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How to Get Up on Time

Getting up on time is a nearly universal struggle. Even as someone who loves mornings, actually leaving the bed (especially with the weather getting colder) can be quite the struggle. It’s so easy to “five more minutes” your way through the morning and end up being late to class even though you woke up an hour early.

So how do you wake up and actually get out of bed on time?

Your morning starts the night before

I mean this in about 18 different ways.

If you’re avoiding something on your to do list and decide to push it off until the next morning, you’re not going to want to get up in the morning.

If you spend your evening watching Netflix in bed until 3 am and then try to get up at 6, you’re in for a bad time.

If you spend no time preparing for morning the evening before, you’re setting yourself up for a stressful morning and getting up is going to be a struggle.

The last bit of your day plays a huge roll in how your morning goes. Play it smart.

If you want to really dive into how to get the best, most restful sleep, I strongly recommend reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.* Some of the most important bits include:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night. Building a strong rhythm in your sleep-wake cycle makes it so much easier to both fall asleep easily and wake up feeling rested.

  • Cut the caffeine and alcohol. Both interfere with sleep significantly more than you’d expect. They can both do some serious damage to not only tonight’s sleep, but tomorrow’s, and the day after. It’s not worth it.

  • Monitor your actions. There’s a good chance that your actions throughout the day and evening are a large part of the reason why you struggle to fall sleep. Be honest with yourself about how you’re spending your time, and make sure you’re getting enough exercise.

Aside from what I learned from Matthew Walker’s book, my own personal experiences and experimentation have taught me a few other strategies for going to bed on time.

I’ve been consistently taking melatonin most nights lately, which seems to help me fall asleep (even if it is just the placebo effect). I’ve also found that listening to a sleep story from Calm helps to quiet my mind if it’s distracted. I’ve covered several other strategies for how to go to bed on time in this post if you’re interested in reading more.

Bribe yourself out of bed

If you’ve read this tip before on my blog, I apologize. It’s a classic, and it’s one of the most useful bits of advice that I know.

Consider the days in your life where you’ve had an easy time getting out of bed. They were the days where you had something exciting planned, right? You wanted to get up because you were headed on a fun trip, or there were presents waiting for you under the tree.

Well, you can use this at any time of year. Obviously, you can’t plan a big trip or open presents every day, but there are plenty of smaller but still exciting things that you can do. When you have something that you’re looking forward to, it’s so much easier to get out of bed.

This bribe could be as simple as a mug of your favorite coffee. Don’t overthink it. I’ve used YouTube videos as my morning treat many times. If you bribe yourself with something that you typically don’t indulge in during the rest of the day, it’ll be even more exciting.

Find an accountability buddy

I suspect that you do a better job getting out of bed on time when someone is waiting for you to show up somewhere, right? Maybe you have to be at an appointment, you have breakfast plans with a friend, or there’s a plane leaving at 7 and you need to be on it. You might not be 100% on time, but you’re also much less likely to spend an extra three hours in bed on those days.

If you want to get up earlier but don’t currently have any obligations in the morning, create something small that will hold you accountable and make sure that you’re awake.

This could be scheduling a call with a long-distance friend who’s headed to bed as you wake up, or it could be an early morning workout class. Plenty of people also use pets to get themselves out of bed. If you’ve ever been around a hungry cat, you know there’s no sleeping through those meows.


As with most things, getting out of bed gets easier the more that you do it. You can literally practice getting up.

Some of you may remember this past April when I challenged myself to wake up at 5 a.m. every day. One of the rules that I made for myself that month was that my feet had to be on the floor by 5:02 every day.

During the first few weeks of the challenge, it was difficult. I didn’t want to do it, but I pushed through anyway. Before I knew it, though, getting my feet on the floor by 5:02 was easy.

By creating a rule for myself and then practicing following through for several days in a row, it became easier. I no longer had to think about it. I knew that it was easiest if I just did it, and I had practiced just doing it.

On the other hand, every time you stay in bed scrolling on your phone for 45 minutes in the morning, you are practicing staying in bed. The more you do this, the easier it becomes to do. You fall into the habit of staying in bed.

Try a personal challenge. If a month is too long and 5 am is too early (I don’t blame you), try 7 am for a week or two. Challenge yourself to be up and out of bed by a certain time, and give yourself a reward at the end of the challenge if you make it through. You’ll likely find that it becomes much easier to get out of bed even after the challenge has ended.

Recommended Reading:

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Morning Person by an Ex-Night Owl

Why I'm Waking Up at 5 a.m.

I Woke Up at 5 a.m. for Almost 30 Days

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