I figured out this absurdly simple trick years ago.
Light affects sleep. Most people need darkness to sleep and sunlight to wake up; it's just how we're programmed. This, of course, spawns the primordial problem of What To Do With Curtains.
Curtains block light, making it easier to fall asleep, but they also make it hard to get up in the mornings. I've heard all kinds of difficult-sounding solutions for this. Some people recommend covering your window with heavy curtains and buying an expensive light programmed to go on slowly in the mornings.But I've found an even better and cheaper solution (at least for me). I feel a bit ridiculous sharing it because it's so obvious. But when I've mentioned it to people in my life, their eyes light up. "Of course!" they say as one. And it just takes a towel. Actually, it doesn't have to be a towel. Any soft cloth — even a T-shirt or washcloth — will do.
Here's the deal:
Leave your curtains open. When you go to sleep, put a cloth over your eyes. It'll block out the light. But unlike an eye mask, a towel won't stay there as you sleep. You'll move around as you dream (or in other stages of sleep), and the cloth will fall off at some point. Then, when the sun rises in the morning, the light will come through your window and into your unblocked eyeballs, waking you up naturally.
I know it's the most mind-numbingly obvious thing ever, but it took me years to figure out. I've never heard a doctor suggest it, and I've asked a lot of doctors about sleep problems. Once I started doing it, it made everything so much better.
Maybe none of you need this tip. But it would give me so much joy to know that my dumb little trick helped someone. So if it works for you, let me know in the comments :)