If the first meaningful interaction you have each morning is with your snooze button, you probably don’t consider yourself a morning person. But whether you’re a morning person has just as much to do with how you face the mornings as it does with your default genetic settings. If you think becoming a morning person would be beneficial for you, you can gradually make the switch from a night owl to morning lark with a few techniques. After all, morning people tend to be happier, more productive and better at solving problems than those who rise later in the day.
So what can you do to make the switch? Read these tips, see what works for you and give them a try. Soon you’ll become a morning person and rise with the early birds.
1. Create a nighttime routine.
An important part of becoming a morning person is going to bed the correct way. This doesn’t mean simply turning in earlier. It means making a schedule that will turn waking up from a groggy bore to an exciting and efficient part of your day. The night before, prepare your breakfast as much as possible. For example, if you know you’re going to eat a veggie omelet, chop the vegetables and store them in the fridge overnight. This minimizes the amount of thinking you have to put into cooking breakfast. It will also most likely lead to a healthier first meal, instead of grabbing a granola bar on your way out the door.
It’s also important to set goals for yourself before you sleep. Make a list of three things you want to accomplish the next day. This can help lessen the amount your mind races at night when thinking of things you need to tackle the next day. Consider making your goals more about house chores and hobbies rather than work, like doing laundry, reading that article you bookmarked a month ago and shopping for upcoming birthdays and holidays.
Remember: According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of routine is “a regular course of procedure,” meaning don’t change it up. Routines help train your body to know when it’s time to shut down, which makes falling asleep easier.
2. Become a morning person by getting a good night’s sleep.
Waking up earlier in the morning can be easier when you get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So get the best possible sleep each night by ensuring your room is the perfect sanctuary for sleep, exercising daily, finding the best sleep position for you and more.
3. Drink a glass of water.
Drinking water in the morning can make you feel more alert. So keep two glasses of water by your bed. That way, you’ll have one to drink throughout the night if you get thirsty and one to drink right when you wake up.
4. Ease yourself into becoming a morning person.
Do not start this process by setting your alarm two hours earlier than usual and expect to get up—because you won’t. Gradually adjust your bedtime and wake-up time so the change doesn’t feel unnatural.
Every day, set your bedtime and wake-up alarms 5 minutes earlier than you did the day before until you reach your desired bedtime and wake up time. You can take it even slower by setting your alarm just 1 minute earlier each day until you reach your goal wake-up time. Although this takes longer, it also carries a higher probability of sticking with your early bird goals.
5. Put down your phone.
Engaging with technology before bed stimulates your brain and can cause cortisol to be released. This stress hormone can prevent you from falling asleep. Plus, the blue light produced by technology discourages your body from producing melatonin—the “it’s time to sleep” hormone—in your body. This means that it’s not only harder to fall asleep, but your sleep is less restful. Try putting your phone to bed at least one hour before your bedtime.
Is your alarm on your phone? When your alarm goes off in the morning, resist the temptation to pick it up and check your notifications. Once your phone is in your hand, there is a temptation to check social media or email. And sitting in bed for an hour scrolling through your phone defeats the purpose of becoming a morning person in the first place. Make this morning time about you and not what else is going on in the world.
6. Become a morning person by rising with the sun.
Reduced exposure to daylight causes delays in your internal body clock. Waking with the sun helps to naturally synchronize your internal clock, so sleep with your curtains open and get plenty of time outside during the day. If you need blackout curtains to fall asleep, consider using a dawn simulator alarm clock, and trigger it to start 30 minutes before your desired wake-up time.
7. Resist the temptation of snoozing.
When you hit the snooze button and drift in and out of sleep, you’re most likely resetting your brain back to the start of the sleep cycle. Consider keeping your alarm clock on the other side of the room, so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
When Nathan Chai, founder of Five Years to Financial Freedom, did this, he found that he “rarely ever went back into ‘five more minutes’ mode.”
8. Work out every day to become a morning person.
This might seem far-fetched for some, but working out in the morning can start your day on a positive note. It also helps establish an effective fitness routine.
But instead of hitting the gym first thing in the morning, choose a more leisurely exercise. Consider alternating between walks in your neighborhood and low-intensity yoga. Morning exercise can boost your metabolism and ensure you get a workout in before the busy day swallows your schedule.
This article was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated. Photo by Big blue/Shutterstock.com