• Health

How to wake up early and stay alert

As we know, not everyone can be a morning person.

Alas, sometimes you have a flight to catch, a test to take, a meeting to attend…or you’ve forgotten what the sun looks like. And you miss it.

For those of us who might be night owls, or even sloths, here are some neat tricks to get you up early and staying alert… without caffeine.

Do what you can to get a good night’s sleep.

A good night’s rest is crucial to your ability to wake up in the morning. For some tips on that, here are a bunch of posts we’ve done on sleep!

8 tips to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper
Weird sleep habits? How to sleep and stay productive
How to get ahead resting
Why cherries help you sleep

(We even have a whole Hive devoted to sleep. Check it out here.)

So once you think you’ve mastered the art of sleeping, or if you haven’t but you have an 8 am conference call anyway,

Set a gradual alarm.

A gentle alarm is much nicer to wake up to than a BRAAAP BRAAAP BRAAAP. It could be your favorite song on a radio clock, or an app like Sleepcycle, which is what I use.

If it’s way too late for you to salvage your night, try to schedule your rest in 1.5 hour increments. That's how long a sleep cycle usually is, so if you stack them, you won't wake yourself up in the middle of deep sleep. And stop worrying about how little sleep you’re getting! Just zone out and count some sheep.

Drink a glass of water when you wake up, first thing in the morning.

Friends, this is the most important lesson I can ever impart to you. Drink. Water. You know how you wake up feeling like a desiccated husk of your former self, eyes scratchy, lips chapped? That’s dehydration! After a glass of water you’ll be feeling lush and lovely and way more awake. And keep it up: staying hydrated does wonders for your mind and body.

Open your shades!

Our internal clocks are regulated by sunlight. If you find yourself sleeping in, it could be because your bedroom isn’t getting enough sun. In general, making sure you get lots of sunlight will keep you alert and happy.

Have a good breakfast.

I know, I know, you’ve heard this before. But breakfast really is the most important meal of the day-- you have to feed yourself to get ready for all the work you’re going to do! It doesn’t have to be an extravagant omelet, but you’ll feel a lot better with some food in your tummy.

Join the nation's largest group representing the new workforce (it's free!)

Become a member

Put together a playlist to boost your mood.

Self explanatory. Fail-proof cheer. Or wake up and blast one of your favorite CDs. I’ve been listening to Gold Panda’s Lucky Shiner album lately.

Get moving. A brisk walk does wonders.

It gets the blood flowing, it gets your heart pumping, and it really does wake you up. Doing a few stretches when you wake up can have the same effect. If you find yourself getting drowsy at work, do a lap around your block and you’ll come back bright-eyed and ready to go.

Give your eyes a break.

Maybe you’re trying to get some work done but you’re nodding off. If you spend your day staring at screens, give your eyes a break and let them focus on something else. You’ll reduce the strain on your eyes and also wake yourself up.

Nibble on some snacks.

Nuts, fruit, or anything else high in nutrients. I really like baby carrots because they have a satisfying crunch. Sweets might perk you up momentarily, but they’ll leave you feeling sluggish later.

Take a break! Switch up your tasks.

Switching your tasks sounds like multitasking, but it’s always good to work on new things with fresh eyes. And your brain will appreciate thinking in a different direction, too!

Try the 45-15 rule to get the most out of your time: 45 minutes on work, 15 minutes on other little mindless tasks, like phone calls, emails, or even washing dishes.

So there you have it, freelancers. Some tips to kickstart your day and keep you going. Got any tips for staying awake or waking up? Share them in our Hive, How do you plan your day?

Larissa Pham is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She is a reformed night owl who used to only ever see the sun rise if she stayed up late.