How to Wake Up Early For School: The Complete Guide

wake up alarm

Getting back into an early morning school routine especially after the long summer break or holiday season can be hard. After weeks or even months of staying up late and sleeping in to catch some much-needed sleep, reverting to waking up early may be a struggle.

This is because the internal sleep clock catches on quickly with any routines introduced. Sure, you may have woken up early with little effort during the school term. But, the fact that you switched to late nights and late mornings means it can take some time before the body gets used to waking up early again.

Is it possible to wake up early for school after a long break where you virtually slept and got up whenever you wanted? The answer is yes. From sleeping early to staying hydrated, and ditching sleep interrupters such as coffee and electronic gadgets, anyone can successfully reset their Circadian Rhythm to wake up early again.

Shall we take a look at a couple of tips and techniques that helped me get ready for early morning lectures during college and grad school after long periods of late nights and late mornings?

1. How Many Hours Does Your Body Need?

We’re all different when it comes to the number of hours of sleep our bodies require. While some folks can get away with only 4-5 hours of rest every night, others require a solid 8 hours to be able to function properly.

The good news is that you know your body more than anyone so figuring out how many hours of sleep you need shouldn’t be a problem.

Once the specific number of hours is determined, make active plans to ensure the body gets nothing less than the amount of sleep it needs each night. Remember, inadequate sleep has been linked with conditions including:

Thus if you require 7 hours of sleep and need to be awake by 6 am then you should do well to be in bed by 10 pm.

2. Give Your Body a Head Start

As you’re aware by now, the human body picks up on routines eventually. As such, there’s no point waiting until the first day of school before trying to wake up early. Doing this will only lead to failure in most cases.

Instead, give the body a head start by progressively sleeping 30 minutes earlier every day for a week. Try to do this until it gets to the right bedtime based on the number of hours the body requires and how early you need to be for school.

For instance, if you’ve been going to bed at midnight and waking up at 8 am, you should start progressively reducing the bedtime by half an hour each night for a week. So from midnight, you can switch to 11:30 pm, 11:00 pm, 10:30 pm, and then 10:00 pm.

This can deliver 8 hours of shuteye and still allow you to be up by 6 am. That should be early enough for school right?

3. Make a Mental Note of Something to Look Forward to

Is there a close friend or crush you’re always looking forward to seeing at school? Making a mental note of how great it would be to bump into him or her for instance, can keep the body alert during the night.

This can enhance the ability to get up from bed naturally at the right time without any external stimulation.

Remember, it doesn’t necessarily have to involve a person. It could be an interesting early morning lecture or even the alluring Starbucks coffee you like to get at the school cafeteria just before heading to class.

As long as you jump into bed with some sort of exciting expectation for the morning on the mind, waking up on your own in time should be breezy.

4. Stay Hydrated

blonde drinking a glass of water

Water is one of the most underrated ingredients when it comes to nighttime rest.  Did you know that staying hydrated lowers the body’s internal temperature leading to effortless sleep?

Even when other conditions may not be optimum, drinking the right amount of water can boost digestion meaning even the slightest effort can result in nodding off.

Besides, drinking moderate amounts of water at bedtime increases the chances of waking up early to empty your bladder. This should prevent oversleeping when you have school in the morning.

Drinking water may also help ease bowel movements which may be another reason to wake up early in the morning.

The key is drinking in moderation when it comes to water because excessive amounts can end up disrupting your sleep via frequent urges to visit the bathroom. So, know the right amount of water to drink and you should be fine.

5. Set An Alarm

Have you ever woken up to a loud buzzing alarm in the ears just when you’re trying to catch some more sleep? It can be extremely unsettling to the point where you the temptation to sleep in quickly wears off.

That is what makes alarms so effective for folks who’re serious about waking up at specific times in the morning.

In my opinion, it is important to set 2 alarms i.e. the first one should be 30 minutes ahead of the exact time you want to wake up. For instance, if you need to wake up at 6:00 am, setting an alarm for 5:30 am and another for 6:00 am can be a smart idea. Once the first alarm beeps, you know that you have half an hour to get your body ready to wake up for the last time.

This hack can be valuable for anyone who likes to hit the snooze button a few times before waking up eventually. If you don’t like the buzzing alarm, you should try a wake up light alarm. I have written an article here

6. Find an Accountability Partner

Have you noticed that human beings follow through with commitments much easier when they’re accountable to someone else? Finding an accountability partner can be a great way to wake up early for school.

This partner could be your roommate, friend, or spouse who is committed to relentlessly holding you to your word. For instance, during college, I made a bet with my roommate where every time I woke up late, I had to pay him a dollar.

To avoid paying the fine, I’m still shocked as to the extreme lengths I went to wake up in time against all odds.

7. Take a Cold Shower

Cold showers can induce alertness and wakefulness regardless of how sleepy you may be after a rough night. In my experience, it is one of the best ways to wake up early when you have a morning class.

Sure, you might still be feeling sleepy by the time you jump into the shower. But the feeling of cold air on the body can bring anyone back to their senses and stimulate a focus on getting to school.

You might be wondering whether warm showers can have the same effect when you’re trying to sleep. The answer is no, most people report that taking warm showers early in the morning puts them back to sleep.

As scary as a cold shower on a fall or winter morning may sound, braving through it can be wonderful for anyone intent on staying awake.

8. Get a Caffeine Fix

man and woman shaking hands over coffee

Sometimes, staying awake can become very difficult after struggling to wake up and in that case, a caffeine fix can be just what you need. Sure, we’re all aware of the negative effects of coffee on the body and overall health.

However, some of us are wired to function well in the morning only after that rush of energy from a cup of coffee. If you like home-brewed coffee, the aroma alone can wake anyone up from the deepest levels of slumber in the morning.

Just try not to drink too much coffee during the rest of the day as it can stand in the way of getting good sleep at bedtime.

Have you read the article we wrote on sleeping after drinking too much coffee? Click here for quick tips to get superior sleep after excessive caffeine consumption.

9. Early Morning Workouts 

Morning workouts can be the kick up the backside students need to stay awake when there is an early morning class. Dressing up in your gym wear and walking or driving to the gym can all help jolt your alertness levels.

Besides, lifting weights or engaging in cardio routines such as running on a treadmill may help improve your mental awareness and set up the brain for school.

Even if you prefer working out at home, a couple of minutes of doing jumping jacks or planks on the bedroom floor can be simple techniques to stay awake. 

Remember, there might be days where you feel tempted to skip your workouts. Whenever that happens, focus your thoughts on the many benefits working out offers and let that motivate you to get up from the bed.

How to Wake Up Early For School Without Alarms

The majority of us rely on alarm clocks to wake up especially on early morning schedule days. However, weaning yourself off alarms can be a great idea since it can set up the body’s internal clock to wake up on time. 

Additionally, there might be periods when you may not have the luxury of an alarm clock buzzing to wake you up. Thus, training the body to naturally awaken at the correct time can be valuable in many ways.

But how do you set up your body to wake up on its own without external help?

  • Go to bed and awake at the same time for weeks – This is the first step towards waking up early without an alarm clock. Practicing this technique consistently can inform the Circadian Rhythm to settle on the specific bedtime and wake up times. 
  • Lower your alarm clock volume – Once you maintain the same bedtime and wake up times over a period, it is time to lower the volume on the alarm clock. This means it will no longer have to buzz loudly in your ears before you can awaken. If you’ve been sleeping with a smartphone alarm, you can even switch from the loud volume to vibration alert only. This should train the body to wake up with little help at the desired times.
  • Ditch the window blinds- Drawing the bedroom window blinds can be a surefire way to oversleep. This is because it creates a feeling of darkness that may trick the brain into believing it is still nighttime. On the contrary, ditching the blinds and allowing direct light in the bedroom can promote waking up at the crack of daybreak without setting an alarm.
  • Kick the Alarm Habit Gradually- The next step is to ditch your alarm gradually by setting it every 2 or 3 days. Then monitor if you’re able to wake up on your own on the no-alarm days. Once you’re confident of waking up consistently without help, it is time to ditch the alarm for good.
  • Switch to Sunrise Alarm Clocks – We all hate the sound of the alarm buzzing in the ears in the morning. But did you know that there’s a better alternative called Sunrise alarm clocks? These clocks stimulate the natural ability to wake up by brightening the light in your room as the sun rises. This subconsciously sends the right signals to the brain that morning has arrived and it is time to arise from your slumber.

The LBell Colored Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock from Amazon has transformed my sleep since I discovered it a month ago. It does not only allow me to fall asleep much easier by darkening my bedroom naturally at night but it also helps me wake up gently by allowing increasing amounts of sunlight as the morning comes. Seriously, it has been a game-changer and you won’t believe how affordable it is.

How to Wake up Early for School As a Heavy Sleeper

The truth is, some of us sleep deeper than others. This may be due to a range of reasons including heredity. I’m an example of a heavy sleeper and I have reason to believe those traits were passed down from my maternal grandmother through my father.

But how do you wake up early for school when you’re a heavy sleeper?

1. Recognize that You Need Some Help (Alarm)

As a heavy sleeper, the onus is on you to be aware of the situation and find a solution. There’s no point pretending to be a light sleeper when you’re not.

The truth is, you’ll most likely need some sort of help to wake up be it a loud in-your-face alarm clock or sunrise alarm clocks that release more light as the day breaks to promote gradual and gentle wake up.

2. Stay Away from Sleep Aids

If you need to wake up early for school or the office but struggling to nod off, the temptation to take a sleep aid such as Ambien can be high. While light sleepers may be able to get away with that, sleeping pills may take a huge toll on heavy sleepers.

This can lead to detrimental side effects such as oversleeping, forcing you to miss out on morning classes altogether. Even if you’re able to wake up somehow, sleep aids can lead to side effects such as drowsiness and daytime sleeping which can affect your focus in class.

As always, it is important to pay attention to the body and make the necessary choices for satisfying rest at night.

3. Sleep Early and Wake Up At The Same Time

Going to bed on time consistently each night is recommended if you’re serious about waking up early as a deep sleeper.

Following this set routine can empower your internal sleep clock to make the necessary changes that will lead to a consistent awakening schedule every morning.

4. No Alcohol at Bedtime

alcohol in a pub

Drinking alcohol in the evening may lead to frequent interruptions during the night. The situation can get even worse for natural deep sleepers. 

Staying away from alcohol can help you wake up early in the morning. Remember, even a glass of wine or a bottle of beer can disrupt your sleep routine and increase the risk of oversleeping. Even if you manage to wake up, the hangover from the previous night can cause drowsiness and daytime sleepiness.

5. Avoid Late-Night Meals 

Late-night meals are a big no-no for heavy sleepers. This is because the digestive processes can take a heavy toll on the body so jumping into bed around the same time may result in tossing and turning for hours.

This may delay the time you fall asleep which means a higher risk of fatigue in the morning. Remember, extreme tiredness can also increase the probability of missing out on that early morning school appointment.

As such, it is advisable to eat at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime. Taking a walk immediately after can also ease the digestive process and prevent the risk of heartburn and other unfavorable side effects.

Do you know the disadvantages of eating a full meal at bedtime? Click here to read the article we wrote on sleeping when full.


Waking up early for school can be tricky especially as a heavy sleeper. However, there are a lot of techniques you can rely on to set up the body to achieve just that.

Remember, getting to the point where you can wake up on time and your own can be a gradual process that requires patience. It can be a marathon and not a sprint so be prepared to make the necessary adjustments on the go.


Gabriel Smith

Hello, my name is Gabriel and I LOVE to sleep. Okay, you’re right, a lot of people do like sleep. But my passion is actually not sleeping. My interest lies in the “theoretical part”. What to do before bedtime. What a good night’s sleep is. etc. In short, how to sleep well. I hope you share the same interest as me, and enjoy reading everything about sleep.

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