This is so simple and exciting, I can't believe you don't hear about this all of the time... Because ever since I've noticed the difference this makes, I am going to be talking about it all of the time. You hear about REM and sleep cycles, in general, but you rarely hear it so simply put or what a huge difference 30 minutes can make.
I discovered this after one night when I had set my alarm for 6:30..... and the next morning, I naturally woke up at 5:30. That's not usually how it works, right? I felt so awake and ready to tackle the day, but the house was quiet and it was so dark out, so "Why get up now?" I thought.... Why not wait until my alarm goes off at 6:30? Another hour of sleep means more rest, right?!!! So I went back to sleep... 6:30 hit, my alarm went crazy, and there was nooo way I was getting out of my bed! I felt even sleepier than I did at 5:30. I kept thinking back to 5:30. I felt so good at 5:30. Why? I'd get up at 5:30 any day feeling that good. I figured there must be a science to this, so I started to research it... and I found out that so many people say it's a night and day difference when they intentionally aim their wake-up-time for the end of their REM:
"Waking up at 8 hours and I'm groggy and grumpy for a good while. 7.5 hours and I wake up fast and alert feeling awesome. It's not an exact science. The main thing is to aim for the REM, hopefully the tail end."
So, I did. I gauged that if I was asleep by 10:00, then I should hit the end of my REM at 5:30. This time, I set my alarm for 5:30, and just like before- I woke up fast, alert and feeling awesome. Keeping a pretty consistent sleep schedule is also key... and eating healthy and exercising and... ;) and you probably won't even need an alarm clock anymore if you get to bed at the right time. If you want more in-depth info, there's a ton online. I'm just giving you the simple overview and this link to calculate what time should help you to wake up fast, alert and feeling awesome.