If you don’t naturally wake up early, you may feel envious of those who do. You may admire their ability to accomplish so much before the sun rises. However, remember that being a morning person or a night owl is often determined by your internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, which regulates when you feel sleepy and awake. It’s not something you can control.
The Sleep Foundation states that each person has a unique chronotype that determines their peak alertness and wakefulness. This can be either a morning or evening type, but neither is superior. However, night owls may face challenges as many daily responsibilities such as work and school typically occur in the morning.
Genetics play a significant role in determining whether someone is a morning or evening person, however, it is possible to train your body to adjust. If your goal for the New Year is to become a morning person, here are some tips to help you achieve that.
Create a bedtime routine.
To become a morning person, it’s important to establish a consistent nighttime routine, as suggested by the Sleep Foundation. This includes avoiding late-night snacking and excessive screen time on TikTok or Netflix. Getting enough sleep is crucial for physical and mental well-being, so a routine that helps you go to bed earlier is essential.
They perform the same activities in the same order, night after night, before going to bed.” Part of this routine will be limiting the use of electronic devices for a certain amount of time before bed, including e-readers. These devices activate the mind and trick your eyes into thinking it is still daytime, delaying sleep.” Taking a bath or shower, reading, meditating, or going for a walk are all activities that can help you wind down from the day and help you create an environment conducive to falling asleep earlier. As they note, consistency is key in helping you change your body’s chronotype. The more you repeat the same routine nightly, the easier it will become to wake up earlier.
Establish achievable targets.
Making a New Year’s resolution to become a morning person doesn’t guarantee success overnight, it is unrealistic to expect to wake up early on January 2nd with just willpower alone. Setting more achievable goals is key to long-term success.
The recommended amount of sleep is typically eight hours per night, but individual needs may vary. It’s important to determine the amount of sleep needed to function well on a daily basis. Rise Science suggests tracking your “sleep debt,” which is the amount of sleep your body is lacking, and adjusting your bedtime to meet your needs. This process may take time and may involve gradually adjusting your sleep schedule.
Adjust your perspective.
Transitioning to becoming a morning person requires both a mental and physical shift. Many individuals who consider themselves to be night owls may believe that they are unable to be productive in the mornings. This mindset can hinder their ability to change their daily routine. According to Headspace co-founder and former Buddhist monk, Andy Puddicombe, “Whether you view early mornings as an opportunity or a challenge depends on your individual personality.”
Puddicomb suggests that altering your internal dialogue is crucial in transitioning from being a night owl to becoming a morning person. If you repeatedly tell yourself that you cannot function well in the morning, it will be difficult to change this pattern. Adopting a positive attitude towards mornings, from the moment you go to bed to the moment your alarm goes off, can significantly impact your ability to shift your daily routines. Changing your mindset is a crucial step in successfully adapting to an earlier wake-up schedule.
“Go with the flow of the natural light”
To become a morning person, it’s crucial to expose yourself to natural light immediately upon waking. As Jennifer Martin, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, states, “the sun is the driver of our internal clock.” Sunlight suppresses melatonin, which affects the circadian rhythm.
She suggests getting exposure to sunlight when you wake up to help make the shift to becoming a morning person a lot easier. This could be going outside for a short, early morning walk, or simply enjoying your coffee outside. If it’s cold in the mornings or still dark out where you live, light therapy lamps can also be helpful.
Sleep Foundation agrees that natural light can have a huge impact on helping someone become a morning person. “Exposure to bright light in the morning is considered one of the best ways to become more of a morning person and shift your chronotype earlier,” they note. While you may love to linger in your dark bedroom when you wake up, opening your blinds and letting the light in can make a big difference in helping you wake up earlier.
“Reducing dependence on mobile devices”
Breaking the habit of checking your phone as soon as you wake up is a key step in becoming a morning person. Delay using your phone for at least 30 minutes after waking to give yourself time to start your day without distractions. A small glance at your phone can easily turn into hours of scrolling, texting, or emailing, postponing that first look allows you to focus on getting out of bed and preparing for the day.
Julie ,author of the book Never Check Email In the Morning, explains to Forbes why it’s so important to resist the urge to look at your phone when you first wake up. “Those requests and those interruptions and those unexpected surprises and those reminders and problems are endless … there is very little that cannot wait a minimum of 59 minutes.” Checking your phone as soon as you wake up is simply “priming your brain for distraction,” which won’t help you as you’re trying to become a morning person.
Relocate your alarm clock.
Because it can be almost too convenient to hit the snooze button multiple times when your alarm is right beside you, experts agree that placing it out of reach is ideal if you’re trying to become a morning person. If you use your phone as your alarm, it can also be tempting to pick it up and start scrolling first thing, which we already know is a no-no when you’re trying to get up and moving.
Leave your bed to turn your alarm off helps you develop the routine of getting up when your alarm sounds, avoiding that repetitive snooze cycle that only delays when you get up. If you don’t love the idea of moving your alarm, The Cleveland Clinic notes some alarms require you to do certain activities, like solving a puzzle, to turn it off. “Do whatever works to keep you from hitting snooze,”.
Track your goals
You’ve decided to change your sleeping patterns for a reason. Regardless of whether you want to be a morning person because you think you’ll be more successful at your work or school, you feel you can make better use of your waking hours if you’re up early, or because studies show that morning people are more proactive, it’s important to track your goals and progress as you start to implement these changes.
It can be tough to continue to make changes if you aren’t sure if they’re making a difference. By noting these changes, you can see the positive effects waking earlier has on your life. That can mean the difference between sticking to your new routine or hitting that snooze button over and over again.
Have something to look forward to
It can be difficult to feel energized in the morning if you don’t have something to look forward to, which is why Jennifer Martin, president of the board of directors for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, tells TIME that planning something special for your mornings can help you want to get out of bed earlier. “Now is the time to go buy your favorite coffee or pick up some pastries to have when your alarm goes off.
You’ve been trying to find time to do early in the morning to help entice yourself out of bed. Maybe it’s just spending an hour alone before the rest of your house begins to wake, or finally taking that yoga class that you’ve been wanting to try. You’ve decided to become a morning person for a reason, so do everything you can to make the most of this extra time you now have it.
To shift your internal clock you’re going to need to create a routine and be consistent with that routine. That means waking up early on weekends as well as weekdays. “If someone says, ‘I want to be more of a morning person during the week, but I want to sleep in on the weekends,’ that’s not going to work.
If you’re on vacation or have had a particularly tiring week, it doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in the odd sleep-in, but keeping a consistent schedule as much as possible will help deliver the results you’re looking for when it comes to becoming a morning person. However, when you’re first transitioning to an earlier wake-up time, you should maintain the same schedule during the weekends that you have during the week for optimum results.
Developing a consistent morning exercise routine can not only help you transition to becoming a morning person, but your overall health will benefit as well. Studies have shown that exercising in the morning may impact your natural circadian rhythm, which will eventually make it easier for you to wake earlier (via the Journal of Physiology). Incorporating natural light into your morning workout can give you an extra burst of energy that will help you feel more energized. Whether that’s a walk or run outside, or working out in an area exposed to natural light, getting that added dose of light will provide added benefits to your exercise routine.
Slowly shifting your daily schedule earlier and earlier will allow your body’s circadian rhythm to gradually shift as well, making your morning wakeups easier as long as you stay consistent. You may also find it easier to exercise regularly in the morning, as your workout time won’t be affected by other factors that could impact your day
Shift your mealtimes
Not only do they eat dinner later, but the quality of what they are eating differs as well. “The circadian preference towards eveningness is associated with a delay in meal timing, the breakfast skipping habit, engagement with excessive consumption during night time, lower protein and vegetables intake, as well as increased sucrose, sweets, caffeine, and alcohol intake,”.
Many people don’t realize the correlation between their mealtimes and the quality of their sleep, but research shows that consistent later mealtimes can have a big effect on your circadian rhythm (via Cell). If you’re serious about becoming a morning person, you may need to take a look at your eating habits first and begin to shift what and when you’re eating.
Schedules can help because they aid in creating new habits for your body to follow. “Habits eliminate the need for self-control,” author Gretchen Rubin writes in her book Better Than Before. “Habits make change possible by freeing us from decision-making.”
However, if you’re going to get in the habit of waking up early, you’re also going to need to get in the habit of going to bed early, and that is where a schedule can be effective. Scheduling your day to include a nighttime routine that can ensure that you get the proper amount of sleep your body needs, while also allowing you to wake up earlier, can be the key to successfully becoming a morning person. Creating a schedule that is realistic and flexible will allow you to shift your sleep patterns until they simply become a habit.