Becoming a morning person isn’t for everyone. Some people are naturally night owls and the thought of waking up extra early not only doesn’t appeal to them but it will probably also never work. But for many people, waking up a little earlier can make a huge difference in what they are able to accomplish and how they manage their life.
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Why become a morning person?
Mornings are a great time to get a head start on the day. Waking up early can help you maximize your productivity, allowing you to get things done before your day gets busy. Being an early riser can help you manage your time better, allowing you to plan ahead and stay ahead of the game.
Waking up early can also reduce your stress levels because you’ll have more time to relax and enjoy the day. Finally, early mornings can provide you with a sense of peace that can help you start your day off on the right foot.
Set achievable goals
Becoming a morning person isn’t something you just decide to do and then it happens. We’re talking about changing our patterns and routines and that takes effort.
Anyone can get up early once for a specific purpose, like taking a friend to the airport. But for you to actually become a morning person, you need to make getting up early a regular habit. And that starts with getting a goal.
Start by setting a realistic timeline and breaking down the steps required to reach the goal. What does that mean? First, figure out how much sleep you need each night to feel alert and well-rested. Forcing yourself to get up early will only work so long if you’re not getting enough sleep.
Next, decide how much time you need in the morning to accomplish what you want to do. Why do you want to get up earlier? What do you want to do with that time? Make a list of all of the things you’d like to do and how long they will each take.
Now, you’ll work on what that new wake-up time should be. If you want to have a cup of coffee while reading, allow thirty minutes. Journaling? Yoga? Going for a run? Add up all of those minutes and subtract them from the time you need to leave the house (or wake kids up or whatever your morning currently looks like).
This is your new wake-up time.
Then, backtrack to see what time you need to go to bed, allowing yourself your full night’s sleep.
From here, you’re going to work in incremental steps to change your wake-up time. Each day or two you will set your alarm for 10-15 minutes earlier than you currently wake up. This will allow your body to adjust to the new time schedule.
Preparing the night before
Having a nighttime routine to make your morning run smoother is paramount, especially in the beginning stages of creating this new morning routine. Think about the tasks you can do ahead of time for your morning and do as many of them as you can.
Some things to consider:
- Laying out your clothes (and/or your kids’ clothes)
- Pre-packing lunches
- Stage items needed for the next day—backpacks, bags, etc.
- Set up the coffee maker
- Previewing your planner or making a to-do list
All of these things will help your morning run smoother because they are time savers. Giving yourself extra minutes can be the difference between an organized morning and a hectic one.
These nighttime preparations should be part of your evening, but you should also have a bedtime routine.
Establish a bedtime routine
A regular bedtime routine helps promote healthy sleep habits. I’ve already mentioned knowing how much sleep you need and setting your clock based on that. But you should also prepare for bed so that when you get there, you’re ready for sleep.
An hour or so before you want to be asleep, you should participate in calming activities. A warm bath or shower, reading, yoga, or meditation are all calming. You want to avoid screens (TV, computer, and phone) because the blue light interferes with your brain activity.
Each night, you should follow the same routine. For me, it’s always shower and then read in bed. It doesn’t matter if I’m extra tired, or my schedule is off and I’m heading to bed later than usual. I find that if I follow this routine (which might mean a faster shower or fewer pages read), I’m ready for sleep when I turn off the light.
As someone who’s always battled insomnia, figuring this out has been amazing for me. My routine doesn’t have to be your routine. You might be a meditation and then music person. Or journaling and white noise kind of person. The point is, find what works for you.
Avoid eating and drinking late at night
While it’s important to eat regular meals and have healthy habits, you want to make sure you’re eating your meals early enough in the day. Eating late at night can disrupt your body’s natural rhythms and make mornings (especially early ones) more difficult.
Eating late at night can cause indigestion, which can interfere with sleep. Consuming caffeine or alcohol before bed can also mess with your sleep because of their effects on your body.
Avoiding late-night snacking and drinking can help you become a morning person because you will sleep better and wake easier.
Stick to a sleep schedule
As I’ve been saying, sleep is an important part of overall health and well-being. Having a consistent sleep schedule and getting enough sleep can help improve your concentration, productivity, and mood. Other benefits are a reduction of stress and improvement in health and memory. Consequently, not getting enough sleep can lead to a variety of health issues.
The key here is consistency—which is why I spent time talking about creating a nighttime routine. You want to be able to get a consistent amount of sleep—the amount that’s right for you.
Consistency comes from following your schedule every day, even on the weekends and days off. It’s super tempting to sleep in on the weekends, but doing so will throw off your schedule and routine. This has a snowball effect and when it’s time to get back to your schedule, it’s harder to do.
Choose an alarm to wake up on time
Some people can wake up without an alarm. I’ve never been one of those people. However, I don’t need much of an alarm anymore. When I was younger (and dealing with insomnia), I slept like the dead and would routinely sleep through every alarm. Putting an alarm clock—the wind-up kind with the big bells on top—across the room is what got me through high school and college.
If you are a sound sleeper, you might need to set several alarms. I recommend the app Alarmy to my clients because it’s usually enough to wake the deepest sleepers. Alarmy requires you to complete a task to turn off. You choose the task when you set it the night before. You can choose math, shaking the phone, or taking a picture that has to be repeated in the morning. There is a paid version, but I suggest starting with the free because it’s enough.
Don’t hit the snooze
When the alarm goes off, your body begins to prepare for the day ahead and if you hit the snooze button, you are disrupting this natural process. This disruption can leave you feeling disoriented and lower your energy level.
Furthermore, hitting the snooze button can lead to a feeling of frustration, because you might feel rushed as your morning actually starts. Avoid the mess altogether by not hitting snooze.
Increase natural light exposure
While it’s important to have a dark and quiet room for sleep, when it comes time to wake up, you want to have natural light. Natural light helps to regulate the body's circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep patterns.
Natural light stimulates the brain and helps to improve alertness and concentration, which can help make mornings more productive. Finally, natural light helps to improve mood and reduce feelings of stress and fatigue, which can help make mornings more enjoyable.
There are some alarm clocks that have lights on them that gradually get brighter as the alarm goes off. They work with your natural rhythms to help wake you. Leaving your curtains or blinds open can also help, depending on the time of the year. If the sun blazes through your window at 5 am, that might not be quite what you’re looking for.
Develop a morning routine
Just like you want to have a nighttime routine to set yourself up to become a morning person, you want to have a morning routine established so you are ready to face your day.
Your morning routine needs to suit your lifestyle and personality. As I said before, some people have a goal of becoming a morning person so they can work out first thing. Other people just need some quiet time to themselves before the chaos of the day hits.
Choose the activities that will bring you enjoyment and that will make your day easier. Using this morning time for some self-care is an excellent choice. Focusing on yourself first thing can give you the energy and motivation to tackle your day.
Overall, the purpose of becoming a morning person is so that you can enjoy your mornings more, without feeling frazzled. Building routines that suit you can go a long way to help you not only have a good night’s sleep but also have a more enjoyable and productive morning.