How to Wake Up Early for School


Young girl holding an alarm clock

Whether you’re dreading your 8 am for college, or not looking forward to homeroom, you may find it difficult to wake up in the morning. Sleeping is incredibly important for teenagers and young adults because your bodies continue to grow well into your twenties. Sleep aids in your development not only psychologically, but emotionally. And if you’re reading this right now you probably aren’t getting enough of it.

So to wake up early for school, start with the night before. Make sure you are getting at least 6 hours of sleep per night, getting any less has been linked to increased rates of cardiovascular disease. Getting to bed as early as possible will make getting up in the morning more bearable. But here are some helpful tips that I used in college to help me get up early for that terrible 8 am.

  • Jump out of Bed. Yes, I’m serious, literally, jump out of bed in the morning. Don’t give it a second thought. Don’t let your brain try to convince you that what you’re doing is a mistake. Within the first 5 seconds of hearing your alarm jump to your feet. It will take some willpower initially, but when you get in the routine of doing it every morning it just becomes a normal part of your day. Just be careful not to bump your head in the process, or you might be out cold for another 8 hours.
  • Plug Your Phone in Across the Room. Pretty self-explanatory but plugging your phone in across the room will make it harder to press snooze on your alarm. When it’s right next to you, you give yourself the option to get 9 more minutes of rest. Well, guess what, those 9 minutes don’t actually make you feel well rested, so you might as well get it up. Take yourself out of the equation, but not having your phone within arms reach. In fact, if you really care about sleep plug your phone into another room instead, and buy an actual alarm clock. That way you’ll be less inclined to play on your phone instead of getting some much-needed rest.
  • Drink Water the Night Before. Drinking water the night before gives yourself motivation in the morning in terms of having to empty your bladder. I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t feel like getting up only to be persuaded by nature’s calling. Plus staying hydrated can actually help you sleep, so it’s a great thing to keep in mind.
  • Take a Cold Shower. I’ll admit it I was reluctant to try this one since I’ve taken hot showers since I was a kid, but after switching it up I’ve noticed an immediate improvement for how I start my day. The first 10 seconds of a cold shower is the worst part, but after you get past those daunting seconds it just becomes like a normal shower. And stepping out of the shower to dry off is the best part, everything is warm in comparison, which makes drying off more relaxing. So not only are you more awake and focused, but you’re also more relaxed. Give it a chance I promise you won’t be disappointed, you just have to stick it out.
  • Track your Sleep Schedule. Keep a record of when you go to bed and wake up in the morning. Tracking when you sleep will allow you to know when to wake up, preferably when you are in your lightest amount of sleep possible. Waking up during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) or your deep sleep stage will make you feel awful. Ever heard of the phrase, ‘waking up on the wrong side of the bed’? Historically this is probably where it came from. It can just put you off the entire day in some cases. REM sleep accounts for about 25% of your entire sleep cycle, the remaining 75% is NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement), so you have a one and four chance of waking up and feeling groggy the entire day. So in order to avoid this altogether, you need to remember that each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes long. So if you go to bed at midnight and wake up at 6 am you will have completed 4 sleep cycles each totaling about 90 minutes. So the next best time to wake up is at the end of your next sleep cycle (number 5), 90 minutes later at 7:30 am. Now, this 90-minute number is the average sleep cycle time, so it might not work exactly for everyone. But if you want to take the guesswork out of it, you could also use an app to do it for you. This may violate my 2nd tip, but it works so well at helping me get up in the morning, using an app might work even better for you. I use an app called Sleep Cycle. It works by directly using your phone’s accelerometer to detect your movements as you sleep, your phone would be plugged in and then placed on the corner of your bed. The second option is your phone is placed next to you on a nightstand so that the app can audibly listen to the different stages when you sleep. In either case, the app logs your sleep and decides when to wake you intelligently, based on when you are in your lightest sleep, closest to when your alarm is set.
  • Have One Thing You are Looking Forward to the Next Day. Just one thing, I swear. It doesn’t have to be anything exceptional, or extremely exciting. Maybe it’s something as simple as the music you listen to on the drive in, or someone you enjoy passing by and saying hello. A cup of coffee that warms your soul on an otherwise cold day. Or maybe you have a project or hobby that you enjoy working on that you are excited to start. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just having that one thing in the morning that gets you going can be more than enough. But be passionate about something, for me, I enjoy writing.

How to Wake up Early for School with Little Sleep

So you’re burning the midnight candle, and you realize, ‘Oh Crap, It’s almost 2 am, and I have class early tomorrow’. Either you were having a late night (but really an early morning) study session, watching just one more episode of your favorite show, or perhaps playing your favorite video game. It happens to the best of us. And if you’ve read the tips above on how to wake up for school in general, it will greatly help you when you are in a crunch for time and need to function on little sleep.

If you find your sleep schedule doesn’t quite align with your school schedule, you might be able to change it in the future. If you’re a college student the chances are that you have full control of your schedule so if sleep is a priority, you may find it beneficial to push back your classes later in the day. You might not get that one professor you wanted, but being exhausted means you’ll retain little information anyways, so it might be a good time to weigh your options.

If your schedule is pretty locked in like it would be for a high school student, you may need to start taking some power naps after you get home from school. A power nap can help to offset the time you don’t have to sleep.

If you’re playing video games till three in the morning like I was back in the 10th grade it might be a smart idea to go to bed earlier, but if you are actually being productive using some of the above tips can make the most of the little amount of sleep you’re getting.

How to Wake up Early for School without an Alarm Clock

Waking up for school without an alarm clock is difficult at first. But there are some pretty easy workarounds that might get you started. Have a sleep schedule, meaning, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day using an alarm clock at first. You are trying to train your body to wake up at the same time every day. After doing this for a few weeks, as long as you stick to this schedule without breaking it, you should be able to wake up even before your alarm goes off.

If your reasoning for wanting to wake up without the help of an alarm clock because you find it annoying, and trust me I get it, alarms are annoying, then you’re in the right place. Because just like you, I couldn’t stand that sound in the morning. In fact, one of my friends had the ringtone that I used for my alarm, as his text tone, I couldn’t stand it. But a couple of months ago I found out about sunrise alarm clocks. Which mimics the sunrise by slowly brightening your room when you need to get up, and this alone has been a game changer. Waking similar to how our ancestors did is so much less jading than a loud “in your face” alarm clock. I highly recommend you buy one ASAP!

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