Most people share the dreaded hate of morning. The sound of an alarm clock and the thought of peeling themselves out of bed are a few of the worst experiences for people who deem themselves as night owls. I consider myself lucky to have never experienced such hate, as I deem myself just the opposite; a morning person. I have spent a lot of time trying to promote mornings, and convince night owls of how wonderful mornings can be. And ironically enough, the majority of these morning-haters tell me that they actually like early mornings once they have conquered the initial waking up part.
For those night dwellers and afternoon risers out there, here is a breakdown of how and why mornings should become a welcomed part of your life.
What’s so great about morning?
The question is, what isn’t great about morning? I realize my opinions are biased, as a person who, literally, hits the floor running with no drowsiness, but there truly are so many amazing reasons to wake up early.
For starters, more time in a day. And who doesn’t want or need just a little more time every day to work or to unwind? Think of the little tasks you could cross off your to-do list with an extra hour or two. Or the relaxing cup of coffee you could enjoy, rather than settling for something on the way out the door.
More time in a day gives us more time with loves ones, more time to conquer tasks, and more time for ourselves.
There are many health related advantages associated with waking up early as well. According to a 2011 study by Northwestern University, late sleepers typically consume more calories in a day, eat less fresh fruits and vegetables, and eat twice as much fast food than people who wake up early. Moreover, people who sleep in late often miss breakfast, which is arguably the most important meal of the day and is proven to jump start the metabolism, improve concentration, and curb hunger throughout the day.
Morning is also the best time to hit the gym. There are less people on the gym floor and in the locker rooms, eliminating the waiting time for machines or showers that often occur during the evening hours.
It has been proven that people who work out in the morning have better long-term results. This is believed to be due in large part to less schedule conflicts at that time of day. It is easy to skip a workout in the evening when plans suddenly change, or after you have had a long day. It is much harder, if not impossible, to use those same excuses in the morning, therefore, people who work out in the morning skip fewer days at the gym and experience more prolonged weight loss results.
Peace and quiet.
Another great thing about the early morning is the peacefulness. I can’t tell you how many times I have patiently waited outside Target on a Saturday morning. Why? Because once they unlock those doors, what’s inside is a Target like you have never seen. Before they turn the music on, and before mobs of customers come in, the entire store is quiet and clean. No maneuvering carts around children or people stopped mid-isle on their cell phones. Just me, my coffee, and my shopping list. The parking lot and the cart return, also empty. And if that doesn’t paint a wonderful picture, I don’t know what will.
How to become an early riser.
You have heard the phrase, “old habits die hard”, this is important to remember when attempting to change your sleeping cycle. You will essentially be training your body to do the exact opposite of what it wants to do. It will be hard to break late night habits and even harder to create early morning habits, but it can be done. With enough determination and discipline, anything can be done.
What is your current schedule?
A good place to begin is by acknowledging your current evening routines. A few questions to ask yourself are: * What do you do when you get home from school or work? * What time do you usually eat dinner? * Do you watch TV or read a book? * Do you exercise in the evening? * And most importantly, what time do you usually go to sleep?
Then move onto your morning routines and ask yourself these questions:
- Do you usually feel rushed in the mornings?
- Are you often late to work/school/appointments scheduled in the morning?
- Do you eat breakfast, and if so, is it well-balanced and filling?
- Do you exercise in the morning?
- How many times do you hit snooze?
Make a plan.
Now make a feasible game plan based on your answers to the questions above. Whether you write one out, or mentally make notes, it will benefit you to have a vision of what your ultimate goals are. This plan should be realistic and flexible. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much at once. Like all significant changes in life, this, too, will take time to work through the kinks and find a solution that works best for you personally.
At night, make it a point to wind down and get comfortable as soon as possible, that way your body will begin to relax while you finish your daily duties. Take note of the lighting and noise in your home. Turn off any unnecessary lights, or dim the lights if you can, and turn off excess noises that might hinder you from relaxing.
Start slowly with the other changes by eating dinner an hour earlier, and limiting your TV time. Find an evening routine that eases your mind and body. Something that will aid relaxation. Try watching something funny or happy, reading a few chapters of a book, or drinking tea and conversing with family. Steer clear of watching dramatic shows or horror movies before bed as they will increase your heart rate and in turn, raise your blood pressure, making it even harder to fall asleep.
Set a goal of a 10PM bedtime and try to get into bed earlier and earlier to meet this goal. It will feel less forced as the days or weeks pass, and once your body has adjusted to the changes. Soon enough you will welcome the onset drowsiness that precedes a 10PM bedtime.
Making changes in the morning will be significantly more difficult. To begin with, eliminate all negative feelings towards waking up early. Change your attitude to portray only positive thoughts and you will begin to notice a slight difference right away. This is not an overnight achievement, and you can’t control how fast your body will adjust, but you can control your outlook.
Before you go to bed at night, devise your plan for the following morning. Know whether or not you will take a shower, have your outfit, lunch, purse, etc. ready to go, and always make sure you will have enough time to eat breakfast.
The key to a successful morning is to overpower your own mind. Every time you hit the snooze button, you only make it harder on yourself to wake up. During that eight minute snooze, you are reminded of how warm and comfortable your bed is and how much negotiating you would do to just be able to sleep in. Now multiply that by however many times you hit snooze each morning. You see? So, say goodbye to snooze.
The moment your alarm goes off, get out of bed. Seriously. Night owls everywhere are rolling their eyes at that tip, finding it offensive that I even suggested such a decry technique. But if you get nothing else from this article, at least take that tip with you tomorrow morning and try it.
When you go to bed, set your alarm as usual. In the morning, when the alarm starts, turn it off and then get up and out of bed immediately. If you don’t trust yourself to keep from hitting snooze, put your phone or alarm clock on the other side of the room, forcing you to get out of bed to turn it off. And yes, you will feel tired and maybe you won’t be able to open your eyes all the way, but once you are half way through brushing your teeth, you will be awake and ahead of schedule.
Many of life’s big achievements are hindered by our own self-induced doubts. We become our own worst enemy when we allow negative thoughts to overpower everything else. If you tell yourself you will never be a morning person, or that you would never be able to get out of bed at the first sound of your alarm, then chances are you’re right. Instead, go into this with an open mind and a hopeful attitude.
Do I have to wake up early on weekends?
Most people have a completely different routine, or lack thereof, on weekends and days off. It is nice to throw your inhibitions out the window once in a while, but it should be limited to just that – once in a while. Keeping your body on a schedule is beneficial to your physical and mental health, therefore, it is ideal to stick to your schedule without straying too often.
If you usually sleep in on the weekends with no regard to time of day, set an alarm for a couple hours later than your work week alarm. So, if you wake up at 6AM during the week, set your weekend alarm for 8AM or 9AM. Reward yourself for waking up early on your days off with a trip to your favorite breakfast nook, with a new book, or a little shopping.
Despite the few extra hours of sleep, it will still be challenging at first. Eventually, your body and mind will welcome the changes and you will notice yourself becoming tired in the evening and having less trouble waking up in the morning. Be patient with the process and accept that it will take time.
No better time than now.
It’s easy to procrastinate when faced with new challenges. We, as humans, aren’t fond of change and disruption. We get comfortable doing things the same way day in and day out, year in and year out. But change is good for us, especially a change that positively affects our health and wellbeing. And we can all agree the feeling of overcoming trials and achieving goals is incomparable and worth the struggle. After all, how can you hate the start of a brand new, beautiful day when you haven’t had a chance to live it yet?
Other useful tips!
- Do not use black-out curtains or drapes, as this will only make it harder for you to wake up. Let the sunshine in!
- Change your alarm tone from the default beeps to an upbeat song you enjoy.
- Make your bed! Not only will it deter you from climbing back into it, but it will also help you wake up.
- Find an exercise class offered in the early mornings to hold you accountable for getting up and showing up.
- Recruit a friend or significant other to join in the challenge with you.
- Start from scratch. Buy new sheets or new bedding as a way to initiate the new change in your life.