At time of writing, it is currently 7:30 a.m. I am sitting at my desk at work, I am dressed, and I am working. I am also wrapped in a blanket because I’m pretty sure someone mistook the place as a walk in freezer. Point is, I am awake and at the office at 7:30 a.m. If at any point in my life you had asked my mother if I would be an early riser, she would have laughed at you and told you I was just like her and would never be functional before 10 a.m., but yet, here we are.
The functional part may still be slightly debatable. I may be dressed, but I have no makeup on and all I did to my hair was wash it, although I’m lucky and get perfect curls right out of the shower. However, I am at work, writing this article and communicating effectively. So how have I, a night owl, become the early bird with the worm?
Step One – Motivation
Whether your motivation is just to be a “morning person”, get to the gym before work, or the only class time available was at 7 a.m., you need to have a reason. You are not going to be able to motivate yourself to get out of bed if there’s nothing to inspire you. Trust me, at 6 a.m. when your alarm is beeping you better have a really good reason to not hit snooze.
Step Two – No Snoozing
I will never understand why the snooze button was invented. It is doing you no good. Your pre-cognitive, morning brain is screaming “just 5 more minutes” but all logic says get out of bed now. Truth is, those extra 5-10 minutes aren’t helping. You aren’t getting any more REM sleep and so you aren’t any more rested than you were 5 minutes earlier. Sure, laying in your warm bed sounds a lot nicer than getting up, but you’re just making yourself more groggy.
Step Three – Your Alarm Matters
There are all types of alarm clocks available for a variety of problems. Does your alarm not wake you up? Do you perpetually hit snooze until you’re late? Check out the assortment of options and maybe try a few out until you find a system that works. You can even download a few different types of alarm apps for your phone. My favorite is the alarm that rolls around your room beeping. You have to get up and out of bed and find it in order to shut off the alarm. Between the beeping and my dogs freaking out because something is rolling across the room I tend to be awake by the end of it all.
Step Four – Establish a Routine
Try to consistently go to bed and wake up at the same time. When your body can anticipate your sleep schedule it can adjust your sleep cycles making it easier for you to wake up in the mornings. Your body will actually start “waking you up” before your alarm even goes off. This has been a struggle for me. I like reading before bed and depending on how great the part of my book is I will stay up later than other nights, making it hard for my body to adjust. I really need to set a lights-out time and stick to it. Another benefit to an established routine is that you can time your coffee for optimal consumption. To get the most out of your coffee you should drink it in the morning and follow it up with a short nap, or drink it between 2 and 3 hours after you wake up.
Step Five – Get Good Sleep
Going to bed at 10 and waking up at 6 isn’t going to happen if you are tossing and turning the whole 8 hours. Avoid blue light right before bed, it disturbs your body’s production of melatonin. Remove things that may wake you up in the middle of the night. I have to lock my dogs out of my room at night otherwise they’ll wake me up. Other things like outside noises, outside light and a snoring partner are problems that often have simple solutions. Create the ultimate sleeping space and make the most of your 8 hours.
The transition to early bird is gradual, and it will get easier with time. Don’t rush the process or your body will be sleep deprived, making it even harder to get up. Stick to your plan and in a few short weeks you will be ready to tackle the dawn.
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