How to Wake Up Faster in the Morning: 22 Tips Proven to Work

To wake up faster in the morning, get out in natural light, exercise, drink coffee, get enough sleep each night, and have a consistent sleep schedule.
Updated
2023-06-06
16 MINS
Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
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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.

How to Wake Up Faster in the Morning 

  • Sleep inertia, the grogginess you feel right after waking up, is normal. 
  • Shake off sleep inertia faster by getting out in natural sunlight, exercising, playing your favorite music, or drinking a cup of coffee. 
  • Sleep inertia will feel worse and last longer if you’re sleep deprived, so make sure you’re getting enough sleep overall. 
  • The RISE app can predict how long you’ll feel groggy each morning, so you can plan your day around it, and guide you through 20+ good sleep habits to help you get enough sleep each night.

We’re led to believe that the moment our alarm clock rings we should jump out of bed full of energy to start the day. 

But a little thing called sleep inertia gets in the way. Sleep inertia is the groggy feeling you get right after waking up. It’s natural — even when you’ve had enough sleep. 

But, before you resign yourself to sleepy mornings, know that there are plenty of science-backed ways to shake off sleep inertia faster. 

Below, we’ll cover how you can wake up faster in the morning and how the RISE app can make mornings easier.

A Sleep Doctor's Advice

Our sleep advisor and medical reviewer, Dr. Chester Wu, weighs in on how you can wake up faster in the morning

“That grogginess you’re feeling is sleep inertia. It's a normal, but annoying, part of life. One powerful way to shake it off and wake yourself up faster is to get out in sunlight. This tells your body clock that the day has begun and it’s time to be alert.”

1. Resist the Snooze Button

The first thing you should do every morning is resist the snooze button — even when you wake up feeling sleepy. 

Repeatedly hitting the snooze button fragments your sleep, which doesn’t help you get more energy for the day. Instead, sleeping in can disrupt your circadian rhythm, your body’s internal clock, which can lead to lower overall energy. 

RISE’s alarm feature can help if you’re a serial snoozer. When you turn the alarm off, RISE can send you straight to your favorite app for 15 minutes of guilt-free phone time. This will help you wake up slowly and get you through your initial sleep inertia without hitting snooze.

RISE can also predict your circadian rhythm each day, so you can see when your body naturally wants to wake up and whether you’re trying to snooze through it. 

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

2. Choose the Right Alarm Sound

A shrill alarm sound or annoying beep is never a nice way to wake up. But science shows the right sound could help you wake up faster. 

These sounds include: 

For more recommendations, we’ve covered how to wake up to an alarm here.

RISE’s alarm uses melodic sounds or your choice of music, as well as gentle vibrations to wake you up. You can also wake up with haptics on your Apple watch, if you have the RISE Apple watch complication installed. 

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3. Get Bright Light As Soon As Possible

RISE app screenshot showing when to get and avoid bright light
The RISE app can tell you when to get and avoid bright light.

Light signals to your circadian rhythm that it’s daytime. It suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin and keeps your sleep-wake cycle in check, so you feel more alert each morning. 

Aim to get out in natural light for at least 10 minutes. If it’s overcast or you’re getting light through a window, make that 15 to 20 minutes. 

RISE can tell you when exactly to get light (and when to avoid it later in the evening). 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their get bright light reminder. 

4. Try Light Therapy

Still dark outside when you wake up? A 10,000 lux light therapy lamp is the next best thing after natural sunlight. Try spending 30 minutes in front of one while getting ready or having breakfast. 

Red light may also help. A 2019 study found that red light therapy can be effective at reducing sleep inertia.  

5. Drink a Cup of Coffee

Drinking caffeine wakes you up because it blocks the sleepiness chemical adenosine from working in your brain. It can also boost serotonin for a feel-good boost. 

Reach for a cup of coffee, green tea, or black tea for a morning pick-me-up. 

6. Exercise

Exercise gets your blood pumping, raises your body temperature, and triggers serotonin and the alertness-boosting hormone cortisol. It’s also another signal to your circadian rhythm that it’s time to be awake.

A 2021 study found high-intensity exercise is best at waking you up, but low-intensity exercise is still effective. And the best part? These results came from just 30 seconds of exercise. 

Expert tip: Exercising throughout the day can help you get better sleep at night, and 2022 research shows it can help you feel more alert the next morning. 

Just be sure to avoid working out within an hour of bedtime as this can keep you awake — which won’t do your morning energy levels any favors. 

RISE can tell you when it’s best to skip a workout

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their avoid late workouts reminder.

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7. Shower in Cold Water

Another option to help you wake up in the morning is to take a cold shower. Scientific literature indicates cold water spikes your heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism to wake you up. 

Expert tip: If you can’t face a cold shower, try splashing your face with cold water instead.

8. Drink a Glass of Water

Speaking of water, you’ll wake up dehydrated in the morning, so grab a glass of water. 

Research shows mild dehydration can make you feel tired and the simple act of drinking water can perk you up. 

9. Play Your Favorite Music

An easy tip to incorporate into your morning routine is to play a few songs you like while you get ready. 

Research shows “excitative music” can decrease sleep inertia. And it’s even more effective at waking you up if you like the songs. 

10. Have a Morning Routine You Look Forward to

It’ll be easier to get out of bed and get going with your day if you have a morning routine you enjoy. 

Pick a few activities you can look forward to each morning — bonus points if you choose a few from this list. 

Consider: 

  • Enjoying a cup of coffee in the garden 
  • Going for a morning walk 
  • Hitting the gym or your favorite running route 
  • Having breakfast with a family member 

11. Eat a Complex Carb-Rich Breakfast

Kickstart your day (and energy levels) with a complex carb-rich breakfast. 

A 2022 study found a breakfast rich in carbohydrates that are slowly digested and absorbed was linked to higher morning alertness. On the other hand, a high-protein breakfast was linked to lower alertness. 

Opt for a breakfast that includes complex carbohydrates like whole grains (for example, oatmeal or whole wheat bread) and fruits. 

12. Do Some Breathing Exercises

RISE app screenshot showing relaxation sessions
The RISE app can walk you through breathing exercises.

Breathing exercises can increase your brain’s oxygen levels, calm anxiety, and boost circulation in the morning. 

Try: 

  • Diaphragmatic breathing: A 2022 study found diaphragmatic breathing, or deep breathing, helped those with sleep apnea feel less daytime sleepiness. And a 2017 study found it can improve attention.
  • Psychological sighing: A 2023 study (co-authored by one of our science advisors Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, Co-Director of the Center for Sleep & Circadian Sciences at Stanford University) found five minutes of psychological sighing can improve your mood. This exercise is also known as cyclic sighing and involves extended exhalations.
  • 4-7-8 breathing: A 2022 study found 4-7-8 breathing can lower stress and anxiety. This exercise involves breathing in for a count of four seconds, holding for seven, and breathing out for eight.

We walk you through how to do these breathing exercises here.

And RISE can guide you through breathing exercises, including diaphragmatic breathing, with audio guides in the app. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to go right to their relaxation audio guide homepage and get started.

13. Try Aromatherapy

Try using essential oils in the morning. A simple smell can help to perk you up first thing. 

These scents can increase alertness: 

But these scents can increase drowsiness: 

You can learn more about whether aromatherapy works for sleep here.

14. Keep Your Sleep Debt Low

RISE app screenshot showing how much sleep debt you have
The RISE app can tell you how much sleep debt you have.

Sleep debt is the running total of how much sleep you owe your body. It’s compared against your sleep need, the genetically determined amount of sleep you need. 

The higher your sleep debt, the worse sleep inertia is going to feel and the longer it’s going to last. 

We recommend keeping sleep debt below five hours to maximize your energy, both in the morning and throughout the day. 

You can lower your sleep debt by: 

  • Going to bed a little earlier 
  • Sleeping in a little later (keep this to an hour or two) 
  • Taking short afternoon naps 

This isn’t a tip you can do in the moment when you wake up, but it will make the biggest difference to your mornings going forward. 

You can also tell RISE what time you’d like to wake up each day. The app will then recommend a smart bedtime each night that slowly shifts earlier, if needed, to help you get the sleep you need.

Heads-up: Don’t just aim for seven hours of sleep and hope for the best. We looked at the sleep needs of 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and older and found 48% need eight hours or more sleep a night.

RISE can work out your unique sleep need and whether you have any sleep debt. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to view their sleep need and here to view their sleep debt.

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15. Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Your circadian rhythm thrives on consistency. Try to have a set bedtime and wake-up time every day to stay in sync with your body clock. 

If your sleep pattern is all over the place, you’re more likely to wake up halfway through a sleep cycle in a deep sleep phase, which may make you feel groggier than usual. 

Try doing a relaxing bedtime routine about an hour before bed to help you wind down and fall asleep on time. 

Need to fix your sleep schedule? We've got tips on how to reset your circadian rhythm and how to become a morning person.

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16. Eat Meals at the Same Times Each Day

Meal timing can affect your circadian rhythm, too. Aim to eat meals at roughly the same time each day to keep your circadian rhythm on track and your morning energy as high as possible. 

Avoid eating large meals two to three hours before bed as this can cause digestive issues that keep you up, making mornings even harder.  

17. Avoid Screens Before Bed

Avoiding screens before bed can help you fall asleep faster and get to bed on time. This means you’ll have a better chance of meeting your sleep need, so sleep inertia won’t feel as bad. But there’s another reason to be wary of screens before bed. 

A 2020 study found longer exposure to blue light from screens in the evenings was linked to more sleep inertia the next morning. 

Put on blue-light blocking glasses about 90 minutes before bed to minimize how much blue light affects your sleep and mornings.

Expert tip: Swap late-night scrolling for morning screen time. The blue light from your device can help to wake you up.

18. Give Yourself 90 Minutes Before Important Tasks

RISE app screenshot showing your energy peak and dip times
The RISE app can predict how long you’ll feel groggy for each morning.

You can’t escape sleep inertia altogether. If possible, give yourself about 90 minutes in the morning before you have to do any important tasks. 

Some people may feel groggy for two or more hours after waking up, so give yourself more time if you need it. 

You could spend the first part of your morning doing easy tasks like: 

  • Writing out your to-dos for the day 
  • Checking email or doing admin 
  • Doing household chores 
  • Exercising and spending time in sunlight 

RISE can predict how long sleep inertia will last each morning to help you plan your day.

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

19. Embrace Your Chronotype

Your chronotype is whether you’re a night owl or an early person. Night owls will not only struggle to sleep and wake up early, research shows they’ll also struggle with sleep inertia more than morning people

If you can, go to sleep and wake up when your body naturally wants to. You’ll have a better chance of meeting your sleep need, and therefore will feel the effects of sleep inertia less. 

If that’s not possible due to early morning work commitments or family life, you can reset your circadian rhythm to shift your sleep cycle earlier. 

20. Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

For more energy in the morning, you need to get a good night’s sleep. And the key way to do this is with good sleep hygiene. 

Sleep hygiene is the set of daily behaviors you can do to fall asleep quickly and wake up less often in the middle of the night

RISE can guide you through 20+ sleep habits, such as getting light at the right times, and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, intense exercise, and large meals too close to bedtime.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications.

21. Speak to a Doctor or Sleep Specialist

If you’ve tried all the tips in this article to try to wake up faster and nothing’s working, consider speaking to a doctor or sleep specialist. 

They can test you for sleep disorders and underlying medical conditions that could be making you feel tired such as: 

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) 
  • Iron deficiency anemia 
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Insomnia 
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Diabetes 
  • Heart disease 

22. Avoid Medications That Cause Morning Sleepiness

Some medications cause morning tiredness. This is sometimes known as the “hangover effect.” 

These medications include: 

If possible, avoid these medications or speak to your doctor about switching up your prescription. 

Shake Off Morning Grogginess — Fast! 

Sleep inertia — that inevitable grogginess we all feel when we wake up — is natural. But you can shorten how long morning grogginess lasts with a few simple and science-backed tips. 

Get out in natural light, do some exercise (even just 30 seconds!), and drink a cup of coffee to wake up faster. To have more energy in the morning long term, keep your sleep debt low and stay in sync with your circadian rhythm with a regular bedtime and wake up. 

The RISE app can help by working out your individual sleep need, so you know how many hours of sleep you should be aiming for, and how much sleep debt you have. 

RISE can also predict your circadian rhythm each day and tell you how long your morning grogginess is expected to last.  

You could be waking up faster this time next week — 80% of RISE users have more energy within five days. 

Summary FAQs

How to wake up fast in the morning in seconds

It’s hard to wake up fast in the morning in seconds due to sleep inertia, or natural grogginess. To wake up fast, get out in natural sunlight, exercise, drink a cup of coffee, have a cold shower, and play your favorite music.

How to wake up quickly in the morning when tired

To wake up quickly in the morning when tired, get out in natural sunlight, exercise, drink a cup of coffee, have a cold shower, and play your favorite music. This will help shake off sleep inertia, the natural groggy feeling you get after waking up.

How to wake up immediately after alarm

It’s hard to wake up immediately after your alarm due to sleep inertia, or natural grogginess. To wake up fast, get out in natural sunlight, exercise, drink a cup of coffee, have a cold shower, and play your favorite music.

How to wake up quickly in the morning no matter how much sleep you had

To wake up quickly in the morning, no matter how much sleep you had, get out in natural sunlight, exercise, drink a cup of coffee, have a cold shower, and play your favorite music. If you haven’t had enough sleep, you’ll find it harder to wake up quickly. Catch up on sleep when you can by going to bed earlier, sleeping in later, or taking naps.

How can I make it easier to wake up fast in the morning

You can make it easier to wake up fast in the morning by getting out in natural sunlight, exercising, drinking a cup of coffee, having a cold shower, and playing your favorite music. This will help shake off sleep inertia, the natural groggy feeling you get after waking up. Plus, getting enough sleep is key to waking up easier in the morning.

Why is it so hard for me to wake up?

Sleep inertia, or wake-up grogginess, is the main reason you're unable to fully wake up in the morning or after a nap. It's a completely normal part of your sleep-wake cycle that's intensified by factors like high sleep debt and circadian misalignment (caused by sleeping in, social jetlag, and travel jet lag).

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