Waking Up at the Same Time Every Morning Can Lead to Better Sleep


When it comes to sleep, I subscribe to the “listen to your body” mindset. I’m a freelance writer, meaning I can go to bed whenever I want and wake up either on my own or whenever my emergency alarm finally jolts me awake (assuming I remembered to set one). There’s little consistency, and I feel little shame in hitting the snooze button five times. I’ve never really questioned my process—even though I regularly fall victim to a pre-sleep toss-and-turn and wake up feeling sluggish

After talking to Jade Wu, PhD, a board-certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist and author of the new book Hello Sleep, I’m inspired to make my sleep habits a little more routine. A consistent sleep-wake schedule, Dr. Wu tells SELF, is incredibly important when it comes not only to sleeping soundly at night, but keeping a number of body functions—like digestion, hormone regulation, and body temperature—in check. 

One simple way to get into a groove and sleep better for it: Wake up at the same time every morning. “The reason you want to get up around the same time every day is because the body functions best when it runs consistently on a rhythm,” Dr. Wu says. Here’s why it’s a great idea for so many health and happiness reasons (regardless of whether you actually have to)—plus how to make it happen if you’re getting sleepy just thinking about it.

Waking up at the same time each morning can help you sleep better at night—and make it easier to get out of bed in the morning.

Your body clock, or circadian rhythm, is the system that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. It’s heavily dependent on clues from your environment, says Dr. Wu, which is why light makes you feel alert and awake and why you start to feel sleepy around dusk. The light you see when you wake up essentially tells your body it’s morning, meaning it’s time to get out of bed and start your day. 

By opening your eyes like clockwork every morning, you’re essentially programming your body for better sleep. “Consistently having that light cue at the same time in the morning will go a really long way in anchoring your 24-hour clock,” Dr. Wu says. Over time, your body will automatically know when to release melatonin—a hormone that induces sleepiness—at night and when to stop producing it in the morning, she explains, which can make it easier to both fall asleep at night and wake up ready to go in the morning. 

Inconsistent wake-up times can really mess with your body clock.

If you wake up at different times each day—or even if you keep a pretty consistent sleep schedule during the week but sleep in every weekend—your brain will get confused and start to release melatonin at weird hours. It’s kind of like constantly traveling to different time zones and getting jet-lagged, Dr. Wu explains. If your wake-up times are all over the place, it’ll likely be harder to get a good night’s sleep, she says, and you may have issues concentrating the next day. 


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