Waking up, getting out of bed earlier, and starting the day has, for some reason, become the ultimate challenge for so many people. Yet, waking up early is one of the best things you can do. If you learn how to become a morning person, you can make significant changes to your mood and health.
For a start, early mornings are the most beautiful time of the day. With so few people doing it, it also means it is the quietest time of the day, too. It means you get to spend quality time with yourself and have a cup of coffee without the risk of being interrupted or disturbed, and it means you have time to work on the things you want to work on.
Waking up early is simple. Set your alarm, go to bed, wake up when your alarm goes off. Simple, right? Well, simple, yes. Easy? Maybe not.
It can be very hard to open our eyes, get out of bed, and stumble to the coffee making facilities. It’s made even harder if you’re a natural night owl and didn’t go to bed until 1 or 2 in the morning.
So can you learn how to become a morning person? Yes! Here are a few steps that have worked for me.
1. Educate Yourself on the Health Benefits
Being a morning person has scientifically-proven health benefits, and knowing these can push you to get into the swing of waking up earlier.
One 2014 study went so far as to suggest that taking in more sunlight in the early morning hours could result in a lower BMI (Body Mass Index). The study pointed out: “Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance”. This shift in energy seems to have the effect of lowering overall BMI—impressive, right?
Furthermore, research shows that being more evening-oriented “was also associated with traits related to lower health such as reduced sport participation, increased risk of depression and psychoticism personality, late eating, and increased smoking and alcohol usage”.
There is still more research to be done on this topic, but it seems clear that morning people get to experience a lot of benefits!
2. Know How Much Sleep You Need
How much sleep do you need? This was a mistake I made when I started waking up early. I did not work out how much sleep I needed.
We are all different here. Some people need nine to ten hours of sleep, others four to six. I need between six and seven hours. Once I discovered how much sleep I needed, I could modify the time I went to bed each night.
Once you know how much sleep you need, you can modify your bedtime accordingly. If you need seven hours of sleep and want to start waking up at 6 am, you should aim to be in bed by 10:30 pm. This will allow you thirty minutes to drift off and ensure you get your seven hours.
If you’re not sure how to calculate how much sleep you need, simply start to pay attention. You may even keep a journal.
Note how many hours of sleep you get each night, as well as how you feel the next day. If you find that you feel good on 6 hours, that’s what you should aim for. If you still feel groggy with 6, shoot for 8. It may take time to find your number, but it’ll be worth it.
3. Have a Plan
Okay, so you are going to wake up earlier. Great, now what? What will you do with the extra hour or so? You need a plan.
Robin Sharma has been peaching about getting up at 5 am for years, and in his recently published book, The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning Elevate Your Life, he goes into a lot of detail about what you can do with that morning hour you create for yourself.
Robin advocates doing 20 minutes exercise, 20 minutes planning, and twenty minutes studying. I love this concept myself.
I modified that a little and, instead of exercise, I study Korean for thirty minutes. Then I do 15 minutes planning and finish the hour with 15 minutes of meditation. For me, that one hour, focused on what is important to me, sets me up for a perfect day.
The beauty of waking up early is you get to choose what you do with your extra time. Whatever you do with that time, make sure it’s time you spend on yourself and not doing anything like checking email or your social media feeds. There will be plenty of time to do that later in the day. This morning hour is for you.
Here are some other ideas for how you can fill that hour:
- Listen to a podcast.
- Do yoga.
- Go for an early morning walk.
- Squeeze in a morning workout of your choice.
4. Pick a Date and Just Start
Slowly reducing your waking up time is a very painful way to wake up earlier. You end up prolonging the transition period, and that is not pleasant. Just pick a day—Mondays are a good day to start—and wake up at the time you have chosen to wake up.
Now, I am not going to tell you it will be easy. It won’t. If you have been waking up at 7:30 am for years and you start waking up at 5 am, it will be difficult. You will feel rotten in the afternoon for a few days.
This step can be really difficult for some who are used to waking up later. In the first days, your body hasn’t yet adjusted to the new sleep schedule, so it will resist waking up earlier than normal. Consider putting an alarm clock out of arm’s reach to ensure that you’ll have to get up to turn it off (and don’t hit the snooze button!). This can be the momentum that gets you moving.
Another thing that may help is exposing yourself to natural light as quickly as possible. Once you see the sun is coming up, get to a window or go outside if it’s nice. This bright light will signal to your body that it’s time to be awake.
5. Don’t Make Excuses
Too often, we tend to overthink these things and then find all the excuses we need to prevent us from ever starting. We go to bed early, find ourselves being unable to sleep, and we then tell ourselves that we won’t start tomorrow—we’ll start the next day instead. We end up in a perpetual cycle of never actually starting. It’s always going to be the next day or the next week.
If you want to learn to eliminate your excuses, check out this article.
The sooner you start, the sooner you will begin to enjoy the benefits of waking up early and having an extra hour in your day for yourself to do the things you want to do, without being interrupted or distracted by other people’s crises and issues.
6. Make Your Morning Routine “Me Time”
A difficulty we all face these days is finding any time in the day just for ourselves: to read the books we want to read, to exercise, and to just be with our thoughts. When you begin waking up an hour or so earlier each day, you get to find that time.
Those pre-dawn hours are so quiet that you can do what you want to do without the risk of someone else disturbing you. This is your time. That is why you do not want to be using this time for doing more work.
Just enjoy the extra time you have and do the things you want to do. During the winter months, go out for a walk and watch the sun rise. In the summer months, you can open your windows and listen to the birds waking up without their song being drowned out by the noise of cars and trucks.
7. Don’t Break the Chain
The concept of “don’t break the chain” is a very valuable concept to use here. Essentially, what you do is make a checkmark on a calendar or in a diary to indicate those days when you woke up and got out of bed at your desired time.
After a few days, you will find you don’t want to break your consistent run. It creates some self-competition and adds some motivation to keep you going when things get tough.
When I began waking up at 5 am, I used my journal to write down the days I woke up at 5 am. At the top of the page, I wrote “Day XX – 5AM Club.” Over time, it was fantastic to see the number increasing. I got to Day 173 before I had to break the chain because I flew to Europe, and the time zone difference between Asia and Europe messed up my routine.
The cool thing about this, though, is when I returned to Asia, I restarted the count. I am now on Day 82, and I have 92 days to go to beat my previous best. That’s great motivation.
8. Just Enjoy the Time
With everything that goes on in our lives throughout the day, it can be hard just to have a moment to ourselves, to reflect, appreciate and be grateful for what we have. The time you create for yourself by waking up early gives you that time, so don’t waste it thinking about the problems you have to deal with. Use the time positively and appreciate it.
Listen to your favourite music, the birds, or a beautiful meditative album. Whatever you decide to do, this is your time, so just enjoy it.
Pros And Cons Of Being A Becoming A Morning Person Vs. A Night Owl
Being a morning person has recently acquired appeal, yet everything has advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few benefits and drawbacks. However, whether or not they apply to you is determined by your lifestyle and beliefs.
Here are some of the advantages of becoming a morning person:
You’re in Tune with Life’s Natural Cycle
Most species are programmed by nature to follow a set of patterns. You’re in step with the natural rhythm if you wake up as the sun rises and go to bed as it sets. This isn’t the case at all times of the year. For example, I wake up early in the winter since there are fewer daylight hours than in the warm summer.
But, being a morning person rather than a night owl, I think I’m more in tune with nature. Plus, getting up early allows me to make use of as much natural light as possible.
You’re the First to Rise
If you’re a morning person, you get up earlier than most people to enjoy the peace before the day’s commotion and activity begins. There’s no need to rush to the bathroom. There’s no one to avoid as you reach for the cereal and no one’s worries to listen to as you reach for the cereal. The streets are devoid of traffic. The majority of the rooms are unoccupied, and you have the entire house to yourself.
You’ve Got Plenty of Time to Get Used to the Early Routine
It’s not enjoyable to be rushed when you’ve been up late and have many things to do. If you get up with the larks, you can take it easy in the morning. To some extent, the world is your oyster because you can do whatever you want. Perhaps you’ll go for a run, relax, or write without any obligations or interruptions.
You Have the Option of Planning Your Day
I don’t know about you, but I don’t prioritize or plan when I’m in a rush. I’m too busy, which is strange because planning your day increases your chances of making it a success.
Fortunately, I am a morning person, so I have plenty of time to plan and prioritize how I want to spend my day. Sure, anything could derail my goals, but at least I’m on track and know which activities to prioritize for the best results.
However there are several disadvantages of being a morning person.
You irritate night owls
If you’re a morning person, you’re upbeat first thing in the morning. Your housemates, on the other hand, might not be able to handle your exuberance. People like you turn on like light bulbs early in the morning. On the other hand, night owls haven’t yet gathered their senses and aren’t ready for such fervor or attracted by a flurry of action when they awaken.
You’ll be too Exhausted for Late-night Parties
If you don’t enjoy gatherings, being a morning person might be a good fit for your social needs. Those who enjoy social gatherings and nightlife, on the other hand, frequently find themselves needing to sleep just as the festivities begin. Whether you want to watch a nice movie on TV or participate in festivities, your bed may interrupt your plans.
You Must Walk on Your Tiptoes
Early in the morning, single people without housemates can swan around doing whatever they like. When you live with other people, though, you must take into mind their need to sleep. You might want to turn up the volume on your favourite music, clatter around in the kitchen, or do other noisy activities. However, you end yourself tiptoeing around to avoid upsetting anyone who is still sleeping.
When Everyone Else is Ready to Go, You’ve Run Out of Energy
When you’re a guest in someone else’s home, have visitors, or have to attend social activities, you’ll feel exhausted as the evening progresses while everyone else is energized. Those times when you have to force yourself to grin and stay awake despite the need to curl up under a blanket are difficult, albeit they don’t happen very frequently.
What’s Your Sleep Chronotype?
We’ve all heard of the terms “early bird” and “night owl.” Some of us can get up and start the day right away, while others perform much better at night. Because our bodies are all different, our daily schedules are all different.
Our bodies work according to their biological clocks, which include our chronotypes. I talk about chronotypes a lot because they’re such a vital aspect of sleeping well.
Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep expert and author of The Power of When claims that your unique wiring (also known as your sleep chronotype) dictates your most energetic times of the day.
While you probably already know if you’re a morning person or a night owl, Dr. Breus goes a step further with four sleep chronotype classifications that will help you figure out the optimal time of day to make a major decision, exercise, or do anything else.
Which Sleep Chronotype Do You Represent?
The bear chronotype encompasses the majority of humans. The sun dictates the Bears’ sleep-wake cycles, and they have no trouble sleeping. Bears are best prepared for demanding duties in the morning, and they have a slump in the afternoon.
Bears, on the whole, are energetic and get things done. They can work productively throughout the day if they don’t try to work past the mid-afternoon recharge phase. Bears are known to be sociable creatures.
Wolves are at the opposite end of the nocturnal spectrum. They get an earlier start and ride the production wave while the rest of the world is winding down. Wolves have two peak periods: one from midday to 2:00 p.m., and another just as the rest of the world is leaving work.
Wolves are known for being creators, such as writers, painters, and coders. When the sun sets, the creative parts of the wolf’s brain light up. Wolf personalities are more likely to be introverts who enjoy their alone time. The wolf chronotype plans meetings for later in the day and asks you to supper after the restaurant’s dinner rush has passed.
Dolphins may or may not have a consistent sleeping pattern. They regularly wake up during the night as light sleepers and do not get enough sleep. Dolphins ruminate over the day’s failures as they try to fall slumber.
Because of their high intelligence and perfectionist tendencies, dolphins spend a lot of time chewing over the day. From mid-morning to early afternoon, they are at their most productive.
The lions are early risers. These are the doers, the leaders, and the type-A shakers and movers. They may not reach for a cup of coffee until just before lunch, and by then, their most productive hours have passed. They tend to fizzle out in the evening and turn in early due to their action-packed mornings.
How To Reset Your Circadian Rhythm?
- Maintain uniformity in your waking up and sleeping timings – make sure you don’t change the time table
- Turn off TVs, phones, and tablets at least 1-2 hours before going to bed
- Have your heaviest meal early in the day, when digestive juices are at their peak
- Steer clear of any caffeinated beverages after morning
- Reduce your alcohol consumption at night because it impacts your sleep negatively
- To avoid indigestion, stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime
- Invest in blackout curtains and low-wattage light bulbs for your bedroom
The Bottom Line
If you really want to learn how to be a morning person, it can definitely be done! Waking up early gives you space for yourself in a world designed to distract you. It gives you the time to reflect, work on the things you want to do, and enjoy some quiet “me time.”
All you need to do is decide to wake up earlier, then set the date and begin.
More About Becoming a Morning Person
- The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day
- The Ultimate Guide To Your Most Productive Morning Ever
- How To Wake Up Earlier: Science-Backed Tricks For Night Owls
Featured photo credit: Keenan Constance via unsplash.com
|||^||Northwestern University: Morning rays keep off pounds|
|||^||Chronobiology International: Longitudinal change of sleep timing: association between chronotype and longevity in older adults|
|||^||Medium: Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Hack: Don’t Break the Chain!|