze button again.

Bonus tip: place your alarm clock across the room from your bed, so that when it does go off you’ll have to get out of bed to switch it off. Once up, get your body moving and resist the urge to climb back under those covers.

4. Eat breakfast soon after waking up

  • Fuel your body to boost your energy levels

This is another great cue for your body that it's time to be awake and alert, rather than snoozing. Studies (opens in new tab) also say that missing out on breakfast can impact your energy levels and ability to focus, but eating early in the morning isn't something everyone can stomach.

If you can't manage a lot first thing, try a small yet healthy snack such as a banana or a small piece of toast with some almond butter. Feeling fuelled at the start of your day will naturally help you feel less tired and more awake.

5. Let the light in

  • Early morning light exposure lets your body know its go-time

Your biological clock (circadian rhythm) is controlled by various different factors, including exposure to light - both natural and artificial. That's why sleep experts recommend going for an early morning walk outdoors to get that light exposure, which in turn lets your body know that it's time to be awake and alert.

So if you get plenty of light exposure early in the day, you'll feel more tired at night and wake up earlier in the morning. Over time, you may even find that you can do this without needing to set an alarm. Just ask Oprah.

When you wake up, get out of bed and open your curtains to let natural light flood in. Also eat your breakfast next to a window that gets good daylight, or consider investing in a light therapy lamp if your home doesn't get much light in the morning.

6. Take a cold shower

  • Gives your tired body an instant wake-up call

Cold showers are super-energizing and can make you feel instantly more alert. In fact, research (opens in new tab) into the effects of cold showers on health and work says that they even help to reduce absences from work due to sickness. 

Can't stand the thought of shivering under a cold shower even for just a few seconds? The splash your face and the back of your neck with cold water instead. It will have a similar affect in waking you up quicker, but it won't be as powerful.

A person pours milk into a coffee

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7. Watch your caffeine intake

  • Aim to reduce your caffeine intake after midday

It can take up to ten hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off (for some it’s shorter), which will keep you up at night if you drink coffee into the afternoon. If you aim to have your last cup of coffee by midday, you should be better prepared for sleep. Experiment to find the best cut-off time for you.

On a similar note, eating lots before bedtime can cause disruptive sleep, making it more difficult to wake up early in the morning and not feel tired. Try to stop eating three hours before bedtime, and, if you do need a snack, then keep it light with protein-rich healthy foods like nuts. 

You can also drink herbal infusions before bedtime to help you nod off – ingredients such as chamomile, valerian and lavender are all said to promote healthy sleep.

8. Have a reason to rise 

  • A little motivation goes a long way in helping you wake early

Whether your day starts at the office, taking the kids to school, or with an early college lecture, knowing you'll be rushing around from the moment you open your eyes is enough to make you want to stay in bed.

Instead, plan in an early morning activity that you'll enjoy so that you have something to look forward to. That could cooking breakfast over video with a friend, or taking an early morning fitness class at your favorite studio.

9. Practice good sleep hygiene

  • Helps you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling less tired

Sleep hygiene includes making sure you follow the same bedtime routine each night, and wake up at the same time each morning. You should also go to sleep in a clean, uncluttered and quiet bedroom. 

Your room temperature is also important, with the best sleep temperature being 60-68℉. Consider opening a window to allow a cool breeze to circulate, or program your heating to a sleep-friendly temperature before bed.

Woman asleep with sleep mask on

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Your bedroom should be dark so that your brain knows when it’s time to switch off for sleep. If the room is too bright, think about investing in some dimmable night lights instead, or if you have the glare of lights coming in through your window, try blackout blinds or drapes or wear a comfortable eye mask. 

Other ways to sleep well and wake up early

There's plenty you can do to ensure you're getting good sleep and waking up early without feeling tired, but the main thing is not to worry about any of it too much. If you adopt a good bedtime routine and you stick to it, getting up at the same time early each morning, after a while your body will start doing it automatically. The bonus is that it will help you fall asleep faster at night too.

Outside of this, make sure your bedroom is optomized for sleeping, and that you have the best pillow for the position you like to snooze in. If your bed has seen better days yet you can't replace it right now, consider investing in a good mattress topper to give you the extra comfort you need to sleep better.

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Davina is an experienced sleep writer and mattress reviewer who also contributes to our sister site TechRadar, among other Future plc brands. Davina's a big fan of organic sleep products and has recently invested in a wool mattress topper that she quite happily describes as "life-changing." (Hey, we're serious about our sleep products). When she isn't testing mattresses or writing about sleep, Davina enjoys reading and creative writing, and incorporates meditation and yoga into her wellness routine.