Waking up early is a practice that is supposed to bring energy and well-being. So, how to wake up early without dozing off all day? Our advice for a successful morning.

How to get up early without feeling tired?

On social networks, there is no more counting these new early risers who multiply selfies in sportswear at 6 o'clock in the morning. This fashion arrived from the United States with the publication of Hal Elrod's best-seller, Miracle morning, in the early 2010s. Those who get up at dawn, if possible before dawn, even have a name: morningophiles. Each person has his or her own biological clock that must be respected, so it is not a question of becoming an ultra-early riser at all costs, but rather of advancing by one hour your usual alarm clock. Be careful not to set the wrong goal! The goal of waking up early is not to be more productive, but to free up time to do yourself good.

Prepare your morning alarm the night before

The motivation to get up early is cultivated the night before, by preparing your new morning activities. People who are used to waking up very early always start by doing what they are passionate about. If you like sports, you can give yourself an hour of jogging or yoga. If you want to have a moment of solitude, you can take the opportunity to have your coffee in the quiet, before the other members of the family wake up.

Once you have chosen your activity, prepare everything you will need in the morning before going to bed: sportswear, coffee mug, book... We also warn our spouse, who is likely to give us a helping hand to get out of bed.

All these elements create a form of commitment that can be reinforced by a system of rewards. For example, we plan to have the best bun in the neighborhood for breakfast, or a new scented shower gel in the bathroom.

The evening preparations end at bedtime with a visualization of the next day's alarm clock. Lying down, eyes closed, we imagine all the details and we look forward to having a good time soon. A form of self-hypnosis that conditions the brain, "effective provided that you are not in a state of nervousness or excitement that would interfere with falling asleep," says Dr. Eric Charles, psychiatrist and author of the book À chacun son rythme (ed. First).

Respect your sleep rhythm

We repeat it loud and clear: it is not a matter of systematically getting out of bed at 5:30 a.m., but of waking up a little earlier than usual, about an hour, taking into account your sleep rhythm. Most people fall asleep around 11 p.m. or midnight and wake up around 7 a.m.," says neurobiologist and researcher Dr. Joëlle Adrien. About 10 to 15 percent of the population naturally wakes up earlier, and the same proportion are night owls/late risers."

  •     If we usually get up around 7 a.m., we set our alarm clock for 6 a.m.
  •     If you wake up around 9 a.m., it's 8 a.m.

To keep up, it is important to go to bed a little earlier, shifting your bedtime by 15-20 minutes each day, without forcing yourself if you are not sleepy at all. It is the fatigue that will shift the biological clock after a few days. Listen to your body: when your body signals that it is tired and you start to yawn, get ready for bed instead of struggling to keep your eyes open.

Don't wake up any old way

  •     A gentle wake-up call is preferable to an abrupt ringing, which is too often the first stressful part of the day. When it's time to wake up, get up suddenly if you're wide awake.
  •     If not, it's best to take the time to stretch. This helps to get the blood flowing again throughout the body," says psychiatrist Dr. Sylvie Royant-Parola. Your body temperature is lower when you're asleep, so moving around gently helps to bring it up and encourage wakefulness."
  •     You then sit on the edge of the bed to drink a glass of water to rehydrate yourself, and you can finish by opening the window and taking several deep breaths. It is also advisable not to go back to sleep, even for 10 minutes. "You are then depriving yourself of the cortisol that the body has naturally secreted for the first awakening, and the second will be more painful," warns Dr. Royant-Parola.

If the gentle method is not appropriate, you can try more muscular techniques, by placing the alarm clock away from you. This period should not last more than a fortnight. By continuing the experiment on a regular rhythm, the biological clock will adapt and you will be able to switch to a calmer alarm clock.

Establish a morning ritual

First of all, it represents a decompression chamber for people who suffer the negative effects of stress in the morning.

    Giving yourself a morning wellness break can change the way you approach your day," says Dr. Charles. Doing an activity you enjoy for 20 or 30 minutes is very beneficial.

Of course, this ritual must be personalized. Among the suggested activities, the benefits of meditation or sport are no longer in question. These practices have a positive effect on stress and mood, even if you only practice 10 minutes a day," says Dr. Charles, "because it's the regularity that has more impact. Some of this time can also be spent practicing your passion, reading or writing. Establishing a positive, meaningful routine helps start the day with confidence.

Dr. Charles emphasizes the time for introspection: "It is important to reflect on yourself, your priorities and your goals. The morning ritual offers a break that you never usually find. You can also take advantage of this moment to organize your day in order to anticipate events and stop running.

Waking up earlier reduces the risk of depression

A study published in May 2021 on JAMA Psychiatry involving 840,000 people, provides evidence that chronotype (a person's propensity to sleep at a certain time), influences the risk of depression. In 2018, the team had published a study showing that "early risers" were 27% less likely to suffer from depressive disorders within four years. More than 340 common genetic variants including variants in the "clock gene" PER2, are known to influence a person's chronotype.

About a third of the participants identified themselves as larks (early risers), 9% were night owls, while the rest were in the middle. The goal: to find out if people with genetic variants that predispose them to be early risers also have a lower risk of depression. The answer is yes, because it turns out that every hour gained from the midpoint of sleep (the middle of sleep) corresponds to a 23% lower risk of depressive disorder.

So if a person who normally goes to bed at 1 a.m. goes to bed at midnight and sleeps the same amount of time, they could reduce their risk by 23%. The reason is simple: greater exposure to light during the day, which early risers tend to get, results in a hormonal mechanism that influences mood in a positive way.

Can't get up earlier?

Don't panic! If you feel very bad when you wake up and during the day, don't insist for more than a week. Not everyone can shift their biological clock. This is especially true for evening people who often get up too early compared to their natural rhythm.