It’s said that there are two types of people: morning people, and the nocturnal people who can never understand them. I, a morning convert, respectfully disagree. I think most people love mornings once they're up -- it's those three to five minutes of post-alarm panic that hurt (and would no matter when they transpired).
I could easily sleep past noon in college, but when I entered the 9-to-5 world, I overhauled my routine to make my new schedule work for me. Now I cherish the focused energy I can’t always harness at other times of day -- and I don’t even need an alarm clock to enjoy it. Try these tips to take back your mornings too.
Find a reason to rise. You’re probably not hacking your comfortable routine just to watch the sun rise (and Instagram it with an “Earlybird” filter and a “#goodmorning” hashtag). So how are you hoping to use those extra hours in your day? For a personal project? A no-excuses workout routine? The kind of leisurely breakfast-and-blog-hop you usually only get on Sundays? All are great answers -- but you should choose one the night before, and post a bedside reminder for when it’s time to face the day. You’re more likely to fight through those first groggy minutes when you know what you’re giving up by rolling back over.
Quit your alarm clock. Why start each day with a jarring surge of unnecessary noise? Your alarm may even be interfering with the quality of your rest. Deep sleep occurs in cycles of 90 to 120 minutes, and being woken midcycle disrupts your body’s natural rhythm, making the transition more difficult. You may well be more sluggish waking up with your alarm than you would be waking up 75 minutes earlier on your own.
So how do you break up with your buzzer? By adjusting your bedtime such that you naturally rise after optimal rest. You’ll have to experiment with how much sleep your body needs -- eight hours is a ballpark number, but not an absolute (I’m steady at seven and a half). Count backward from when you’d like to wake up to find your new bedtime, and add a 30-minute cushion while your body adjusts. Then, as a stopgap, set an alarm for whenever you used to wake up. You may still need it at first -- which is fine, and means you need more sleep than you think! -- but you’ll likely find that once you’re sleeping soundly at regular intervals, you've no need to stay in bed half the day. The discipline then shifts to upholding your bedtime instead of your wake-up call, when you’re more vulnerable.
Set boundaries. This time is a gift you’re giving yourself -- remember your reason to rise? -- so don’t fritter it away on things you can easily deal with later. If you work a job that allows you to disconnect when you’re not at the office, I’d advise against checking work email during this time. Once you’ve shaken the fog by washing your face and making your coffee (or whatever it is you do), go straight into your planned activity before you can even think about what else you might be doing. When your former alarm goes off, you’ll be glad you honored your intention -- and you'll be ready to hit the ground running on your standard responsibilities.
The same goes for primping. I can spend as long messing with my hair as I’m left to mess with my hair (hours? days?), but if you tell me I have five minutes, I’ll somehow manage to look presentable. Tasks often expand to fill the time we allow them, and I find this to be especially true of subjective “beauty” tasks. Of course, if part of your reason to rise is to look more put-together, own that time and use it well! But I wouldn’t advise sacrificing your extra-sharp morning mind to vanity.
Be consistent. Habit is a powerful force, and it may take some time to find a new normal. Knowing your motivation will help override the part of you that can’t resist a few minutes of shallow, snooze-button sleep -- but keeping a consistent Monday-to-Friday routine will reduce the mental and physical strain of making the change. The more wholeheartedly you commit to a new routine, the less you’ll have to work to maintain it. And really, you’re better off saving your efforts for what you’ll do once you’re up.
What are your favorite ways to get going in the morning?