I distinctly remember being a kid, and then a teenager, and then an early-twenty-something, who marveled at adults’ weird insistence on waking up way before they absolutely had to–before their clocks signaled that get-up-now-or-get-fired alarm. You chose to wake up at 6 a.m.?! What a weirdo.
But then of course, those early twenties slip into your late twenties. Your career is buzzing along, and there comes a time when the harsh reality of the calendar day hits you: 24 hours are just too few. And though it might take you a minute to arrive at this conclusion (because it’s really not a fun one to draw), you eventually come to realize that the only answer is getting up earlier.
It sucks, especially in the beginning, but the day you choose to go to bed earlier so that you can wake up earlier is one of the benchmarks of knowing you’re passionate about what you do (or at the very least, passionate about paying your bills, which is a good start!). It may not even be the case that you have to or should start working earlier than you already are; taking that time to make yourself a real-person breakfast, read the news with a cup of coffee, get to yoga, take Fido for a longer walk around the block, or knock out all those miscellaneous errands you can never motivate yourself to do after the work day is over (buying a roll of quarters for laundry, buying stamps for the random stuff that still goes out via snail mail, replacing that bathroom light bulb that has been flickering for a week, etc., etc.) will kickstart your day with a sense of accomplishment that sets the tone for the rest of the day, which makes for a more productive week, which brings you one step closer to career/world domination, etc.
Setting your alarm an hour earlier right out of the gate is setting yourself up for failure; your nighttime brain might say “Sure!” but your morning time brain will be telling you an entirely different story when that alarm goes off. Instead, start in small increments; five minutes earlier one week, then five minutes earlier the next, etc. etc. In a month and a half you’ll have worked your way up to a half hour without sending a shock through your system.
Not all sleep is created equal; over the course of 90 minutes, we complete a cycle during which we move in and out of our deepest sleep phases. The popular Sleep Cycle app monitors your sleep and wakes you up during a designated time period before your alarm, when you’re closest to already being awake. Fans of the app claim this greatly reduces grogginess and the temptation to hit your snooze button ten times. Plus, it’s $free.99. Might as well give it a whirl!
If the struggle is extra real for you, there are a number of creative ways to actually get your butt off the mattress and into the real world. Behold the first and most whimsical option: the Northwest Flying Alarm Clock. At the set time, a plastic propeller launches off the alarm clock, which will continue to go off until you re-attach the propeller to the alarm clock. Highly obnoxious and highly effective! There’s also the Step Out of Bed! app ($1.99) which incorporates an alarm that will go off on your iPhone until it perceives you’ve taken 30 steps.
Lastly, you could go the analog route that has an added bonus of starting your day off with some much-needed hydration: Before you go to bed the night before, place a large glass of water across the room. When your alarm goes off in the morning, go to the glass of water and chug it; it gets your metabolism going, and you’ll have to pee pretty soon after that, so it’s a safeguard against going back to sleep!
This article was originally published on October 31, 2016, and has since been updated.