I have loved the early morning hours for as long as I can remember. There is a running joke among my family and friends that I am the most “morning person” they know—the irritatingly chipper kind that usually wakes singing with the birds.
What I love most about the early morning hours are the stillness and possibility of a new day. The early morning hours are when I feel most at peace and rest in myself. This is when I pray, read, write in my journal, or just sit in the silence with my morning cup of coffee.
I know that’s not how everyone feels, though. There are some people who are wired more as night owls and genuinely do their best work while burning the midnight oil. But there are distinct advantages to rising early: you have more time to soak in the sunshine (and all that vitamin D), for example. Rising early also creates a space before work begins, so you don’t feel like you’re getting up for work; it’s just one part of your day.
If that sounds appealing to you, here are some tricks and early morning hacks to help ease your body into that transition. Even if you currently cringe when your morning alarm goes off, it is possible for you to become a morning person—chirping birds not included!
Get natural light right away
The dreaded alarm clock rings and you drag yourself out of bed, but what should be your next move? Get some natural light, stat. Open your curtains or blinds. If you can, step outside onto the balcony or into the yard just for a few moments.
Natural light tells your body that it’s time to wake up even more effectively than a cup of coffee (hard to believe!). In these summer months in which we have more sunshine, it is the perfect time to try on becoming a morning person because it gets lighter earlier. If you do not have access to natural light first thing in the morning, consider a wake-up light alarm clock that mimics the morning sunrise.
Either way, find some ways to get a boost of natural light as you start the day, even before you have that cup of coffee.
Create a ritual you look forward to
Having a morning ritual you look forward to—maybe a power yoga workout, reading a book for 20 minutes, or taking time to meditate and invite stillness into this new day—makes it easier to rise and shine.
The process of making my coffee, sitting down to pray, and spending time in silence has become my morning ritual. Wearing a cozy robe, I grind my coffee beans and choose a pretty mug. With a splash of cream in my coffee, I sit down in my favorite chair to begin the day by centering my heart and mind. This practice is restful and life-giving to me.
Take the time to develop a morning ritual that meets your needs and helps you take care of yourself. Try thinking about your mornings ahead of time so that they’re not spent rushing out the door while choking down a banana, but rather in a life-giving ritual that you look forward to the night before.
Practice waking up the same time every day
One of the most realistic ways to become more of a morning person is to train your body to wake up at the same time each day. Waking up at the same time helps your body’s circadian rhythm. Without a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule, you can disrupt your circadian rhythm, meaning that your body doesn’t know when to get up and instead you wake up in the middle of the night, disturbing your sleep cycle. You can reset your circadian rhythm by being consistent, but you can send it into a tailspin by frequently waking up in the night or going to bed too late on a regular basis.
If you struggle with getting up at the same time each day, create a challenge for yourself over a two week period. Set your alarm for an earlier time you wish to rise by, and see how it goes. While at first you may be more tired or groggy, your body will eventually adapt and get used to this new earlier rhythm of starting the day. Naturally if you are trying to train your body to wake up the same time each day, you will probably want to get to bed earlier because you’ll be tired by the end of the day.
Do not check your phone or computer for 30 minutes after waking up
I think all of us can too easily relate to how easy it is to pick up your phone and begin scrolling on Instagram or Facebook. Did you know starting the day with mindless scrolling alerts your brain that you are missing out on something, leading cortisol levels to spike as you begin your day, which is bad for your health and for your mood!
Try to not check your phone or computer for at least the first thirty minutes of the day. If that’s proving difficult, try storing your phone in another room or part of your home overnight; if you normally use your phone as your morning alarm, try a physical alarm clock). Keeping your early morning tech-free can really give you the mental space to start your day on a high note with that life-giving routine.
Have a wind-down routine before going to bed at night
Similar to a morning ritual you love, it helps to develop a wind-down routine for the end of the day. Take time to let your body and mind know you are slowing down as you get ready for bed.
Maybe that looks like diffusing some lavender oil to feel more relaxed and calm as you get ready for bed or reading for fifteen minutes. You could try deep breathing or playing soft music while you wash your face and brush your teeth, or completing a luxurious skincare routine.
Falling asleep to watching Netflix or scrolling on your phone will not help your body relax and get ready for sleep. There are harmful effects of blue light exposure as your body is trying to relax and fall asleep. Blue light exposure suppresses the release of melatonin, a sleep hormone that affects our circadian rhythms. Find a relaxing routine to help yourself wind down at the end of another day.
Becoming a morning person doesn’t have to be a painful experience. With the right tools and listening to the needs of your physical body, you can adjust and train yourself to enjoy those early morning hours—whether or not you sing with the birds.