As I give side eye to those extra peppy morning goers on the train to work at 7 AM, I fantasize about thoughts of naps and fluffy pillows. The worst thing about morning people is that they assume everyone else is a morning person. I have never understood people who can be fully functioning member of society before 10 AM. Now that I have a 9 to 5 job, I find that I need to move further outside my comfort zone, actually needing to function at the break of dawn. As an adult, early mornings is just one aspect that we need to come to terms with. If you’re like me and struggle with early starts too, here are 7 steps to help you be more of a morning person this New Year:
Step 1 Set a bedtime
Do you remember when you were a kid and your bedtime was at 8 PM? You hated it, but you were always bright eyed and bushy tailed for school the next morning. Our mom’s had something right! Going to bed so you can get at a full night’s sleep, is essential to a productive day. The national sleep foundation recommends adults (ages 18-64) sleep around 7-9 hours a night. So set a bedtime that works for you and stick to it.
Chelsea, from wellness blog Inspiration Indulgence, recommends to start incorporating earlier bedtimes in intervals throughout a 3-week span. The first week that “You plan on changing your routine, go to bed half an hour earlier than you normally do. The second week, increase it to an hour. The third week, increase your time by another 15 minutes.” By the end of the month, you will be sleeping at your goal bedtime!
Step 2 Turn off electronics before you lay down to sleep
After I close my laptop for the night, I always browse Facebook or Instagram on my phone in bed. It seems like I’m always staring at a screen. Supposedly I’m not alone in this habit.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, this late night exposure to screens, causes “Both mental activity and light exposure [that] promote wakefulness.”
Sleep experts Helene Emsellem, MD and Taylor Bos, BA, say that “Photoreceptors in the retina sense light and dark, signaling our brain about the status of the outside world. This signaling of light and dark helps us to be alert in the morning and be able to fall asleep at the appropriate time at night.” When we look at our electronics at night, we tell our brains that its daytime. Even “Our small electronic devices emit sufficient light to miscue the brain and promote wakefulness.”
Put down that phone when you’re getting ready for bed. Picking up a book or magazine before you sleep instead. This is a great alternative to scrolling through social media feeds. Chelsea of Inspiration Indulgence recommends having a nightly routine to help you wind down from the day. Keeping “the same routine every night will eventually become habitual and will calm your brain.”
Step 3 Stick to a schedule
I’m a repeat offender of this one. I hit snooze for at least 30 minutes before I reluctantly roll out of bed. I can’t seem to pry myself away from my body pillow and flannel sheets -- especially when it’s cold out.
The Sleep Foundation recommends to “Make sleep a priority. You must schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your "to-do list" and cross it off every night. But don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done – stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.” In order to form a healthy habit your body needs consistency. Make sleeping at your bedtime every night a priority (yes, even on the weekends)!
Step 4 Establishing a morning routine
Creating a set of tasks to do every morning makes it easier to get up and go, even when you’re half asleep. Knowing you have a set list of to-dos in the morning will also help you feel less rushed and prepared to start your day.
One of the most effective ways to start off your morning routine is so simple: open your blinds and curtains to let in some natural light. Your brain will know its time to get up and the rest of the tasks will fall into place like clockwork. If the sun isn’t out yet, consider artificial sunlight.
Step 5 Put down the wine glass
Ok, I love a glass or three of wine before I go to bed after a tough day. But alcohol isn’t the best thing to consume before bedtime. Although a little wine at the end of the night can make you feel sleepy, it may cause more damage than good in the long run.
PH. D Russell Rosenberg says that “Using alcohol for sleep is a bad idea because it can affect sleep stages, lighten sleep and cause abrupt awakenings. Chronic use of alcohol may lead to needing higher and higher doses to achieve the same sleep-inducing effect. Alcohol generally acts as a sedative and a small amount can and will induce sleepiness.” So to avoid going too overboard, stick to more natural ways to falling asleep.
Step 6 Incorporate exercise into your daily routine
Whether you decide to stretch, do some yoga, or do a full on fitness routine; being more active will help you feel more balanced in your day. You can break a sweat in the morning, which will give you a boost of endorphins starting your day with a kick of energy. Or you can work out in the evening, tiring your body out just in time for bed which helps reduce restless nights. Either way, you can’t go wrong with leading a more active life.
Step 7 Take a Shower
Aside from being apart of your general hygiene routine (hopefully), this simple tip can help you with your quest in training your body for early mornings. Taking a shower before or after bed can help you either wake up or fall asleep depending on the temperature. Save the cold showers for the morning, and warm for the night.
Not a morning person either? Well according to the Huffington Post research, morning people are happier, get better grades, are more productive, are more thorough, have a lower risk of depression and may even be nicer. You can’t knock it until you’ve tried it. You don’t need to completely change yourself, but you can adapt some of your bad habits to make it easier a little easier on yourself in the mornings.