Why wake to the blaring of an alarm clock when you can ease into the morning to the sounds of birds and natural light streaming in your window? Summer’s early sunrise offers me the opportunity to wake up with the sun almost every morning. Before I even open my eyes, I am serenaded by robins, Carolina wrens, black capped chickadees and occasionally even a wood thrush or turkey. Over time, I’ve found that listening to these beautiful bird calls allows my body to catch up to my mind as I absorb the sounds of nature. The soft, grayish-blue and creamy pink light then eases me into wakefulness.

A particularly wonderful aspect of a sunrise wakeup is that—-as long as your bedroom has an eastern-facing window—-this pleasure is absolutely free. When we designed our bedroom addition years ago, I made sure that our bed faced east and included windows that stretched across the wall. The dense woods outside our room eliminate the need for window treatments and allow the gentle morning light to filter in through the trees. We keep birdfeeders in our backyard to attract a diverse variety of wildlife and you can easily add one to your space. You can also make simple adjustments to the layout and design of your bedroom based on the direction of the sun and the position of the windows.

When I find myself up earlier than I would have been using my alarm, I use the extra time to begin preparing for the day, write, or savor every bit of the newspaper while the sun streams in through the windows, subtly shifting to energizing yellow and orange hues. Even better, once awake, take a quick walk outside. Observe the way the morning mist creates its own soft-focus lens, the way the light filters through the trees, the way the night’s dew has refreshed even the droopiest wildflower, the way the daylilies are just starting to creep open, and the way the moonflower vines are just closing after the evening’s fragrant appearance. It is the perfect time to gather a bouquet to brighten your kitchen table or desk. Get started by using my tips for flower arranging. Your day will then continue to be filled with the scents of nature.

Science supports the benefit of aligning your body to a more natural sleep-wake rhythm by spending more time outdoors in natural light and letting the morning light wake you up gently. Read the discussion in The New Yorker about how exposing campers to natural light while avoiding artificial light and alarm clocks made it easier for the campers to both fall asleep and wake up.

I’ve found that taking this time to wake up naturally and venture into nature sets a peaceful tone for my day. If only just for a summer, I hope you’ll try it, too.


Written by Jo Watson Hackl