Transform from a night owl to a morning person

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

In my recent post, I shared one of my most powerful personal habits: waking up early at 5am each day. I told you about the virtues of a morning person and encouraged you to adopt nine daily rituals before 9am.

Well, today I have a confession for you: it isn’t always easy being a morning person. Some days I also just want to roll back over when my alarm goes off and snag some precious moments of sleep. Don’t you?

But I’ve trained myself over the years to cherish my early morning moments far more than I cherish a few more hours of sleep. And while becoming a morning person may not come easy, it’s not impossible. In fact, it starts with one simple act: going to bed earlier. It’s almost impossible to wake up super early if you haven’t had enough sleep to function. Charles Czeisler, Director of Sleep Medicine at Harvard University, has found that we all need at least seven hours of sleep to operate optimally.

So just how do you get to bed earlier and, once there, help yourself ease into a restful sleep? Here are my eight simple steps to turn yourself from a Night Owl to a Morning Warrior.

1. Find a reason why it matters

Like anything, you have to start with a reason – and then stick to it. For me it’s gaining magical morning moments, but what’s your reason? Could you benefit from more time spent in contemplation? Do you run out of time in your day to exercise, meditate or get outdoors? Could waking up earlier finally get you more organized and productive? Find your reason, commit to it and then focus on the many ways that your life will improve by getting to bed on time and waking with energy.

Here’s a tip: If you’re an iPhone user, you can even “label” your alarm with a reason so you can see it on waking. It’s much harder to keep pressing snooze on “Get up and go and run your butt off!” than a simply annoying alarm bell.

(Need more inspiration? Read this article to learn how your life will improve by waking early.)

2. Eat your meals by 7pm

Get in a meal as early as you can at night so you have time to digest your meal before sleeping: Late night munchies confuse your system by digesting food instead of winding down for bed. If you work late, you could bring your dinner to work with you or, if you must eat late at home, plan a bigger lunch and opt for a light salad at night. Eating dinner early also has the added benefit that your rumbling tummy may wake you up early for breakfast!

3. Create conscious wind-down evening time

Falling asleep doesn’t just happen immediately for everyone. It begins with the process of your body producing melatonin which signals your system to start getting ready to sleep. Darkness naturally produces melatonin, so carve out time before bed to unwind without your devices or bright lights. This is important: Exposing yourself to blue light from electronic devices stops you from producing melatonin and can disturb your natural rhythms. Read a book, or be with your loved ones instead. 

4. Get to bed before 10pm

If you’re usually not in bed before midnight, I encourage you to think about what you are actually doing during those late night hours? Are these late night activities serving you, or sapping you of energy? Calculate this: if you’ve woken at 5am and worked a full day, by 10pm that’s 17 productive hours of wake time. Trust me, by then you’re likely to crash on the couch.

5. Keep your alarm far from bed

This tip might be a little harsh but the fact is that if your phone is on the opposite side of the room – even better, in the next room – it forces you to get out of bed and stops you from the dreaded snoozes. I also find that having your phone by your bed can make it too tempting in the beginning to indulge your thoughts and “just check that one thing before bed,” setting back your sleep cycle.

6. Decide that sleeping in is NOT an option

I have been there. You go to bed with the best of intentions of waking up early but then your alarm wakes you up and your first thought is “just five more minutes of sleep.” Getting out of bed in the morning is like jumping into a cold pool. Don’t think about it and just plunge. It’s hard for the first few seconds, but then you acclimate.

Getting out of bed in the morning is like jumping into a cold pool. Don’t think about it and just plunge. It’s hard for the first few seconds, but then you acclimate.

7. Get organized

Make your morning routine simple by laying out your workout gear and packing your day bag (and perhaps a to-go breakfast) at night. I’ve experienced leisurely productive mornings before having to rush like a mad woman to get organized and out of the house on time. Avoid the rush and think ahead.

8. Create consequences for not waking up

If all else fails, make it too hard, too expensive or too impolite for you to sleep in. Sign up in advance for a workout class you’ve pre-paid or schedule an early morning walk with a friend. Whatever it is, make it something important that you can’t miss and that you look forward to. 

Nealy Fischer of Mayya Movement

This competition has now closed.

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