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How to Get Up Earlier So You Can Actually Do Shit in the Morning

The short version here is that I really need to stop watching dumb YouTube videos until 2 a.m.

The early morning is arguably the best time to get shit done: Nobody else is awake to bother you, traffic tends to be lighter than any other time of day and you (hopefully) feel refreshed after a full night of sleep. The problem is, waking up before you need to wake up can be damn near impossible for most normal humans. I mean, who has that kind of motivation?

As it turns out, at least some people do (crazy, I know), so I asked them how they regularly manage to get themselves out of bed so damn early. Here’s their advice…

Plan Your Morning the Night Before

“My evening routine is crucial to my morning success,” says Casey Kidwell, who wakes up at 5 a.m. every weekday morning to work out. “The second I get home from work, I’m getting ready for the next day: I unpack my lunch, repack my lunch, unpack my bag, lay my clothes out for my morning Pilates workout and even decide what I’m going to wear the next day. If any of these steps are missed, it takes up more time in the morning that I really don’t have. During the week, it can feel like, by the time I get home and ready for the next day, I don’t have much time to enjoy my evenings, but ultimately I know my routine is worth it.”

If you’re a coffee drinker, setting up your machine the night before so it’s ready to go first thing in the morning (or maybe making iced coffee that’s ready to grab from the fridge) can also help you get going in the morning. “I drink coffee on my way to work,” says Andrew, a military man who wakes up for work at 4:30 a.m. and goes to bed at 10 p.m. just about every single day. “I have a latte machine, and I set it up and pack my bags before bed.” All in all, the less you have to worry about in the morning, the more likely you are to get up and go, especially if you have a fresh coffee waiting for you.

Fall Asleep Early (and At the Same Time Every Night)

This might sound obvious, but falling asleep at the same time every night, preferably early, is ultimately the best way to avoid sleeping through your alarm. This might come easier for some people than others, especially at first, but there are a few simple things you can do to help you fall asleep earlier. “The biggest thing is being able to tire yourself out during the day,” says Andrew, who, like Kidwell, explains that exercise really helps him sleep. “Don’t take more than one 30-minute nap during the day, and shut down about an hour before bed. Do yoga, read, turn the lights off and do some breathing work.”

You could also try listening to calming music or, er… cranking one out.

Kidwell also approves of the “early to bed, early to rise” approach, emphasizing the importance of sticking to a regular sleep schedule. “I’m in bed no later than 10 p.m.,” she says. “Honestly, if my head hits the pillow at 10:30 p.m., I can feel it the next morning.”

Remind Yourself Why You Want to Get Up So Damn Early Anyway

Kidwell, for instance, knows that working out is the key to a better life, but she also knows that mornings are the only times she can fit it in. “Working out is how I stay sane, energized and level-headed in the crazy day-to-day life I lead as a 20-something trying to figure out post-grad life, even if that means a 5 a.m. wake-up call,” she says. “But I’ve realized I have a hard time working out in the afternoons or evenings, especially after a long day of work, when I just want to come home and chill — read, write, catch up on Netflix and so on.” Reminding yourself why exactly you set your alarm for before the sun rises will (hopefully) help prevent you from hitting that snooze button over and over again.

Now, I know early mornings aren’t for everyone (I’m looking at you, night owls), and I know many of us are simply too busy to be in bed by 10 p.m. every night — my colleague, Brian VanHooker, once wrote about whether you should choose exercise or sleep if you really only have time for one (sad to say, exercise is usually the way to go if you can manage even six hours of sleep). But if you do want to get up early without hating yourself, as far as the people who actually do it are concerned, falling asleep early is really the only way to go.

Hey, I don’t make the rules here: We need sleep, so if you want to stay up late and wake up early, you’ll have to take it up with your body. And in the end, you both lose that fight.