People love to brag about how early they wake up — to tell you, with the proudest smile, about how they ran a marathon at 4:30 this morning and made an organic paleo chia and hemp seed protein blast fusion smoothie with no blender.
They can be an insufferable bunch, but you may also find yourself envying them. If that’s the case, here are six ways you too can wear the proud smile of a morning person.
1. Give Yourself A Reason
Ninety-two percent of people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolution for one simple reason. We often make the mistake of liking the idea of achieving a goal more than we like doing the actual achieving. Losing weight sounds worthwhile, but without a genuine motivation to lose weight, chances are you’ll fail.
Becoming a morning person starts with understanding why you really want to become one. You need a purpose, or else you’ll never see the point of rising earlier. Maybe that reason is to be more productive, to exercise before work, or to get your chores out of the way. Or it could be as simple as avoiding rush hour traffic. The point is to find some purpose larger than just avoiding the snooze button.
2. Find A Set Schedule, And Stick To It
Your internal body clock likes consistency. If they had their way, your circadian rhythms would require a set sleep schedule that begins precisely at one point each night and ends in the morning at another.
Your best bet? Set your alarm clock for the same time each day, and rise no matter what. If you can avoid the urge for a midday snooze, you’ll naturally begin to find yourself going to bed earlier. Once you learn how early you need to fall asleep in order to feel well-rested the next day, keep at it.
3. Prepare The Night Before
You must also keep in mind that feeling energized in the morning has a lot to do with your nighttime habits. About an hour before you normally go to bed, your brain releases a hormone called melatonin. Its purpose is to make you sleepy, and to keep you asleep once you do nod off.
But melatonin can only be released when the brain thinks it’s nighttime. So the more time you spend watching TV and using your phone or laptop before bed is time your brain is hit with artificial light and mistakenly thinks it’s daytime. You’ll have a harder time falling asleep and feel groggy the morning after. The solution: Put down the phone, dim the lights, and read a book instead.
4. Ease Into The Rhythm
Like most things, becoming a morning person is a process you don’t need to rush. While experts do suspect there’s a genetic component to rising early, morning people aren’t always born; they can be made, too.
As you figure out when you’d like to wake up, work toward the goal in half-hour increments. Get accustomed to your extra time, and realize that each step is a small component of a larger mission. In the beginning you may have time to cook a larger breakfast (more on that later) or read a chapter of your book. Appreciate the extra time as personal.
5. Drink Tea, Stretch, Exercise
Once you’re awake (or at least out of bed), several small activities can go a long way to snapping you out of feeling tired. The first, and easiest, is to turn on the lights. Even better is to open the blinds: Natural light gives your body clock no choice but to kick into high gear.
You can also stretch, drink tea, and work out. Think of these activities not only as a means to stop feeling tired, but as a system of rewards for waking up early. The dopamine in our brains compels us to seek rewards, so the more engrained your morning reward becomes, the more you’ll want it. Look forward to that cup of tea or that run; it’s one more thing you couldn’t have had if you were still asleep.
6. Eat A Big Breakfast
After a night’s worth of sleep, our blood sugars and metabolism are at their lowest and slowest. In order to feel truly awake, you’ll need to replenish the nutrients you’ve lost over those eight or so hours, which means a breakfast rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and natural sugars, in the form of fresh fruit.
You’ll not only feel better; you’ll think better, too. A raft of scientific data shows that larger breakfasts stimulate cognitive function throughout the day, leaving you to fulfill even more hours with productive, fulfilling activities. (No guarantees on running that marathon, though.)