There’s a Best Time to Wake Up. This App Helps You Find It.

The RISE app tells you the best time to wake up based on your body clock and how much sleep you need.
Updated
2023-11-10
18 MINS
Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
Our Editorial Standards
We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
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Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.

What’s the Best Time to Wake Up Scientifically? 

  • The best time to wake up is different for everyone. It depends on how much sleep you need, whether you’re an early bird or night owl (or something in between), and your circadian rhythm. 
  • The best wake time is also one you can stick to consistently. 
  • The RISE app can tell you the best time to wake up for you. It works out how much sleep you need and predicts your circadian rhythm each day, so you can see when your body naturally wants to wake up.

Many of us don’t put much thought into when we wake up. We may set an alarm an hour or so before we need to be at work, or we get up whenever the kids decide to wake us up each day. 

But waking up at the right time can improve your energy, productivity, mood, and overall health and wellness. The caveat? The best time to wake up is different for everyone.

Read on to discover the best time to wake up and how the RISE app can tell you your ideal wake-up time.

Advice From a Sleep Doctor

A Sleep Doctor Explains

“The best time to wake up will look very different for everyone. It depends on factors like how much sleep you need and whether you’re an early bird or night owl, or something in between. Instead of worrying too much about the best time, my advice is to focus on getting enough sleep each night and waking up at a regular time each day, even on weekends. This will help you feel better in the morning and sustain your energy throughout the day.”

Rise Science sleep advisor and medical reviewer, Dr. Chester Wu.

What Is the Best Time to Wake Up? 

There is no one best time to wake up. The best time to wake up is different for each person. It depends on your: 

  • Sleep need (how much sleep you need) 
  • Chronotype (whether you’re an early bird, night owl, or somewhere between the two)
  • Lifestyle 

The best time to wake up is a time that allows you to get enough sleep each night, one that fits with your chronotype and lifestyle commitments, and one that you can stick to consistently. These are the factors – rather than a specific time – that will make the biggest difference to how you feel in the morning and how much energy you have all day. 

Let’s dive into these factors, and more, in more detail. 

Sleep Need 

Your sleep need is the amount of sleep you need each night. It’s unique to you and determined by genetics — just like height and eye color. 

You want to wake up at a time that allows you to meet your sleep need each night. So the best time to wake up will depend on your bedtime (we’ll cover the best time to go to sleep soon). 

When it comes to sleep need, don’t just aim for eight hours and hope for the best.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep, but these amounts are guidelines. They’re based on self-reported data, which can be inaccurate, and based on how much sleep people get, not what they need. 

Our sleep need insights: To see just how much sleep needs vary, we looked at how much sleep 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and up need. It ranged from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes and 48% of users need eight hours of sleep or more. 

The RISE app can work out your sleep need.
The RISE app can work out your sleep need.

To find out your sleep need, turn to RISE. The app uses sleep science algorithms and your phone use behavior over the last year to work out your sleep need down to the minute. 

You can learn more about how much sleep you need here.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep need here

Chronotype 

You might have heard of early birds and night owls. These are chronotypes. Research states about 40% of adults are either early birds or night owls, while 60% of us sit somewhere in between the two extremes.

Depending on your chronotype, your body will naturally want to wake up earlier or later. 

Your chronotype, and therefore the best time to wake up, can change throughout your life. We’re usually more night owls as teenagers and become more early birds as we age.

You can learn more about chronotypes here, including how to work yours out.

Lifestyle

In an ideal world, we’d all wake up when our bodies naturally want us to. But that’s not always possible. You may need to get the kids up, have a set work schedule, or work rotating shifts with different start times each week. 

The best wake-up time is one that fits with your morning commitments.  

Here are a few other factors to take into account when figuring out the best time to wake up: 

Your Circadian Rhythm 

Your circadian rhythm is your internal clock. It runs on a roughly 24-hour rhythm and helps to dictate your sleep-wake cycle. 

The timing of your circadian rhythm is determined in part by your chronotype and by zeitgebers (German for time-givers). Zeitgebers are cues that time your circadian rhythm to the outside world. 

Zeitgebers include: 

  • Light (the most powerful) 
  • Eating 
  • Exercise  

You can reset your circadian rhythm to change when your body naturally wants to wake up. That means even night owls can wake up earlier if they want to. 

RISE uses your phone use behavior, sleep times, and inferred light exposure to predict your circadian rhythm each day. This shows you when your body wants to wake up each morning. Look out for your “Wake Zone.” 

RISE app screenshot showing your energy schedule
The RISE app predicts your circadian rhythm each day.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can see their circadian rhythm on the Energy screen here

Sleep Inertia 

Sleep inertia is the period of grogginess you feel right after waking up. As well as feeling sleepy, your reaction times, decision-making skills, and overall mental performance will be impaired. 

This means you don’t want to wake up shortly before you need to be your best or perform.

Sleep inertia can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. We recommend waking up about 90 minutes before you need to be “on” to give yourself enough time to do an energizing morning routine and shake off sleep inertia. 

For example, if you start work at 9 a.m., try waking up around 7:30 a.m. if your bedtime allows you to get enough sleep and wake up at that time. 

You can learn more about how to shake off sleep inertia here.

Consistency 

Ideally, you want to wake up in the morning at the same time each day, even on your days off. This helps to keep you in sync with your circadian rhythm, which can lead to more energy and better physical and mental health. 

Research shows people with consistent sleep patterns feel more alert than those with inconsistent sleep patterns, even when both groups get enough sleep. 

And our own data shows RISE users with consistent sleep times have lower sleep debt than those with inconsistent sleep times (more on sleep debt soon). 

The National Sleep Foundation’s 2023 guidelines say consistency in sleep times is important for health, safety, and performance. Although it does also say catching up on sleep may be beneficial. 

Learn how to start and stick to a good sleep schedule here.

Sleep Debt and Sleeping In 

Sleep debt is the running total of the sleep you’ve missed out on recently.

If you’ve got a lot of sleep debt, you might want to wake up a little later than usual to catch up on sleep. 

Keep lay-ins to an hour or so (max two hours) to avoid messing up your circadian rhythm, though.

RISE can work out how much sleep debt you have, so you know when you might want to consider a later wake-up time. You can also catch up on sleep by taking naps or getting an early night, so you can stick to the same wake-up time. 

You can learn more about how to sleep in the right way here.

RISE app screenshot showing how much sleep debt you have
The RISE app can calculate how much sleep debt you’ve got.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep debt here

Expert tip: Use the RISE alarm clock. RISE can tell you as you’re setting the alarm whether your chosen wake-up time will add to your sleep debt the next day. If it does, consider setting a later alarm.

There’s no one best time to wake up, no matter what you’re trying to achieve. The best time to wake up for weight loss, for students, or for success is unique for each person. Focus on waking up at a consistent time that allows you to get enough sleep. 

RISE works as a sleep calculator showing you how much sleep you need and predicting your circadian rhythm so you can see the best time to get this sleep and the best time to wake up.

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Does It Matter What Time You Wake Up?

Yes, it matters what time you wake up. Waking up at a time that allows you to get enough sleep and stay in sync with your circadian rhythm will result in more energy, better mood, more focus, and lower odds of mental and physical health problems. So instead of an exact time, the best time to wake up for you will depend on factors like your sleep need and chronotype. 

And despite what you might have heard about sleep cycles, you can’t time your wake-up time to the end of a sleep cycle, so that’s not something you need to worry about. Getting enough sleep and staying in sync with your circadian rhythm are the most important factors.  

Sleep deprivation is linked to everything from low energy, diabetes, and weight gain, and being out of sync with your circadian rhythm can lead to health issues like depression and cancer. 

A 2023 study even found irregular sleep patterns are linked to harmful gut bacteria — and shifting your sleep times by as little as 90 minutes can make this happen. 

And another 2023 study found a disrupted circadian rhythm from ill-timed light and meals can mess with your hormones and metabolism. 

You can learn more about why it matters what time you sleep here.

What Is the Worst Time to Wake Up?

There’s no set time that’s the worst time to wake up. But there are a few things you want to avoid. 

It’s not good to wake up: 

  • Before you’ve had enough sleep 
  • At inconsistent times each day 
  • Shortly before a time you need to be “on” (due to sleep inertia) 

It’s also not good to repeatedly hit the snooze button. A 2022 study found snoozing your alarm prolongs sleep inertia compared to using a single alarm.

While a 2023 study suggests hitting snooze for 30 minutes can improve sleep inertia and performance on cognitive tests, the study was small, used self-reported data, and was done on sleep deprived night owls (a group that benefits from a later wake-up time, even if it’s via snoozing).

Waking up before you’ve had enough sleep can lead to lower energy, productivity, weight gain, and health problems. But it can also change the type of sleep you get. 

As the bulk of your REM sleep comes in the second half of the night, cutting your sleep short by waking up too early can mean you’re not getting enough REM. REM is needed for creativity, memory consolidation, and emotion regulation. 

You might have heard the worst time to wake up is halfway through a sleep cycle (during deep sleep, for example). But that may not be the case. Sleep cycles can change each night and from person to person, so you can’t really time your wake-up time to match. 

What is the Best Time to Go to Sleep? 

The best time to go to sleep is different for everyone. Your wake-up time may be more fixed than your bedtime, so finding the best bedtime for you is important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

The perfect time to go to sleep depends on: 

  • Your sleep need
  • Your chronotype 
  • When you need to wake up
  • Your sleep efficiency 

Sleep efficiency is the amount of time you spend asleep in bed, taking into account the time it takes to fall asleep and the time you’re awake during the night (waking up once or twice is normal, by the way). If your sleep efficiency is low (i.e. you spend a lot of time awake in bed), you may need an earlier bedtime to get the sleep you need. 

For example, if you need eight hours of sleep and you need to wake up at 8 a.m., you’d count back eight hours to get to midnight. Then, add 30 minutes to an hour (depending on your sleep efficiency) to give yourself enough time to fall asleep, wake up in the night, and still meet your sleep need. So a bedtime of 11 p.m. or 11:30 p.m. could be best. 

For a more accurate approach, RISE can give you a science-backed bedtime. The app looks at your sleep need and sleep debt to give you an ideal bedtime to help you get enough sleep. 

This bedtime will gradually shift earlier if you need to get more sleep — something RISE users say can help you start waking up at the best time for you naturally.

“The difference I feel in terms of energy is night and day. I also like how the app will slowly shift your bedtime to get you to your targeted wake-up time. It’s a gradual process but so so effective. I haven’t needed an alarm to wake up in the morning since I started using this app!” Read the review

You can also look for your Melatonin Window in the app, which will give you a one-hour bedtime window to aim for. Your Melatonin Window is what we call the roughly one-hour window of time when your body’s rate of melatonin production is at its highest.

Melatonin is the hormone that primes your body for sleep, so heading to bed when your melatonin levels are high means you may have an easier time falling asleep. 

You can learn more about the best time to go to sleep here.

RISE app screenshot showing the best time to go to bed
The RISE app can tell you the best time to go to bed.

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How Much Sleep Do We Need? 

We all need a different amount of sleep. You can use the RISE app to find out your sleep need down to the minute. Or you can work out your sleep need manually by waking up without an alarm and keeping a sleep diary for a week or two — although this method can be inaccurate and tricky to pull off. You can learn more about this manual “sleep rebound” method to calculate your sleep need here. 

The National Sleep Foundation has guidelines on how much sleep you need. These are: 

  • Newborns: 14 to 17 hours 
  • Infants: 12 to 15 hours 
  • Toddlers: 11 to 14 hours 
  • Preschoolers: 10 to 13 hours 
  • School-aged children: 9 to 11 hours 
  • Teenagers: 8 to 10 hours 
  • Young adults and adults: 7 to 9 hours 
  • Older adults: 7 to 8 hours 

Beware, these recommended amounts of sleep are a good place to start, but they’re just guidelines. A 2018 paper states there is no “magic number” when it comes to the ideal duration of sleep.

These guidelines can also be misleading. They’re based on how much sleep people get — not what they need — and on self-reported data, which is often inaccurate

For example, older people may not need less sleep than younger adults. It’s simply harder to get sleep as you age, so data shows older adults are getting less sleep, not necessarily that they need less.

When we looked at RISE user data, we found the median sleep need for those over 60 was eight hours 18 minutes and for those aged 24 to 59, it was eight hours 24 minutes — a difference of only six minutes. 

Your sleep need can also change.

You may temporarily need more sleep if you’re recovering from:

  • Illness 
  • Injury 
  • Intense exercise
  • Sleep deprivation 

You can learn how long it takes to recover from sleep deprivation here.

What Are the Side Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep? 

The side effects of not getting enough sleep include: 

Long-term sleep debt can lead to: 

  • Diabetes 
  • Weight gain and obesity 
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease 
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Having multiple serious health conditions (a 2022 study found sleeping for five hours or less a night at ages 50, 60, and 70 was associated with a high risk of having two or more chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease)
  • Early death 

Is Waking Up Early Healthy?

Waking up early may be healthy if you’re getting enough sleep and staying in sync with your circadian rhythm. 

If waking up early means you’re cutting your sleep short and going against your circadian rhythm (i.e. you’re not a morning person or you wake up at different times each day), then early mornings may not be healthy for you. 

However, there is some research suggesting early wake-up times may be better for you — even if you’re a night owl.  

Jamie Zeitzer is the co-director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences at Stanford University and one of our Rise Science sleep advisors. He worked on a 2023 study that suggests going to sleep early is linked to a decreased likelihood of mental and physical health disorders. 

It’s not clear why exactly, but it may be because sleeping earlier is linked to healthier lifestyle choices and getting more natural light, which can help you stay in sync with your circadian rhythm. 

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What Is the Best Time to Wake Up in Your Sleep Cycle? 

The best time to wake up in your sleep cycle may be at the end of one complete cycle before you start the next one. But it’s not something we can really control.

Here’s a quick explainer: A sleep cycle is made up of light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep and it lasts 70 to 120 minutes. You might get four to six sleep cycles a night in a good night’s sleep. 

It’s said that you’ll feel less groggy if you wake up at the end of a sleep cycle, instead of your alarm going off while you’re halfway through in deep sleep, for example. 

But that may not be the case. 

Firstly, research is mixed on whether you’ll feel groggier waking up during deep sleep compared to other sleep cycles. 

Secondly, everyone’s sleep cycles and stages of sleep look different and last different lengths of time (they range from 70 to 120 minutes remember). They can even change for you from night to night or across the course of a single night. And wearable devices aren’t fully accurate in tracking them. Even if you’re in a sleep lab, sleep-stage scoring is done manually and experts only agree on final scores about 80% of the time. 

All this makes it almost impossible to time your alarm clock to the end of a sleep cycle. 

Your best bet is to wake up at a consistent time each morning after getting enough sleep. Your brain will take care of the rest. 

What Time Does the Average Person Wake Up? 

According to 2023 RISE data, the average person wakes up at 8:16 a.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. on weekends. 

If you’re curious, the average bedtimes are 11:46 p.m. on weekdays and 11:52 p.m. on weekends. 

Remember, there’s no one best time to wake up. The best time will depend on your own biology and lifestyle. 

The Best Time to Wake Up Is Unique to You 

The ideal time to wake up depends on how much sleep you need, your chronotype, circadian rhythm, and lifestyle. It’ll also be a wake time you can stick to consistently. 

RISE can take the guesswork out of it by working out how much sleep you need and predicting your circadian rhythm each day, so you can see when your body naturally wants to wake up.

RISE can also tell you how much sleep debt you have, so you can know when it’s best to wake up a little later and catch up on sleep. 

Finally, RISE can guide you through 20+ sleep habits to help you get the sleep you need, no matter what time you wake up. 

All this can boost your energy, health, mood, and productivity. And you can see the benefits fast — 80% of RISE users get better sleep and more energy within five days.

Summary FAQs

What is the best time to wake up?

The best time to wake up is a time that allows you to get enough sleep each night, one that fits with your chronotype and lifestyle commitments, and one that you can stick to consistently. These are the factors – rather than a specific time – that will make the biggest difference to how you feel in the morning and how much energy you have all day.

What is the healthiest time to wake up?

The healthiest time to wake up is at a time that allows you to get enough sleep each night and stay in sync with your circadian rhythm. There is some research suggesting that waking up earlier is healthier for you, regardless of your chronotype, but more studies are needed. This link may be because getting up earlier is associated with a healthier lifestyle and getting more natural light.

What is the best time to wake up scientifically?

There is no one scientifically best time to wake up. The best time to wake up for you will depend on how much sleep you need, whether you’re an early bird or night owl, your body clock, and your lifestyle. Although there is research showing an earlier wake-up time could be healthier for you, regardless of your chronotype, more studies are needed. This link may be due to earlier wake-ups being associated with healthier lifestyle choices and getting more natural light.

What is the best time to wake up in your sleep cycle?

The best time to wake up in your sleep cycle may be at the end before you start the next sleep cycle. But this isn’t really something you can make happen. You may feel groggier if you wake up during deep sleep or REM sleep, but more research is needed to confirm if this is true and it’s very hard to time your alarm to the end of a sleep cycle anyway.

What is the best time to wake up for weight loss?

There is no best time to wake up for weight loss. For weight loss, you need to get enough sleep and stay in sync with your body clock. So the best time to wake up depends on how much sleep you need, whether you’re an early bird or night owl or in between, your body clock, and your lifestyle.

Best time to wake up calculator

The RISE app is a wake-up calculator that finds the best time for you. It works out how much sleep you need, how much sleep debt you have, and it predicts your circadian rhythm each day, so you can see when your body naturally wants to wake up.

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