Sleep. For years I was convinced I was neither a night nor morning person – I was a day person. I felt like I was in a fog with late night feedings and the constant physical fatigue of being a mom. It was about the time my oldest started middle school, with an earlier start time, when I realized mornings were a good thing. I could get my day moving in the right direction when I was intentional about how I started my morning.
I’ll admit. The biggest obstacle to become a morning person is sleep, and not getting enough. Not only is it hard to function, but science has proven the benefits of 8 hours of sleep go beyond affecting our energy and mood levels. When we are sleep deprived we feel pain more acutely, are at risk for heart disease, are more likely to get sick, experience mood swings, and may experience trouble learning, problem-solving and remembering. (BlueCross BlueShield)
The balancing act of getting enough sleep AND becoming a morning person can be a bit of an obstacle course. Maybe you wish you could get a better handle on your mornings, or maybe can’t get past the struggle to get to bed to make it happen.
We’ve all heard some variation of this old adage:
Early to bed early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Becoming a morning person helps us to be proactive instead of reactive. A study conducted in 2009 by Dr. Christoph Randler of the University of Leipzig supports this idea. So many people have told me their greatest bursts of creativity, energy, and clarity come at night. This study begs to differ. Randler took college students, who are notorious for claiming to be night owls, and compared them to their opposite – the early larks. The results suggest morning people are more proactive than evening types.
As difficult as it can be to combine a full 8 hours of sleep and beginning your day early, there is wisdom in assimilating these habits into the way we live. We all want to be healthier, energized, and productive – right? The benefits of making our sleep pattern more of a priority seem worth exploring.
Are you feeling convinced and ready to make the change?
How to Become a Morning Person
Being committed to a change like this is essential for you to succeed. It’s critical to know your “why” behind the change. Your “why” becomes your fuel, so you need to have specifics! Why do you want to become a morning person? You need to feel your reason deep down inside. If the list above doesn’t inspire you, dig deep and think of what an early morning will help you accomplish specifically. What will it allow you to achieve and how will it make you feel? Lists always help me stay on track when it comes to change. Make a list you can read and reread to give you a little motivation for waking up early.
To tweak the words of Thomas Jefferson a bit…
You must do what you’ve never done if you want to achieve what you’ve never achieved.”
2. Abundance Mindset
One of the biggest keys to becoming a morning person is creating an abundance mindset. What is one of the first things you tell yourself in the morning? Our first thoughts of the day tell our brain some important things. Try saying “I got enough sleep.” Train your brain to stop looking for scarcity and give it some abundance! We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the scarcity mindset. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. Give it a try — you might be pleasantly surprised!
3. Create a Morning Routine
My friend Janeen prefers the word system over routine. A system “is the way you set up your life to minimize distractions, prioritize and execute the things that matter most and stay consistent even when the routine falls apart.” What you do first thing in the morning will set you up for the rest of the day. Think about how you can make it easier to get up, easier to transition to becoming a morning person.
Ideas for Morning Routine Success:
- Open the blinds so the light will come in. Sunlight is a natural way to wake your body up. Too often we shut out the light so we can get to sleep, but then we miss the benefits of light waking us up.
- Use positive affirmations. “It’s going to be a good day.” “I got enough sleep.” Tell your brain what it needs to hear, so it will get your body moving in the right direction.
- Drink a full glass of water to get your metabolism moving.
- Select some quiet morning activities you enjoy. Give yourself something to look forward to. It could be things like scripture reading, journaling, meditating or stretching. I typically give myself 30-45 minutes to complete my morning “routine.”
4. Create an Evening Routine
Much like a morning routine, intentionally planning for an early morning the night before helps with your success.
These ideas work for me:
I try to eat a light dinner, so I don’t get bogged down trying to sleep.
My sleep environment is free of clutter and distractions. There are so many studies about screen time before bed — try to unplug to help clear your mind so you can sleep.
I also keep a notepad close by so I can record those nagging thoughts. Many nights I’ve laid awake trying to remember something for the next day. When I write it down my mind is free to relax.
Use a bedtime reminder. On my iPhone, it is in the timer menu. I can change the go to sleep or wake times to get a full 8 hours. 30 minutes before bedtime I get a notification allowing for time to start my evening routine. I’ve found if I stick to the same sleep routine on the weekends I feel better. No readjusting each Monday morning.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start with 15-minute increments. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier and wake up 15 minutes earlier. I’m not a fan of daylight savings – the one-hour time change is always a killer to my sleep patterns. Smaller increments are not as noticeable to our bodies. Remember, when your sleep schedule doesn’t work out, let it go. It’s okay. Don’t fixate on it.
Not getting enough sleep is NOT a big deal. It’s also not an excuse to stay up late and neglect your sleep. Be proactive and get right back on your schedule when you miss a night.
I don’t know about you, but I do so much better when I have to be accountable to someone for a change I’m making. Change doesn’t always feel good, and it is easy to shy away from the uncomfortable. Getting up early can be uncomfortable, but sometimes things have to be uncomfortable to be useful.
Jay Shetty in his book Think Like a Monk shared the T.I.M.E tip. If you haven’t read this book yet, I would highly recommend it. He uses the acronym TIME to help remind us how to realign our morning routine. Believe me, I know how crazy life gets. Establishing a good morning schedule is all about finding or making the time.
T = Thankfulness. Express gratitude to someone, someplace, or something every day. This includes thinking it, writing it, and sharing it.
I = Insight. Gain insight through reading a book (scriptures) or listening to a podcast.
M = Meditation. Spend 15 minutes alone, breathing and visualizing. (for me this is prayer)
E = Exercise. Yoga, basic stretches, or a full workout.
Takeaways on becoming a morning person
Like any kind of lifestyle change, time and patience are key. Just remember morning people are healthier, have more energy, are more disciplined, and have fewer regrets. Make sure you prioritize your sleep each night, so your brain cells grow and repair from the stress of the day. Those brain cells form new pathways for learning, remembering, and processing information so take good care of them. The correlation between getting a full 8 hours of sleep and starting your day early is important enough to give it a try.
What do you do to make your mornings more manageable?
Additional ideas for becoming a morning person
- Practical Ways to Create a Successful New Habit
- Simple Habits to Help Boost Self-Care
- Creating the Habit of Counting Your Blessings