Wouldn't it be wonderful to wake up every day with a smile on your face? You'd float over to the window and abruptly open the curtains to let the light illuminate your room while you sang along with animated birds. While adapting new habits to become a morning person might not make you feel that perky initially, they should make waking up a little bit easier. Being a morning person doesn't mean you have to be Chatty Cathy right when you wake up. It's totally OK to take a few moments to be silent while you start your day. Actually, one of the best ways to start your day is by not communicating with anyone and being mindful with your surroundings.
"We are all morning people. We might not think we are, but we've been trained by society that we are anything but. How so? Unnatural lighting, technology and screens, the '80s notion of celebrating multi-tasking (which is simply stressing the brain), being overly busy, etc. How to get back into your natural vibe? Start slow," says zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva in an interview with Bustle over email.
Don't beat yourself up if you have a hard time waking up in the morning — everyone is different. You just want to find out what habits work best for you. "Most people are at their best in the early morning hours. That doesn't mean everyone has to be an early riser, and there is certainly nothing wrong with being a night owl. What's important to keep in mind is that most people will find that their creativity, discipline, and mental energy are at their best within a few hours of waking up each morning. Late night energy spikes can often be effective, but they can also work against a sustainable sleep schedule," says author of The 5 AM Miracle Jeff Sanders in an interview with Bustle over email.
Becoming a morning person is possible if you're determined to make changes in your life. Here are 21 habits you can try to help you wake up earlier.
1. Start With One Or Two Changes
If you normally go to bed at 2 a.m., don't dramatically change your schedule by going to bed at 10 p.m. The habit will not stick. "Some people have all of nothing thinking when it comes to starting a new habit. But that type of thinking tends to blow up because they do too much at once. They should start with one or two changes to help make the habit stick so they can wake up easier in the morning," says nutritionist and founder of NAO Nutrition Nikki Ostrower in an interview with Bustle over the phone.
2. Go To Bed Earlier
Simple, right? Even though you want to watch another episode of Stranger Things, you should really turn off the TV and head to bed if you want to get up earlier. "Going to bed early is the most important habit to make early mornings easy and effective," says Sanders.
3. Unwind Before You Go To Bed
Force yourself to say no to work. Not only is this important to do so you can get a good night's rest, but it's also vital for your well-being. "Getting to bed on time means stopping your work day at least an hour before you hope to be asleep. Create an evening boundary where you shut down your work, your technology, and any bright lights. Use the last hour before bed to calm down and rest your mind. This will make the early morning hours so much easier the next day," says Sanders.
4. Be Consistent With Your Bed Time
Tucking yourself into bed at the same time every night might sound childish, but it's important to have a routine so your body gets used to the new schedule. "Consistency wins. The more often you go to bed early and wake up early, the easier it is to become (and remain) a morning person. Yes, some days your schedule will prevent you from following your ideal sleep schedule. However, if you stick to a strict schedule for a few weeks you will quickly notice your habits beginning to change and your body naturally wanting to stick to the rhythm you have created," says Sanders.
5. Drink Water Right When You Wake Up
Drinking water right when you wake up can give your body the jolt it needs (especially if it's ice cold water). Reach for water instead of a cup of coffee so you hydrate your body while you try to wake up. "Right when you wake up, drink a liter of water. Yes, that's a lot, and that's the point. Flooding your body with clean water right when you wake up will help you wake up faster and feel more ready for your day than the sudden jolt of caffeine," says Sanders.
6. Do Light Stretching In The Morning
Because you've been sleeping in the same position for the past eight hours, your body might be feeling a bit tense. Right when you wake up, stretch your body to get those muscles moving and help wake you up. "You can also begin with light yoga or stretching to engage your muscles and prepare your body to workout soon," says Sanders.
7. Step Outside After You Wake Up
Exposing yourself to natural sunlight can instantly wake you up. Plus, breathing fresh air isn't a bad idea either. "Also, it really helps to step outside for a few minutes and take a few deep breaths, especially if the temperature is cool or cold," says Sanders.
8. Don't Use Technology Right Before You Go To Bed
Honestly, just leave your phone or iPad in another room. Viewing technology right before you go to bed can keep you up longer. "Turn the technology off at least an hour before bed; technology is often a habit and dare I say for many, an addiction. Start slow, make it a habit to unplug," says Paiva.
9. Commit Openly
Let others know about your new adventure. If people ask you about it, you may feel more guilty if you let them down by not accomplishing it. "Letting others know and even having a wake up buddy is a great idea to stay motivated. Call each other, send a wake up text, or an hour after proposed wake up, connect. This helps you to get up for them and be supportive and gives you a little healthy pressure to be responsible to yourself," says Paiva.
10. Create A System
Make your life easier by creating a system. Use a planner to help manage your time better so you don't stay up late trying to meet a deadline for work."Many successful people have a specific schedule (it might be working out, it might be answering email, or just having coffee while looking at birds at a bird feeder.) Get into a schedule," says Paiva
11. Turn The Majority Of The Lights Off
Trick your mind into going to bed earlier by turning off the lights. If you do need to use a light, invest in a small lamp that fits perfectly on your end table. "Turn lights and TV off at least a half hour before bed. Have one small light (lamp near bed) and read (from a book with pages, not a kindle or tablet)," says Paiva.
12. Scale It Back
It's easier to change a habit if you take baby steps. Over a week, gradually change your bedtime so you go to bed earlier. This process will be easier on your body and mind so you don't burnout. "Go to bed and wakeup 15 minutes earlier than you normally do. The following day, increase the time to 30 minutes earlier. You want to gradually change your sleeping habit, so your body and mind can get used to waking up earlier," says Ostrower.
13. Don't Drink Or Eat Right Before Bed
Even though that ice cream sandwich looks really good, it's not a good idea to eat it right before you go to bed. "Scale back on the amount of alcohol you have. Also, eat two to three hours before bedtime. When you eat right before bed, your body focuses on digesting your food rather than going to sleep," says Ostrower.
14. Observe Your Own Body And Mind
"Write your feelings down in a journal. The written word is so powerful. Humans tend to forget really quickly. You can see the measurable effects if [your thoughts] are written on paper or on your phone, which can motivate you to keep on going," says Ostrower. Take a few moments every day to write about your progress. This can help you stay on course and motivate to keep on going.
15. Only Take A 30 Minute Nap
If you're going to take a nap, try to only sleep for a half an hour. Napping for this amount of time won't affect your sleep cycle. "Taking a half an hour nap won't allow you to go into a deep sleep. Anything more than that can affect your sleep cycle," says Ostrower.
Stress can affect your sleep if you don't manage it. Try to mediate if you start to feel tired to prevent yourself from taking a three hour nap. "Mediation equals to a half an hour nap and it can help motivate changes in your life," says Ostrower.
17. Take A Morning Class
It's hard to hit the snooze button when you have a workout class to go to. Motivate yourself to get up by scheduling an exercise class in the a.m. with a friend. "This is a great way to trick your brain to wake up. Choose something you really enjoy and do it with a friend so he/she can help motivate you," says Ostrower.
18. Have A Healthy Diet
What you decide to put into your body will most likely determine how you sleep at night. If your diet consists of coffee, sugar, and carbs, you're not going to sleep very well. "During the day, I make sure to blend plenty of clean green smoothies like my Chocolate PB (Dark cocoa powder, peanut butter, unsweetened almond milk, and chocolate rice protein powder and spinach or leafy greens like broccoli rabe). I also make sure to eat a ton of magnesium filled foods, like legumes, leafy greens like spinach, broccoli rabe and grains like brown rice, as magnesium helps to keep your body clock adjusted, thus helping with solid sleep," says professionally trained chef and health journalist Candice Kumai in an interview with Bustle over email.
19. Use Essential Oils In Your Bedroom
Essential oils, like lavender, can help you fall asleep faster because of their natural calming properties. "I stop using my phone about an hour before bed time and I use essential oils in my diffuser at night, like lavender to chill at night," says Kumai.
20. Give Yourself Something To Look Forward
"Whether it's a tasty breakfast (chocolate berry protein smoothie, anyone?) or your favorite candle scent that you can light in the bathroom while you're getting ready, bribe yourself to get out of bed and to be in a good mood," says weight-loss and lifestyle coach for women Stephanie Mansour in an interview with Bustle over email. Give yourself something to look forward to, whether it's a fun new workout class or a tasty, drool-worthy breakfast. You'll wake up with smile on your face and that's never a bad thing.
21. Read A Book Before You Go To Bed
If you still need to do something right before you go to bed, try to read a book instead of watching TV. "Go to bed 30 minutes early and read a book to help your mind slow down and relax. This will help you sleep more soundly and you'll wake up feeling more rested," says Mansour.
Don't be hard on yourself if you still hit the snooze button. Changing your sleep cycle will take time. Before you know it, you'll wake up at the crack of dawn in no time.