Have you tried everything to wake up early or go to bed on time, but nothing seems to work for you? Well, so have I & there’s little attention given to the process of it all online. No one explains how we might have to force ourselves to wake up & go to bed for the first couple of months (or weeks, at least). So, I organized all the tactics I’ve used to force myself to wake up & fall asleep on time on many occasions. And after about two months on average, it becomes habitual for you. You’ll be falling asleep & waking up yourself on time while feeling fresh and well-rested.
You can try multiple tactics at the same time. Also, don’t underestimate the equally important second part of this article: falling asleep on time.
- Introduction (Important).
- Tactic 1: Using the Sleep as Android App to Punish Yourself.
- Tactic 2: Using a Separate Alarm Clock to Embarrass You if You Don’t Wake Up.
- Tactic 3: Using a Separate Alarm Clock to Make You Move.
- Tactic 4: Making an Early Morning Habit With Your Friends.
- Tactic 5: Making Someone Depend on You for the Mornings.
- Tactic 6: Use Alarms That Ask You to Do Some Activity to Wake Up.
- Tactic 7: Creating an Online Group of People to Hold Each Other Accountable.
- Tactic 8: Using a Fitness/Sleep Tracker to Wake You up After Your Sleep Phase Completes.
- Tactic 9: Using the Circadian Rhythm of Your Bowel Movement to Wake You Up.
- Tactic 10: Sleeping in a Room That Faces East or South-East & Has Many Windows.
- Tactic 11: Invest in Smart Curtains or a Smart Curtain Motor.
- Tactic 12: Invest in a Wake-up Light Alarm Clock
- Tactic 13: Lock Apps and Websites an Hour Before Sleeping That You Tend to Use Late at Night.
- Tactic 14: Use Warm Light Bulbs.
- Tactic 15: Expose Yourself to Natural Light After Waking up & Before Sunset.
- Tactic 16: Use Blue Light Filtering Glasses And/or Night Light on Your Screens at Night.
- Tactic 17: Reflect & Then Brainstorm All the Tasks in Your Mind on a To-Do List App.
- Tactic 18: Do a Walking Meditation Somewhere With Dim Lights.
- Tactic 19: Listen to Content Instead of Watching It.
- Tactic 20: Do a Sleep Meditation.
- Bonus Tactic: Try a Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) Exercise.
Tactic 1: Using the Sleep as Android App to Punish Yourself.
So, this tactic will use money as a motivation to wake you up and combine that with the human tendency to avoid going back to sleep once you’ve moved a little. To use the Sleep as Android app, you’ll need an Android smartphone (an iOS alternative is suggested below). You’ll have to complete a task to prove to the app that you’re awake. However, the tasks can be annoying, especially early in the morning, so I used to just turn my phone off. But there’s an option to add some money (refundable) to the app, and if you cheat on the task, you’ll lose the money forever.
Here are the steps to make this work:
- Download the “Sleep as Android” app on your Android device.
- Set up an alarm.
- Choose a CAPTCHA in settings to while turning on all the “CAPTCHA cheating protection” measures. I recommend using the “QR/barcode” option.
- Add money to “wakeup motivation”.
- Cut out a QR code/barcode from any random box of a product (available on all product packets/boxes these days) & scan it to activate it.
- Stick the QR code/barcode in a room (or any place in the building) farthest from yours. Unless you scan the code, the alarm won’t stop, although you can choose to mute the alarm while you walk toward your target.
I’ve contacted the developers of Alarmy Alarm Clock app recently, and they might soon add this feature to their app for both Android and iOS. Till then, try the alternative for iOS devices, which is the next tactic.
Tactic 2: Using a Separate Alarm Clock to Embarrass You if You Don’t Wake Up.
I invested a little amount in a cheap alarm clock, set an alarm, and put it in the living room of my house. I set another alarm five minutes earlier on my phone, so I knew that I’d have to go to the living room, face my family and turn off the alarm. After doing all that it’s not likely that I’d go back to sleep.
You don’t need to live in a house or with your family to pull this off. You can pull this off in your flat. Just put the alarm clock outside your room anywhere it wouldn’t be spotted unless people hear it ringing. Maybe outside your neighbor’s room behind a flowerpot.
Tactic 3: Using a Separate Alarm Clock to Make You Move.
You don’t have to use fear to get yourself out of bed. You can just use your alarm clock to get moving by putting it outside your room. You’ll need to get out of bed to turn it off (and if you don’t, it won’t let you sleep).
You can use your phone instead of an alarm clock, but it won’t have a high chance of success as it’s highly likely you’ll sleep (or want to) with your phone near you.
Tactic 4: Making an Early Morning Habit With Your Friends.
You can ask some of your friends to do an activity every day together at the same time in the morning. Again, the idea is to use fear to avoid other people, especially your friends thinking poorly of you. Here are some of the things you can do:
- Join a gym together in the mornings. The plan would be to give each other a call 30 minutes prior. More the people, higher the likelihood of getting a call. Some days, you’ll be the one to wake your friends up.
- Join an early morning tuition.
- Join a learning institute/academy for a skill, like coding, typewriting, martial arts, acting, etc.
Tactic 5: Making Someone Depend on You for the Mornings.
Think of something for which someone can depend on you early in the morning. I used to get fresh milk for my parents every morning during lockdowns. So, either they’d wake me up or I’d wake up myself so that there’s some milk left for us to buy.
So, do something for someone living with you that’d also be beneficial for you, like buying fresh vegetables only available in the morning, driving someone somewhere, etc. That “someone” doesn’t get to sleep in their warm bed, ask them to prepare tea while you buy some fresh bread.
Tactic 6: Use Alarms That Ask You to Do Some Activity to Wake Up.
This tactic is related to the first one, but you don’t need to own an Android for this one to work. You can download the Alarmy Alarm Clock app on your iOS/Android device. There’re many “missions” you can choose from, to complete for the alarm to turn off. Like doing squats to turn off the alarm, walking a certain distance, shaking your phone, or solving a math problem.
You should turn on the app measures to prevent yourself from cheating the missions like “prevent phone turn off” or “prevent app uninstall”. Which prevents you from turning off your phone or uninstalling the app while the alarm is ringing.
But I found a workaround, I’d just long press restart my phone, wait for it to restart, and then quickly power off my phone before the alarm starts ringing again, but most people won’t be able to pull it off or go to such lengths.
Tactic 7: Creating an Online Group of People to Hold Each Other Accountable.
Go to the subreddit r/selfimprovement or some other similar subreddit on Reddit. And ask people in the same time zone as yours to create a WhatsApp group (or your preferred app) with you. Make everyone admin.
The rule would be to wake up at the same time every day and send a short video proof of you waking up, maybe one with you going for a walk or doing pushups, the one who fails to send the proof two days in a row would be removed from the group.
You don’t have to do it with strangers, you can do it with your friends & acquaintances.
Tactic 8: Using a Fitness/Sleep Tracker to Wake You up After Your Sleep Phase Completes.
I’d only recommend very accurate fitness trackers for this one. Which only include the latest Apple watches.
Just set a smart alarm on it and it’ll vibrate when it notices you’re at the end of your sleep cycle. It’s when your sleep is the lightest which makes it easier for you to wake up. An alarm ringing during a person’s deeper stages of sleep is more likely to be snoozed or turned off as you don’t feel ready to wake up.
A sleep cycle is 90 minutes long on average.
Tactic 9: Using the Circadian Rhythm of Your Bowel Movement to Wake You Up.
The circadian rhythm of your body ensures that physiological processes occur at the most biologically meaningful time & just like with sleep you can train your body to have regular bowel movements. Your body can adapt to this new routine quicker.
So, you’ll have to wake up & go to the washroom at the same time each day. With time your body’s internal clock will make sure nature calls you at that same time every day. Read more about it here.
Tactic 10: Sleeping in a Room That Faces East or South-East & Has Many Windows.
The sun used to wake me up very early in the morning during the summer. It wasn’t possible to keep sleeping, as my room faced South-East and the building protecting the present me (and hurting the future me) from the sun couldn’t keep doing it for long, the sun ordered me to wake up. I had one option, to close the curtains and that’s what I did. So, if there are curtains in your room make sure you remove them or tie them with a knot that’ll take time to untie.
If you’re concerned about light entering your room during the night if there are no curtains and eye masks making the whole tactic useless, then the next tactic will help.
Tactic 11: Invest in Smart Curtains or a Smart Curtain Motor.
Another thing happens to me, for some reason the gradual light that fills my room doesn’t seem to wake me up. Maybe because it’s too gradual. And recently I had to move my bed and now the sun only attacks my body, not my face.
Another problem with the dependence on the sun is that sometimes it doesn’t come for your help, but you can always depend on the morning light. So, here’s what to do:
- Buy some type of smart curtains or some motor that turns regular curtains into smart ones.
- Set them up and make sure your bed is facing the maximum amount of light.
- Set an alarm for them to open automatically.
Now you have both, no light at night, and sudden light in the morning, which will definitely wake you up. You can also combine this with a gentle alarm that plays the playlist of your liked songs. All default alarm apps have Spotify integration.
Tactic 12: Invest in a Wake-up Light Alarm Clock
A Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock simulates the rising sun with light that gradually increases. Some wake-up lights have a sound option that serves as an additional alarm. The idea is the same as the last one, exposure to bright light wakes you up. The light from these alarm clocks is usually warm and gradual, which is far more bright than natural light because it’s a lot closer to you. So, it can’t go unnoticed by your brain.
Just set the alarm up very close to your bed, near your head (obviously), & make sure you’re not wearing any eye masks (obviously). You can also close the curtains at night to keep the room dark. Here are some of the best ones available.
Tactic 13: Lock Apps and Websites an Hour Before Sleeping That You Tend to Use Late at Night.
You can block distracting apps after a specific time on your smartphone using Digital Wellbeing & Screen Time on Android and iOS, respectively. Well, it’s pretty easy to unblock them, but any resistance between you & those unrealistically good-looking women dancing will increase the probability that you might stick to your plan. So, if there’s any annoying notification making sure you drool over those ravishing women, just hide it forever.
One thing you can do on your Android devices is use Digital Detox: Focus & Live Urbandroid (Petr Nálevka). The same company that developed Sleep As Android. This app locks all your apps for a given period and you’ll have to pay a fee if you want to unlock them before the lockdown ends. I found no way to cheat with this app (so far).
I can’t find an alternative for iOS for now. If you find anything, please mention it in the comments.
Tactic 14: Use Warm Light Bulbs.
Warm lights help us get ready for sleep as it contains less blue light which is the opposite of cool lights (your usual white lights). As we know by now blue light affects sleep by suppressing melatonin, the hormone that acts on receptors in your body to encourage sleep.
Tactic 15: Expose Yourself to Natural Light After Waking up & Before Sunset.
Natural light is a stimulus for setting your circadian clock for daytime wakefulness & nighttime sleep. Just exposing yourself to natural light right after waking up & before sunset for 20-60 minutes will do the work. It even works on cloudy days.
You can read more about it here.
Tactic 16: Use Blue Light Filtering Glasses And/or Night Light on Your Screens at Night.
This tactic shouldn’t make screen-time before sleeping okay. Rather it’s to gradually let your brain know that the time to drift off is near. The more your eyes are exposed to blue lights late at night the more your brain is misinformed about the time of the day. So, any measures necessary to lessen blue light exposure before completely avoiding it will help.
Tactic 17: Reflect & Then Brainstorm All the Tasks in Your Mind on a To-Do List App.
Nighttime is our mind’s favorite time to worry about important things in our life. The reflection is often one-sided if we just allow our minds to do it for us. It can disturb the process of winding down as all the one-sided reflection gives rise to negative emotions which is the last thing you want when trying to sleep.
So, why not just reflect ourselves deeply each night on our past? Followed by the therapeutic process of making a plan, writing down all the tasks on paper first & then adding them to a to-do list app. Also, order your tasks so that your agenda isn’t an overwhelming wish list. It’s recommended to keep each day’s tasks under five & delay other tasks to different days of the week.
Tactic 18: Do a Walking Meditation Somewhere With Dim Lights.
When you can’t fall asleep, it’s recommended to get out of bed & do something relaxing. I do a walking sleep meditation from the app Headspace in my dark room & it works like magic. Give it a try.
Tactic 19: Listen to Content Instead of Watching It.
Can’t get off your phone? You don’t have to stop consuming content. Remember the problem is the screen, not necessarily the content. Content can be relaxing. So, why not just start listening to a podcast while you lay in your bed?
Just make sure the content isn’t full of teenage boys talking like they’re sitting 100 meters apart. As that has resulted in me becoming more energetic rather than in helping me unwind. Those energetic talks are good for daytime.
Tactic 20: Do a Sleep Meditation.
You can always just lay in your bed and do a sleep meditation there, it has also worked like magic many times for me. I have tried different apps, but Headspace seems to work the best for me.
The rationale is simple, when you’re struggling to wind down, you’re either too focused or your mind is full of too many thoughts. So, the solution is a set of activities that make you focus on a particular thing while making sure the focus isn’t too effortful.
One example is a daily reflection followed by a body scan followed by breath focus. The next thing you know is that your alarm is playing & you don’t remember when you fell asleep.
Bonus Tactic: Try a Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) Exercise.
I’ve made this tactic separate because it’s not usually part of a meditation app. Your body throughout the day is tensed & tightened and you carry that body tension with you to bed.
So, PMR is based upon the simple practice of tensing or tightening one muscle group at a time followed by a relaxation phase with the release of the tension.
Here’s an example:
- While inhaling, contract one muscle group (e.g., squeeze your eyes) for 5 seconds, then exhale and suddenly release the tension in that muscle group.
- Give yourself 10-15 seconds to relax, and then move on to the next muscle group (e.g., raise your eyebrows).
You can read more about it here.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll start setting up some of the tactics for tomorrow & tonight ASAP. That’s the purpose of this website.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter (here). More unorthodox tactics are coming! Read more about us here.