How to Wake Up Early For School

Rise and shine

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but neither of those matter. School starts at 8 o’clock sharp so you had better be up in time. While the ability to hop out of bed before dawn seems to come naturally to some, it is a habit I had to learn.

My inability to get out of bed proved to be more than a mild inconvenience – in fact, in my first couple of years as a teacher, I arrived late to school more than once. I lost a lot of credibility for that, with colleagues and students alike, and swore to myself that it wouldn’t happen again. And, so far, it hasn’t.

Here’s how I now manage to wake up at 6am every day:

Go to bed early

This may seem obvious, but it’s the biggest mistake I continue to make. I’ve written about the importance of sleep in a previous blog post. It goes without saying that the more sleep you can get, the easier it can be to wake up in the morning.

Cut out alcohol

Abstaining from a drink on a weekday evening makes it so much easier to wake up. Even a couple of drinks can play havoc with your sleep. Best leave that beer in the fridge until Friday.

Set two alarms

I have the tendency to turn off my alarm and then fall back asleep. To work around this problem I now set a secondary alarm to go off 10 minutes later.

Use a gentle alarm sound

I used to hate being woken up by the obnoxious beep of a traditional alarm clock. On my Android phone I use an alarm sound called ‘Awaken’ which I find very subtle and pleasant to wake up to.

‘Awaken’ – my preferred alarm sound

Look through the options on your phone and choose one you find the least jarring.

Put an alarm out of reach

I put my phone on the other side of the room rather than next to my bed. Having to get out from under the covers and onto my feet to switch off the alarm signals to my mind that it is time to wake up.

Have something to look forward to

If there’s something that does make me spring out of bed, it’s the thought of the coffee and croissant waiting for me in the kitchen. This doesn’t have to extend just to food though. Perhaps you might enjoy listening to some music, a podcast, some brief meditation, reading, or yoga. Whatever you enjoy, use this to lure you out from under the duvet.

Sleep with a morning person

Somehow my wife has no problem getting up at 5.30am. Fortunately for me, the sound of her moving about wakes me up. Plus, because she is up early, it feels like an ordinary behaviour to have, which makes me more likely to get out of bed myself. 

Remember why you’re getting up so early in the first place

I chose to teach over other ways of making a living and I’m not going to be able to deliver on that promise from bed.

Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor from 161 to 180, once wrote:

‘At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work—as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for—the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’

I often think of this quote on the mornings when I really don’t want to get up.

I try to remember that I’m here to serve. That there are people who need me. And they can’t do it alone.

Getting up doesn’t seem so bad after all.

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