For over a decade, I repeated a mantra to myself: I am not a morning person; I’m a night owl. I hated getting up early, and I mentally whined my way through my morning routine. As I got older and came to depend more on a rise-at-dawn schedule, I learned that, with a few easy tweaks to my lifestyle, I had become a morning person. By “morning person” I don’t mean someone who doesn’t have difficulty rising at 6 a.m.; I mean someone who greets each new day with a spring in their step. Part of becoming a morning person is mental – you have to overcome some serious psychological roadblocks against rising early that have been ingrained for years. The other part is preparation.
Read on for five easy steps towards becoming that person – you know, the one who jumps out of bed and embraces each day with eager anticipation.
Say "No" to Snoozing
I was a criminal snooze-button abuser. I thought slapping that button every five minutes meant I would wake up gradually, but instead it turned me into a groggy monster who broke out in a cold sweat every time I heard an alarm go off. After reading dozens of health articles that pointed out the errancy of my ways, I decided to kick this bad habit. It turns out that, when you hit the snooze button, your body is tricked into thinking it can go back to sleep, but when it is interrupted a few minutes later, sleep inertia is triggered. This is essentially a suspended state that the body stays in when it doesn’t know if it will get to fall back asleep – hence the mental haze and fogginess that snooze abusers experience. The worst part is that sleep inertia can last two to four hours, which means you may spend your entire morning trying to really wake up.
The solution? Swing your feet over to the side of the bed and sit up as soon as you hear your alarm. If you’re a particularly heavy sleeper, there are several apps you can download that ensure you fully wake up when your alarm goes off. In place of traditional alarms, which are easy to sleep through, try the Carrot app that talks to you in the morning and offers hilarious bribes like ice cream to get you out of bed. To really kickstart your brain, you can also try FreakyAlarm, which offers puzzles and brain benders to get your mental juices flowing in the a.m.
Seek Out Sunshine
If it were up to me, I’d sleep in a cave. I hate sunlight in the morning, but I can’t argue with its extremely potent and immediate results when it comes to fully waking up. Seeking out sunshine as soon as you wake up (I prefer to step outside with a cup of coffee for ten minutes) not only fully activates your brain, but it also starts your day with a much-needed dose of Vitamin D. Oh, and did you know that people who were exposed to sunlight in the morning had lower BMIs on average?
Preparation is Key
I am one of those annoying people who like to lay out their outfits the night before, prep their breakfast, and make sure everything is lined up for a smooth, easy morning. You don’t have to do all of these things, but a few of them help. Experts recommend that you have a healthy breakfast, and this is made easier when you’ve prepared it in advance. I love making mini frittatas packed with veggies in a muffin tin for a grab-and-go breakfast, and I don’t know what I would do without chocolate chia-seed pudding (which needs to absorb overnight anyway). Need some ideas? Check out Savoir Flair’s guide to making delicious smoothie bowls.
Stick to a Schedule
Your overall health and well-being is supported by good sleep, and sleep is regulated by your circadian rhythm. When this rhythm is thrown off – like in instances of jet lag, constant changes to your sleep schedule, or insomnia – you will feel more lethargic and sluggish. In order to wake up in the morning with the ability to say, “No!” to that snooze button, stick to a sleep schedule. Your brain rests more fully when it gets seven to eight hours of sleep, but that also depends on when you’re getting that seven to eight hours. Did you know that you actually experience more restful sleep when you go to bed before midnight as opposed to after? This means that a full night’s rest is not possible – even if you’re sleeping eight hours – if you go to bed after midnight. Sorry, we didn’t make the rules; our circadian rhythms did.
Resist the Screen
As a purveyor of bad habits, I’ve also become really good at breaking them. Not only am I a former snooze abuser, but I’m also a former phone addict. When I look back, I don’t know how the habit of staring at my phone for an hour as soon as I woke up started, but suffice to say, it made me feel bad about myself and unmotivated in the mornings. For who knows how long, I would wake up as early as six or seven in the morning and stay on my phone for at least an hour, mindlessly scrolling through social media. When I realized how much time I was wasting, I felt terrible and resolved to put my phone down for a majority of the day. If you’re like me and reach for your phone first thing, it’s an easy issue to resolve. Put your phone on airplane mode before going to bed. Your alarm will still go off, but there will be no notifications or cheery alerts to distract you while you get ready for the day. I allow myself to turn my phone on only after I’ve eaten breakfast.