How to Become a Morning Person: 9 Practical Steps for Breaking the Night Owl Habit
There are two types of people in the world, those that love waking up early and getting out and about in the mornings (like me) and those that just can’t seem to get out of bed until the very last minute (like my partner).
Aside from which camp you fit into, I think we can all agree that waking up a little earlier than usual has many great benefits, from getting yourself organised for the day, squeezing in a quick workout before work, or having time to complete your skincare routine. For those who aren’t blessed with the early waking gene, and are tired of the morning dash to work to avoid being late, then do not fret! I’ve put together some tips and tricks you can implement to start waking up with the sun and enjoy the gift that is early mornings.
What Makes Someone a Morning Person or A Night Owl?
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be naturally inclined to wake up early and start their day while others struggle with the idea of getting out of bed before 9 am? Well, there are a few factors at play here; the first is circadian rhythm.
Circadian rhythm Refers to the 24-hour sleep-wake cycles within the body. Circadian rhythm is sensitive to light and dark; when we are exposed to morning light, the hormone cortisol increases, which makes us more alert; similarly, as it gets darker at night, our bodies start to produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
The second factor is your chronotype. Chronotype refers to your natural preference for when you sleep, wake up, eat and even exercise. It varies from person to person but usually falls into one of three categories; morning, evening or neutral.
If your chronotype leans towards the ‘morning’ type, then you may naturally wake up earlier and feel more alert during the day. if it leans towards the ‘evening’ type, you may be more of a night owl, staying up late and finding morning wake-ups difficult.
One of the key differences between chronotype and circadian rhythm is circadian rhythm can be Reset or altered. In contrast, your chronotype is more so fixed. So, for example, someone with a night owl chronotype can wake up early at work at 6 am but won’t feel alert or most productive till later in the day, and visa versa for someone with an early bird chronotype.
Many people believe that their chronotype is fixed and unchangeable, but this isn’t necessarily true. While it may be more difficult to change your chronotype than your circadian rhythm, there are still some steps you can take to gradually alter your natural preferences for your sleep schedule and wake-up schedule.
Here we will discuss how you can make these changes in order to become a morning person.
Benefits of Becoming a Morning Person
Waking up early in the morning can offer a host of benefits, from allowing extra time for self-care and productivity to improving overall health and well-being.
Studies have shown that morning people tend to be more proactive, better problem-solvers, and have better mental clarity throughout the day than those who prefer sleeping in later.
Aside from the productivity benefits, an early wake-up can also help set you up for a healthier lifestyle. Morning workouts and healthy breakfast options are more achievable when you have extra time in the morning to prepare, leaving less time for unhealthy cravings throughout the day.
Finally, let’s not forget about the bonus of having some quiet time to yourself before you start your day! Waking up early can give you the opportunity to relax, meditate, and set intentions for the day ahead. All these benefits make becoming a morning person an achievable goal that is well worth striving for.
9 Tips On How To Become A Morning Person
So let’s get into it! Here are some practical and proven tips you can use to become a morning person.
How To Become A Morning Person #1
Stay on a Consistent Sleep Schedule
One of the key steps to becoming a morning person is sticking to a consistent sleep cycle. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Having a regular sleep schedule helps regulate your circadian rhythm and makes it easier for you to wake up in the mornings. It also helps ensure that you get enough quality sleep each night so that you can be more alert during the day.
For all you night owls out there, I understand that drastically changing the times you go to sleep and wake up isn’t easy and takes time, which leads me to our next tip.
How To Become A Morning Person #2
Gradually Shift Your Sleep Times Earlier
If you are normally a night owl, it’s going to take time to re-wire your body clock so that you get sleepy earlier in the night. Take your time with it, and each night try to go to bed just 10-15 minutes earlier than the night before.
As your body gets used to this new bedtime routine, keep pushing it back until you reach the sleep times that are best for you. You can do the same with waking up. If you are used to waking up at 9 am each morning, set your alarm for 8:45 am for a few days, then once you have adjusted to this time, set your Alarm clock for 8:30 am and so forth.
How To Become A Morning Person #3
Get Some Sunlight First Thing In The Morning
This is my favourite tip and probably the most important thing you should do if you are trying to join the morning club. As mentioned earlier, the circadian rhythm is guided by natural cues, one of them being light exposure.
Getting bright natural light into your eyes first thing in the morning will trigger the release of cortisol, which will help wake us up and help you focus throughout the day, but it will also start a timer for the onset of melatonin (the sleep hormone).
In other words, viewing the early morning sun (for 2-20 minutes every morning) will help you feel more sleepy during the evening. If you aren’t able to view natural light, you can get a lightbox and put it in your office or where ever you spend your morning; they work just as well.
How To Become A Morning Person #4
Incorporate Exercise Into Your Day
It’s no secret that regular exercise has many benefits, including improving sleep.
Moderate to vigorous exercise has been shown to decrease the time it takes people to fall asleep and have better sleep quality during the night. For morning people, exercising early in the morning can help promote wakefulness if you struggling to rid of that groggy feeling, also known as sleep inertia. You also get a healthy dose of endorphins which boost your energy levels.
Additionally, exercise increases blood flow to our brains, which improves concentration and focus. This is especially helpful if you have an important task or meeting early in the morning, as it can help you stay on top of things all day long.
Exercising later in the day can still have amazing effects on your sleep pattern. However, it’s advised not to exercise at least 90 minutes before your bedtime.
How To Become A Morning Person #5
Avoid Screens Before Bedtime
The blue light emitted from screens can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm and make it harder for you to become a morning person.
This is because the blue light tricks our brains into thinking that it’s still daytime, making us more alert and less likely to feel sleepy when we should be winding down for the night. Therefore, in order to help yourself become a morning person, you should avoid using any screens at least two hours before bedtime.
Doing so will ensure that your melatonin (sleep hormone) levels are high enough to allow you to fall asleep easily and wake up feeling refreshed in the mornings.
Now because it’s 2023, what the hell do you do for 2 hours before bed without a screen? I’m going to share a little hack with you that I heard from Andrew Huberman from the Huberman Lab podcast.
On an episode of The Kevin Rose Show, he explained that to prevent the adverse effects of late-night light exposures, watch the sunset! “Viewing light circa sunset adjusts the sensitivity of the cells in the eye such that it buffers you against some of the negative effects of light late at night. So, I call it sort of my Netflix vaccination — I can watch some late-night movie or TV or be on my screen a little bit later, provided I got some sunlight right around sunset.” Andrew Said.
How To Become A Morning Person #6
Drink Caffeine at the Right Time
Consuming coffee at the right time is essential to becoming a morning person. Caffeine is a stimulant, and drinking it close to bedtime will cause sleep problems. It takes around 6 hours for half of the caffeine you consume to be eliminated from your system, so it’s best to drink it no later than 6 hours before you plan to sleep.
This way, your body will have enough time to metabolize the caffeine, and it won’t keep you up at night. If you’re a morning person, the ideal time to drink caffeine is between 8-11 am, which can help you feel more alert throughout the day.
If you feel like you rely on coffee to get you through the day, here are a few tips to help you limit caffeine intake.
• Start by reducing the amount of coffee or other caffeinated beverages you drink in a day.
• Try switching to lower-caffeine drinks like green tea, herbal teas, and decaffeinated coffee.
• Alternate caffeinated drinks with non-caffeinated drinks like water or natural juices throughout the day.
How To Become A Morning Person #5
Change Your Mindset Around Mornings
Becoming a morning person starts with changing your mindset around mornings. Instead of dreading the early hours, reframe your thought process and see them as an opportunity to work on your health, well-being and personal growth. We have such limited time in our day, and with most of the hours being taken up by work, chores, cooking, etc., we can find it hard to schedule in need ‘me time.’ By waking up even just 1 hour earlier, you can spend time doing something for yourself. For tips on how to create a motivating morning routine, you can read my blog post here.
Further to this, make your mornings something you look forward to, and find activities that bring joy, like listening to upbeat music or reading inspiring books; doing things that make you happy first thing in the morning is sure to give you an energy boost for whatever comes next during your day! It may take some time to adjust, but eventually, you will learn to love waking up early and making the most out of each day.
How To Become A Morning Person #8
Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene refers to the practices and habits that one should adhere to promote better quality, restful sleep. Just like a morning routine, it’s important to develop a relaxing nighttime routine to help get your body ready for sleep time.
Having an Environment Conducive To Sleeping
In order to have a good night’s sleep, you need to ensure your bedroom is as conducive to sleep as possible. A cool, quiet, dark room is best.
Limit Blue Light Exposure
Blue light is emitted from screens like computers, phones and TVs and has been known to disturb our body’s natural circadian rhythm.
If you must use a device before bed, consider investing in blue light filter glasses or apps that reduce the blue light emitted from devices. Additionally, dimming the lights in your home and limiting exposure to sunlight before bedtime can help you relax and prepare for sleep.
Reduce Stress Levels Before Bedtime
Elevated stress levels can keep our bodies alert and make it harder to sleep. To reduce stress, try practising relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, NDSR and mindfulness meditation before bedtime.
Additionally, writing down your thoughts and worries in a journal can help you organise your thoughts and let go of any negative emotions before sleep.
Avoid Drinking Caffeine and Alcohol Before Bedtime
It is best to avoid consuming caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea or energy drinks close to bedtime as they can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Additionally, drinking alcohol before bedtime may help you get to sleep quickly, but it can disrupt your sleep quality and cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
Avoid Large Meals Before Bedtime
Eating large meals close to bedtime can make it difficult to get to sleep as your body is working hard to digest the food. If you are feeling hungry before bed, opt for a light snack like yogurt or banana with some honey. This should help tide you over until morning without disrupting your sleep.
How To Become A Morning Person #9
Create a Relaxing Evening Routine
Creating a relaxing evening routine is an important part of becoming a morning person. By taking the time to wind down and relax in the evenings, you can ensure that your body and mind are ready for a restful sleep when it’s time to go to bed. A good evening routine should include activities like reading, writing, yoga or stretching, listening to calming music or podcasts, journaling your thoughts and feelings, practising deep breathing exercises, and taking a warm bath or shower. Doing these relaxing activities will help your body wind down for sleep, which is integral if you want to become a morning person.
Creating a morning routine that you look forward to and making the most out of each day can be challenging, but it is worth the effort. By following good sleep hygiene practices, reducing stress levels before bedtime and avoiding caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime, you will soon find yourself waking up earlier with more energy throughout the day! With dedication and consistency in your habits, you’ll eventually learn to love becoming a morning person and make every minute count.
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