How to Wake Up Early (And why it’s so important)

UPDATED! – I originally posted about how to wake up early back in 2011. It’s been one of my most popular posts ever since, so I figure it’s time to update it with new stats, new ideas, and new reasons why you need to wake up early! Also, I’ve discovered that the majority of people who, like me, are Faster Than Normal, are also early risers!

By now, most of you know that I’m a super-early riser. Like, ridiculously early, around 3:30am. If you do some homework on the subject, you’ll find that many successful CEOs are, as well. It’s simply ingrained into us – If we want to be successful, we need to be working when others are not. To do that, we embrace the early – We wake up early, and we’re better for it. It’s like the classic running quote: “Somewhere, right now, someone is training while you are not. When you race him, he will win.”

So I get up early because I believe it’s worth it. I think, if you give it a try for more than a day, you will, too. Here’s some of the benefits you can get from doing it, and as a bonus, here’s how to actually do it!

He's not the only one to wake up early

Top ten reasons to get up early every day:

10) Learn! You can browse seven websites in a row (news, news, gossip, financial, gossip, sports, weather) without being interrupted by one email. You’re now smarter for your entire day.

9) This early, it really IS all about you. You get a few minutes (or more!) of pure “you” time. For me, it’s waking up, drinking a cup of coffee, and either getting to the gym, or getting my day ready. While I’m doing that, I can pet NASA the Wonder-cat, and not in just a “scratch behind the ears once because I’m late” way. I can sit with him as I drink my first cup of coffee and enjoy the calming effect that a pet has on me. My daughter is still sleeping, I own the world. I have no doubt this helps to set my mood for the day. Finally, on days when the daughter is at my apartment, I can hop on my bike trainer for an hour or two in my bedroom, long before she wakes up. Who says you can’t find the time for a workout when you have a young kid?

8) We’re not as big as we think we are. I can watch the sunrise. We take certain things for granted. Light, air, clouds, etc. Get up one morning and actually watch the sky turn from dark to light. It’s amazing. It changes your entire perspective from how big we are to how small we are when you realize that we’re nothing in the universe, just starstuff on a much, much bigger plane. That affects how you think, and changes for the better how you look at things.

7) You’re automatically early. Getting up even a half hour early eliminates the “rush” that comes with leaving the house in the morning. Get up early, and you’re calmer. You remember everything you need to take. You walk out without being stressed. This leads to a calmer day. Also, studies have shown that being on time is one thing that good leaders master, as well as demand. Want to be on time? Get up earlier.

6) Eat! Getting up early lets you have breakfast, which, as trite as it sounds, really is the most important meal of the day! Before you go to sleep, set out a bowl, a spoon, and a pot. When you wake up, pour some whole-grain oats and water into said pot and turn on the flame. Make your coffee and pet your cats or watch your sunrise. The oats will be done in 10 minutes. Add some fruit or whatever you like – I’m a fan of just a touch of butter and some salt. Eat your oats, and feel the sustained energy kicking into your system. Throw in two hard boiled egg-whites for protein as a side dish. (One if you don’t exercise.) Don’t eat carbs? Make it all about the eggs – An omelet, with cheese and spinach takes about five minutes to make, once you get the routine down.

5) Speaking of exercise… When I was training for my Ironman, there were days I had to do 100 mile bike rides. Most people get up at 6, and are biking by 6:30. The problem is, that means most people are in the park/on the roads at the same time. I got up at 3am, and was in Central Park by 3:30am. I got to ride for three hours, by myself, with no distractions. I owned Central Park for three hours! Getting up early and exercising, whether at the gym or by yourself, puts you in a very small, yet very powerful group of people. Get up, get it done, and get on with your day. Come on – You know you’re not gonna go to the gym after work, and now you don’t have to! One additional suggestion – If you’re exercising early, do it in places where you won’t get ticketed for doing it.

4) Easier commute! I don’t have a commute, but for years growing up, I did. My parents and I would ride together into the city when I went to high school, and we were always on the road by 6:20am. At 6:20am, we’d be in Manhattan in 10 minutes. If we left even 20 minutes later, at 6:40, the trip would take an hour. Get up early, get to the office, and your commute is done before traffic goes to hell. Easiest commute ever.

3) Be a power player. Be a market maker. Want to know who the real power players are in the business world? Try scheduling 7am breakfasts with them. I’ve been at 7am breakfasts with some of the biggest and most powerful CEOs in the world – Why? Because they know that the demanding schedule they have won’t allow for lunches. What did Gordon Gekko say? “Lunch? Aw come on, Marty. Lunch is for wimps!” He was right. Want to meet with the power-players? Egg-white omelet and coffee at 7am at the Plaza.

2) Do something you “never have the time for.” When do you think I write a lot of these blog posts? When do you think I answer a ton of emails? Review new software? Write my book? Yup. While you’re still sleeping. I wake up earlier than you. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s how we use them that matters.

Wake up early - It's a game changer1) Change the world. The number one reason to get up super-early? 30 minutes can change the world. Getting up early each day can truly make all the difference in your life. Imagine getting up early and just doing a few of the things listed above. Would you be more productive? Make more money? Reach more people? Get more deals done? I bet you would. I guarantee you: Wake up early, and that’ll happen. Ask anyone in my private entrepreneur group: They all get up ridiculously early, and they’re all ridiculously successful. It’s all connected.

Bonus: Find that one person as crazy as you! My friend David and I run together at 3am at least once a week. Why? We can do long runs together without affecting our day, since we’re done by 5:30am, and knowing the other person is waiting keeps both of us honest. We don’t back out.

 

Now then: That was the “why.” Here’s the “how.”

Top Six ways to make sure you wake up early.

6)  Automate! I’ve set up my entire apartment so that my lights, alarms, heat, etc., are all controlled by Amazon Echo. Thanks to Sylvania by LEDVANCE, my lights come on automatically, long before my alarm goes off. Waking up to light is so much better than waking up to the jolt of an alarm. Additionally, as a backup, I use the WiThings Aura light-alarm, which slowly brings up light to wake me up if I happen to sleep through my entire apartment getting bright, too.

5) Drink! Keep a giant glass of water by the bed. As soon as the alarm goes off, BEFORE YOU SHUT IT OFF, drink the entire glass of water. Water is the most awesome tool for your body to wake up early ever invented. Drink the water, it opens up brain cells, rejuvenates your eyes, allows you to come out of sleep. Drink water!!

4) Feed Something! Get a pet. Seriously. Feed the pet ONE DAMN TIME at 5am, and you’ll never sleep through 5am again for the entire life of the pet. Trust me on this.

3) There is no try. Don’t think, just do. It’s amazing what we can rationalize at 5am. “Oh, I’ll just sleep for an extra hour, then do the treadmill at double the speed for half the time so I can still make it into the office. You know that’s BS, you know you’re not going to, and you know there will be no working out for you today. Don’t think. Just get your ass out of bed. Think later. (Going back to step 5 – Once the lights are on and you’re up, you’re up. Automate!) Wake up early, less to think about – Added bonus.

2) Get out! Your bed is for sleeping and sex. Once you’re awake, get your ass out of it. Go to the kitchen for your coffee. Go to the living room or your home office for your computer (see #10 above.) You’ve slept. Now get out of the bedroom.

1) Sleep! Hands down, the number one way to wake up early? Get to sleep earlier. I know, I’m blaspheming here. How dare I waste a perfectly good night where I could go out and be a drunken idiot, or go to a boring party? End result, I LIKE going to sleep earlier because I know what it’s going to do for me on the flip-side. I still go out, but I limit it. Remember when you were a kid, and your parents made you go to sleep early on a school-night? There’s a reason for that. Go to sleep earlier. Countless studies have been conducted showing that lack of sleep is hurting us, causing us to lose money, hell, even making us ugly! – Chances are, not sleeping enough is the root of a lot of your problems.

Bonus: Even remotely overweight? Got sinus issues? Always feeling tired? They might be connected. Learn about sleep apnea, and see if you have it. Turns out, I had massive sleep apnea – to the point where it was actually raising my blood pressure. Losing weight is the best thing you can do for it, but there’s a host of other things you might want to check out. Once I mastered the ability to wake up early, the weight started coming off, and the apnea went away.

When I link to things, I occasionally use affiliate links. Any revenue generated from those links goes to support local no-kill animal shelters in New York City, because it’s the right thing to do. Additionally, I wake up earlier than most of the animals at those shelters.

Join the discussion 50 Comments

  • I read this post when it was new – or at least when it was newish – and filed it away in my brain as something to remember. I think of your “Top 6 ways to make sure you get up early” regularly and that I have put several into practice as I’ve recently begun a morning exercise routine.
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Jenn

  • I read this post when it was new – or at least when it was newish – and filed it away in my brain as something to remember. I think of your “Top 6 ways to make sure you get up early” regularly and that I have put several into practice as I’ve recently begun a morning exercise routine.
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Jenn

  • Troy Rutter says:

    Definitely agree! (Found this post again today after you posted it to FB.) When the weather was nice, I was a 4am walker around a certain path in town. Really helped being alone with my thoughts while getting some kinetic workout. Today, I was up at 3:45 to hit the gym at 4, so I can concentrate on what I want to accomplish without others being around talking, etc.

    I could get up at 5 and do the same thing, but the extra time to let things wake up and start the mind working is extremely valuable.

  • Troy Rutter says:

    Definitely agree! (Found this post again today after you posted it to FB.) When the weather was nice, I was a 4am walker around a certain path in town. Really helped being alone with my thoughts while getting some kinetic workout. Today, I was up at 3:45 to hit the gym at 4, so I can concentrate on what I want to accomplish without others being around talking, etc.

    I could get up at 5 and do the same thing, but the extra time to let things wake up and start the mind working is extremely valuable.

  • Lindsey says:

    I haven’t ever really been a ‘morning’ person – but I agree with you Peter. Those early mornings are great. I used to run in the morning and watching the world come alive is great. I loved running early in the morning and then starting my day – because I already felt like I accomplished A LOT. It was a beautiful thing.

    But then my little miracle happened – and now my morning runs and ‘me morning time’ have disappeared. Insert a new baby who still isn’t sleeping through the night and who stays up until 9:30-10pm. And after he goes to sleep, I run around like a mad woman getting everything cleaned up and ready for the next day. So, while getting up early is great in theory – it is all I can do to get up at all. I’ve been running off of only 4-5 hours of sleep for almost a year now.

    So any suggestions for the moms and dads out there who are running off of a minimum amount of sleep and have a hard time waking up early? Because the early motivation I once had has now gone away. And for those parents who can still muster up that motivation early in the morning: Seriously. You are my hero. Any tips? 🙂

  • Adrian Miller says:

    I’m up at 5AM and LOVE my morning time when I KNOW there will be fewer emails and no calls and the world still seems serene:)

  • Lindsey says:

    I haven’t ever really been a ‘morning’ person – but I agree with you Peter. Those early mornings are great. I used to run in the morning and watching the world come alive is great. I loved running early in the morning and then starting my day – because I already felt like I accomplished A LOT. It was a beautiful thing.

    But then my little miracle happened – and now my morning runs and ‘me morning time’ have disappeared. Insert a new baby who still isn’t sleeping through the night and who stays up until 9:30-10pm. And after he goes to sleep, I run around like a mad woman getting everything cleaned up and ready for the next day. So, while getting up early is great in theory – it is all I can do to get up at all. I’ve been running off of only 4-5 hours of sleep for almost a year now.

    So any suggestions for the moms and dads out there who are running off of a minimum amount of sleep and have a hard time waking up early? Because the early motivation I once had has now gone away. And for those parents who can still muster up that motivation early in the morning: Seriously. You are my hero. Any tips? 🙂

  • Adrian Miller says:

    I’m up at 5AM and LOVE my morning time when I KNOW there will be fewer emails and no calls and the world still seems serene:)

  • Jim Mitchem says:

    I have always done the opposite, where I’m working late while others are sleeping or partying. But at my age I’m not into saying up until 2 to work, to say nothing of what *that* does on the flip side in the morning. So I may well integrate a routine to get up earlier. Thanks for the recommendations, Peter.

  • Jim Mitchem says:

    I have always done the opposite, where I’m working late while others are sleeping or partying. But at my age I’m not into saying up until 2 to work, to say nothing of what *that* does on the flip side in the morning. So I may well integrate a routine to get up earlier. Thanks for the recommendations, Peter.

  • Jim Joseph says:

    As a fellow early-riser (4:30am), I can relate to your entire perspective, and also really appreciate the tips. All the best to you for 2013. JIM

  • Jim Joseph says:

    As a fellow early-riser (4:30am), I can relate to your entire perspective, and also really appreciate the tips. All the best to you for 2013. JIM

  • Agatha Kubalski says:

    I love all the subtle effects a pet can have on you….my cat definitely gets me out of bed for feeding time, and morning cuddle time does help put me in a good mood.

  • Agatha Kubalski says:

    I love all the subtle effects a pet can have on you….my cat definitely gets me out of bed for feeding time, and morning cuddle time does help put me in a good mood.

  • LGumbinner says:

    A lot of great info in here Peter, and I agree with much of it. But please keep in mind that not all of us masters (or mistresses) of the universe are single, without children, living alone with only pets. “Feeding something,” like say a hungry baby who wakes up at 5:30 means the morning is no longer yours. And as much as I love getting into the office early, these days my commute can’t start until the kids are safely in school.

    After that, let the world-changing begin!

  • LGumbinner says:

    A lot of great info in here Peter, and I agree with much of it. But please keep in mind that not all of us masters (or mistresses) of the universe are single, without children, living alone with only pets. “Feeding something,” like say a hungry baby who wakes up at 5:30 means the morning is no longer yours. And as much as I love getting into the office early, these days my commute can’t start until the kids are safely in school.

    After that, let the world-changing begin!

  • CEOParent says:

    So you say get up and pet your animals, what about kids. My daughter is the best to cuddle with in the morning. I stopped my 6:30 am workouts and decided to cuddle with my daughter instead, we have breakfast and I walk her to school nearly every day. I get work outs in later and have a much better relationship with her. I own and run 2 companies and do triathlons too. I do long for that nice quiet time to work out, but for now I choose my daughter, she’s 8 and I know it won’t last forever. Every once in a while I take a morning meeting and I’m sure my companies could be doing better if I did spend that time working. Any big bad CEO’s choose their children in the morning?

    • lightwate says:

      I think you’re doing the right thing. lots of families don’t have that, and i’m sure you’re daughter loves you very much

  • CEOParent says:

    So you say get up and pet your animals, what about kids. My daughter is the best to cuddle with in the morning. I stopped my 6:30 am workouts and decided to cuddle with my daughter instead, we have breakfast and I walk her to school nearly every day. I get work outs in later and have a much better relationship with her. I own and run 2 companies and do triathlons too. I do long for that nice quiet time to work out, but for now I choose my daughter, she’s 8 and I know it won’t last forever. Every once in a while I take a morning meeting and I’m sure my companies could be doing better if I did spend that time working. Any big bad CEO’s choose their children in the morning?

    • lightwate says:

      I think you’re doing the right thing. lots of families don’t have that, and i’m sure you’re daughter loves you very much

  • rebecca smith says:

    I highly recommend anyone curious about night owls versus early birds and sleep in general to read the book “Internal Time” — we really are hard wired to be most alert and physically capable at different times of the day, and it is wildly different among individuals. For some, the early morning is a time of regeneration and productivity. For others, it is a time of lows across the board.

  • rebecca smith says:

    I highly recommend anyone curious about night owls versus early birds and sleep in general to read the book “Internal Time” — we really are hard wired to be most alert and physically capable at different times of the day, and it is wildly different among individuals. For some, the early morning is a time of regeneration and productivity. For others, it is a time of lows across the board.

  • nerdygirlfromjersey says:

    I love that you added “how” here for people. And while it is true that folks w/ kids (and especially babies) will find this more challenging, there are still a whole lot of other folks that will be able to pull it off. I love the mornings for the quiet, the peace, and the amount I can get done in such a short time (with no interruptions! bliss!). I drink my coffee. I watch sunrises. Not only watch them, but when you do it long enough, you start to notice the differences in the sunrise, based on the season, and the weather. And you start to appreciate it all more. Really.

  • nerdygirlfromjersey says:

    I love that you added “how” here for people. And while it is true that folks w/ kids (and especially babies) will find this more challenging, there are still a whole lot of other folks that will be able to pull it off. I love the mornings for the quiet, the peace, and the amount I can get done in such a short time (with no interruptions! bliss!). I drink my coffee. I watch sunrises. Not only watch them, but when you do it long enough, you start to notice the differences in the sunrise, based on the season, and the weather. And you start to appreciate it all more. Really.

  • katherine webb says:

    you have some good ideas here, thanks!

  • katherine webb says:

    you have some good ideas here, thanks!

  • YesGrrrl says:

    I was attracted to the headline, but you lost me at getting up at 3am for your exercise program. To “beat the crowd,” huh? That is pure CRAZYTOWNS. It sounds like you’re on coke.

  • YesGrrrl says:

    I was attracted to the headline, but you lost me at getting up at 3am for your exercise program. To “beat the crowd,” huh? That is pure CRAZYTOWNS. It sounds like you’re on coke.

  • Sue says:

    I never feel like there is enough time in the day to get everything done. I was inspired after reading your post. I thought in order to be successful I would start off slowly, waking up 15 minutes earlier than usual. I have to say its been a week and I can’t believe how much I’m able to accomplish with the extra 15 minutes added to my day . Feels good might graduate to 30 minutes soon. Yes, my 2 dogs are loving it too!

  • Sue says:

    I never feel like there is enough time in the day to get everything done. I was inspired after reading your post. I thought in order to be successful I would start off slowly, waking up 15 minutes earlier than usual. I have to say its been a week and I can’t believe how much I’m able to accomplish with the extra 15 minutes added to my day . Feels good might graduate to 30 minutes soon. Yes, my 2 dogs are loving it too!

  • Luke702 says:

    I had trouble waking up early in the morning because i just couldn’t get to sleep. Alot of it has to do with your “Body Clock” it isn’t just a metaphor. It’s a place in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a small bundle of brain cells located behind the optic nerve at the bottom of the brain. It responds to the light from the eyes to regulate the body’s circadian rhythms “Aka 24-hour cycle”. Your body likes routines and so does your suprachiasmatic nucleus. Break that routine and you could be in trouble. These are tips i used to get back on track.
    1.Go to bed and get up at a fixed time each day.
    2.Eat a little dairy or carbohydrate-rich food before bedtime, but don’t sleep on a full or empty stomach.
    3.Give yourself at least one hour of relaxation time before going to bed.
    4.Don’t take alcohol or sleeping tablets. They may help you get to sleep, but they quality of your sleep with be impaired.
    5.Your body sleeps best when it is at its lowest temperature during the 24-hour cycle. Overheating at night is a major cause of poor sleep.
    6.One thing i tried is i started to workout, found a workout buddy an a good website with great supplements check em out they are new. http://www.athleticworx.com
    hope this helps.

  • Luke702 says:

    I had trouble waking up early in the morning because i just couldn’t get to sleep. Alot of it has to do with your “Body Clock” it isn’t just a metaphor. It’s a place in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a small bundle of brain cells located behind the optic nerve at the bottom of the brain. It responds to the light from the eyes to regulate the body’s circadian rhythms “Aka 24-hour cycle”. Your body likes routines and so does your suprachiasmatic nucleus. Break that routine and you could be in trouble. These are tips i used to get back on track.
    1.Go to bed and get up at a fixed time each day.
    2.Eat a little dairy or carbohydrate-rich food before bedtime, but don’t sleep on a full or empty stomach.
    3.Give yourself at least one hour of relaxation time before going to bed.
    4.Don’t take alcohol or sleeping tablets. They may help you get to sleep, but they quality of your sleep with be impaired.
    5.Your body sleeps best when it is at its lowest temperature during the 24-hour cycle. Overheating at night is a major cause of poor sleep.
    6.One thing i tried is i started to workout, found a workout buddy an a good website with great supplements check em out they are new. http://www.athleticworx.com
    hope this helps.

  • Joshua says:

    This article is G R E A T !!

  • Joshua says:

    This article is G R E A T !!

  • Ethan Thane says:

    I found the best way to wake up early was make it a challenge. Here is my experience with it>

    http://keystooptimalliving.com/6-am-challenge-the-benefits-of-waking-up-early/

  • Guest says:

    I understand what you are saying, but that final comment is entirely ludicrous. Prove that you have a higher IQ or are more creative — those are both things that can be trained, not inborn gifts that someone who wakes up early doesn’t have.

  • Jordie says:

    I love this. I bought my first business last year at 21 years old. Now 22 and putting nearly 100 hours a week into it and clearing over 7g a week. This is only the beginning for me and I wouldn’t be so successful if not for waking up while the world sleeps.

  • Priscilla says:

    I have been following you on Twitter and your early rise IG photos made me think of my new goal, now that I’m 28 I want to try the whole wake up early, be on time thing. Thanks!

  • Heather Atton Cook says:

    Hmmm I already do get up that early! Poor Peter so many cranky people in the comments. Yes… everyone is different. I’m already up around 4am for work (EMS), put in a 12 hour shift, and I stay up until 1030-1100 each night (kids, sports, etc). I’m also going to school and have 3 university courses I take via distance.

    The majority of what Peter says can apply to anyone. Just use the time you have and try a few of these tips. It all comes down to self discipline. Every tip above requires it. I might not be getting up earlier … or I might try it tomorrow … an extra 30 minutes to read my textbook could make a big difference.

    I’m a night owl by nature but my career has forced me into being a morning person. It is possible to change. We are not unchangeable … we are sometimes just too stubborn to try and as soon as we encounter problems (but but … I’m grumpy!) we lose faith in the process.

  • Lisa A. says:

    Love this post. My husband and I wake at 4:40am to get to the gym when it opens at 5am. While it’s great for making sure we get to the gym (and having someone to do it with you is incredibly helpful), the time between the gym and when I leave for work is a mad rush. I do wish my mornings could incorporate a bit more of what you’ve listed here, but I feel infinitely more prepared to take on the day after a good, hard workout.

  • ankrd says:

    I totally disagree with this – this is how your body works best, but for many of us we feel horrible and have no energy in the mornings even if we go to bed earlier. And for me it’s impossible to go to bed early because at night is when my mind and body are most alert and active. I’ve been forcing myself to get up early for years and am so sluggish and unproductive until around 11 am. I am most alert and productive in the evenings and late at night. The same benefits you mention of being able to get work done and have quite time etc can be done late at night rather than in the morning. If I can stay up later and sleep later, I am automatically more productive, alert and energetic the entire day. My ideal would be going to bed at 1:30 and waking at 8:30. We will have the same amount of productive hours, mine are just shifted at night and yours in the morning. Science shows this -some people’s body clocks work differently and there is no changing it.

  • lwwarfel says:

    Great advice! I endorse getting up early. You never know what you’ll discover while everyone else is asleep.

  • Amanda says:

    I think this blog, is a great example of motivating people to get up early and get more things down out of a day. Some people may not feel the need to get up at 3am but it pushes people so maybe start getting up half an hour early and working their way up to have a more productive day. There is some really good points here about steps to wake up in the morning like drinking a glass of water.

  • Zinnga says:

    this type of article see rare.really wonderful information

  • Brooke says:

    I really appreciate this article and the motivation you provide for us readers. From some of the comments below, some say this is a horrible writing while some find it offering helpful tips. I would like to say thank you for not just making a list of tips to getting up early, rather you include your own life experiences and how you can get up before the crack of dawn. I think getting up at 3:30am would be pretty hard for people to adjust to and don’t know how long it would take to make it become a norm for their everyday routine. With that being said, I think this article provides a sense of motivation to make people want to get up make even just 30-45 minutes earlier than their normal time. It’s a start!!

  • Lauren says:

    Love this article.. I didn’t think I was a morning person at all, and struggled to wake before 0800 for years. There were times when I almost lost my job because I’d been late too many times. Alarms don’t really work for me; I’ve always turned them off in my sleep withoit realizing it. Recently I’ve had to be at work by 0530, and I live about 40 minutes from where I work. I’m also disabled and require a good 30 minutes to stretch before I can move out of bed. Luckily, my husband has no problem getting up, and wakes me at 0330 with a glass of water and hot coffee. I’m thinking about getting up even earlier because I feel great getting up earlier and getting more done!

  • I’m pretty much the opposite generally going to sleep from 4:00am till 10:00am but I work with international clients in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia so it fits in with their schedules.

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