If you want to cram more into your days in 2017, it stands to reason that getting up earlier is one of the easiest ways to do it.
But not all of us are hard-wired to rise before the sun does. In fact, sleep expert and clinical psychologist Michael Breus says it’s not really something you should be forcing.
“The ability to wake up early is determined by your genetics,” Michael tells Well+Good.
The good news is, however, is that Michael also has a few hacks you can adopt to short-circuit Mother Nature – and the snooze button on the pesky alarm clock.
Here are five he recommends to get the most out of your days
1. Set a bedtime based on 90-minute sleep cycles
Sleep generally runs in 90-minute cycles—and the goal is to wake up at the end of one. “You’ll be in a lighter stage of sleep at that point, which is easier to rouse yourself from,” Michael says. Most people are best served by getting either six hours or seven-and-a-half hours a night, he says, not eight (you’ll be in the middle of a new cycle). So, if you know you work best with seven-and-a-half hours of zzz’s and you need to be up at 6:30 a.m., it’s lights-out at 11.
2. Move your alarm clock across the room
If your alarm is right next to your bed—or on your wrist—it’s so easy to hit snooze. Forcing yourself to physically get out of bed may be a simple trick, but it’s an effective one. Another option? Enlist a wake-up buddy, i.e., a person who will call you and hold you accountable, Michael adds.
3. Have water right away
When the alarm goes off at 5 a.m., your first inclination might be to sprint for a cup of coffee. Don’t. “Your body breathes out one litre of water a night and you need to replace that first,” says Michael. Hydrating right away will help give you the energy to avoid crawling back under the covers.
4. Find the light
Sunlight helps turn off your “melatonin faucet,” adds Michael, which in turn helps you avoid that groggy, I-seriously-don’t-want-to-be-awake-right-now feeling. Stand by the window for a few minutes if it’s light out (bonus points for drinking water at the same time!).
5. Throw a shower party
Michael recommends a cool—not cold—shower to get the blood flowing. And turn up the volume on your favourite songs. “Saving your workout music for your workout isn’t necessarily the best idea,” he says. The overall goal is to start off in a good mood, so you’re more likely to give the whole getting-up-early thing a go again the next day.