Personal Productivity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people wanting to improve their personal productivity. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I find that I often wake up at a decent time, but don't get out of bed immediately. This results in me falling asleep again for another hour. This process might repeat itself once or twice, resulting in anywhere from 1 to 3 hours of extra unnecessary sleep, when I could've been getting things done.

This doesn't happen if I need to wake up to be somewhere - it's only because I have a flexible schedule.

How can one break this habit?

share|improve this question
Kind of a PS to my answer - I don't think laying around in bed is necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes that makes you more refreshed and alert so that when you are getting things done, you do them better. – Blowski Jun 22 '11 at 19:34
@Blowski only true when done every now and then. Done often (as in OP's case) it hardly is healthy nor very productive. – 0sh Apr 19 '12 at 22:26
sleep is never a waste of time. if you were able to sleep another "1 to 3 hours", that means you needed it – amphibient Jan 23 '13 at 20:12
You haven't mentioned time you sleep, if you sleep at 2 am and try waking up at 5, that's bad! – rptwsthi Apr 23 '13 at 12:17
I noticed it sometimes happens to me when I know there's something pretty unpleasant waiting for me — when there're troubles at work, for example. – Michael Pankov Feb 17 '14 at 15:58

35 Answers 35

up vote 153 down vote accepted

After reading this article by Steve Pavlina (his early stuff is really good) and experimenting a bit, I consistently wake up at 5 AM by programming only one task into my head: Get up from the bed and GO.

I forbid myself from having any other thoughts when I wake up, because I know I'll convince myself -with very strong, logical and solid arguments- to go back to sleep, and then I'll wake up 90 minutes later, having failed, and angry at myself. I'll just silently repeat "Get up and go, get up and go, get up and go." until I'm safe.

So, the alarm goes off, I turn it off, I get up and I walk out of the room. All within ten seconds. My workout clothes and keys are waiting by the front door, so by the time I'm changing I'm already into the groove. Only then can I finally allow myself to think about other things (the workout itself, Facebook, family stuff, etc.) because there is no risk of me going back.

share|improve this answer
This article helped me as well. One of his suggestions seems crazy, but it works. Actually practice getting out of bed the night before so you'll do it as soon as you wake up. You want it to be automatic. – Dan H Jun 22 '11 at 22:02
Excellent article. I haven't tried this yet, but one thing I thought of is not allowing myself to use the snooze at all (possibly getting an alarm without one). So, when the alarm goes off go through the motions that he describes to wake up your body, all the while the alarm is beeping prompting you to wake up already. I also like the idea of planning to do something you really want to do. I usually shower first thing in the morning, but I don't really enjoy showering that much, so I'll have to think of something else. – Bryan Matthews Jun 30 '11 at 3:56
I sleep for 6 hours at night, from 23:00 to 05:00, in accordance to the 90-minute increments sleep advice that's all over the web. I also take a 20 minute nap after lunch. It works for me, but it does take some control of your schedule. – Eugenio Perea Aug 2 '11 at 17:19
Pavlina has an even more relevant (though very strange) article: How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off. He recommends practising getting out of bed immediately after the alarm going off, including doing this practice in broad daylight when you're not actually asleep. He says "This is going to sound really stupid, but it works." – ShreevatsaR Nov 27 '13 at 6:33
I had read Pavlina's articles before but they didn't help me. However your approach to crowd the mind with Get up and go, get up and go, get up and go seems effective (for me). I'll report back in a month in case it works. Everything else has failed me so far. – Error Mar 13 '14 at 4:49

I find that in these situations I'm usually fine once I actually get up and moving. So, here's what works for me:

  • I make sure to get enough, high-quality sleep.
  • I eat protein before bed. (Waking up with low blood sugar is not a good experience.)
  • I schedule something I really look forward to first thing in the morning so I feel deep down that there's a good reason not to stay snuggled in bed.
  • I have a small child who invariably pounces if I'm not up early enough.
share|improve this answer
I've also found that having something to look forward to gets me out everytime. Using that strategy I've been able to get out of bed, even if I haven't had enough sleep (though I wouldn't recommend skipping sleep for any reason). – Jóhann Jun 23 '11 at 16:01
Is there any published research behind this protein before bed strategy? – Jase Dec 18 '12 at 16:38
+1 for "eat protein before bed" – amphibient Jan 23 '13 at 20:14
+1 for I have a small child who invariably pounces if I'm not up early enough Seems like i too need one :D – rptwsthi Apr 23 '13 at 12:19
Protein has nothing to do with blood sugar - the only time protein starts getting converted for energy is when you've depleted fats and complex carbs. Proteins are not carbs. Protein might have an effect but I'm quite confident it wouldn't change blood sugar levels. – alex.p Nov 26 '13 at 19:54

I had the same problem a few weeks ago. I usually felt very tired in the morning and when I didn't have anything urgent to do I saw myself sleeping for too long.

3 weeks method

It's said if you want to estabilish a routine for yourself, 3 weeks is the minimum time you have to repeat a given habit in order to make it feel natural.

My sleeping problem was solved by using the 3 weeks method. The cellphone allarm was set to remind me I had to sleep everyday at 10pm in order to get the body used to it. For the first 2 weeks it was very hard to sleep at that time but after trying several methods of relaxation, I eventually felt drowzy when it was close to 10pm.


It feels great to use only a few minutes to fall asleep instead of roll over the bed for hours. I never thought it would be so easy to wake up in the morning like it was just a regular nap.

share|improve this answer
Do you have any references for the "3 weeks method"? – jrdioko Jun 29 '11 at 22:56
I'm not sure which approach you're looking for but you can look up "21 days routine" and choose whatever suits you better. – Renan Jun 30 '11 at 14:19
Found this while searching, just sharing it here. – jrdioko Jun 30 '11 at 16:15

Simple trick that works for me - put the alarm clock on the other side of the room, preferably in a high place. This forces me to get out of the warmth of the bed to turn the thing off. Getting up out of the bed also usually causes me to need to use the washroom. Once that starts going my brain kicks on somewhat. Having the snooze button RIGHT THERE is a dangerous temptation.

share|improve this answer
I found this works well for a while - but once I get used to it I can half-consciously turn it off and stumble back to bed! At that point I usually move it to another place in the room, and it works again for a while. – Dave James Miller Jun 22 '11 at 20:51

This is what I do almost every single day:

  • Sleep earlier
    Waking up refreshed is the best way to combat oversleeping, because you won't actually go back to bed and sleep
  • Look forward to the morning
    Make a scrumptious breakfast or submit an answer on StackExchange, and look forward to all the rep you will gain (heheheh)
  • Use 2 Alarms
    Place one really far away from you and another one nearer to you. This will prevent you from subconsciously snoozing your alarm clock.
  • Use someone's help
    Get someone to do something to you (etc. splash some water onto your face, using a bright torchlight and shining at at your face)
  • Have an iPhone/Android Phone?
    Try using Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock (iOS, $0.99) or Smart Alarm Clock (Android, donationware). The makers claim that they will wake you at your lightest point of sleep bla bla bla, but there are quite a few rave reviews about them.
  • Don't close your curtains
    The sun can wake you up. But if you are paranoid about your privacy, then don't do it.
  • Make sure it is quiet
    Sleep in a quiet area and close your windows. You wouldn't want to get waken up by some random hooligan shouting in the middle of the night waking you up.
  • Move your clock 10 or 5 minutes forward **
    This never failed me before. Waking up thinking that I would be late will always make me very awake. Put a **clock
    (not alarm clock) somewhere where you can and set it so it would be 10-20 mins or more, and make sure you actually follow that timing.

  • No alcohol or sex before sleeping
    Alcohol or sexual intercourse with an orgasm release endorphins which will make you too much relaxed thus making you want to sleep more. Instead you can have sexual intercourse during the day.

Trust me. It works :)

share|improve this answer
I have one of the iPhone sleep cycle alarm apps and they definitely work. – tcrosley Dec 4 '11 at 5:35
Thinking you'll be late might stress you out so you wake up prematurely - be careful with that. – Dan Dascalescu Dec 21 '13 at 5:32
I agree with that, I am a student and I have had a lot of experiences like this, not waking up on time etc. I have this iPhone app called Rise, which is an extreme help, I set it to 6:00 if I need to wake up 7:00 so I can half-sleep for a hour, that way I don't get a crude wake-up call. – Souljacker Feb 18 '14 at 16:48

Have you tried accountability? Find a partner who wants to wake up at the same time, and agree to try and call each other as close to the hour as possible. (6:00am or 6:01am). You may want to continue these calls every 15 minutes until you are both committed to being up and running.

share|improve this answer

Snooze is your enemy! Disable the snooze function on your alarm clock and then you don't trust yourself to wake up again.

If you are able to wake up for specific things, then give yourself specific things to do - make appointments with friends, etc.

share|improve this answer

One thing you could try is to plan an important task on the mornings when you think this might be a problem. For instance, if you have pets you could intentionally not feed them the night before you're afraid of sleeping in as an incentive to get out of bed the next morning.

If you're anything like me once you're up you're up for the rest of the day, it often just takes the initial willpower.

share|improve this answer
I completely agree with the last statement. I have found that having to meet with someone early in the morning or getting out for a run/bike ride usually helps. Alternatively just getting into a shower or having a glass of water have helped me get up and going. – Jonathan Jun 22 '11 at 19:42

Hunger could help to bring yourself out of bed, so trick is to stop eating 12–16 hours before you want to be awake. Following excerpt from this article:

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have now pinpointed a second clock that is set by the availability of food. Their study, published today in the journal Science, is based on research on mice. But they believe all mammals, including humans, possess an internal food clock, too.

Clifford Saper, the senior author of the study, said this second clock probably takes over when food is scarce. It may have evolved to make sure mammals don't go to sleep when they should be foraging for food to stay alive.

share|improve this answer
It sounds to me that skipping dinner is a bad thing to do, although swapping it around to earlier in the day can be considered a good thing but might not be feasible in a social life... – Tom Wijsman Jun 23 '11 at 14:25
The link has now gone away... – Stuart Woodward Jan 23 '13 at 14:49
@StuartWoodward I've fixed the link to the article. – AlexD Jan 23 '13 at 14:58
Eat diner earlier and lighter, but don't skip this or any other meal. – JeffO May 8 '13 at 19:51
This food-clock trick has worked for me to reset my sleep cycle when traveling from the US to Europe or Australia. But on the other hand, I had other motivations in the morning as well ;) – Dan Dascalescu Dec 21 '13 at 5:30

Here are some tips that could be of benefit to you:

  1. Sleep earlier

    If you can't get awake, you might not be catching enough sleep. Get to bed earlier one or two hours earlier to see whether this helps you wake up more properly. Make sure you don't take in food the hour before you go to sleep as this can keep you awake in bed, also don't use your bed for other things than sleeping. Well, there is one exception... :)

    Check whether you might have a light Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder and try to read up on it.

  2. Sleep well

    Check that your sleep environment is fine: Noise, temperature, light and your bed make a difference.

    My nightly habit is to open up the valves of my roof windows to have fresh air during the night...

  3. Get a proper alarm at a proper place

    1. Set an alarm before you have to wake up and make it repeat every X minutes.

      This will ensure that even if you fall asleep again the first time you will be awake when you have to, having it repeat will make sure that you don't sleep for another Y hours.

    2. Place the alarm out of reach, so that you literally have to stand up and walk to it to turn it off.

  4. Force yourself to get out of bed

    Try to stay awake, perhaps set up some music and get busy. (Breakfast, coffee, ...)

    You should be able to do this given that you can sleep earlier and well...

share|improve this answer
Or, an alarm that you have to chase to turn off – rlb.usa Jun 29 '11 at 23:29

My schedule is often that flexible, in which case I let my body decide when it's had enough sleep. But if I need to get things done at a certain time, I set an alarm. If I have trouble waking, I put the alarm clock across the room. By the time I've turned off the alarm, I'm pretty awake and ready for the day.

Having ambitious goals and a desire to achieve them will provide incentive to start knocking off tasks in the morning -- if you DON'T want to achieve them, even better -- you're already where you want to be! :-)

share|improve this answer

One way that work for some people, is to start moving. Like raising and lowering hand/leg. After few minutes person could easily stand from bed.

share|improve this answer

One very specific technique is to make good coffee (or some equivalent morning treat) and use that as an incentive to get up.

For me I have my preferred brand of coffee beans along with my favorite creamer, milk or other ingredients stocked and when I wake up I almost immediately go start preparing it so that it makes me move faster during the morning in order to be ready soon after my coffee is.

The same could go for a smoothie, some sort of baked goods you make for breakfast etc.

share|improve this answer

I have a flexible enough schedule that if I decide I feel like going back to sleep, I can. So what I do is keep a pad and paper beside my bed. When I'm "undecided," that's an excellent time to plan the day, brainstorm new ideas, and sketch out ideas. if I'm still tired, I assume I need the sleep and go back to bed. Most days, though, when I'm done doodling about what I want to do that day, I'm excited to get out of bed and get started with it!

share|improve this answer

Fix yourself a good breakfast. I find that I do a much better job getting up in the morning when I know that I can look forward to something good to eat in the morning.

share|improve this answer

Of all the answers and suggestions in this question, none of them would work for me consistently--having something you really look forward to helps though, one thing I do is I promise myself to work at least one hour first thing in the morning, on something that I absolutely love (usually involves programming).

But that's more to keep me moving in the morning and to encourage myself to set my alarm to 5am or earlier on any given day. For me the only technique I can rely on is this:

This is going to sound really stupid, but it works. Practice getting up as soon as your alarm goes off. That’s right — practice. But don’t do it in the morning. Do it during the day when you’re wide awake.

Go to your bedroom, and set the room conditions to match your desired wake-up time as best you can. (..) Set your alarm for a few minutes ahead. Lie down in bed just like you would if you were sleeping, and close your eyes. Get into your favorite sleep position. Imagine it’s early in the morning… a few minutes before your desired wake-up time. Pretend you’re actually asleep. Visualize a dream location, or just zone out as best you can.

Now when your alarm goes off, turn it off as fast as you can. (..) shake yourself off, restore the pre-waking conditions, return to bed, reset your alarm, and repeat. Do this over and over and over until it becomes so automatic that you run through the whole ritual without thinking about it.

--from How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off by Steve Pavlina.

Now, that advice is life-changing for bed-loungers, but it alone didn't yet do the trick for me. What I did is I went full Pavlov-style (no relation to Pavlina), or doggy-style if you're feeling puny. I set my alarm to a song and trained myself to react to it's introduction with mindless precision, through the method described above. It's only about 5 seconds into the song--Wouldn't It Be Nice by The Beach Boys--I often load my iPod with just the intro trimmed out of the full song file.

Sony Compact and Slim Travel Speaker

I highly recommend a speaker such as the one above--Sony Compact and Slim Travel Speaker, not necessarily in these helplessly snazzy colors. It plugs and gets power directly from the iPod, and you can easily detach just the top white part and slip it under the pillow. Then turn the iPod volume all the way up. You get quite a loud alarm but creatures outside the territory of your pillow hear a harmlessly muffled 60s classic at best.

Each part of the intro is an automatic cue: I stretch during the initial instrumental part, open my eyes on the thump, and jump out of bed as soon as the voice begins. Been doing it for 3 years and counting.

Works like a charm, never gets old.

share|improve this answer

Procreate. You'll never stay in bed past 8am again, and then only if you compensate by getting up early the next day, so your partner gets to "sleep in".

share|improve this answer

I've found a technique that really works without much effort and makes you productive at the same time: post something interesting in your favorite social network, or even better, an insightful post on your own blog, or a special note to a friend in an e-mail. Do it just before going to bed.

It creates this morning before Christmas feeling where you wake up and you really want to check if you have received any response. Even if the response is zero, you're already wide awake by that moment. In fact, that's the first thing I'm going to do with this post tomorrow morining.

share|improve this answer
Doesn't really work when viewing notifications is just one touch away, on that smart-phone lying right next to your head on the bed. :-) – Vikrant Chaudhary Jun 19 '12 at 20:18

I did this when I had a job with flexible hours, where I could show up anywhere from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. The strategy that worked for me was:

  • Get to bed early. At least by 10, so that if I woke up at 6, I'd slept sufficiently.
  • Don't look at the clock in the morning. I had to get up, shower, get dressed, and go downstairs without knowing what time it was. For best results, I only looked at the clock when I was in my car on the way to work.
  • Have a backup alarm. I set my alarm for 8 a.m., the latest I could reasonably get up and get ready for work. But if I woke up earlier than that, I got up without knowing how early or late I was. It might be 6 a.m., or it might be 7:55. Ultimately it didn't matter, as long as I got moving.

I found that if I checked the time in the morning, I'd happily lounge around until 8 (and hate myself for it later). The secret was not to check the time. I woke up refreshed (as long as I woke up before the alarm), and by the time I checked what time it was, I was already far enough along that there was no point in going back to bed.

share|improve this answer

Um, so I happened to have already outlined an old system at, but it's pretty relvent here...

I'd like to be able to get up early, but I don't really have anyone to be accountable to for this. So I advertised on gumtree (I think craiglist is the equivelent in the US) for someone who was also competitive and wants to wake up early. The rules we have are this.

We each must email each other before 7.10am in the morning, every day except Sunday. If one of us is late, or misses an email due sleeping in, they get a 'late point'. At the end of the month, the person with the most late points gives £10 to a charity choosen by the other, and the scores are reset. We've been doing this for about eight months and it's been a really good way of setting up competition… at some point when I need a project to learn the twitter api I'll build the funcationality into a twitterbot...

share|improve this answer
Hmm... here's how to fool this email technique. – Dan Dascalescu Dec 21 '13 at 5:29

If any of the other answers fail for you because you ultimately go back to bed, try this. It may appear extreme, but it definitely works.

  1. put a loud persistant alarm (A) in a bin safe in your room
  2. lock the safe and put the key in your car
  3. drive your car around the corner to the end of the street
  4. set another alarm (B) 5 minutes before and leave in your room

Here's what will happen in the morning:

  1. alarm B will sound off, and you turn it off
  2. you realize that alarm A will sound in 5 minutes and need to get the key.
  3. you want to go back to bed you realize that in order to prevent yourself from hearing the loud alarm A, and potentially waking up everyone in the house, you must go NOW, because you need time to get to your car and back with the key.
  4. by the time you've walked back to your house, you no longer feel tired because you've walked 2 blocks with the sun in your face.
  5. you unlock the safe to alarm A, preferably before it rings, and begin your day.

The idea is that this forces you to walk all the way to your car and back before you can turn off the alarm. If you decide to ignore the alarm, you aren't likely to fall back asleep because it is still sounding in your room.

Here are possible ways this strategy can fail and recommended alternatives

  1. you ignore the alarm, go back to sleep in another room (in this case, put the bin safe near another person's room)
  2. you go to car and back, turn off alarm, and go back to sleep (you might need more time to become fully conscious so park your car farther. set an automatic coffee maker the night before so you can drink a coffee while walking to your car).
  3. if all these fail, seek professional help.

Hopefully after a few days of doing this, you might have ingrained waking up early as a habit, and can take away the crutch of this setup. After a while, or a vacation, if you fall back into your old habits, do this again for a few days.

share|improve this answer
This is brilliant :) – Dan Dascalescu Dec 21 '13 at 5:27

As you say at the end of your question: it's a habit. The only way to break habits is through practice. Force yourself to get up once your alarm rings, and do this for several weeks, unerringly. Only once you've gotten in the habit of doing so, you can allow yourself the occassional lapse.
Personally it helps me to have an established morning ritual that starts immediately after getting up, so that I can work through the morning fatigue if my alarm wakes me up at an inopportune part of a sleep cylce. I don't want to have to think about anything for the first few minutes of being awake, and that includes even incredibly mundane things of whether to shower or brush teeth first.

share|improve this answer

Really loud alarm bell

A really loud alarm clock worked well for me. But I had to place it so that I had to physically get out of bed in order to switch it off.

share|improve this answer

Always have a reason to get up in the morning and start thinking about it when you wake up. You want to get your mind going and the rest will be easy. Physically moving around helps a lot to. Don't think about being awake before you get out of bed, just get u

share|improve this answer

This is the only thing that works for me. I put two loud alarm clocks right next to the head of my bed. Both have an off switch which I've duct taped thoroughly such that it takes at least 60 seconds of conscious effort to remove the duct tape. I also put absurd things around my alarm clock like a plastic bag with a nail clipper on the alarm clock. Change the absurd things so when you semi-unconsciously go to turn off the alarm your brain has to actually process this novel thing that you're seeing.

share|improve this answer

After being hour late to my job for the fifth time in a row I invented a simple game that helped me a lot. maybe someone will find it helpful as well.

You will need: an alarm clock and a friend.

  • before going to bed i set up my alarm clock 5-10min earlier that required.
  • i left my room and asked my flatmate to hide it somewhere without me knowing where.
  • in the morning before finding it i was really annoyed but fully awake.

Probably a lot depends on the sound of your alarm. At the time i was using default android alarm clock sound and when it was hidden in a drawer it was harder to locate that you might expect.

Before that i tried of course to simply put my alarm clock out of my reach but it was not enough. I was getting out of bed switching it off and getting back to sleep. Few times i woke up late holding my cellphone in my hand and having no memory of how it happened.

share|improve this answer

Have something that it is really worth getting out of bed for. Think about that thing before you go to bed.

For example, if you really like video games, go to bed 1 hour earlier and then allow yourself 1 hour playing first thing in the morning.

share|improve this answer

Keep a bottle of water near the bed.

Then when you wake up, sip the whole bottle (usually around 0.5 to 1l) and you'll get a burst of energy that will wake you up.

share|improve this answer

I have an alarm set on my smartphone far away from may bed, so I must get out of bed to turn it of because I use annoying waking sounds. Also, with some apps you can set easy math problems that you need to solve in order to turn off the alarm, very effective!

share|improve this answer

Having to care for farm animals is what gets me out of bed each day. Not for everyone, but having something you must do in the morning makes a difference. If the goats don't get fed, they die. So I get up!

share|improve this answer

protected by Rory Alsop Apr 2 '15 at 7:46

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.