Want some unsolicited advice? Read on, dear friend.
My alarm is set for 5:15am. SAY WHAT?
Yeah I know. That’s crazy early. But it works for me. Hear me out and maybe it will work for you too.
Lemme back up here. I am, by nature, a night owl. Now you may not actually believe me since I just wrote that my alarm is set to wake me at 5:15am. But hear me out. Gradually forcing myself to become a morning person has changed. my. life. In the best possible way. I now wake up and get to share a cup of coffee with Thomas. We relax and talk while our bodies wake up. Then it’s time to get movin and groovin. I head out for either a run or a yoga class at Corepower. I love spending time in my body in the mornings. I feel a strong mind-body connection and often experience a sense of peace. With my body energized and my mind cleared I’m ready to face the day. Setting myself up for success in this way has enabled me to accomplish so much more in both my personal life and at work. I feel accomplished before I even get to the office. And when I arrive, I’m ready to go. Now doesn’t that sound pretty freaking awesome?
This transition has been a not-entirely-painless one and STILL, I think it’s worth it. I also admit having a partner who keeps me accountable is key for me. If Thomas didn’t also get up early I think I’d struggle even more. Here are some things I’ve tried that have helped me transition from night owl to morning glory…
1. GET TO BED. NOW.
You guessed it, and it’s not rocket science. If you want to get up earlier then you’re gonna have to get to bed earlier. I found that if I forced myself by sheer will to wake up 15 minutes earlier in the morning, I would actually be tired 15 minutes earlier that night. If the sun’s down, you should be too.
2. WIND DOWN, WIND UP
I like to take the hour before bed to wind down. This can happen lots of different ways. Sometimes I lie on the floor and stretch while Thomas and I listen to a podcast (current favorite). Sometimes we watch a TV show on Netflix. Sometimes I even knit a pink sweater. Whatever the activity, it has to be calming and non-goal-oriented. Meaning I can’t be cleaning the kitchen or prepping my lunch for the next day. All that has to be done before I start to wind down. Nor can I be scrolling my Insta-feed or surfing YouTube (still plenty guilty of this one). I find these activities put me in a calm state before bed and I get better sleep this way.
(Now might be a good time to acknowledge the fact that Tom and I don’t have kids. Yet.)
Similarly, I like to take some time in the morning to wind up. When my alarm goes off I don’t jump out of bed. I usually check my phone, read theSkimm, and scroll through Instagram. Once my eyes are open and my body has started waking up I have an easier time actually getting out of bed. I’ll make my way to the kitchen for a cup of Tom’s coffee and we’ll continue lounging a little on the couch together before going for our respective runs. Not forcing myself into a frenzy first thing in the morning is a nice way to start my day.
3. WIPE OUT
Physical exercise is so important for my health and well-being but it also has so many awesome benefits. Adding some physical activity during the day will help you sleep better at night and tire you out for bedtime. Try adding a walk over your lunch break, or riding a divvy bike to work. Or check out Groupon for deals on exercise classes in your area! Exercise has been integral for me. If I don’t work out my body in some capacity then nighttime is more rest-less and less rest-full. If I manage to fit in a run or a yoga class then my eyelids naturally start to droop by bedtime.
4. KISS CAFFEINE GOODBYE
I’m not talking all caffeine. Surely, I would never suggest such a thing. I love my morning coffee way too much. BUT I do try to hit it and quit it by 1:00pm. That’s right. No caffeine after 1:00pm. After I implemented this habit I totally noticed a difference in my quality of sleep. My internal clock knows when it’s time to shut it down for the night. If you’re a late-in-the-day-caffeine-consumer try scaling back by an hour each week until you’ve reached your 1:00pm target quitting time.
5. CATCH THE EARLY BIRD SPECIAL
If you eat dinner at 8:00pm your body will not be ready for sleep by 9:00pm. Try eating dinner a little earlier than your usual time. We like to eat about 6:30pm. By 9:00pm, my body knows what’s up. Regular meals help me get my regular sleep. Might I suggest Blue Apron for quick and easy dinners.
6. DEVELOP A ROUTINE
This routine works for me. Maybe your routine is different. But the important takeaway is that our circadian clock requires a regular cycle. Whatever your routine is, stick to it. It’s more important to get up at the same time every morning, even if you didn’t get to sleep by your ideal time the night before. An entire month’s work of training your body to wake up at 6:00am can be ruined by sleeping in until 7:00am just once! And remember, it doesn’t happen overnight. Developing any heathy habit like sleep cycles or running takes at least a month. It took me years to fight off all my old compounded bad habits and create new, healthy ones.