A couple of days ago my wife wrote a post about becoming a morning person. Go read it. In the first paragraph she makes this observation:
I’ve always admired people who can get up and enjoy the early morning hours. I’ve admired their discipline and craved the fruits of what they enjoy–the peace and solitude and freshness of a day in its infancy. Really, there’s nothing quite like the morning time. Apart from the the grogginess it brought, I have always had an appreciation for the morning…when I’ve woken up early enough to enjoy it.That’s the kicker.
Have you ever struggled to be a morning person? I have. When I was younger, I could stay up all night with no problem. I could even wake up before my cousins. But even as a child, I always felt very tired in the middle of the day. Even when I’ve had manual labor jobs, I’ve usually wanted to simply be asleep from the hours of 9AM-5PM. But in the middle of the night and the early morning, I’ve always been good to go.
When I was younger, people would be amazed at how much I could read. But I used to work night jobs, which meant on days off or when I got home around midnight or later, I would simply read all night and sleep until about 11AM and get on with my day feeling exhausted until evening. And, btw, if I did wake up before 10AM, I was usually quite energized until the afternoon. In all seriousness, even on days when I worked mornings, I could stay up until a couple of hours before work, take a nap, and work and not feel any different than I would feel if I had slept eight hours.
Now I have a day-job. Like 8-5. Now, historically, this has been the time period when I’m least functional. Worst of all, right when I got hired, I grew out of the ability to go with very little sleep and have no ill-effect. If I pull all-nighters I get cranky. So, to deal with this, I had to think about how to become a “morning person/day person” so that I could still get reading and writing done. I simply didn’t want to be somebody who was in a bad mood at work from staying up late or somebody who was “normal” with respect to reading volume. “I don’t really read anymore because when I get home from work, I don’t feel like it.”
Here are the steps I took for becoming a morning person:
- Mindset Shift: If other people can do it, I can too.
Although some research suggests that morning/night people are stuck that way, self-limiting beliefs of that sort are unproductive until they’re conclusively proven to be true. In fact, many doctors and refinery workers have jobs that force them to change from night to day shift on a regular basis.
- Visualization: Imagine yourself getting out of bed without hitting the snooze button before you start your evening reading/prayer time in bed.
One can elicit all sorts of physiological and neurological effects through visualization. If you imagine an embarrassing event from your youth, your cheeks can go beet red. So set yourself for a habit you don’t have yet by imagining getting up in the morning and associating that with positive feelings.
- Lists: Make lists of what you wish to accomplish in your mornings.
Even if you simply want a leisurely morning so that the trip to work isn’t a terrible rush, make a list the night before. That always helps me.
- Fatty Food: Only eat fat and protein within three hours of bedtime, no carbs.
I’m no doctor and this isn’t medical advice, but I hypothesize that only eating fat and protein late in the day will keep you from waking up in a hypoglycemic stupor because your body will already be in a fat burning state. This change might necessitate and entire dietary transformation, though.
- Find a ‘why’: Determine why mornings are important to you and make them non-negotiable.
As a Christian, perhaps mornings are important because they give you time to pray, as a parent, they give you alone time, as a programmer they give you time for personal projects, as an athlete they give you time to prepare meals, or whatever it is figure it out. Until those values are no longer important to you, make yourself do the thing in the morning. You are what you do and if your “why” results in no “what,” then over time you will value that thing less and less until it is no longer a part of your life. Mornings can save you from giving up on your purpose.
- Get Enough Sleep: Go to bed early enough to get your ideal amount of sleep.
Some people need four hours of sleep, some people need twelve. Find your number and go to bed with enough wiggle room to take 30-minutes to doze off and therefore achieve your ideal amount of sleep.
Other tips might include using melatonin for a brief time, using cold showers as soon as you wake up, incrementally waking up earlier (fifteen minutes a week or five minutes a day), or asking an early riser in your household to ensure your expulsion from dreamland manually.
I hope this helps. What tips do you have for becoming a morning person?