How to Stop Hitting Snooze and Wake Up Early

One of my biggest challenges since graduating college has been learning how to wake up early.  It seemed that every morning I would hit the snooze button 6 or 7 times, wasting an hour of productivity (or at least uninterrupted sleep).

But last year, I decided I had had enough of the snooze button.  By applying a number of tips and tricks from various sources, and having a sense of humor about the morning hours, I was able to ween myself off the snooze button and start waking up early.

Breaking the Snooze Addiction

My first decision when wanting to wake up early was around the snooze button. Do I just start setting my alarm for 5am so I can hit snooze for an hour and wake up at 6am, or do I learn to stop hitting snooze and wake up on the first ring of the alarm?  I realized I would rather be able to wake up for the time I set on my alarm.

By learning the discipline of waking up the first time the alarm rings, I can change when it is I want to wake up. Right now the desired time is 6am–so I set my alarm for 6am and I’m good to go. But what happens if I need to start waking up at 5am, or decide to get up at 8am? If I only learned to wake up exactly at 6am, hitting snooze or otherwise, then changing the wake up time is an added challenge. But if I can get up as soon as the alarm clock goes off the first time, then it doesn’t matter for what time I set the alarm.

And it’s worked.  For the past year, I’ve been waking up early by not hitting snooze.  I’ll admit that I have days (and sometimes a week) where I “relapse” into hitting snooze, and if I told you that I love every minute of 6am, I’d be a liar–but, I have become an “early-riser.”

To do so, I had to combine all the tips and tricks that I’ve learned and read about through the years (trust me, I’ve done a lot of research on this).  The 12 step intervention plan I used is below. I tried to link to the original sources I learned each tip from, where I could remember.

12 Tips to Stop Hitting Snooze and Wake Up Early

  1. Appreciate waking up.
    One of the most important steps for me was changing my mindset about waking up. It was easy for me to hit snooze because my morning mind was focused on returning back to my warm, welcoming bed. But now, waking up and mornings are different for me- every time my alarm rings I focus on the fact that it’s a new day with new opportunities. I’m only 25, so hopefully I have quite a few more years ahead of me, but there’s no reason to not start living each day to it’s fullest.
  2. Set an alarm you’re happy to wake up to.
    I hate the process of waking up–regardless of what time it is. You’re in the middle of a great dream, and then suddenly an annoying, loud sound comes from nowhere to wake you up. I decided if I’m going to appreciate waking up, I can’t use the same old alarm clock. Instead I switched to a sound I actually enjoy, one that I’m happy to hear in the morning–it’s currently the song “A Brand New Day” from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog.
  3. Have something to do / a reason you are getting up.
    Do you ever have an early flight on a Saturday morning and find it easier to get up at 4am that day than to get up at 6am on any normal day? It’s because you have a deadline for when you can be up, and you have something immediate to do upon waking (getting ready and getting to the airport). By having something you need to do, it makes it easier to stay awake and avoid the snooze. If you can’t think of anything that you want to do immediately upon getting up, showering is a good start.
  4. Set a short goal.
    My goal for waking up at 6am was technically only for one week. But after that week, I kept going.  By giving myself a short goal of waking up early for just 7 days, it seemed less daunting.  Each morning, when I hated the fact that I was awake, I would repeat to myself that it was only short-term. By having the mindset that I just have to get through this week, it was more manageable. I then told myself the same thing the next week, and then the week after, etc etc.
  5. Go to bed earlier.
    This one is obvious, but it certainly does help. I know that my body needs an average of at least 7 hours of sleep each night for me to be productive during the day. That means if I want to wake up at 6am, I need to be in bed by 11pm. It’s much harder to wake up early if you go to bed late.
  6. Don’t sleep too comfortably.
    Often my problem in the morning isn’t having nothing to do, it’s that I look back at my bed and think of how it incredible it would be to be able to return to it. By sleeping in a slightly less than heavenly bed, the allure back into it diminishes. Luckily I have a Sleep Number bed, so I’ve set the setting to 70, much firmer than I’m used to, because it’s not as entrapping as sleeping on 35.
  7. Try to wake up in the right cycle.
    Studies show that how much sleep you get isn’t nearly as important as how much REM sleep you get. They also suggest that waking up in the middle of an REM cycle can leave you drowsy, but waking up in between one can be more refreshing. By sleeping for the right amount of time (e.g. 7 1/2 hours instead of 8), you can make it easier on the body to wake up.
  8. Put the alarm on the other side of the room.
    By putting the alarm on the other side of the room, it’s a lot more inconvenient to keep hitting snooze. If you have to keep getting up and walking, you’ll get your muscles moving and the body up.
  9. Turn on the lights.
    Despite the invention of the light bulb, instinctually we still desire to rise and sleep with the sun–that’s why most people want their rooms to be dark when they’re sleeping. Well the same is true for waking up–light signals our body that it’s time to get up.
  10. Drink some water.
    Not only does drinking water get you doing something physical (walking to the kitchen and getting water), it also supplies the body with it’s most precious resource after a 6-8 hour drought. Drinking cooler water also helps wake up the body because of the additional energy required to heat the water during digestion.
  11. Wake up at the same time every day.
    Waking up at the same time every day allows your body to set your internal clock so that it becomes accustomed to the 6am hour. Over time, your body will naturally start prepping itself to be awake at 6am, often times allowing you to wake up just before your alarm, and if you have an alarm sound that you are looking forward to hearing, it can make it even more pleasant to hear it from the beginning.  The biggest hurdle to this tip is the weekend.  Many people, myself included a few years ago, wake up at 6am all week and then sleep in till Noon on Saturday. The general rule of thumb is to wake up no later than 2 hours after your normal waking time, otherwise you destroy any internal clock setting.
  12. Commit.
    Perhaps the strongest driver for me when I first started was committing to waking up. I wish I could pretend that my discipline is so great that I just committed it internally to myself and that was enough, but it’s not. I committed to it as a project, which meant if I failed, I owed someone $100. I also committed to a friend, who decided to wake up at 6am as well. Each morning for that first week, we IMed each other at 6am to prove that we were both up, realizing that we’d call each other out if we didn’t wake up at that time. Money and friendly challenges can be motivating factors.

How You Can Wake Up Early

By attacking my snooze addiction from multiple angles, and creating a routine using the above tips, I’ve been able to survive waking up at 6am.  As a result, I’ve had more productive days because I’ve started the day off right.

I’m sure not everyone will need to incorporate all of the tips like I do, but at least you can pick and choose which ones will work for you. No two people are exactly alike–you have to find out what motivations, tricks, and techniques work for you.  Good luck, and good mornings.

My Wake-up Routine

For those of you curious about my specific routine, this is what my mornings currently look like:

  1. Alarm goes off playing “A Brand New Day.” (Note: I usually try to change the song I wake up to every couple of weeks, otherwise I grow to hate the song and it becomes less effective).
  2. I wake up, walk across the room to my alarm–usually forcing myself to sing along with the alarm.
  3. I turn off the alarm, hit the lights, and go to the kitchen for a glass of water.
  4. I come back into my room, agonize over what time it is, drink the water, and get on my computer to do something that involves brain activity (reading email or a sudoku puzzle).
  5. If I’m feeling ambitious, I stretch / prepare to workout or, more often, hop in the shower.

Got your own tips for waking up early and not hitting snooze? Share them in the comments.

Note: The original version of this article was first posted on the drewtarvin.com.

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29 thoughts on “How to Stop Hitting Snooze and Wake Up Early”

  1. I suggest to use some alarms that have n. Of shakes to off the alarm… there’s no snooze… to off the alarm you should walk, write the captcha code correctly, shake the device for 100-300 times(as shaking increase blood to hand and sleep is finished ).. such a nice alarm… name of the app*Alarm clock beyond*

  2. I’m 15 years old and my mom still has to wake me up every morning. I find it hard to sleep at night and when morning comes I can’t wake up. I hate it because I feel that when I become an adult and have to be dependent it’s going to be hard to get into the habit of waking up for college and work. I’m excited to try these tips and see if that helps get me into the swing of things.

  3. I put the alarm near my sisters bed and she wakes me up to stop it as she can’t reach out to stop it as it is a bunk bed

  4. Everything is great . But early to bed is quite hard for me , since i have a lot to study .. can’t finish my studies till 2am and then again 6am alarm with the university the whole day and again self study ,its quite hard .

  5. Panagiota Kutsukos

    This was so helpful, thank you! It’s so hard to find good advice like this. All I’ve found so far has been the typical “go to bed early” and “get black out curtains” which is part of the solution, but doesn’t address the psychology part of sleeping (like not wanting to get out of my warm bed). Thanks!

  6. Hide ur alarm so u gotta look 4 it. That’ll get u up. Imma try my own idea today at 6:30am. rn its 2:30am.

  7. The more I read things like this the more I think everyone needs to join the military. That’ll teach you how to wake up early and stop whining. Also, sleep number beds are a scam.

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  9. Thank you so much for this article. I’m on a journey to stop the snooze, which i’ve done for years. I started following some of your tips especially a routine with mindset, lights and cold water and i’ve made a lot of progress so far on my ‘stop the snooze’ mission!

  10. It seems that sleeping uncomfortable all night long would be overkill just for the benifit of not wanting to get back into bed after snooze. I would think that you want your sleep time to be as comfortable as possible for the health of your body and to get the best sleep while you are sleeping.

    Instead of having the bed be uncomfortable all night long, why not devise a way to make it uncomfortable as soon as your alarm goes off? Change sleep number from 35 to 70 when alarm sounds. Or throw something over your bed as soon as your feet hit the floor. Something uncomfortable or that would be too much work to undo or something that would remind you of the day, maybe your work clothes or work bag, or iPad opened to your email. Or pull your covers off the end of the bed when you get up so that the covers won’t be there if you were to get back in bed. Then after you have woken up, showered, etc, then pull covers back and make the bed before leaving for work.

    A whole different idea. Put an alarm in the first destination of your morning, the kitchen or bathroom, etc so you have to go there to turn off the alarm. Could be a 2nd alarm after your alarm across the room, but set to the same time so they both go off.

    Love all the ideas. Thanks for sharing!!!

  11. Most of these tips are great, however I would not recommend sleeping in an uncomfortable situation. This could lead to other physical issues.

  12. Brandee Benton

    You lost me at “I’m 25”. I too had a much easier time waking up in my mid-twenties. Not so much now that I’m in my 30s. 🙁

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  14. Sleeping uncomfortabley,
    that works for me.
    I sleep on the floor with two quilts for padding.
    its no where as comfortable as
    my highly engineered foam bed…..lol
    obviously i dont sleep on the floor every night. But its a good starter to create a routine.

  15. This is a great idea! love the tips. The goal setting for 1 week idea sounds quite effective, and having the alarm across the room, and then turning on the light and getting a glass of water seems simple enough to get me up and about. Cheers

  16. The world might come to an end and I’d still press snooze. I really need to stop.
    The only thing to get me up is the sound of the bus honking in the street telling me, “Get up! you’re still in bed and the bus is here! If he leaves you’ll miss school!”
    And yet when I get up and dressed and go down to the bus, I fall asleep again on my way to school.
    I’ll try the water and lights tip, thanks!

  17. National Sleep Foundation Website Link

    Hello,

    I recently came across your article How to Stop Hitting Snooze and Wake Up Early, that mentions The National Sleep Foundation and I’m thrilled you would include us here. During some site redesign, we realized that many of our URLs & content have changed, and as a result, the link in your article points to a dead page. I feel it would be better for your readers if the link pointed to a relevant http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need, so they arrive on content suited for them rather than reaching a wrong destination. I would appreciate if you could make this change.

    If you have any questions/concerns or would be willing to notify me when you make this change, please do not hesitate to contact me at nsf-1@sleepfoundation.org or Jessica Jones at jjones@sleepfoundation.org.

    Thanks!

    Rita

    Rita Carpenter
    National Sleep Foundation
    1010 N. Glebe Road, Suite 310 | Arlington, VA 22201
    703-243-1697
    http://www.sleepfoundation.org

  18. Here’s a surefire solution to be up and going by say, 6 am.
    First, get a coffee maker with a timer.
    Set the timer to go off at 6:00 am. Fill the hopper with water, but don’t put coffee grounds in the machine. Set the machine in your kitchen sink. Remove the pot. Place all of your clean underwear where the pot normally goes.
    Second, set your alarm for 5:55 am.
    You will be up and going by 6:00 am. If not the first day, certainly by the second.

    1. Certainly a great motivator, but instead of spending that time the night before each day, wouldnt we need to go to bed earlier?

  19. I schedule my day the night before, so that when I wake up I know what I’m meant to do. Being self employed this is crucial.
    I’m a little puzzled that not sleeping comfortably is likely to help. I’ll ask my chiropractor!

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