6 Tips for Waking Up Early, Getting Sh*t Done & Being Happy.

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“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” ~ Ben Franklin

Whether you hate it or love it, rising early is something that we can and should all come to enjoy for its beauty and benefits. There are countless articles written of people’s success in learning to wake around 5:00 a.m. Most have slightly different reasons and indulge in the benefits their own way, but all have commonalities that lead to their success.

Waking up earlier is the most effective way to center your day. Allowing yourself time to establish your priorities, you will find satisfaction and accomplishment early on that helps stabilize and boost your mood throughout the rest of the day.

John Douillard highlights the particular ayurvedic benefits of body and mind when we adjust to the natural cycles of the day. Rising with the sun, having breakfast, a big lunch and an earlier, lighter dinner leads to relaxed, natural sleep cycles starting earlier in the evening and rising earlier in the day.

Planning to rise with the sun is a surefire way to start slow and always have the welcoming rays greet you. If you start this month, in April, when the sun rises around 6:35 a.m. EST, then to wake with the enlivening sun everyday means waking one to two minutes earlier every day and by June 18, you’ll be rising with the sun at 5:25 a.m.

Treat the sun sort of like your companion in your challenge. It rises a little bit earlier everyday, rise with it—become accountability buddies. It’s far easier to do something with someone else and although the sun is a stretch from an actual person, it will welcome you with warmth, light and energy every day.

I started taking this approach a week or so ago and already enjoy waking up a little before the sun rises so I’m there to catch it. It’s a wondrous time of day. Take it all in, take a picture and join the early rising pros.

Here are a few tips for rising early:

1. Have a good reason to motivate you. Look at your reason as a goal. Make no exceptions, hold yourself accountable, plan and prepare, be persistent and make it a positive experience followed with rewards.

2. Start slow. If you regularly wake up at eight, don’t start setting the clock to six just yet. Start by focusing on going to bed earlier. Read or do something to relax your mind for 30 minutes or so before you doze off. You’ll sleep better and feel more rested when it comes time to rise. Start waking up just 15 minutes earlier and increase the pace until you match the sun, then follow its lead. Go at your own pace and keep it consistent.

3. Before you go to bed, prepare for the morning. If there is a book you want to read, put it next to your bed; a breakfast you’d like to have, gather the ingredients; a project to work on, formulate the notes and set up the workspace.

4. Take advantage of the time. This may seem redundant but it’s ultimately important that you do something of value and also be aware of the little things. Enjoy the sunrise, the quiet and the possibilities of your day before it even begins.

5. Embrace the reward. Waking up early is a feat of personal will and determination. Celebrate your success and revel in the experience.

6. Persist. Forming new habits is hard and they don’t stick unless we push ourselves through some level of discomfort. At first, you may feel groggy and doubt that waking early is all it’s talked up to be. Nonsense. Like working out, it can be hard at first and makes us sore but once we push through the discomfort, we get stronger and it becomes enjoyable to push our physical limits. Stick with it and it will become part of your daily operations. Soon, it will feel wrong to wake later than usual, even once the sun starts sleeping in again.

Will rising with the sun help you? What do you like to do in the mornings? What would you do if you had a couple of extra hours in the morning?



Bonus: a tip for the other end:

Rough day? Tips from one who deals with a lot of stress, mindfully:

And: a simple Buddhist “trick” to being truly Joyful.

More relephant reads:

10 Things to Do When You Get Up Before the Sun.

The 12 Sleeping Positions & What they say about Us.

Here’s what happens if you get less than 8 Hours of Sleep a Night. [Infographic]



Mehdi René lives and works in the spirit of liberating from convention and living with extraordinary intention. He intends to do just this and inspire others to do the same, building a community of free-willed, sensible people looking to better their lives and better the world, believing the good life is a matter of mind and open to everyone. You can connect with Mehdi here at Mind the Good Life, on Facebook and  Twitter.


Like elephant health & wellness on Facebook.


Assistant Ed: Karla Rodas/Ed: Kate Bartolotta


A mindful tip for a morning to determine our day:

Image: Pexels

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anonymous May 13, 2015 11:38am

As a Musician, getting up early is a physical impossibility. I'm usually getting home as the sunrises.

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anonymous Apr 6, 2015 6:24am

"I started taking this approach a week or so ago…"

anonymous Mar 23, 2015 3:47am

I loath waking up in the morning and really can only seem to force myself to do so for the following: when I am getting paid and will experience consequences for missed work; or I am paying to participate in a class or a holiday of some sort; or for some 'insane' reason I agreed to meet a friend or booked a medical appointment in the a.m. More often than not, it's next to impossible for me to sleep before 3:00-5:00 and I enjoy the night time and wee hours of the morning. What I have NOT enjoyed is criticism from former, lovers, who thought I should conform to their time clocks. I do not feel like half of the day is wasted when I sleep until noon, because I dread being awake before 10:00, and certainly don't want to leave the house let alone get out of my pj's prior to noon! I love late night conversations and dinners and feel disappointed when my partner is yawning and falling asleep at 8:30. There is disappointment in the differences for both parties. That said, I have secretly felt jealous of morning people and wished I could be a morning person because they seems to 'fit' in better with mainstream North American culture.

anonymous Mar 13, 2015 10:04am

7. Get old. My natural wake-up time has gradually receded from 10 or 11am in my teens to around 5:30am now that I’m in my 60’s. I guess this will continue to where I am prowling around the house at 3am in my 80’s like my parents and grandparents did.

anonymous Jan 18, 2015 3:16pm

What about in the dark winter mornings when her (in scotland) the sun doesn't come up till 8!?

    anonymous Mar 1, 2015 3:02pm

    I'm in a similar situation in Alaska. In winter the sun doesn't come up until 9:30 and the sun is setting at 3:45 pm. On the other side of the year the sun doesn't even really set. There is twilight from 1:00 am to almost 3:00 am and then the sun rises. Any tips for dealing with these situations?

anonymous Dec 29, 2014 12:07am

Big hugs to the night owls here, I feel the same! My ex-boyfriend use to give me grief ALL the time that I was up at 8 instead of 5.30am. He just couldn't leave me alone with this, to the point that I was feeling guilty every morning for almost 3 years.
I have set up my own business about a year ago and can now arrange my own schedule – such a relief! My most focused moments come after 5pm – this is the time I use for strategic thinking, ground work or anything requiring intense concentration, and I can easily keep up until 1am, skipping dinner and everything. The rest of my day is now centered around dealing with customers and more menial tasks, where my energy is actually an asset rather than a distraction.
We will see when I will have children, but I am so much happier now that I am listening to my internal bodyclock.

anonymous Dec 18, 2014 11:12pm

If I rose with the sun, I’d be late for work, especially in n the winter 🙂

Having said that, getting up at 4am, even if I stayed up too late the night before, definitely has changed a lot in terms of my moods. By the time I’m at the bus stop at 5am, I’m happy and looking forward to my day.

anonymous Dec 17, 2014 10:22pm

I went to bed at 7:30 am this morning, and woke up at 2 pm feeling great. Wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t know what it is about early mornings. Being awake at that time just feels wrong. My whole body feels gross. Night owl troll to spoil the mood! 😀

anonymous Aug 31, 2014 7:36am

I am always try to wake in early morning.But i can't i am feeling very weak.

anonymous May 12, 2014 6:54am

I have no problem rising with the sun during the warmer summer months when the sun rises early. It's in the dark, cold winter when the sun doesn't rise until 7:00 (or later) that I have the problem waking up early. My schedule doesn't change in the winter – my son still needs to get to the bus stop by 7:00 a.m., I still need to be wherever I am going by 7:30, but it just feels like I'm dragging myself out of bed in the dark and the cold. Any tips for getting up early in the long, dark winter?

anonymous Mar 25, 2014 10:47am

Great to read this – something helpful and encouraging 🙂 I always wake up early even if I stay up working till 3am, I am a graphic artist and do this at least once a week, sometimes more. I have always said to myself with humor, get up, get going and get stuff done – you can sleep when your'e dead lol! Mostly when I naturally wake up is when I get up. Seeing the sunrise break across the mountain in Colorado is usually worth it.

anonymous Oct 24, 2013 12:40pm

but I like morn time at night… I see know reason for even try to change from a night owl to a morning person.

anonymous Sep 12, 2013 1:40pm

I used to think I wasn't a morning person but i get up early now and I love it! I don't work until 2pm every day so I have a lot of time to myself during the day. I usually get up shortly after sunrise, meditate, drink hot water with lemon, eat a light breakfast and then go to yoga class. Since I started this routine 4 months ago I feel like a new person! And i only need about 6 hours of sleep a night since starting yoga so I have many hours in the day to get things done.

One thing that helps me stay accountable is keeping a "spiritual diary" where I record what time I woke up, when I meditated and for how long, how long I did asanas for and when I went to sleep. It's very helpful.

    anonymous Sep 13, 2013 2:03am

    Thanks for the words, befunknote. Sounds like you have a pretty pristine schedule – balanced, healthy, cleansing, focused, relaxing and stimulating of mental and physical. Staying accountable is important, especially at the onset of new routines, and it is quite interesting to see the stats. Over time, however, it's nice to shed the baggage of tracking and simply be. Best.

anonymous Sep 12, 2013 5:47am

Ironic that you post an article with tips to wake up early, at 6:30 am. Ha!

anonymous May 16, 2013 10:29am

thanks for the tips, i wrote like this article for Turkish people.

anonymous Apr 9, 2013 9:57pm

I discovered your web site through look for engine a few moment ago, and luckily, that is the only details I was seeking the last hours

anonymous Apr 3, 2013 9:20am

i do a sunrise sunset practice so i rise an hour early and bathe, breathe, clean the puja area etc. its great idea to have a practice of some kind to look foreward to meeting by exact co-ordination of sunrise. it tunes the practitioner to the circadian rhythm setting the foundation for a deeper understanding and relationship with our biosphere and its celestial companions. http://www.agnihotrin.blogspot.in i can teach it on skype and lead you to the tools in the states if not supply myself ( i would be shipping form india ).

anonymous Apr 2, 2013 9:52am

I love this. I have just begun doing this. Yesterday I went outside, started a fire in my fire bowl and sat in my bathrobe, sipping tea and watched the sunrise. Listening to the morning doves, a cat on my lap. Time to write. Do some yoga. Gather myself for the day. Makes all of the difference in the world. Thanks for the reminder.

    anonymous Apr 2, 2013 11:23am

    What a fantastic morning : ~) Thanks for sharing, Jodeen.

anonymous Apr 2, 2013 8:00am

Fabulous post! I've been trying to do this and your points will surely help. Thank you! 🙂

anonymous Mar 31, 2013 10:29pm

Hi Mehdi, 3 weeks ago i started getting up at 5.30am, an hour before my 4yr old son, so i could do 30min asana and 30min meditation practice, as i find i just procrastinate later in the day. For me here in NZ, we're going into winter, so it's getting darker…. but i have just told myself i'm doing it, no excuses. I feel so much better for it – it's great to face the day knowing i've had some "me" time already, and i feel better able to cope with everthing else life throws at me!

    anonymous Apr 1, 2013 4:30pm

    Great, Michelle! Thanks for sharing your experience. You help show that it is a matter of willed persistence, that early morning hours beat the procrastination that sets in with a mind cluttered by daily operations and inputs and that sun or no sun, it's a positive practice.

anonymous Mar 31, 2013 8:57pm

I love being up early , but I hate getting up. This is good, solid advice. Thanks, Mehdi. Prepping the night before, going to bed a little bit earlier snd having a plan will be key for me.

anonymous Mar 28, 2013 12:23pm

Thanks for the insight, Sammi. It's great to see both sides, and I agree – everyone is different and may find themselves with different natural rhythms. Some people are most creative in the mornings, some at night, others in the afternoon. What's important is to know when YOUR creative time is and embrace that – block it out and utilize it. You've found your rhythm and are dancing to the beat!
If you ever find your enlivened mind schedule evolving towards the day or feel like giving mornings another shot, I recommend starting when the clocks spring forward and easing into it. And as far as the world being run by morning people and extroverts, I think what's more important is to create, produce and share – morning, noon or night – and that introverts can utilize their personalities to their advantage, as well – for instance, they are likely better listeners, which will teach them a lot and create connections. As the cliché goes, where there's a will, there's a way. Best.

    anonymous Apr 2, 2013 5:07am

    I agree, there has been much study into how people are either morning or night people, with clear benefits to both (IE night people have higher IQ's but are also more prone to addiction issues and unreliability) http://theweek.com/article/index/209165/night-owl…. This study also mentions how it can be up to 50% genetic. So I am not sure getting up early is necessarily for everyone…….

      anonymous Apr 2, 2013 11:31am

      Hi, Katie. Agreed, some people may find their natural rhythm lead to varied hours of increased creativity and focus. I do think, however, that waking up early can benefit everyone in their own diverse way – how you use the time is up to you, but it can increase clarity and even prep you to better work when you feel at your finest. In addition, as powerful as genetics are, when it comes to things like being a morning person or exercising positivity, I believe one can always overcome predispositions – to a degree – when they put their minds to it.

      There is a science to it, but world functioning is greater than science and It's important that we don't allow socially validated rationalizations to limit our potential. Cheers.

    anonymous Sep 12, 2013 12:55am

    I am the same way and I find it hard to deal with people who think I *should* be up early; that I am lazy for sleeping through the mornings, and that I should get a "day" job. I'm a dj and a housing support worker VERY HAPPY to finally land a longer-term evening contract… the sense of relief I feel is INCREDIBLE. I feel like I want to start enterprises for other night owls, like midnight yoga classes. I'd go. In fact, it's 11:49pm and I'm about to go put on my bellydance drill DvD 😉

    I had a job in another part of the world that required me to be up by 5:30 am every day and I thought I could finally do it. I just felt *ill* all the time.

    To each her own; maybe there's enough time to go around for all of us 😉

anonymous Mar 28, 2013 11:53am

Hi Mehdi
Very positive and friendly essay. I have a sneaky feeling you are a "morning person" and have just discovered this! 🙂
I, however, am not. I have tried all kinds of things to switch to early mornings but alas, nothing works. I am quite simply a "night howl" (as was my dad). No matter whether I have had 10 hrs or 2 hrs of sleep the night before, my brain "wakes up" at about 10:30 or 11pm. I am talkative and creative at this time. Back in university this meant my best papers were written overnight.
I have to wake at 6:30 every day for work and it doesn't matter how much sleep I have had the night before, whether I've done meditation, ate lightly, etc. – getting up is a huge chore. The only that gets me up (besides my alarm clock) is my dogs jumping on me to say its time for a walk.
I guess what I"m longwindedly trying to say is that there are morning people and night people. When we each seriously listen to our own bodies, we know which one we are and I believe are healthier if we honour that finding. I have believed for quite a while that the world is run by morning people and extroverted people. I am neither. 🙂

    anonymous Apr 2, 2013 7:55am

    Sammi, be proud of who you are, don't try to change! I too am a night owl. When others are out of time & energy, I'm just getting started. There is peace & quiet prowling the night – less phone calls, less traffic, no hassles or noise, and you have time to focus. Neither 'morning person' nor 'night owl' is a bad thing, we're just different halves of the same circle.

      anonymous Aug 31, 2014 2:33pm

      I relate to what you are saying. I really do think it is the lack of distractions that makes me hang onto the night owl side of myself. I do wish I could be more of a morning person, but I just don't think I'm cut out for it. 😉

anonymous Mar 28, 2013 7:25am

Thanks Mehdi, again, another person who really needed to read this!

I've been trying (and failing) to wake up earlier, I always seem to get lulled back into bed for "another five minutes".

Before I know it, I'm scrambling to get ready in time for work and I just feel lousy about the whole start of my day. Rinse and repeat.

Will have another go tonight, this time with the right mindset!

    anonymous Mar 28, 2013 12:15pm

    You bet, Isabelle – hope this 'sunny strategy' helps you make it happen! That 'another five minutes' can be precious, when your lucidly lying and the unconscious mind is still throwing thoughts around before full-on conscious reality sends it into hiding. I love that time and often end up with many notes. Those five minutes – or even 30 – can be calming, productive and energizing, too. A friend of mine sets his alarm clock 10-15 minutes before he needs to get up just so he can hit snooze once or twice because he loves the experience. Best.

anonymous Mar 27, 2013 1:47pm

Perhaps a silly question, but in the winter when the sun rises later, do you adjust your waking time accordingly?

    anonymous Mar 28, 2013 12:11pm

    Not a silly question – thanks for asking! My evolving routine hasn't been matched with dark winter mornings yet. This approach does prepare you for them, though. As you break into the habit of rising early, rising with sun seasonally is like training wheels – by the time winter comes around again, you'll be in control.

      anonymous Apr 1, 2013 1:21am

      so medhi, do you propose to keep getting up at 5.00 or 5.30 am even in the middle of winter. that seems to go against the true sense of rising and sleeping as the sun rises and sleeps in a seasonal context.

        anonymous Apr 1, 2013 4:28pm

        Hi, I do think it's positive to carry your routine into the winter months. Of course, you may adjust accordingly, but using the sun to get you in the groove will help you establish a set habit, where you're routine, body and mind are in sync. It is true, once winter comes you break the natural cycle, but I believe you will still benefit – especially since we live in a world that does not change with the seasons. We still have to be out the door at a certain time (most of us) and can wholly benefit from an early rise. Best.

          anonymous Apr 1, 2013 5:12pm

          hi medhi, thanks for replying fully and quickly. I live in tasmania, which is 42 degrees south of the equator, so as you are spinning towards summer and an early rising sun, we are moving in the different direction.
          your answer resonates with my felt sense that the early morning rising habit needs to continue throughout the seasons …….
          best wishes to you and thank you

    anonymous Dec 20, 2014 6:07pm

    An important question, Caroline. I'm not sure anyone answered it. I know in Georgia, the sun doesn't rise until 7:30 in the winter. If the purpose is to be in sync with nature, then that doesn't work here.

      anonymous Mar 11, 2015 8:43am

      Similarly (but also entirely different), I live in northern Canada where it's 24-hour daylight in the summer, and the sun is only up for 3 hours in the winter. If I rose with the sun in the winter it would be 11:30am, which I suspect would defeat the purpose 😉
      That said, I'm soon moving to California and so I'd like to try this when I get there.

anonymous Mar 27, 2013 11:57am

And go to bed f***ing early.

anonymous Mar 27, 2013 6:29am

I had gotten into this routine…eating dinner earlier, taking a warm bath, bringing a cup of tea and my book to bed…waking up as the sun is rising, I sit by the window, taking pleasure in the quiet of the morning before neighbors begin to stir and I write a few pages in my journal, including gratitude practice, read an Elephant Journal article, practice pranyama, meditation and headstand and I'm really ready for the day feeling rejuvenated! On evenings when I don't do this and wake later, I notice the difference and I miss the peace and calm it brings me. Thank you for the article!

anonymous Mar 26, 2013 2:26pm

Wow – hope this helps and that the new job goes well. I have a friend who also started a job calling for 4:30 A.M. mornings recently – at first it was tough for him, but he's adapted and enjoys it now. Best.

anonymous Mar 26, 2013 8:54am

I am about to be starting a new job – I begin at 4:30am!! I have a few weeks to get myself prepared – this will help 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

anonymous Mar 26, 2013 7:34am

I've been trying to do this for a while now. Tough though. I like the idea of waking up with the sun, good motivator and I shall try it.

    anonymous Mar 26, 2013 2:25pm

    We're in the same boat. It's no doubt tricky to adjust, but once it becomes habitual it also becomes additively pleasant and productive! Hope the sunshine approach works for you.

anonymous Mar 26, 2013 7:17am

Right on time.. Exactly what I needed. Thank you!

anonymous Mar 26, 2013 5:39am

Inspired. Thank u

anonymous Mar 26, 2013 5:35am

I'm an early riser and always have been. It became a necessity when children arrived on the scene just to get a few moments to myself, and later, to adopt a daily meditation practice. I love my early mornings and when I go to my "day job" at 10 am, I feel as if I have already put in a full day's work. I meditate, drink my coffee, post my blog http://yourspiritualtruth.com, conquer creative projects, shower, do yoga, pay the bills…THEN I go to work. I love mornings!

    anonymous Mar 26, 2013 2:23pm

    Exactly! It's amazing how you can achieve mental freedom, creativity and productivity all within the early hours of the day. The rest of it just seems more breezy beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Good things on your blog.

anonymous Mar 25, 2013 10:59pm

So I live on a different time zone, Hawaii, and when I'm there I have no problem waking up early but everytime I come back to the the east coast or even other places and countries with same time zone I have so much trouble waking up and cannot rise until almost noon everyday. If I try, I just feel hungover and tired and eventually fall right back to sleep and end up sleeping even more.
What's your tip on this? Just wondering 🙂
I totally agree with all of this and waking up with sunrise it's the best medicine, but what do you do when it makes you feel worse?

    anonymous Mar 26, 2013 2:21pm

    Interesting instance, Lila. I would say there are many factors at home in Hawaii that play into your routine, as well as a general state of mind. When you travel and enter new environments these all get stirred up, leaving your sleep/wake schedule askew.

    When it makes you feel worse – slow down and focus on adjusting your schedule the night before to better align with an early morning. Eat earlier so you wake ready for breakfast and don't have a large meal digesting as you lie down, relax with some reading – try different things and your body will adjust (I hope!). Good luck.

anonymous Mar 25, 2013 10:41pm

I needed this!