Have you ever envied early risers? We wouldn’t blame you if you have (we certainly do). They’re more positive, active, achieve more with their day, and seem to have it all together.
A healthy, desirable lifestyle seems so far out of reach when the snooze button is your best friend. But it’s completely possible by making small, but impactful changes in your life. We speak to the experts about how you can take control and make it happen, so you’ll have a new best friend – you can thank us later.
Why Are Some People Better in the Morning Than Others?
“We all have our own body clock, which is one of the main determinants of whether we are a morning person or not,” says Dr. Caroline Leaf, Neuroscientist, Mental Health, and Mind Expert. Research indicates that people who have a sleep pattern that goes against their natural body clock may battle more with irritation and anxiety in the morning, making them less likely to be a morning person naturally.
“Genes may also play a role. Sleep is genetically controlled, but we are still examining why and how this affects our ability to be a morning person,” says Dr. Leaf. She refers to a recent study that showed being genetically programmed to be an early riser seems to protect against depression, anxiety and improve our overall wellbeing. “But this could also be because, based on our standard 9-5 workday, our modern society is set up to benefit the early riser,” she says.
“However, based on the flexibility in work hours the Covid pandemic has resulted in, it seems that there is a case to be made for adaptable working habits that are more aligned with an individual’s natural body clock and not society’s body clock.”
Can You Train Yourself To Be a Morning Person?
While some of us may be naturally better in the mornings, it’s possible to become a morning person by switching up our routine. To be the healthiest version of you, researchers note that it’s important to understand the link between chronotype – your manifestation of the circadian rhythm, which influences your tendency to sleep at different times – genes, and mental health, explains Dr. Leaf.
“Your mental health and ability to wake up refreshed and excited for the day ahead may be improved by just changing sleeping habits by just one hour, or more specifically, by changing what researchers call the sleep midpoint – the halfway point between sleep and bedtime.” So, for example, if you normally go to sleep at 1 am and wake up at 8 am, change this from 12 pm to 8 am, which may make you more of a morning person. Although this will also depend on a lot of other factors, including your other lifestyle habits which you can alter.
9 Ways To Become More of a Morning Person
1. Live in a State of Certainty
The first step to becoming a morning person is believing that you are one. “It’s not a decision if you’re a morning person or not. You get to choose to be a morning person by your intentions & actions,” says Emma Caird, Certified Fitness and Wellness Expert. It all starts with a call to action. She recommends scheduling in your morning routine into your calendar with tasks that you know you can complete – don’t be too ambitious at first or pressing the snooze button instead will be all too appealing.
Knowing what you want your mornings to look like will help you to prepare the night before and increase the likelihood of staying committed. “Let’s say you want to work out at 6 am every morning, a great way to prepare would be to layout your workout outfit the night before & prep your workout space which will help eliminate barriers for a healthy start to your day.” Make it as easy as possible to achieve what you want to do in the mornings so finding an excuse not to do it will be harder than just doing it.
Begin your day with a glass of water. As you wake, your body’s in a state of dehydration so choose to fuel your body first with water. “The human brain is composed of about 95% water. Water intake is key for the proper function of your brain as well as your muscular and neurological systems,” says Caird. “Fueling your body with enough water helps digestion, cleanses your body inside and out, helps maximize physical performance, and increases energy and mood.”
The bottom line – drink up. A good benchmark to start with for daily water consumption is half your body weight in ounces, she suggests. By bringing focus and repetition to this part of your morning routine, you can quite literally fill your cup up each morning.
3. Get Enough Quality Sleep
Sleep is a keystone habit for becoming a morning person. Even the earliest risers wouldn’t be able to do what they do without getting enough sleep. “Making sure you’re getting restful and regular sleep will benefit your morning routine. Our bodies thrive off of eight hours of quality sleep known as rapid eye movement or REM sleep,” explains Caird.
“During REM sleep, our bodies shift from the sympathetic nervous system to a parasympathetic state which helps restore your body on a cellular level, aids full digestion, and reduces stress. In fact, studies have shown men who sleep 5 – 6 hours a night have lower levels of testosterone, loss of muscular strength and their biological age is 10 years older.” Yikes.
Start by creating a bedtime routine that allows you to unwind from your day, connect with your natural circadian rhythm, and relax into a deep sleep. Caird suggests listening to calming music, journal or brain dumping your thoughts, and drinking a soothing tea.
4. Set Your Morning Non-Negotiable
As much as we can plan a morning routine, sometimes we’re faced with the unexpected, and completing our entire morning routine isn’t possible. A morning non-negotiable is a small part of your typical morning routine that you make constant no matter the circumstances. “Know what is one thing about your morning routine that doesn’t waver when life throws lemons at you,” says Caird.
But make sure it’s something that’ll positively benefit you each day. “Match your energy levels and learn to protect your energy first thing in the morning. Instead of checking email or scrolling social media the second you wake up, try starting your morning with your own energy with a morning workout, gratitude practice, stretch, or listen to upbeat tunes as you make your breakfast,” she says. Everyone’s constant will be different depending on your lifestyle.
If you get scarily hangry and can’t go to work without skipping breakfast and being sent home, make eating a healthy breakfast your non-negotiable. But if it’s not feeling wide awake until you’ve broken a sweat, choose a morning workout instead. This establishes discipline that carries throughout your day that will have a ripple effect on your energy, productivity, confidence, and impact.
5. Complete a Morning Workout
Speaking of working out, you can actually burn more fat if you exercise first thing in the morning. “Let’s face it, the best time of day to workout is the time of day you can commit to working out. That being said, there are benefits to working out in the morning that make it a particularly good time for the body to experience exercise,” says Joy Puleo, a Sacramento-based Pilates Guru, M.A., PMA-CPT, and PT.
She explains that when you wake up, your body is in a state of fasting. “Without getting overly science-y about it, the body’s glucose stores are depleted, as a result, early morning workouts tend to tap fat stores faster.” If you choose to eat first, choose something light before your workout, and certainly, always hydrate as needed.
6. Get Some Fresh Air ASAP
Morning is a particularly great time to be outside “as the morning light is inspiring and the air smells fresh and crisp, and it’s cooler. Nothing will help center you than the sensations of a brilliant morning,” says Puleo. It’ll waken you and your senses for a beautifully wholesome start to the day – really indulge and take in the beauty of your surroundings.
You’ll begin to discover the joy in the little things which you’ll take with you throughout the day. Not every day is good, but there’s good in every day if you know where to look.
7. Avoid Blue Light Devices 30 Minutes Before You Plan to Sleep
Blue light essentially presses pause on the body’s release of melatonin – a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. You’ve probably noticed that when watching a movie late at night you feel a lot more awake than if you were up late reading a book.
Dr. Fred Pescatore, MD, recommends avoiding looking at devices that give off blue light, such as your phone, tv, and laptop at least 30 minutes before bed. Studies show that blue light can interfere with your body’s biological clock and circadian rhythm.
8. Try a Caffeine Alternative
Many of us opt for a coffee first thing in the morning to wake us up, but we think we speak for some when we say it’s an acquired taste. It also “contains high levels of caffeine, which may give you a quick jolt of energy followed by unwanted side effects including jitters, anxiety, and nausea,” says Dr. Pescatore. He suggests swapping out coffee for green tea.
“Green tea has lower caffeine levels and can calm your nervous system,” he says. While it doesn’t contain as much caffeine, green tea can actually give you a longer-lasting energy boost thanks to L-theanine, an amino acid that slows down its absorption and won’t give the side effects that coffee does.
Another tea alternative Dr. Pescatore recommends is French oak wood extract, Robuvit, a caffeine-free, natural antioxidant shown in years of research to support the mitochondria in your cells for more energy and to reduce oxidative stress that can cause fatigue.
9. Check Your Diet
The quality of your sleep can be affected by the quality of your diet. If you’re a midnight snacker, you’re almost guaranteed to feel fatigued when you wake up. “If you feel tired in the morning, look at your diet and try to avoid food choices that may be affecting your sleep quality and energy levels,” says Dr. Pescatore. Processed sugar has been shown to make us feel more sluggish.
He explains that sugar can do more than just sabotaging our sleep. “Sugar affects our weight and blood sugar, and it can even cause your cells to age more rapidly. Processed foods have similar damaging effects. Reduce sugar and processed foods for 30 days and monitor your sleep quality for improvements.”
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