They say night owls tend to be smarter, yet many successful people are known for waking up early. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, starts his day as early as 3:45 AM. For many teens and young adults, that’s only the time they go to bed.
Waking up early suits busy CEOs because it allows them to make the most of the daytime. They tend to be more productive in the early hours so that they can enjoy a more relaxing time at night. Besides that, the human body is also designed to regenerate cells at night, which is why we instinctively feel drowsy after dinner.
But how come so many of us stay up late and end up waking at noon? If this cycle disrupts your success road map, try doing these things to adjust your sleep and waking schedule.
1. Get Unplugged Before Bedtime
One of the most common reasons we stay up late is social media. Opening a notification can quickly turn into a marathon of browsing your feeds. Though the screen can make you sleepy, it keeps your brain active, causing you to stay awake.
According to clinical psychologist Janet Kennedy, Ph.D., staying plugged in keeps the brain in “daytime mode.” The brain needs a buffer zone between daytime activity and sleep, and that’s where unplugging should go. If you put your phone down one or two hours before sleeping, you can doze off earlier.
To avoid going on a social media marathon at night, stop checking your notifications after dinner, especially if they’re about work. Engage in other relaxing activities, like taking a hot bath, reading a book, or meditating. You won’t achieve this overnight, though, so take baby steps until it becomes a habit.
2. Use a Calming Spray for Your Pillows
If you’ve tried turning in early but can’t fall asleep fast, try spraying lavender oil all over your pillows. Lavender is known as an essential oil that calms and relaxes, so it’ll soothe your active brain down. You can also use an essential oil diffuser to fill your entire room with a lavender scent.
3. Invest in a High-quality Mattress
Your mattress impacts the quality of your sleep in more ways than you think. If you often wake up with back or neck pain, chances are your mattress isn’t supportive enough. Maybe it’s an old spring one that’s sagging in some parts, reducing the cushioning against your body. If it’s a foam type, perhaps its firmness has decreased, making you sink lower than what’s comfortable.
A new mattress doesn’t have to break the bank. Look for an excellent mattress that’s on sale online or around your area. The exact type of mattress you should get depends on a number of factors, which include your sleeping position and weight. Consult a sleep expert or do your research online.
4. Use Blackout Blinds or Curtains
If you live in a city where the lights outside can seep through your windows, blackout curtains or blinds will help. Even when the sun rises, they’ll keep your room dark. So if you want to wake up before sunrise, make sure to set your alarm, or you might oversleep.
5. Eat a Light Dinner
Heavy meals at night can affect your metabolism, which can make you too full to sleep early. Aim to finish your dinner three hours before your bedtime. Choose light food, like fruits, warm milk, or a healthy snack bar with the right combination of protein and carbohydrates. You won’t just sleep early as a result but also wake up with a flat stomach.
6. Understand Your Motivation
If you’re a night owl, waking up early will be a big challenge for you. It can even feel unnatural. So if you want to change your sleep schedule, understand the motivation behind it. What are your goals that waking up early should be on your agenda? If it’s just societal pressure that urges you to be an early bird, perhaps you don’t need to wake up early. Do what works for you, not what everyone thinks is right for you.
7. Don’t Force an Early Bedtime
Lastly, if none of these tricks work, wait for yourself to naturally fall asleep, whatever the time might be. Forcing yourself to sleep when you’re not sleepy can induce insomnia. You’d only toss and turn in bed, frustrated at yourself for not being able to sleep. When this happens, remember that you’re not doing something wrong. Your body is simply not ready to fall asleep. If you have an early appointment the next day, consider taking a sleep supplement.
Just because some successful people wake up early doesn’t mean you should copy their routine. Different things work for different people; there’s no one-sized-fits-all bedtime routine for all. Wake up early if your job and goals require it, but otherwise, just do your usual routine.