Last year I quit my night owl tendencies and learned how to become a morning person. Here’s what worked for me, and how I completely shifted my life to wake up earlier and get more sleep.
For my entire life, I’ve been a night owl. I love staying up late, and for most of my adult life my bed time has been between midnight and 2 A.M. Although I’ve been known to reach 3 A.M. on occasion.
That’s all fine and well if I could sleep in til nine or ten in the morning, but with three little kids I have to be up early for breakfast and school drop off.
So last year when I turned thirty I decided enough was enough, and it was time to start getting more than an average of four hours of sleep a night. I wasn’t eighteen anymore, and the lack of sleep was taking its toll on me.
In the course of a couple of weeks, I went from going to sleep at 2 A.M. and sleeping four or five hours to a bedtime of 10:30 P.M. and getting at least seven hours of sleep per night. I was a night owl, and suddenly I had become a morning person.
Here’s how I dropped my night owl tendencies and became a morning person.
Create a daily schedule or routine.
I’m telling you, this made the biggest difference for me. I knew I had to be ready for the day by 7:30 A.M. to get my kids fed and off to school on time, so I started there and worked backward. I scheduled in my workout, my daily scripture study, and also showering/getting ready time, and determined I needed to get up by 5:30 in order to get everything done. This helped me determine my bedtime, and my kids bedtime. I did this with other parts of my day to help me come up with a pretty straightforward daily schedule.
I don’t need my life to be planned down to the minute, but having a routine helps me plan ahead and be prepared for my daily bedtime and wake up call.
Get up around the same time every day.
Your brain loves consistency. I’ve found that I’m most successful at getting up early if I just do it every single day. I don’t get up at 5:30 A.M. on Saturdays or Sundays, but I don’t let myself sleep in either. I’m up between 7-8:00 A.M. on the weekends and that helps keep my brain and body consistent. It’s tough at first, but you body acclimates and you’ll find it gets easier.
Choose the right alarm.
My husband got me an apple watch for Christmas, and since then I’ve been wearing it to bed and using it as my alarm. It gently buzzes on my wrist, and it’s like a nice gentle nudge to wake up. Much better than a blaring alarm clock I have to reach out of the cold covers to shut off.
I know some people like to wake up to music, so figure out what works for you that will help you wake up as happily as possible.
Don’t push the snooze button.
I’m not 100% on this, especially during the summer, but now that we’re back in school I’m committed to being more disciplined. Lots of studies show that hitting the snooze button actually makes you more tired once you have to get up. For me, it’s like having to wake up twice every morning, and I’d much rather only have to wake up once. If you want those 10 extra minutes, set your alarm for 10 minutes later so your sleep isn’t interrupted. Then toss off the covers the second your alarm goes off.
Determine how much sleep you actually need.
Everyone is different, so the amount of sleep you need might be different from me. I’ve found that I need seven hours in order to feel completely rested, focused, and energized. I can survive on less, but seven is my optimal number. So if I need to get up at 5:30 A.M., I have to be in bed by 10:30pm. If I don’t get in bed until 11 p.M., then I adjust and set my alarm for 6 A.M. and my morning workout gets cut short.
My day goes so much better when I have all seven hours of sleep.
Enforce bedtime for my kids.
When I realized I had to be in bed by 10:30 P.M. each night, I suddenly was super motivated to get my kids in bed on time so I actually had some time to spend with my husband and wind down at the end of the day.
I read aloud to my boys every night, and they know I will not read if it’s past 8:30 P.M. We start getting them ready for bed around 7:30 P.M. so that their nightly routines are done by 8 P.M. and our youngest can go to bed in his room while I read aloud to the older boys. My goal is to be done reading by 8:30 P.M. so I have two full hours before I’m in bed.
Eat better during the day.
I’ve been paying close attention to how foods affect my body this year, and it’s incredible how what I eat affects how easy it is to get up in the morning. If I’ve eaten processed or sugar filled foods the day before, a 5:30 A.M. wakeup call is really hard. I make a homemade dessert once a week on Sunday nights (Yes, Monday mornings are always harder, but I’ve got to treat myself once a week!), and the rest of the week we eat mostly whole foods, lots of protein, lots of veggies, and fruit.
Our current favorite after dinner snack is frozen grapes — TRY IT.
Put your phone and electronics away
You’ll find this in any article about how to get better sleep, or how to wake up early. We all know phones and TV’s are a huge distraction, and ten minutes can easily turn into an hour. I plug my phone in every night and, as cheesy as it sounds, I literally say “Goodnight, phone.” I’ve been trying to do it at 9 P.M. every night, but I’m definitely not consistent. Always trying to be better!
Change your attitude.
Let’s face it, waking up early is not that fun. Even after a year, I’d definitely prefer to stay up late and sleep in. But I do it every day because I have goals and ambitions, and the way to accomplish them is to push and stretch myself!
My friend, Tara from Rad and Happy, told me that right when she wakes up in the morning, she thinks of something to look forward to that day. It might be something big like leaving on a trip, or something small like drinking a glass of chocolate milk, but she does it every single morning and it helps her have a happy and positive attitude from the moment she wakes up. Waking up grumpy and annoyed is never a good way to start the day. There is always something you can look forward to day to day, and if there isn’t…make some changes to bring more happiness into your life.
For me, I always look forward to listening to a podcast while I exercise, and I know that after a 30 minute workout I’ll feel amazing. That motivates me day after day!
If you’re a night owl, trying to change your habits and become a morning person, try some of these and tell me how they go!
Or share some of your advice in the comments!