How to use sleep technology to get up early

No need to sell me on the benefits of being early. I’ve seen dozens of articles and studies detailing how waking up early is better for your health, productivity, and stress levels. But waking up early isn’t easy. Speaking from experience, it’s a lot harder if you’re a natural owl and there’s no particular reason – like getting your kids to school – to wake up before 7am. Additionally, alarm clocks and phone alarms don’t always work for the sleepiest.

We said, there is other sleep gadgets and apps that can help a lot.

If you’re an incorrigible night owl trying to masquerade as an early bird, good news. That’s been me for the past 10 years, and I’ve tried everything from melatonin to those alarm clocks that run away from you. But after a lot of trial and error (and experimenting with a ton of sleep tech), I’ve become one of those people who enjoys getting up well before I have to. It can be done! Although I won’t lie, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble. What worked for me may not work for you, and unfortunately, sometimes things that used to work suddenly won’t. So feel free to tweak and experiment, but here are some helpful tips to get you started.

An early day always starts the night before. This may seem obvious, but the key to waking up easily depends on knowing how much sleep your body actually needs. The more rested you are when it’s time to wake up, the less tempting that snooze button seems.

The amount of sleep you need changes with age, but the CDC recommends that adults get at least seven hours a night. Some people will need less, and others will need much more. The best way to find out how much you you need to either download a sleep tracking app or invest in a sleep tracker.

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The first step is to record a normal week of sleep. From there, you should be able to see how much sleep you’re getting and whether that’s good enough for your needs. If you already have a smartwatch or fitness tracker, then chances are you might have a week or two worth of sleep data and you can jump straight to the good part. Otherwise, apps are the easiest and most cost-effective route.

I’ve tried many sleep tracking apps over the years and recommend Rise Science for this particular use case. It has an annual subscription of $59.99, but you won’t really need more than the initial 7-day free trial. I like Rise Science because it calculates your sleep debt and sleep needs based on your sleep habits, as well as providing a bedtime window. I’ve also used and liked the Mental Tracker and Sleep Cycle, but anything that measures your sleep duration and can give you an idea of ​​your sleep quality will do.

Then look at your data to see what time you are actually Wake up. For example, I wanted to wake up at 6am, but most days, I got out of bed at 8:15am.

At that point, you will set two alarms. Set the first one for 15-30 minutes earlier than you currently wake up. For the second, work backwards to find out how long you’ll need to sleep to meet your sleep needs. Set an alarm for 15-30 minutes before this as a signal to stop.

In my case, I had two years of wearable data and the Rise Science app estimated my need for sleep at 8 hours and 15 minutes. Based on this, I set my alarm for 8am. and the bedtime alarm for 11:45 p.m. You can always use the Sleep Schedule feature on iOS or Bedtime in the Clock app on Android to make it more visual.

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Once you can reliably stick to this schedule for about three weeks, you can change your alarms by another 15-30 minutes until you reach your ideal wake-up time. Be patient – ​​this whole process can take months and you might get stuck at a certain point. It took me about seven months to successfully and steadily transition from waking up at 8:15am. on waking at 6:15 am (Still working to get to 6am).

A consistent bedtime routine can include non-tech things like laying out your clothes for tomorrow before bed, but it can also mean making the most of smart lights, smart plugs, sunrise lamps , thermostats and aromatherapy gadgets. Your setup can be as simple or as complex as you want, as long as it helps you create your ideal sleep environment.

One of the easiest things you can do is enable sleep focus (iOS) or bedtime mode (Android 13) on your smartphone. These features work a little differently, but both are designed to reduce phone-related distractions when you’re trying to turn off. These features are also highly customizable. For example, you can set limits for apps that tempt you to stay awake, turn off notifications for anyone outside the family, or have the phone automatically go into Dark Mode. It requires some experimentation, but the important thing is that it acts as a signal to put down your phone.

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Smart lighting is also a great way to customize your sleeping environment. We have a full guide to smart lighting here, but one cool thing is that you can schedule your lights to dim at a specific time. If you’re all inside the smart home, you can also sync your lights along with turning down the thermostat (cooler spaces are better for sleeping) and queue up a relaxing playlist. Smart plugs are another good option here if you just want to turn a device on or off at a specific time. For example, if you want to turn on a regular diffuser or humidifier at 10pm every night.

If this is too complicated, you could always opt for a sunrise lamp. These bulbs are essentially a type of smart alarm clock where an artificial light source simulates the sunrise. The idea is to replace sound-based alarms with a gentler, non-invasive method that takes advantage of your natural circadian rhythms. Many modern sunrise lamps can also double as reading lamps that use warm lighting to help you relax at night. Some have built-in sleep tracking and can be integrated into your smart home, like the Amazon Halo Rise, while others can play white noise to help you drift off.

Basically, you’re trying to stack the odds in your favor. You are more likely to wake up early if you can fall asleep more easily. You will fall asleep faster if you can control your environment, and so on and so forth. The ideal routine will look different for everyone, but here’s an example (assuming you have a fully smart home):

  • Smart lights dim and use warm lighting at 9pm.
  • The smart thermostat starts lowering your bedroom temperature at 10pm.
  • Smart plugs activate a lavender oil diffuser (which promotes sleep) at 9.45pm.
  • The phone enters sleep mode at 10:35 p.m., closing all notifications, limiting all social media apps, and dimming the screen.
  • Lights out at 22:45.
  • You fall asleep at 11pm.
  • Your sunrise lamp starts waking you up at 6:15am.

My personal setup these days is much simpler. I have a smart diffuser that turns on at 9pm and my humidifier is connected to a smart plug that turns on at 9:30pm. Both automatically turn off at 1am. My phone’s Sleep Focus turns on at 10:15pm and I’m usually asleep by 10:30pm. At 6:15 a.m., my Apple Watch starts vibrating to wake me up without disturbing my wife.

I know I’ll have to change it down the line. In fact, I just added the diffuser last month and removed a sunrise light that only woke me up half the time. That’s what he said, doing all this he’s got it’s helped me wake up earlier 90 percent of the time while improving my overall sleep quality — even if my cat does her best to frustrate my efforts. I don’t always succeed, but after a decade of trying to change my sleep habits, I can honestly say that focusing on the night before makes a world of difference. And if gadgets can help you better automate the perfect bedtime routine — why not take advantage of them?

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