8 Things That Are Slowing Down Your Mornings

by Lara Rutherford-Morrison

Some people are not morning people. They never have been, and they never will be. They live for coffee, their brains don’t really work until after 10AM, and people who love mornings make absolutely no sense to them. For these people, every morning is an epic struggle between the lure of their soft, warm beds and their obligations to go out and be productive humans. Sound familiar?

If you’re a night owl, it can be especially difficult to get ready and out the door on time in the mornings. Somehow you always wake up just a little late, and your shower takes just a little too long, and somehow there are way too many things required in order to become remotely presentable. You may never be someone who ways up at 5AM with a smile on her face (but, really, who is?), but if you study your sleep and morning routines, you might discover that you’re actually making your mornings more difficult than they actually need to be. Having a good (or at least not unpleasant) morning generally comes down to two things: Good sleep habits and being prepared. Read on to find out if you need to rethink how you get ready in the morning:

1. Not getting enough sleep

If you are grumpy and barely awake throughout your morning, you’re not going to be able to get ready at peak efficiency. So the first step in having a faster morning routine is getting enough sleep in the first place. Sit down and calculate how long you need to get the essentials done in the morning (showering, dressing, eating, walking the dog, commuting, etc). If you’re not sure, take a few days to log how much time it usually takes you to get things done. Use that number to calculate what time you need to get up, and think about what time you usually go to bed. If you realistically need to get up at 6:30 every morning, but you routinely go to bed at 2AM, there’s your problem right there. The Sleep Foundations recommends that adults from the ages of 18 to 64 get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it.

You also want to make sure that you get good sleep, so in the hours before you hit the sack, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and put away your phone, TV, and computer.

2. Not letting any light in

Our circadian rhythms (our internal “clocks” that tell us we should be awake or asleep) are affected by light – darkness tells us that we should be asleep (which is why it’s important to turn of light-emitting electronics like TVs and computers before bed), and light tells us we should be awake. If you block all light out of your bedroom, then your body might not easily get the message that it’s supposed to be awake in the morning, so it delays the natural process of awakening the body, and when you’re alarm goes off, you’re jerked very jarringly out of deep sleep. By letting some light in in the morning, you may be able to give yourself a smoother transition into being awake, which can make the whole morning better. If you don’t have light available in the mornings, due to a lack of windows or to winter, you can buy an artificial sun clock.

3. Hitting the snooze button

It is so very, very tempting in the morning to hit the snooze button for just five more minutes, but those extra minutes will actually make your morning much harder. Not only will sleeping late mess up the rest of your getting-ready routine, consistently snoozing will actually make you feel more tired, despite the extra sleep. According to the Huffington Post, hitting the snooze button disrupts your body’s natural rhythms: you start to awaken normally, but you hit the button, so your body sends you back into deep sleep. When the alarm goes off again, you’re jerked out of sleep suddenly, which can make you feel groggy and cranky for hours.

If you just can’t help trying to sneak in that extra five minutes, put your alarm (or your phone) far enough away from the bed that you have to actually leave your warm little cocoon to turn it off. That initial cold shock of being out of bed will be unpleasant, but you’ll be giving yourself a better morning overall.

4. Leaving your whole beauty routine for the morning

Try to figure out what aspects of getting cleaned up and dressed could be done the night before. For women with long hair, for instance, washing and drying your tresses can take a lot of time. Instead of doing that in the morning multiple days a week, wash and dry your hair at night. That way, when you get up in the morning, all you have to do is the final styling (like straightening or curling, if that's your thing). Same goes for tasks like shaving your legs and doing your nails. Leave only the essentials for the morning.

5. Not making your lunch the night before

If you take your lunch to work, packing it in the morning can take up valuable time. Doing it at night will not only save you time in the morning, it will give you an unhurried moment to really think about what you want to take with you, which could mean that you’re taking better, healthier meals.

6. Not choosing your clothes in advance

A major time suck in the morning is that moment when you’re already in a rush and then you look in the closet and realize that you have nothing to wear and you hate all of your clothes. Of course you do have plenty of stuff to wear and you love your clothes, but in that moment of panic, your brain isn’t able to take stock of what you have or make any creative decisions about putting an outfit together. If you elect instead to pick your clothes beforehand, you can streamline your morning, eliminate a source of stress, and end up wearing an outfit that you really like.

7. Leaving chores for the morning

If you know you’re not a morning person, don’t try to cram in a bunch of unnecessary stuff before you go to work. Sure, it would be great to do the laundry and the dishes before you head out, but that’s also stuff you can do later. If you have chores that have to get done before you leave, like ironing the clothes you’re going to wear to work, be sure to do that the night before.

8. You don’t get the coffee going fast enough

If you are not functional until you have some caffeine flowing through your veins, get the coffee going early. You can buy coffee makers that work on a timer: you set everything up the night before, and, at a set time, the coffee starts brewing. Just imagine, the coffee could be ready before you even wake up. Hell, if you wanted, you could have the coffee maker on your nightstand – you could start your caffeine infusion before you even get out of bed.

Images: Amanda Tipton/ Flickr; Giphy (5)