Alas, we don't have a magical elixir that will make mornings better. But, we have the next best thing to make life easier. We asked the experts how to wake up earlier and actually get things done in the morning. You can do it, sister. We believe in you.
Leading Expert in Integrative and Precision-Based Medicine and Founder of Firshein Center Dr. Richard Firshein says that the biggest mistake people make is attempting to get up early when they don't have a consistent sleep schedule. The first order of business is trying to go to bed at the same time every night. Not only will it make falling asleep and getting up earlier easier, but it also has additional benefits. Bustle reports that maintaining a consistent bedtime can result in a better metabolism, greater happiness, a boosted academic performance, and it could protect you from cardiovascular disease. (Have we convinced you yet?)
To get into a proper sleep schedule, Sleep.org encourages people to make small changes, slowly. You cannot overhaul your sleep schedule in one night. For instance, night owls can try bringing their bedtime back by 15 minutes over a couple of nights. "Try to get to bed around 9:00 to 10:00 PM," says Firshein. "Even if you lie in bed for an hour, it’s good to get your body in that rhythm."
Also, try dimming nightlights. Their glow could be messing up your circadian clock. And avoid screen time at least an hour before bed. Really. That includes your phone.
Actually make sure that you're getting enough shuteye. Susan Petang, Mindful Lifestyle & Stress Management Coach at The Quiet Zone Coaching says that it might sound like a no-brainer, but there are a number of night owls who don't get enough. We need sleep, people. How much sleep a person needs will vary. As a guide, the National Sleep Foundation suggests seven to nine hours for younger adults (18 to 25) and adults (26 to 64).
Part of the reason you're not as productive as you would like to be in the morning could do with preparation. Do you find yourself overwhelmed and frustrated in the mornings to the point where you can't actually get anything accomplished? It might not be because your brain hasn't turned on yet. Petang encourages people to do as much prep work as they can the night before to avoid frustration. It saves you from having to make too many decisions very early, she explains. Even things as small as planning your outfit, making your lunch, and showering can make a big difference. It opens up time for you to do other things and alleviates unnecessary stress.
You might be tempted to skip this point — especially after what we just told you about cutting down things to do in the morning. But, doing a bit of exercise and/or taking a few minutes to meditate or do yoga make a difference. Petang says that the small activities will be a signal to your brain that your day has started. And you thought that was what coffee was for.
Anyone can be a morning person, including you. Maybe you just haven't found the thing that makes you a morning person. Firshein says part of this involves finding what your strong suits are. Spoiler alert: It doesn't have to be something abstract. He lists things such as reading the paper, a good old cup of coffee, or even scrolling on social media. It's that easy.
Real talk: Mornings aren't going to get any easier if you're dreading them. In fact, they might get harder. This is why you need to keep your thoughts in check. "Instead of thinking about how much you hate getting up early, think of reasons to be grateful," encourages Petang. "...Instead of saying, 'I have to do this,' think instead, 'I get to do this.'" Are you getting up early to work on a side hustle? Do you like to get going early to avoid the crowds and crazy commuters? Are you getting up to go to a job you love, or at least one that pays the bills? Think positive.
We might sound like your parents for saying this, but hear us out. Firshein promotes eating better in the morning because a lot of people need food in the A.M. Food is energy — and we need energy to be boss babes. Experts suggest adding protein in your breakfast along with some fats. A protein shake will work or avocado and eggs.
"Mindfulness" is a big wellness buzzword. It can legit keep you focused so don't write it off. Petang suggests being mindful of what you are doing in the morning. Be present in the task you're doing at that minute instead of getting hung up on what has to be done next, or what else the day has in store. You'll be more focused on what you're doing, which should lead to better results. Plus, it will quell panic.
You're now consistent with your bedtime. Make sure that you're consistent with the time that you're getting up, too. When you get in the habit of going to bed at a certain hour, you'll likely naturally start waking up at a specific time. Very Well Health reports that waking up at the same time on the regular can result in increased alertness, a better sleep, less reliance on caffeine, and better job performance, to name just a few things.
Once you're in the habit of getting up early, get into the routine of being productive in the mornings and everything should fall into place. (Remember to keep up that positive attitude!) "The biggest tip I can give for waking up earlier has to do with consistency," says Firshein. "...Really jump into the things you're doing and give yourself an opportunity to start enjoying what the morning has to offer. After all, it is true that the early bird catches the worm. And catching a few in the morning will give you a lot more incentive to keep doing it."