9 Tips for Waking Up in the Morning Without a Struggle

Updated: Oct. 07, 2020

Not everyone is a morning person. If waking up in the morning is a challenge, try these tips from experts to help put a bounce in your day.

woman just out of the shower checking her face in the mirror

Try to determine how much sleep your body needs

How much sleep you need varies from person to person, but it’s generally somewhere between seven and nine hours, according to Sleep.org by the National Sleep Foundation. How can you figure out the right number for you? By testing it out. During a week off, when you don’t need to use an alarm clock, see when you start to wake up naturally and feel refreshed after a few days. Check out these sleep myths you should ignore.

rolled towels next to candlelit bathtub

Try to make your going-to-bed routine more soothing

For a better morning, the National Sleep Foundation recommends starting a bedtime ritual well before your actual bedtime, in which you dim the lights and try to relax by taking a warm bath, meditating, stretching, or reading. Good nighttime habits can also positively influence your natural sleep/wake cycle and lead to fewer sleep disruptions, adds Jose Mendez, MD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Connecticut. “I recommended avoiding light and disengaging from intellectual stimulation and stressful or anxiety-provoking activities—such as working and paying bills—at least two hours before bedtime,” he says. “Because light at night is perhaps the most important factor that can negatively impact waking up rested in morning, it is important to avoid light from computers, mobile phones, and tablets late at night and right before bedtime.” Don’t miss these tips for getting the best night’s sleep ever.

wooden blinds

Let the light in

If you feel groggy when you wake up, open the shades first thing to start to get your body clock back on track. “Natural sunlight has the most positive effect on synchronizing our circadian rhythm to day/night (or light/dark) cycles,” Dr. Mendez explains. “We feel better when we are synchronized because this helps us to get adequate sleep.” He recommends keeping the bedroom dark and cool at night, then opening the windows in the morning to let the sunlight in. “Sunlight in the morning sets us up to have restful sleep in the evening because it enhances melatonin production at night,” he adds.

woman meditating in bed

Create a morning ritual that you enjoy and look forward to

Many people dread having to face a new day of work or chores, says San Francisco-based clinical psychologist Steve Orma, author of Stop Worrying and Go to Sleep. But if the first thing you do is pleasant, that makes it much easier to wake up in the morning. “This can be meditating, having a cup of coffee as you read your favorite blog, reading your goals, journaling, etc.,” explains Orma. “Choose activities you enjoy and that set you on a good path for the day.” It will help ease morning anxiety, too.

old-style alarm clock

Have a set wake-up time

This simple tweak can banish morning grogginess and grumpiness. Why? Your body likes to know what to expect and thrives on routine. “It takes a bit of time and effort at first to reset your body to wake up at a specific time,” says Orma, “but once you do, you’ll begin waking up about the same time each morning, automatically and effortlessly.” You might even start waking up before your alarm- here’s why.

woman listening to headphones in bed

Wake up to a favorite tune

Waking up in the morning is a little easier when you start the day listening to your favorite song. “This sets you on a good start emotionally because of the song’s positive association,” says Orma. This is one of a few morning brain exercises to keep your mind sharp.

woman holding a meditative pose

Take a breather

Meditating has numerous benefits, including fighting insomnia, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing happiness and energy levels, boosting your immune system, and providing mental clarity. Dr. Mendez recommends it both in the morning and at nighttime. “A moment of meditation in the morning can help to start the day with a positive attitude,” he says. “It’s also helpful at night as part of the bedtime routine [because] it helps us relax and puts our body in a state conducive to sleep.” Here are some other benefits of meditation.

woman smiling and checking her phone in bed

Try a “persistent” wake-up app

Kathleen Starmer, a travel-safety coach based in San Francisco, says that morning wake-ups are a lot easier when you have a specific reason to get out of bed. “My number-one wake-up tip is the app Alarmy. You can customize it to require you to solve math problems, take a photo, or even shake your smartphone a set number of times before it allows you to turn the alarm off,” she says. “Trust me: By the time you work your way through whatever devious method you’ve chosen as your alarm shut-off protocol, you are wide awake.” Don’t miss these 10 things that highly successful people do every morning.

Snooze button
iStock/Mike Manzano

Don’t give yourself an alarm clock safety net

Set your alarm for the latest possible moment so you’re not tempted to fall back asleep, the WebMD post suggests. “Lose the snooze button. You might go back to sleep for a few minutes each time you hit the knob, ‘but you’re getting crappy sleep,’ Breus says in this piece. “You just feel worse.”