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10 Simple Ways To Become A Morning Person

10 Simple Ways To Become A Morning Person

Becoming a morning person is a skill that is aspired by many but accomplished by very few. Whether its your work  or class schedule, it is a difficult feat to do. While some may feel that they accomplished this, many fail to understand that getting up in the morning and becoming a morning person are two different things. Today, we will look at a couple of ways in which you can transform yourself from begrudgingly waking up in the morning, to truly enjoying what waking up early has to offer. With the fall college semester coming up for many students in a little over a month, these are some pointers you should all pay attention to.

Standardize Your Sleep

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    The first step in becoming a morning person is having a set time for waking up and going to bed. The reason we find that we want to sleep in on weekends is so we can catch up on sleep. However, if your sleep is standardized for seven to eight hours, catching up on sleep wouldn’t be necessary. Even on your days off, if you wake up at your designated time, get your morning errands out of the way, and go for a nap in the mid-early afternoon, you’ll still be productive while treating yourself for the weekend.

    Take Baby Steps

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      To be able to sleep at a set schedule, you need to incorporate being a morning person in small baby steps. Start first by getting an assessment of what keeps you up late at night. The key to becoming a morning person is by hacking into the night before.

      • Sleep is the biggest hurdle and being able to figure out what prevents you from getting enough sleep at night will allow you to know how to survive the next day.
      • Once you figure out the triggers that keep you up, decide on a time to go to bed. This time will stay regardless of what time you have to be up. So, for example, if you choose that you will stick to a 10 pm bedtime, go to bed at 10 pm. Even if it’s a weekend or there’s a delay on the time you have to go into work.
      • After a 10 pm bedtime becomes commonplace, start to tailor your standardize wake up time. If you have to be at work at 9 am, standardize yourself to wake up at 7 am everyday.
      • Just like a diet change, you can have cheat days with sleeping as well. If you want to go out with friends, shift your schedule a tad bit. Don’t let becoming a morning a person also make you a hermit crab.

      Make a Task List

      Having a set guideline on what to do for the day will allow you to have an idea of what’s ahead of you. If you are able to know your day’s plan, you can have something to look forward to. Having a plan to look forward to will get you excited about getting out of bed. Attaching a task list to your day will also prevent you from running around like a headless chicken, taking the day as it comes.

      Hack your task list in two ways: by attaching an alarm to important tasks and ranking them. Setting deadlines through alarms will allow you to transition between tasks and ranking them based on importance will allow you to feel okay if you can’t complete the whole list that day.

      Understand Your Body

      It is important to always be in tune with your body. While you begin to work toward a steady sleep schedule, you will find that there are times when the work day is too much for you and you need to get some rest. By all means, when you find that you are tired, always get some rest. This is the case even if it deviates from your schedule. If this happens in the middle of the day, opt for a nap. If you are jittery or high energy from coffee or energy drinks later in the day, set a cut off time for coffee and start to eliminate energy drinks from your diet. Listening to your body over anything else is the key to becoming a morning person.

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      Dive Into the Morning

      A mistake that many individuals make in the morning is making it unproductive. By waking up in the morning, showering, getting dressed, and having a quick to-go breakfast, you aren’t relishing in all that the morning has to offer for you. Instead, dive into the morning by looking at the to-do list you creating the night before. Catch up on the day’s news, knock out a couple of emails, and leave home with the feeling that you aren’t about to start your day, but that you have already started your day.

      Natural Light is Best

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        Making use of natural light is a great way to aid in becoming a morning person. It allows you to feel more awake rather than simply waking up in darkness. Light is proven to treat disorders including Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) because light is considered a mood booster. The main hindrance to a successful morning is mood and by opening up the windows the night before, using light colored sheets, reducing the use of lamps, and ensuring that the room is airy and not stuffy. This also opens up your brain and wakes it up from hours of slumber.

        Tailor Your Diet

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          What you put into your body directly affects how you will feel about the rest of the day. If you start your morning with sluggish food, you will have a sluggish day. I used to never eat breakfast, except on weekends. However, your morning is important to the start of the day, and some cultures even take it on as an important sit-down meal. There are certain foods that can put your day on the right track, including:

          • Grains: Including grains, like oatmeal and flax seed, is a great way to get your fill of potassium and heart-healthy foods. You can incorporate oatmeal with fruits, eat it in the form of a car, or mix it in with the other breakfast foods we will mention. Flax seed can also be added into a smoothie for your finer intake.
          • Yogurt: If you find that simply drinking milk is unsatisfying, and having it with your cereal is just not fun, then get your fill of calcium through yogurt. As mentioned before, you can enjoy it with fruit, honey, or nuts. Greek yogurt specifically comes with protein needed for a hearty morning.
          • Fruits: Fruits like bananas, blueberries, strawberries, kiwis, and raspberries all can satisfy your morning sweet tooth naturally, instead of grabbing the syrup or sugar filled breakfast buns. Many fruits come with natural vitamins. Some may also recommend grapefruit due to the antioxidants packed in it, however I would stay away if you take a morning supplement or medication due to interference.
          • Protein and Carbs: Grain cereals and breads can also be great additions to your breakfast a few times a week, either through toast or a small pastry here and there. These are fiber and nutrients that stick with you until lunch, preventing you from wanting to grab a mid-morning snack. On bread less days, grab meat (including turkey bacon or turkey sausage) instead. If you are vegetarian or vegan, avocados, lentils, apples, and blueberries all are protein packed.
          • Drinks: Coffee can still come with it’s health benefits, including lowering health risks and boosting antioxidants, when enjoyed moderately. If you set a limit to finish your cup of joe before noon, you won’t be jittery before bed. If you want to skip coffee, opt for tea. If you want to remove caffeine all together, a fruit filled smoothie is a nice morning treat. If you’re in a rush and can’t make a smoothie, go for cranberry juice to boost antioxidant intake.

          Understand the Purpose of Your Bed

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            When you find yourself getting work done in bed, and waking up to immediately check emails or work in your bed, you will find that your body will forget what the bed is only made for. Aside from sleep and sexual intercourse, you shouldn’t find yourself doing anything else in bed. By restricting your bed to those two acts, you will find that when you hit the sheets, your brain will gradually get into the bedtime mode and you will fall asleep faster. Put your phone on do not disturb if you have to and set your alarm. Out of sight, out of mind.

            Utilize That Gym Membership

            If you find that you aren’t making use of the gym membership you signed up for, use this as an excuse to incorporate the gym into your morning routine. A 30-45 minute daily workout in the morning, low-to-mid pace, can get your body moving and ready for the day. Look through your job and see if they offer gym membership discounts or partnerships. If your company as a gym, utilize it. If not and you’re looking to save money, a low pace walk around the neighborhood or treadmill in the morning can get you in the morning spirit.

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            Make the Morning About You

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              All in all, the key to becoming a morning person is to make the morning about you. When you get started on your task list, even if it includes tasks for other people, you are making the morning about yourself by feeling accomplished. When you eat a healthy breakfast, go to the gym, get eight hours of sleep every night, you are making an investment in yourself for a successful morning and a healthy life. Various successful people make their morning the most productive part of their day, why shouldn’t you?

              Let us know in the comments below how you are hacking your morning to make you a morning person.

              Featured photo credit: HavingTime via havingtime.com

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              Last Updated on July 17, 2019

              The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

              The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

              What happens in our heads when we set goals?

              Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

              Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

              According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

              Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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              Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

              Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

              The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

              Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

              So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

              Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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              One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

              Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

              Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

              The Neurology of Ownership

              Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

              In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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              But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

              This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

              Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

              The Upshot for Goal-Setters

              So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

              On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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              It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

              On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

              But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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              Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

              Reference

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