The Happy Guide to getting up early

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However far you are into your degree, you probably haven’t quite nailed the process of getting up early and being productive. Lauren gives you some easy tips on how to make the dreaded alarm clock just a little bit more bearable…

With longer, lighter days bringing us into the summer, you could be forgiven for thinking that you might finally be able to become the morning person you’ve always dreamed of being. Out of bed by 7am, kale smoothie complete by 7:15, with maybe time to spare for a quick run in that fresh morning air. But if you’re anything like me, jumping out of bed in the morning, ready to face anything the day throws at you is less of a reality and more of a pipe dream. If, however, you’re part of the population that has to go to school, university or work, then it’s likely you have to make some early starts. How then, do you go from being a sweaty haired, puffy-eyed monster in the morning to a somewhat functional human being?

As I write this, I’m sat by Parkinson Court cafe sipping on a cup of tea to make my early morning a little more bearable. I’ve been sat here since 8:15 this morning, and I’ve been doing this for a good few months now as I’m coming to the end of my degree and the panic is really setting in. Last year, this wouldn’t have been at all possible for me. At that point, I was working up to four part-time jobs at any one time, some of them requiring me to work in bars from 11pm-5am, before heading into lectures the next morning; not exactly a recipe for a healthy sleeping pattern. Any university work was usually completed in the library at night time, after everyone else had gone home. Everything was tough and unhealthy but I needed the money and stupidly placed that above my own well-being.

At this point, it’s probably worth saying that my ideas won’t work for everyone. If you’ve ever been like me, working minimum wage jobs at unsociable hours just to make ends meet, you’ll know that sometimes, you really have no other option. I’ve been lucky enough to find other better paid jobs with hours that fit around my degree, but unfortunately not everyone will. I should also stress that you shouldn’t aim to get up early every single day, especially if you’re used to lie-ins or going to bed really late. Don’t try and go cold turkey; it very rarely works. Try doing it a couple of days a week then increasing it until you find yourself a good routine. Sleep more at the weekends if you want, or continue to get up early if it suits you. You can make a plan but know you might not always see it through. That’s okay, it will all happen in time.

Plan, plan, plan:

I often tell myself that I’ll get up in the morning and plan my day, but I always fail to. This means I never quite have any direction to my day, I’m more easily distracted, and more willing to just give up and stay in bed all day. Instead, get yourself a planner, and make a point of writing in it before you go to bed. You don’t have to plan hour by hour, but just jot down a few things you would like to complete the following day — perhaps note why you want to complete them so you can remind yourself how happy you’ll be when you’ve completed it!
By writing things down before you go to bed, you don’t necessarily have to worry about remembering to do them. Lying awake, stressing about the next day will always make for a bad nights sleep but if you have it all written down you can at least know that there’s nothing you can do about those tasks before you wake up the next morning.

Noise prevention:

There’s really nothing worse than coming home from the library or from work and realising your housemates are going out and are hell bent on proving themselves to be the loudest shouter in the world. Combatting such noise usually falls to earplugs, but even they often fail to keep out the loudest of noises. Recently, however, I’ve gotten into the habit of sleeping using white noise to block all levels of sounds out. The website, mynoise, has so many noise generators so you can use them wherever you are. I use the white noise generator to sleep, but when I’m at university I use ‘Cafe Restaurant’ as it makes me really productive.

Take time for yourself:

Right, I’m not here to tell you to exercise or eat vegetables that you hate or drink weird teas that quite frankly are only cleansing because they flush out your entire digestive system. No, you’re going to take time for yourself however the hell you want to. The thing is, the earlier you wake up (though I don’t advocate rising at 4am…), the earlier you get work done, and the quicker you can climb back into bed. On days where I don’t have to work in the evening, I make a point to stop doing any university work when I go home to make dinner. When you’re working, you often leave your workplace, go home, and forget about everything until the next day. Why should university be any different? Everyone works differently, but at university students often feel guilty when they’re not working 24/7, but it’s an unhealthy way to approach things, and arguably makes you less productive than if you set specific times to work.

Long-term goals:

Finally, have a think about why you want to make a change. Why is it that you want to be getting up earlier and be more productive? For me, I know I’ll be working all summer and likely getting up early to commute and I want to make sure I have my routine nailed down now. Even if you don’t have any specifics in mind, just think about whether you’re doing it because you want to be healthier, less stressed, or you just want to know that come 10pm you can climb into bed and sleep with nothing weighing on your shoulders. Big or small, there’s probably an important reason. Keep reminding yourself of it.

Settling  into  a  new  routine can be so hard – just like trying to quit smoking or trying to drink less. The process can take a long time, but you’ll get there in the end.

Lauren Davies

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