How to Become a Morning Person
“I don’t do mornings.”
You’ve heard it. You’ve probably said it. You may have even felt it as a sure thing in the heart of your heart. Mornings are the worst. Unfortunately, they’re also the best opportunity to get things done in the time strapped world in which we live. Becoming a morning person can be the secret to meeting your fitness goals, meeting your business goals or just getting your kids off to school without the usual cacophony.
If you’ve clicked this, you’re obviously wondering how to become a morning person. Here are some helpful tips to not only get up earlier, but function while doing so. At the bottom, you’ll find a checklist of actions to take to start owning your mornings.
What Does it Mean to be a Morning Person?
Let me preface with this: even though I get up early now, I’ll never be a “morning person.” Getting up early throughout the week is fueled by the knowledge that I’ll get to sleep in on the weekend. Sure, sleeping in now means being awoken by screaming children at 8am, but I digress.
Becoming a morning person doesn’t mean you have to revel in the joy of the sunrise and sing to the song birds like Snow White. What it means to be a morning person will be different to everyone, but at a basic level, it means getting up early enough to accomplish goals and resetting your circadian rhythm to make it feel as natural as possible.
Your Morning Starts the Night Before
Yeah, you read that right. The most important part of having a good morning is how you set yourself up the night before, both physically and psychologically. Getting to sleep earlier is going to be an important step in ensuring you are able to get up on time and not burn out before the end of the week (I’m still working on this one).
Start by creating a night time routine that sets you up for success. First, cut back on the screen time. The light from screens has a detrimental impact on your circadian rhythm, which allow for restful sleep.
Also, it’s too easy to fall into the black hole that is YouTube or binge the entirety of the Umbrella Academy overnight. So put your phone on do not disturb and leave it another room for the evening. It’s only your Aunt Brenda on Facebook posting politically charged memes with no evidence attached to it anyway.
Psychologically Preparing for the Wee Hours
In addition to prepping your body, you’ll need to psych yourself up a bit, especially in the beginning. Reframe your negative thoughts about tomorrow. Instead of thinking:
“I have to get up early”
“I can’t wait to get up and have my first cup of coffee without interruption!”
Positive thinking and visualization has powerful psychological implications. Don’t look at this exercise as a negative endeavor. Instead, think about why you want to create this habits and how great you’ll feel once you start to reap the benefits of your dedication.
Know Your Why
Chances are you didn’t decide to learn how to become a morning person for the fun of it. If you did, we’re probably not friends. So think about why you’re giving up early-morning sleep. Go beyond the undefined goal of waking up early to get in a morning workout, and determine why it’s important to you. Have a training goal in mind. Sit down and really think about why it matters to you. Keep that goal in mind before you go to bed and remind yourself of why your goal matters when the alarm sounds.
To amplify the effectiveness of your morning routine, sit down and create a list of the things you’re going to accomplish in that time. Plan out your morning workout so you know exactly what to expect. Think about the word count of the writing you want to get accomplished while sipping coffee in peace. In doing so, you won’t waste extra time preparing yourself while still cloudy from sleep.
Break Up with Your Alarm Clock
I’m going to be frank with you here: your codependent relationship with the alarm clock isn’t helping you. You aren’t actually getting more rest. You’re actually making yourself feel worse. If you have a spouse, you’re annoying the crap out of them and one of these days you aren’t going to wake up because they’ve had enough.
Don’t hit the snooze button. You might as well set the alarm for later and do the whole rushing thing you do on an extra half hour of real rest.
I know, I know. Breakups are hard, but there’s a few ways you can handle this situation.
Turn off the snooze function. Dive right in. Be daring. I like you, you rebel.
Put the alarm across the room. If your alarm is your phone, this serves two functions. First and foremost, you’ll have to get out of bed to shut it off. Secondly, you won’t be checking on the post from Aunt Brenda which has since exploded into a million terrible comments. Aunt Brenda should put her phone away too.
Use a sleep tracking alarm. These alarms wake you up gently when you’re in a lighter stage in your sleep cycle or work to gradually wake you rather than jolting your brain.
For me, putting the alarm clock across the room has been the most effective. I’ve been able to wake up earlier and don’t battle with a robot for more minutes of crappy rest. Using the vibrating alarm on the Fitbit has also been effective.
No one is expecting you to jump out of bed when the alarm sounds and write the next award winning novel. Naturally, your brain will need a chance to catch up when you start to wake up earlier.
Start slow, allowing yourself to accomplish some mindless tasks before moving onto the work at hand. Brush your teeth, turn on the coffee pot, and take a few minutes to shake of the memory of the hours of sleep you just experienced. Light stretching, throwing in a load of laundry, and drinking a tall glass of water to rehydrate yourself are all valuable parts of a morning routine.
Allow for ten minutes of these mindless-- but not worthless-- activities to allow your brain to wake up. By then, your cup of coffee should be ready and you can get to work.
Dealing with Sleep Disorders
While creating an evening and morning routine can help the average person deal with waking up early, it’s not the answer for everyone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 30% of adults have some sort of sleep disorder. This could range from insomnia to apnea, impeding the circadian rhythm and making it more damaging to wake up early.
Talk to your physician if you think you have a sleep disorder. They may suggest you try melatonin to help regulate your circadian rhythm or prescribe sleep medicine to help you get into a better sleep schedule.
Remember, good nights are the first step to a good morning, so take some extra time to address the issues you’re having before creating elaborate morning routines.
Morning Person Checklist
Now for the fun part: a checklist to help people get into the habit of waking up early. AKA, a recap of everything listed here.
Create a nightly routine that limits screen time one hour before bed.
Use the extra time you have to write a detailed goal list of what you’ll accomplish in the morning.
Think positively about your morning experience before going to bed.
Make it hard to hit the snooze button, using whatever techniques you need to.
Start slow with mindless tasks to give your brain a chance to wake up.
Get to work!
Repeat until it becomes a habit.
Remember this: there are a lot of people who aren’t “morning people” getting up early and kicking ass. Saying you can’t become a morning person is an excuse. You have to think about how bad you want something. If you really want it, you’ll find a way to make it happen.