Yes friends, I’m calling it. I think I’m finally a morning person. How you ask? To be honest it’s been a long old road to here.
My younger years were spent working in pubs, hotels and restaurants, which meant a wacky sleep pattern and a body clock that just won’t quit. I loved nothing more than getting home around midnight and just revelling in the fact I didn’t have the morning shift the next day. I’d spend a couple more hours chilling around in my room, my housemates usually asleep, watching box sets (the big thing a decade ago!) and pottering around on my laptop. It gave me the solitude I craved as an introvert living in a university sharehouse.
But of course when that same night owl met the world of office work it was a cocktail of hitting snooze, scrambling to get out the door on time and not really functioning properly until 11am.
So how did I become a morning person? I’m gonna tell ya.
Do you actually want to become a morning person?
Start by asking yourself this question. The problem with the ‘morning person’ thing is somehow it’s been manufactured to be some kind of secret sauce that the ultra-successful bottled up. If you’re obsessing over going to bed earlier and trying to master a morning routine all because someone on a podcast told you you couldn’t be successful if you didn’t, I call bullshit.
If you don’t want to become a morning person, don’t. They say the most successful people get up early, but I don’t subscribe to the idea that you cannot be successful if you don’t. If you create your best work at 9pm at night when the kids are asleep, you do you. You are no less of a person if you’re not a morning person.
The thing is, I really did want to become a morning person. I knew I did because back in my days of getting up to work the hotel breakfast shift or times when I’d get up early for some rare and random reason, I loved it. Once I’d managed to wake myself up, I adored being up before the world. And when I did sleep in, I wished I’d got up earlier. Was I slamming bullet coffees and chanting success mantras? Nope. But I feel calm and at peace when I’m up early, and that’s why I wanted to pursue it.
The morning routine really does work
Now wait, stay with me. I know the term ‘morning routine’ brings about thoughts of the aforementioned chanting and journaling and cold showers and guzzling coffee with butter in it, but really, it can be anything you like.
When I was first working on becoming a morning person last year, I started small. I set my alarm for 6am, went and made a coffee first thing (my favourite part of the day), let my cat into my bedroom, and just chilled in bed. No work, no affirmations, no sun salutations. Just me, YouTube, perhaps a book, or a mindless scroll on my phone if I wanted. It was all about getting me excited to wake up.
Now, pandemic and all, I get up at 6.30am, have coffee and chill for 20 minutes, and then go for a 45-60 minute walk before I start work. I’ll need to change things up a bit when we go back to the office, but for the last few months it’s been great. The key is finding things that you’re willing to get up for. HIIT sessions weren’t for me, but I love walking while listening to a podcast, and that’s what gets me out of bed.
A nice habit hack is to decide the night before what time you’ll get up, and what you’ll do once you’re up. Having a clear idea of why you’re getting up early makes you more likely to see it through.
Understand your body clock
The body clock thing really is true. If you get up at the same time each day – even on weekends – your body will eventually learn to do it on its own. Nowadays, I’m awake by 7 on weekends, because I’ve done it for so long. If I sleep until 8 it’s a miracle and I feel like a newborn baby emerging from utero.
In your mission to become a morning person, find a morning routine that you actually want to do. If you hate running, don’t say you’ll get up and run. If you love to read, or do yoga, or watch TV, or sew, get up and do those things!
What would your best self do?
If you get my newsletter, you’ll know about my favourite habit hack – asking what your best self would do. Think about what your absolute ideal self would be like. How would they think, act, and speak? What type of person are they? If they’re a morning person (which they should be, if you’re pursuing this morning person thing!), then think of that ideal you when you reach to hit the snooze button, or when you consider drifting back to sleep. Would the very best version of you get up? It can really help with that mindset block we get when our bodies forget how good the good things feel, and only remember how good the *bad* things feel.
Don’t sacrifice sleep
I’m all about habit hacking and committing to chasing that goal, but if you’ve been up ’til midnight, don’t try and get up at 5am, unless it’s really a one off. You really do need to prioritise getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Your health should be your first priority.
When you start working your body clock, you will likely eventually start to feel tired earlier in the evenings. I’m now usually asleep by 10.30, 11.30 at the very latest, so I know I’m getting a minimum of 7 hours most of the time.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep earlier, try finding ways to unwind. I’m sure you’ve heard them all, but for me, reading makes me exhausted. Like, really exhausted. To the point it’s annoying because it takes me forever to finish a book! I also use This Works sleep spray (though my partner hates it), and that can help me if I’m struggling to switch off. Don’t use it every single night, though, because you might get used to it. Magnesium spray on the soles of your feet can also work wonders.
Consider a wake up light
When I was in the US last year, I bought the Casper Glow Lamp (there are tons of alternatives now, too). You can set it to wake you at a certain time with a progressive sunrise effect. It can really help shake that groggy feeling you get if you’re not naturally a morning person, and makes it somewhat harder to decide to go back to sleep.
Get up early, even if you don’t need to
This was a big one for me at the beginning. Originally I was getting up early because I wanted time to myself before going to work – but on weekends, especially lockdown weekends, getting up at 6am was tough because there wasn’t a deadline. Getting up an hour before work is one thing, but getting up four hours before you’re going anywhere is another. If you’re committed to resetting your body clock and becoming a morning person, continue to get up even when you don’t need to.
You’ll probably find that you love having the extra time in your day, anyway!