The label "morning person" calls to mind an energetic, content, well-rested individual who greets each day eagerly and enthusiastically, ready to conquer the world and multiply their fortune and happiness well before lunchtime. Here are five tips to help you become the morning master you've always dreamed of being.
1. Get More Sleep
Sounds obvious, and it's easier said than done. But it's not impossible. Americans are some of the most sleep-deprived people in the world. A 2013 Gallup poll reported the average American logs less than 6.8 hours of sleep nightly.
Sleep is essential to total-body health, repair and longevity. Ongoing sleep deprivation greatly raises the risk of developing chronic health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.
A full night's sleep is the first and most critical step on the journey toward becoming a morning person. Shoot for a minimum of seven hours and as many as 10.
2. The Rule of 15
Speaking of getting more sleep, start small and increase your sleep time as your body adjusts. Going to bed a whole hour earlier doesn't guarantee you'll actually sleep. Instead, go to bed 15 minutes earlier for a few nights until it feels natural, and then add another 15 minutes until the newer, earlier bedtime begins feeling natural.
It might also be time to for a new mattress. Experts recommend getting a new one every five years or as needed. Narrowing down your choices can be tricky, but luckily there's lots of great online advice and buyer's guides about the best and worst mattresses.
3. Remove Hours of Business From Your Day
Now that you're going to bed earlier, commit yourself to skipping activities that overextend your schedule. This may include skipping Saturday Night Live or other late shows you generally stay up to watch.
Just pretend like you have one hour less each day to do this or that. This compels you to prioritize, restricting your schedule to necessities and essentials, such as a good night's sleep.
3. Create a Sleep-Conducive Scene
Now that you're skipping activities that overextend your schedule, including binge-watching late-late night television, go ahead and remove any screens from your bedroom, advises HuffPost.com. "Any screens" includes your television, tablets, laptop and (if feasible) your phone. Staring at screens before bedtime prolongs your body's alertness.
Photorecptors in your eyes sense light, which tells your body it's still daytime. This disrupts your body's circadian rhythms, a sort of internal brain clock that is highly sensitive to light and dark. Even the light from electronic devices is sufficient to send the wrong cues to your brain, keeping it alert when you should be winding down.
4. Reconsider How to Wind Down
Learn how to properly wind down from a professional, such as Shelby Freedman Harris. Harris teaches clients relaxation techniques on a daily basis. She is a clinical psychologist and the director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
- Dimming all your lights at least one hour before bedtime
- Avoiding electronic screens
- Doing a relaxing, mindfulness exercise
- Getting in bed and focusing on your breathing
Other experts suggest reading a book and sipping calming tea.
5. Swiftness and Consistency
Don't press the snooze button repeatedly. Get up and start moving as quickly as you can. This jolts your system to alertness even before you have a cup of joe. If you sit in bed, checking social media or looking around, your body interprets this as an oncoming return to sleep, and grogginess sets in.
Reinforce this up-and-at-it habit by getting up at the same time every day. Try to avoid sleeping extra-late on the weekends. Hopefully, you won't have to, considering all the quality sleep you'll get during the week. Work out in the morning, before your day's other obligations crowd out the time for health and fitness.
Nothing jazzes your brain and body to alertness like a morning run, yoga, cycling or weights. The combination of the above strategies adds up to a morning person. Morning people are not a unique species. They are people who go to bed early, sleep deeply, wake up at the same time every day, get moving immediately and never look back.