One of my 2015 new year’s resolutions was to wake up early every morning. Initially, I read some books and even asked my network how they became a morning person. The most common answers I found were “Just do it”, “Get a dog”, or, “Have kids”. I decided not to follow that advice. Luckily, by August I was consistently waking up by 5am. It wasn’t an overnight success, but I’m really happy about the results, my quality of life and sleep has all gone up. Many people now approach me asking how they too can become a morning person. I’ve decided to reveal the secrets I learned on my journey, and don’t worry; they’re do-it, kid and dog-free! I hope your journey to habitual, fulfilled morning person can be even quicker than mine as a result of reading this.
Start With The Why
First, ask yourself why you want to be a morning person. What are your long-term goals? Are you trying to be a high-powered exec that Forbes writes about one day? Maybe you just like peace, quiet before the rush hour starts or just want to go run and see the sunrise every day? Are you getting older and want to seize every day to its fullest potential? Whatever the reason, it should be something that makes you happy and fulfilled, since being a night-owl or inconsistent sleeper is obviously afflicting you.
Here are the top reasons I became a morning person:
- Endless studies that show why most successful people wake up early
- More time to exercise in the morning – I prefer AM exercise
- Higher self-esteem; since I feel like I’m the first one up before all else
- The calm feeling that my day isn’t scrunched
What’s your why? Figure it out and focus on it.
Do Some Calculations
Find out how many hours your body needs to get a good night’s rest. Some people only need 4 hours, some need 10, most need 8. Pick a weekend or night you don’t really have any next-day commitments, don’t drink or do anything to affect your sleep quality, then wake up without an alarm clock; naturally. The amount of time you sleep and wake up naturally is about how much you should assume you need to get a proper full night’s rest. If you’re not convinced, take an average over a few nights.
Some may argue they can run on less sleep, but most argue the opposite. It’s common sense that the quality of hours in your day is better than a quantity, at least for those of us who need to use our brains in our life. It’s important to get enough rest so you’re functioning at your best; sleep is core to this.
Once you figure out how much sleep you need, it’s time to decide what time you want to wake up. If you want to be a morning person, you’re likely targeting 4am to 7am. I wake up at 5am.
Now, count backwards with the hours of sleep you need for a good night’s rest and go to bed at that time. For example, I need 8 hours of sleep and want to wake up at 5am, therefore I go to bed at 9pm. Need a jump-start falling asleep at your desired time? Take a melatonin pill 30 minutes before your desired bedtime. It’s easy on the system and doesn’t have any drug reactions, but do consult a doctor if you’re concerned.
Forge Some Weird, Yet Inspiring Rituals
Rituals are meant to bullet-proof your day and the core to looking forward and becoming a habitual morning person. They will become habits that your body will crave if it doesn’t get to do them. Pick some, all or none of these, but get some ritual going, regardless. The most famous people in history take their rituals more seriously than their religion, if it’s isn’t their religion.
- Alarm Clock: I have a super loud alarm clock set for 5AM strategically placed across the room, far from arms reach. No snoozing allowed!
- Music: I put on this playlist, full of energetic songs that fuel the emotions I want to have about life.
- Supplements: I eat a half scoop of this protein and this pre-workout energizer, then some creatine. It’s my coffee alternative.
- Care: I floss and brush my teeth
- Affirmations: I write down affirmations. Make your own, but here are a few examples to look at. I read some of them inverted and stare at myself in the mirror. Super intense, but make’s ’em stick!
- Exercise: Mondays I run, Tuesdays; weights, Wednesdays; Yoga, then I repeat. 1 rest day/wk.
- Superfoods Breakfast: Monday, green foods super smoothie, Tuesday, Eggs and Oatmeal, then I repeat.
These are my rituals and I follow them religiously every day. What will yours be?
Temporarily Break Up with Your Routine
After you’ve experimented with what works for you and start to build the habit, you need to purposely take a day off and closely monitor how you feel without your routine. Do you feel guilty that you’re not doing it? Do you feel a void without it? You should miss not having your morning routine and should now appreciate why you are forging it in the first place. Just like you don’t truly appreciate your lover ‘til you let ’em go, same goes for becoming a morning person. This is essential as you go through the hard phase of forming the habit. Make sure to feel this void at some point in your journey to attainment, or it might not stick.
The Fine Print
The instructions listed above might not work for you immediately or ever. You might need to try other things that work for you. Think of this journey like creating an invention. You’ll need to strategize, fail, iterate, and build. Your routine may change over your lifetime multiple times, too. You’ll need to experiment with different things that inspire you, do some self-assessment and then re-build that as a habit. Habits take about 25 days to form, and are like a lop sided bell curve, skewed with the steep side on the beginning. Furthermore, you might need to consider some significant lifestyle changes and say no to your night-owl friends more often.
The Good News
Once you get through the challenging habit change, it’s smooth sailing. It will change your life for the better. You’ll get more done, and you’ll feel better about yourself; at least 10x more, and that’s priceless. Good luck and let me know how you do.