There are some people who wake up at the crack of dawn like it’s no big deal. They might go on an early morning run with the dog, do 45 minutes of yoga, and make themselves a well-rounded breakfast before signing on for another productive day of work.
And then there’s the rest of us.
In part, this is just because of our different chronotypes, or the behavioral manifestations of a person’s circadian rhythm (or body clock). Some of us have a biological tendency to be more of a night owl, whereas others tend to be more of a morning lark.
But even if you are unquestionably a night owl (or just hate waking up early), it’s still possible to trick yourself into becoming a morning person — and it all comes down to establishing routines and building healthy habits.
Why Morning Habits and Routines Are Important
The difference between a habit and a routine may seem negligible. After all, they are both regular, repeated actions, right?
But there is a distinct difference: Habits happen with little or no conscious thought. Routines require deliberate practice, intention, and effort. A routine can certainly become a habit, so long as you want to turn it into a habit — which is to say that turning a conscious decision into an unconscious impulse takes a lot of time.
In fact, it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to develop a new habit. Waking up early, getting in a run, and making a healthy breakfast can become morning habits with patience and commitment.
So, no. You won’t magically become a morning person overnight. But thankfully, there are a handful of straightforward ways to help you start developing all sorts of healthy morning habits. Which brings us to the first and arguably most important tip…
1. Establish a Morning Routine
The human brain loves a good routine, which is why putting yourself on an A.M. schedule is one of the best ways to become a morning person. That means waking up, exercising, and eating at the same time every single day.
And yes, this means sticking to your morning schedule on the weekends, too. Even if you’re up late on a Saturday night binge-watching Netflix, try to wake up as close to your established time as possible and do whatever you do on the weekdays.
This is important for a couple of reasons. For one, your morning routine sets the tone for the rest of your day. If you wake up at 7:30 a.m. on the dot and then meditate for 30 minutes, you will probably feel focused, productive, and positive throughout the day. If you press snooze four times and then lay in bed for an hour, scrolling through Instagram, you might feel lethargic and distracted for the rest of the day.
As we touched on above, your morning routine can eventually become a series of morning habits. So, it’s incredibly important to stick to it.
2. Try Not to Stress About Bedtime
On the flip side, you don’t actually need to worry so much about what time you go to bed.
When we know we need to wake up early, we often tell ourselves that we have to go to bed early too — or else risk feeling groggy and grumpy in the morning. But when we do that, we’re actually putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to fall asleep at a certain time, which of course makes it really difficult to do so.
The takeaway? Focus less on bedtime and more on morning-time when you first start your quest to become a morning person. Besides, feeling well-rested in the morning has less to do with the number of hours you sleep than it does with your sleep cycles.
3. Ease into It
When it comes to becoming a morning person, you may be tempted to “dive into the deep end” and just start setting your alarm for 5 a.m. And who knows, maybe that will work for you — but it also could prove unsustainable.
You might be better off slowly easing towards our desired wake-up time. If you’re currently waking up at 8 a.m., but want to start your day closer to 7 a.m., then start trying to wake up just 15 minutes earlier every day (or every couple of days) until you reach your goal. Be the tortoise, not the hare!
4. Don’t Press Snooze
If you’re trying to be more of a morning person, the snooze button is not your friend. True, it’s designed to let us go back to sleep for just a few minutes without reentering a deep sleep cycle — but some of us love it a little too much.
Instead, we recommend using an alarm clock app that makes it a little harder to press snooze. There are some out there that make you solve a math problem or take a picture to dismiss the alarm. Some even wake you up with a guided meditation, so you can gradually and mindfully become awake, not be jolted awake.
5. Turn on the Lights!
You know that horrible, blinding feeling in your eyes when you first turn the lights on in the morning?
Well, turn ‘em on anyway! We know, it’s unpleasant to face those bright lights when you’re still sleepy. But the presence of light tells your body to stop producing melatonin — the chemical that helps us fall and stay asleep. Alternatively, you could open your blinds to let in the natural lights, or even get some that are on a timer and program them so they open with the sunrise every day.
6. Exercise Right Away
Not only does exercise reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help you sleep better at night, but — when done first thing in the morning — it also helps you wake up!
Even a low-intensity workout in the morning will improve your mood and focus throughout the rest of the day. You may even want to do your A.M. workout outside; the natural light will help even more with waking up and boosting your mood.
The type of workout doesn’t matter so much. You could go on a bike ride, do some yoga or pilates, or just take a walk around the neighborhood. Just try to get at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise so you can get your heart rate up.
7. Eat a Protein-Dense Breakfast
We love pancakes and blueberry muffins just as much as the next person … but those aren’t the best breakfast options if you’re trying to be more of a morning person.
Instead, eat something high in protein, like eggs or a bowl of Greek yogurt. Protein naturally promotes wakefulness by increasing dopamine production — the chemical that, according to research, regulates not only pleasure but also motivation.
8. Skip the Afternoon Nap
During the first few days of establishing your new, morning-person routine, you’re probably going to start feeling sleepy in the afternoon (your body won’t be used to waking up early yet). Nevertheless, it’s super important that you resist the urge to nap.
When you first start trying to become a morning person, feeling tired during the day is actually a good thing — you’ll naturally start falling asleep earlier at night, which will only make waking up early even easier. Taking a nap in the afternoon will break that cycle, making it harder to start establishing your new routine.
9. Set Yourself Up for a Good Night’s Sleep
Part of becoming a morning person also requires creating the best sleep environment possible — and doing whatever works for you to get a good night’s sleep. This may include taking melatonin supplements, or turning on a white noise machine, or using a weighted blanket — everyone’s needs are different.
But most importantly — and this is true for everyone — you need a mattress that’s comfortable and supportive all night long. The Bear Hybrid, for example, provides luxury comfort that supports every body type. It also keeps you cool at night and reduces motion transfer (so your partner won’t wake you up if they toss and turn a lot). A high-quality mattress like this one will help you get the best sleep possible, so being a morning person won’t feel so difficult.
10. Start Each Day with Something You Can Look Forward To
Establishing a morning routine is incredibly important if you want to become a morning person. But having something to look forward to when you wake up is, in some ways, just as valuable.
And we’re not saying it has to be anything big! It could be as simple as treating yourself to a good cup of coffee or watching the sunrise — or maybe you love doing the daily crossword, eating breakfast with your family, or listening to a podcast.
Whatever it may be, make it must-have part of your routine. Not only will it add a little joy to your day, but it’ll also give you another wonderful reason to get out of bed in the morning.