For the longest time, I wasn’t a morning person.
Unless my work schedule forced me to wake up early, I would stay up late all night and often go to sleep at dawn. I have to admit my quality of life wasn’t the best – waking up at 3PM or later didn’t make me want to take very good care of myself and stick to healthy habits.
In the past two years, despite working from home, I have trained myself into waking up early in the morning and going to bed “early” (that, to me, is anytime between 10PM and midnight).
I discovered that, unlike what I had believed for years, I actually wasn’t a night owl. Unlike real night owls, my productivity, mood, and quality of life was affected by my irregular, upside-down sleep cycles.
I also noticed that, aside from the mini-stigma of feeling like I’ve become “old”, becoming a morning person has greatly improved my everyday life.
How, you may ask?
First, by improving my mood. Waking up early and following a structured routine has helped me feel better about myself, and I no longer beat myself up for oversleeping. I very rarely suffer from anxiety and no longer from depression, something that was recurring when my sleep was disordered. I also no longer have insomnia: in the past, I struggled to fall asleep, unable to keep dark, anxious thoughts from happening, and always ending up reaching for my phone to distract myself. Today, at bedtime, I am tired enough that I fall asleep almost immediately.
This change of lifestyle has also helped me become more organized and productive. In the morning, after finishing up my routine, I sit down and work for a few hours, and am able to focus on my daily tasks and complete them effectively. That gives me more time for myself, to go out, do an at-home spa treatment, or even indulge in things I love (like watching TV, reading, or crafts) without feeling guilty because I’m not using this time to work.
And finally, I no longer my life is going to waste. I have enough time to dedicate to my work, to the projects I care about, to my pets, partner, friends, and most importantly, to myself.
Lately, several of my clients have asked me to help them become morning persons, so they may be able to gain a healthier, more productive, and overall better lifestyle. So today, I thought I’d share with you a few tips that worked for me.
- Create a morning routine.
And stick with it, specially at the beginning. This didn’t come to me naturally, but I discovered that on the mornings I followed a set routine, I was much less anxious, much less tired, and far more productive. It will take you a time and a lot of tweaks to find the routine that works best for you, but when you do, it will transform your mornings and make you look forward to them. I will be sharing my morning routine with you in a future post!
- Get enough sleep.
Adults need between eight and nine hours of sleep every night. Waking up well-rested can make a huge difference in your quality of life: I notice that I am much less prone to the anxiety and moodiness that makes me snappy and easily irritated when I have enough sleep. Not to mention that I am far more productive and efficient! This is crucial to me even more so because I am not very good at taking naps – I either wake up more exhausted after taking them, or end up pressing “snooze” and sleeping much more than I intended to.
- Wake up with the sun.
Allow natural light to wake you up by leaving your blinds up. Your body knows it is supposed to be awake when there’s natural light, so allowing in the sunlight will help you feel less tired and groggy.
- Don’t go back to bed.
It was pretty hard for me to break the habit of waking up, going to the bathroom to brush my teeth and put my lenses in, then snuggling back in the warmth of my blankets to scroll aimlessly on my phone for hours (then feel crappy because I wasted so much time). I found that making the bed as soon as I got up (or asking my girlfriend to make it when she wakes up after me) dissuaded me from going back, and encouraged me to be more productive with my time. For instance, instead of being on my phone, I now allot a specific amount of time for reading a book or meaningful articles online while sipping my green tea.
- Use a soap that makes you look forward to getting in the shower.
It may sound like a small detail, but looking forward to using your favorite soap and having a pleasant shower ritual can make a huge difference in your morning! I take a shower as soon as I get up, and my favorite soap is the ever-classic Doctor Bronner’s Peppermint Castille soap. The minty smell reminds me of happy memories, and actually makes me look forward to getting up and taking a shower (the amazing shower head our building maintenance team installed recently is also a great motivator). And the tingle of the soap against my skin helps me feel much more awake!
- Do yoga or meditate in the morning.
Yoga (and/or meditation) is a beautiful self-care practice that not only makes me look forward to waking up, but sets the tone for my entire day. Yoga has truly saved my life and changed it for the best, and whenever I find myself anxious, distressed, or in a bad state of mind, I feel like I’m being hugged by big, warm, loving arms as soon as I step back on my mat and reconnect with my true self through my breath. I strongly encourage you to give yoga a try – my wonderful teacher Jen recently uploaded a few classes on her YouTube channel. I also recommend this book, and this one, to get started with yoga at home.
- Drink green tea.
Before I inadvertently start a riot, I’m not saying you should give up your morning coffee. But green tea gives you a gentler jolt of energy that isn’t followed by jitters and an inevitable crash, and doesn’t cause dehydration, but instead, comes with countless health benefits. So if you aren’t willing to have it as a replacement of your morning coffee, drink green tea throughout the day.
- Think of the small pleasures of waking up early.
Waking up before everyone else in your household, or an hour or two before you have to get moving, allows you more time for yourself to do things you like. You can enjoy sitting in the quiet outdoors, witnessing nature wake up. Or you can snuggle in your living room couch with a cup of tea and a pet curled on your lap, and dedicate this time to reading a book. Or you can just sit still, in meditation, setting an intention for your day. Whatever you feel like doing, you can enjoy doing without the rush and stress of early mornings. And because your own energy affects those around you, you will be able to eventually eliminate any rushing and stressing!
I hope these tips will encourage you to give becoming a morning person a try! Please remember to be as patient as possible with yourself, and allow plenty of time to adapt and adjust. And of course, if you realize you’re a true night owl, don’t beat yourself up for it!
Let me know in the comments below what your tips are to wake up earlier and ace your mornings!
Photo credit: Jan Zhukov.