It must be great to be a morning person, mustn’t it? Oh but to be one of those people who can jump out of bed at 5am ready to leap into the day - or at least their morning habits - and do more by lunch than you get done in an entire day. There’s something you should know about these mythical people though; many of them followed advice like the steps in this article to make themselves morning people. You are far from alone in your thinking that you never get enough sleep: snooze buttons were invented by someone who felt just like you do.
There’s even an app (well, apps) for it. Thank goodness for technology that’s invented all things useful to help us become morning people: apps that watch you sleep and tell you when to wake, apps that take alarm clocks to the next level and apps that literally tip you out of bed. (I’m making that one up. Or am I?)
If you’ve made it out of bed today, congrats. We promise that this how to guide will make your wakeup call tomorrow morning much easier, so read on!
1. Restrict Screen Contact Before Going to Sleep
Do you tend to sit in bed and have one last look at your social media feeds before trying to go to sleep? You won’t be surprised to know that this isn’t doing you any favours when it comes to getting to sleep, sleeping well and finding it easy to get up in the morning. Our brains work very hard during the day and they need time to wind down before we go to bed so that they can relax and help us sleep better.
Every time you look at a screen - especially a bright screen in the dark - you’re stimulating your brain. Imagine giving a child some candy and then expecting it to lay down and take a nap. Would they? No. Your screens are your candy, and every interaction is going to start the entire cooling-down process all over again.
As much as you might love falling asleep to the soothing tones of your favourite telemarketer, or staying up that little bit longer to correct someone who’s being very wrong on the internet, you should instead get the TV out of your room and put the phone down an hour before bed, and try picking up a book instead. If you can’t imagine going tech-free for even an hour, then at least dim your screen brightness, lower the volume and choose a boring documentary over Game of Thrones, that is if you can find one.
2. Have Something to Look Forward to
If your first thought when you wake up is "ugh, I have to do XYZ," then no wonder your reaction is to hit snooze as many times as possible. Compare those mornings to the ones where you wake up and think "I’m going on vacation today!", "I’m seeing my best friend today!" or "my other half has brought me breakfast in bed!"
The second kind of morning is much better, isn’t it? Well then, do what you can to make every morning that kind of morning. For example you could spend some time in the morning doing your favourite hobby, or you could simply take your time to do something slowly and without interruption. Try to plan something fun at least once a week, and avoid having Friday afternoon as the only highlight.
3. Use the Inverted Snooze
Good news! This step means you get to set a snooze and hit that magic button.
Bad news! You aren’t supposed to snooze.
No. The idea here is that you set a snooze for, say, nine minutes, and then instead of going back to sleep for those nine minutes you get out of bed and do something. It can be as simple as making the bed, getting out of the bedroom and away from temptation, or drinking a glass of water to rehydrate yourself.
Once you’ve been awake and up for those first nine minutes, it should be easier to stay up. Think of all the things you could do with that extra time! You could do a work out, get into the habit of making a healthy breakfast to give you energy for the long day ahead, or you could even get a jumpstart on your to-do list. I know you know how great it feels to tick something off: imagine ticking something off before you even get to work.
4. Get Exposure to Natural Light
Unfortunately, if you have to get up before the sun, or if you need to draw the blinds to make your room dark enough to sleep, then this might involve investing some money in an alarm clock or other device that creates natural light. The idea is that our bodies need some exposure to natural light both to help us stay healthy and to help with our waking up; even if you don’t need to go outside, it’s good to get out for at least 15 minutes during the day.
Ideally, however, you’ll keep the blinds open and let the sun wake you up. Your natural reaction might be to hide your face under the pillow out of the bright sunlight, or to swear at it and close the blinds, but when you move to do that consider staying out of bed. On second thought, perhaps you should move the blind string to the side further from the bed.
5. Think Before you Drink or Eat
This isn’t just about alcohol, though alcohol is likely to make you wake up in the middle of the night needing to pee, but any food or drink in the evenings. Going to sleep too full or too hungry can negatively affect your comfort and your ability to get to or stay asleep; try not to eat too huge of a meal at dinner, and cut down on the caffeine in the evenings.
It makes sense, if you think about it. What’s the first thing you drink in the morning? Coffee. Why? To keep you awake. So why would you drink it just before bed and then expect to be able to go to sleep? For that matter, why are you drinking it at all once you’re done being productive for the day? Try to make your last one be on the way home from work, and give your body a chance to get it out of your system before bed.
6. See Your Alarm Clock as an Ally
Alarm clocks are the nemesis of the night owl. The good news is that once you’ve made yourself a morning person, your internal body clock should take over as the world’s most natural alarm clock. The bad news is that until then, you’re going to have to rely on your very unnatural alarm clock; the first thing you should do is get it off the bedside table and put it somewhere you can’t reach it, and actually stay out of bed when you go to turn it off. Then you should consider these factors:
- The most common type of alarm after beeps and sirens is music. Much gentler than a fire alarm, there’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it’s a good idea to use either the radio or a playlist so it isn’t the same song every day; if you hate mornings, you don’t want to come to associate your favourite song with the horror of getting up in the morning.
- When looking for an alarm app, consider the ones that aren’t just clocks. There are apps that make you shake your phone, solve a math problem or even make you get out of bed to complete tasks. If guilt trips are more your thing, then BetterMe will just post to your Facebook letting everyone know of your failure.
Additionally, be smart about the time you set your alarm for. If you want to start waking up earlier, don’t immediately change it by an hour - do it in 15-minute increments and ease yourself into it; if your current time is hard to get up at, losing an hour won’t be any easier. Sleep cycles are usually 90 minutes, so try to set your alarm accordingly to avoid being disturbed in the middle of a cycle.
The same way you didn’t become a night owl overnight, you won’t become a morning person after one day of going to bed and getting up at the right time. Habits take time to break and your system needs to detox from all the caffeine it’s used to. It’s believed that it can take up to 30 days to form a habit, or as few as 14 to become a better morning person. Don’t expect to catch all the worms on your first day, but start seriously trying, be consistent and patient, and it could happen sooner than you think.
While it’s true that some people are naturally "better" at mornings than others - and age can be a factor, according to scientists- there’s no reason why you can’t work to change your ways. After all, your night time habits of sitting on Twitter, watching three movies every night, and saving all your snacking for the evening are all habits. Habits that you got yourself into, you chose to have and you can just as easily choose to break if you really do want to change your ways.
Are you a morning person? Are you a morning person who didn’t use to be one? Let us know how you did it in the comments section below!