As someone who is used to staying up until early hours of the morning to write (good for the creative process — duh!), and whose family growing up typically wouldn’t eat dinner until at least 9pm (“it’s what they do in Europe!” they say. Full disclosure: we are not from Europe), I am a self-proclaimed night owl at heart. I pictured “morning people” as irritatingly chipper, yoga-at-sunrise-just-for-fun, birds-help-you-get-dressed-in-the-morning type of people.
But here’s the funny thing about becoming an adult — unless you have a cool job like an entertainer on a cruise shift or a night-shift security guard (Night at the Museum style), you kind of have to become a morning person if you want to be as healthy, productive, and happy as possible. And if you know me, you know I am addicted to becoming as healthy, productive, and happy as possible.
I’ve been on quite a long quest to become said *morning person.* Recently, my quest has taken a turn from bad to worse as a move to California and a job still on Central Time Zone has me waking up earlier than I ever thought I would need to. I had to get ~ serious ~ about becoming a morning person (like a real morning person) if I wanted to keep up my routine while starting the work day at 6:30am. And guess what? With a few tips, tricks, and early morning hacks, it happened!
So without further ado, here are 10 ways you (yes, you!) can become one of those irritatingly chipper, yoga-at-sunrise-just-for-fun, birds-help-you-get-dressed-in-the-morning types of people, without feeling miserable — birds not included.
1. Create a ritual you look forward to (even if that means waking up earlier than you need to)
Not all of us can be the wake-up-and-workout type of people. If the thought of 50 squats or a yoga flow gets you pumped to get up and going, I am extremely impressed — more power to you. But if you’re not the kind of person who gets excited for exercise, don’t force yourself into it first thing in the morning. In fact, the ancient practice Ayurveda teaches that mornings are for being peaceful and grounded.
Ancient medicine aside, you’ll get up much earlier and easier when you’re getting up for something you’re looking forward to the night before. My ritual has become a face mask, a cup of coffee with collagen, telling Alexa to play french café music, and 20 minutes of reading — my bliss. But if face masks don’t relax you, and coffee isn’t your thing, don’t do my ritual — find your own. What’s something that centers you, inspires you, or gets you excited? Is it 20 minutes of meditation, taking your time cooking a nourishing breakfast, or a 10-step skincare routine? Rearrange the way you plan your mornings so that they’re not spent rushing out the door with a smoothie to-go, but an entire ritual that you look forward to the night before.
2. Streamline your morning routine
In order to make extra room for all the good things you will look forward to, take care of all the things you won’t look forward to the night before. Make your lunch, get gas for your car, pack your gym bag, and lay out your outfit before your head even hits the pillow. Do everything you can to make sure you wake up every morning feeling prepared, calm, and ready for the day.
3. Go to sleep five minutes earlier each night
So you know you need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but let’s be honest – how many of us are actually getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night? The honest answer: not many. But getting enough sleep is crucial for your health and wellbeing. Research has shown that people who get 7-9 hours of sleep every night have better memory, heightened mood and concentration, lower blood pressure, and better metabolism.
While an earlier wake-up time is the goal, in order to feel your best, you still need to reach that 7-9 hours. To train your body (and your mind – I see those of you who are currently thinking, “but I don’t have time to go to bed earlier!”), start with getting into bed five minutes earlier (everyone has an extra five minutes). The next night, get into bed five minutes earlier than that. In just two weeks, you’ll be getting into bed over an hour earlier.
4. Don’t check your phone or computer for 30 minutes after you wake up
My usual morning instinct: Sleep Cycle app sounds. I groggily shut it off, lay in bed for approximately 60 seconds while internally complaining that nap time isn’t a thing for adults too, and then grab my phone and scroll through Instagram for 5-10 minutes (or until I can will my tired body to get out of bed). Sounds depressing, doesn’t it? That’s because… it is.
Starting your day off with Instagram scrolling instills in your mind that you’re already missing out on something, leading your cortisol levels to spike first thing in the morning (bad for your health!). Plus, that’s approximately 10 minutes (more like 20, if we’re being honest) that I could spend doing something good for me. Break yourself of your phone habit by not checking texts, calls, or even emails until at least 30 minutes upon waking. If it’s too hard to resist, keep your phone in a different room and use an actual alarm clock to wake you up (yes, kids, there is such a thing!).
5. Make it a habit
Habits make change possible because they free our minds from decision making. In other words, morning people don’t think about getting up early, they just do. So don’t just set your alarm and hope for the best — know that early rising takes time to become a habit, and put in the work for approximately 22 days (according to Beyoncé), or until your body is used to the early wake up call. As tempting as it may be to sleep in on weekends, try to wake up within an hour of your weekday wakeup time, at least while your body’s getting used to it. Use apps like Streaks to hold you accountable and help you make early rising a habit.
6. Try “inverted snoozing”
“Inverted snoozing” is kind of like playing a mind game on yourself. While it may sound silly, this technique has been the only thing to effectively break my snooze button habit. The trick is that you actually do hit the snooze button, but you don’t keep sleeping. For nine minutes (one snooze cycle), I do everything I can to not go back to sleep — brush my teeth, open the blinds, drink water, make a cup of coffee, etc. The trick is that I tell myself that once the snooze cycle ends, I actually can go back to sleep if I’m still tired. However, nine minutes of activity is more than enough time to tell the body to wake up. I’ve never felt the need to go back to sleep after the nine minutes is up, but having a fixed milestone (nine minutes) feels much easier than willing myself to wake up for the whole day.
7. Get natural light right away
The first step after your alarm goes off: open your curtains or blinds. Natural light tells your body that it’s time to wake up even better than a cup of coffee can. Summer is the perfect time to become a morning person because it gets lighter earlier, but if you’re waking up earlier than the sun or don’t have access to natural light first thing in the morning, try a wake up light alarm clock that mimics the sunrise. Take “rise and shine” seriously, people!
8. Work on saying “no”
Ah, the mythical work-life balance; it’s an age-old conundrum that few claim to achieve and most struggle to find. But after all, no one said balancing your well-being with professional and personal responsibilities would be easy. The truth is that getting enough sleep and feeling good the next morning requires mastering the art of saying “no.” If your roommate presses you to watch another episode of Love Island or your boss assigns you a last-minute project that will take you all night, don’t people-please your way out of your chance at better sleep.
Of course there will be the nights that are worth losing sleep for (life is about enjoyment, after all!), but don’t stay up until midnight watching TV because you don’t want to say no to your roommate, and try suggesting to your boss that you’ll do better on the project the following day when you’ve had ample time to recharge. Saying “no” may be hard, but try picturing the person you want to be and the kind of life you want to have. Now make every decision based on whether it brings you closer to that or further away.
9. Be conscious of your eating and drinking patterns
Experts recommend avoiding going to bed too hungry or too full. An empty stomach might wake you up in the middle of the night, while feeling too full might make it difficult to get into a full REM cycle until your food digests. Try to have your last meal of the day a couple hours before bed to give your body enough time to digest, with healthy protein, fiber, and fats to avoid feeling hungry. Likewise, reduce caffeine intake after 2pm (that includes green tea!) as it can mess with your sleep cycle. While alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it actually disrupts your sleep later at night, so limit to one glass of wine, max. Slight changes in your diet helps your body get the proper amount of rest, allowing you to wake up recharged and rested.
10. Schedule more things in your week that you look forward to
Your appointment book or weekly calendar might be reserved for work meetings and doctor appointments, but start scheduling in things you’re excited about and can look forward to all week long. Honor and respect those “appointments” as you would everything else in your calendar, because they’re actually just as important. Have at least one thing scheduled every day that you’re looking forward to, whether it’s afterwork drinks with coworkers, a fun Zumba class, or a packed lunch you’re especially excited to eat. Don’t go through every day following the same routine and going through the motions and to-do lists. The simplest way to get yourself out of bed: give yourself a reason to get out of bed.
What tips have helped you become a morning person?