Many of us (myself included) naturally aren’t morning people, but there are some simple habits you can easily adopt to become one. These habits will not only help you become a morning person, but also help you be more productive in the morning.
Gradually Change Your Sleep Schedule
Remember when you were a kid and had to change your sleep schedule the night before the first day of school? If you were anything like me, it was a miserable experience, and all you did was count down the days to the weekend so you could finally sleep in again. This cycle likely continued for the rest of the school year.
This illustrates the importance of gradually changing your sleep schedule. If you usually wake up at 8:45 am and want to start waking up at 6:30 am, then start by waking up at 8:15 am and gradually shift backward 15-30 minutes each day until you meet your goal. This not only makes it easier, but you’re more likely to stick with it if you give your body time to adjust.
Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
It’s very tempting to sleep in on weekends or days off, and you can still do it to an extent, but maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is the simplest way to get the best amount of sleep. According to sleep expert Dr. Ellen Vora, "As basic as it sounds, the body functions optimally when it runs on a predictable schedule. And what's even more boring is that it's best when that schedule involves an early wake-up and sleep time."
Sleeping in an extra 20 minutes or an hour on the weekends likely won’t hurt your sleep schedule, but it’s best to ditch the habit of sleeping in until noon on weekends, as it will only disrupt your sleep schedule come Sunday night and Monday morning.
Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to fall asleep (and stay asleep) when you’re exercising regularly? It’s not in your head, as studies show a correlation between exercise and sleep. Try making time to work out every day (even if it’s just a quick walk around the block on a busy day) to help improve your sleep schedule and energy levels.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
An important part of establishing healthy habits is to build healthy routines that support those habits, and that includes a bedtime routine. New York City-based holistic nurse practitioner Victoria Albina says, "Treat yourself like a toddler. I mean it. Take a warm bath or shower (a drop in body temperature as you get out of the water tells your body it's sleep time). Diffuse calming essential oils like lavender and cedar; take a teaspoon or two of coconut oil right before bed to help stave off blood sugar crashes overnight. Read by candlelight or a salt lamp. Be gentle with yourself."
Try indulging in lavender oil or other lavender-scented products to calm yourself down, meditate, stretch, or read a chapter of a book. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate routine, just enough to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep.
Establish a Morning Routine
Most of us know that a night routine is important for maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, but a morning routine is just as important. Do you ever just lay in bed and find yourself scrolling mindlessly through social media? A thoughtful and productive morning routine can help you nip that bad habit in the bud.
Like your bedtime routine, your morning routine doesn’t have to be elaborate. You don’t have to be the girl who works out and drinks green juice before work (though there’s nothing wrong with that). Your routine can be as simple as meditating for 10 minutes and making a morning smoothie, or washing your face and brushing your teeth five minutes after you wake up. It should, however, include something that you will look forward to motivate you to roll out of bed on time.
Get Some Morning Sun
Going outside for at least 10 minutes in the morning and soaking in the sun will help your brain and body wake up and feel alert. Dr. Andrew Huberman believes that exposure to sunlight first thing in the morning is an essential behavior that would benefit every single person. He says everyone should “view, ideally, sunlight for 2–10 minutes every morning upon waking. So, when you get up in the morning, you really want to get bright light into your eyes because it does two things. First of all, it triggers the timed release of cortisol, a healthy level of cortisol, into your system, which acts as a wake-up signal and will promote wakefulness and the ability to focus throughout the day. It also starts a timer for the onset of melatonin.”
Triggering the healthy cycles of cortisol and melatonin will help you feel more awake in the morning as well as prime your body to get sleepy in the evening.
Set a Caffeine Cutoff Time
Many of us love our morning coffee and sometimes need an afternoon pick-me-up on busy days. Unfortunately, this can disturb your sleep schedule. Experts recommend that you stop consuming caffeine "up to six hours before bedtime." This also includes caffeinated foods like chocolate (tragic, I know).
Turn Off Electronics
Though it’s tempting to scroll through Instagram before going to sleep, it’s best to turn off electronics like phones and computers before going to bed. According to SCL Health, “The blue light emitted by your cell phone screen restrains the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle.”
Lights from electronics also affects our level of alertness at night, leading to a poor night’s sleep and decreased energy in the morning. Similar to caffeine, it’s smart to set a cutoff time for electronics. The easiest way to adopt this habit is to leave your phone outside the bedroom if you can (using a sunrise alarm clock is a great item to invest in if you want to become a morning person). If you're not willing to leave your phone in another room, set a nightly cut-off alarm on your phone and read an old school paperback book for 30 minutes before going to bed, giving your brain time to properly wind down.
Resist the Snooze Button
Avoid hitting the snooze button on your alarm. It’s oh-so-tempting, but saying “five more minutes” can easily turn into sleeping in and rushing for the rest of the day. It's all about developing habits and a consistent schedule, so make sure to set your alarm at a time when you know you won’t hit the snooze button.
Contrary to popular belief, mornings don’t have to suck. These simple habits will not only help you become a morning person, but give you more time to be productive during the day.
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