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Former Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink explains how to train yourself to be an early riser

Ex-Navy SEAL commander: How to become an early riser

Leaders like Tim Cook and Mark Cuban are known for waking early and getting a jump on their days. While waking up early can be a struggle, the benefits can outweigh the hassles.

"You've got 24 hours in a day," says Jocko Willink, a former Navy SEAL and the founder of leadership consultancy Echelon Front. "The earlier you get up the more you can take advantage of those hours."

Willink, who wakes at 4:30 a.m., says that getting up early can help you stay productive and competitive. He taught himself to be an early riser as a young SEAL after noticing that some of the best people in the field got to work before he did. "I started waking up earlier so I could maybe get a little edge," he says.

CNBC Make It caught up with Willink for his tips for those training themselves to be early risers.

Listen to your body
Pick a time to wake each morning and make sure that you commit to that time. If you do, you'll find yourself getting tired earlier and earlier in the evening. Give yourself that rest, he says. Go to bed earlier and earlier until you have developed a new night-time routine and a new fixed bedtime.

"It takes discipline," says Willink. "When you make that discipline decision early in the morning, the rest of your day is going to have more discipline in it."

Ex-Navy SEAL commander: Here's what I know about discipline

Don't sleep in on Saturday
By the weekend, you might be tempted to sleep in. Don't, says Willink. If you do, "by the time Monday morning rolls around you won't feel like waking up early." Keep your bedtime and your wake time consistent to ensure you can keep to your early rising schedule.

"Get up early and get up early every day," he says.

Give yourself time to adjust
Willink says people are surprised that just going to bed as early as 9:30 p.m. isn't enough to become an early riser. He says people find they can't force themselves to sleep and will often lie in bed awake until their usual bedtime, making early rising impossible. Remember that creating new habits won't happen overnight, he says. Change will take time.

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