Most of us know at least a couple of people who could be considered “early risers,” people who naturally get up early and are revved and ready to start the day. Chances are, though, that if you’re watching this, you’re not one of them. That’s okay though! Despite what you might think, just about anyone can change their habits so that they can wake up early feeling great.
There are really two aspects to feeling great when you wake up in the morning. The first is feeling good physically. If you’re waking up groggy and hitting the snooze button, it’s going to be rough morning and that’s no good. Ideally you want to wake up alert and energized from a night of quality sleep so you can get up and moving easily. The second aspect is feeling good mentally. The goal is to feel positive and optimistic about the day when you wake up rather than starting the day by groaning at the sound of your alarm.
A disclaimer is in order here. While these tips will get you to a place where you can wake up feeling good and ready to start your day, it might be tough in the beginning. Some people will adjust to waking up early in just a few days, but it could take a week or two for others. If you stick with it, though, being an early bird will start to come naturally and you’ll feel great right after waking.
So, when you make the decision to become an early riser, the first step is to form a routine. Without it, it’ll be harder to feel good when you get up early because it won’t feel natural to your body. When it is routine, your body will get used to getting up at the set time and will be cooperative with earlier waking. Make a commitment to wake up at the same time every day for three weeks to a month. Yes, even on weekends. I know, I know. That might sound rough for some people, but it’ll help significantly if you really want waking up early to feel great. When you get up at the same time every day, your body notices the pattern and begins to respond. Eventually, you’ll probably even wake up at that time without an alarm set because your body will become accustomed to that schedule and naturally start to wake up then. Once you’ve gotten into this routine, you can sleep in now and then and it won’t affect how you feel on early mornings so much, but while forming the routine it’s be best to be consistent and stick with getting up early every day.
One thing that can help make this easier is keeping your curtains or blinds open or switching to an option that allows more light through them. Your body has what is called a “circadian rhythm” which acts like an internal clock. It receives cues from the external environment and reacts accordingly. The body naturally wants to be awake when the sun is out and asleep when it’s dark, so if you wake up in a dark room it’ll be tougher to get moving. If the sun is streaming in, your body will recognise that it’s time to be awake and getting up will physically feel easier. If you’re able to keep the blinds or curtains open in your bedroom, making the adjustment to waking up early will be easier for your body and you’ll get used to your new routine a bit faster than if your room is dark every morning. This tip depends on the time of year and the time you intend to get up, though, as the sunrise is later during some months and you may be getting up before it. For most of the year, though, you’ll get at least a bit of light and even a bit is helpful.
Another habit that will make waking up early feel better is going to bed only when you’re tired. Many of us make the decision to go to bed earlier if we know we’ll be getting up early so that we have enough hours allotted for sleep, but going to bed before we’re ready means we might not actually fall asleep for a while. Tossing and turning because you’re trying to force yourself to sleep is miserable and isn’t helping you at all so just go to bed when you start feeling sleepy. At first it might be later than you’d prefer and, yes, that could mean fewer hours of sleep and a tough morning. But then you’ll get tired earlier the following night which will lead to an easier waking the next morning. And since you got up early, you’ll get tired earlier again. You start setting a new cycle for your body where it naturally wants to sleep at a time that works well with when you wake up and getting out of bed in the morning starts to feel easy because it’s when your body is finished resting. It’s important to note that you might not be getting the commonly quoted “8 hours” of sleep, but they aren’t necessary; being in a consistent routine will allow you to feel energized with fewer hours.
Diet is a consideration that can also make a difference in your sleep and in how you feel when you wake. Changing your diet may be more commitment than you’d like to make, but if you’re serious about becoming a morning person, it’s worth it to try a couple of adjustments. First, eat lighter in the evening and at night. When you go to bed with a full stomach, your body is working to digest all that food while also trying to rest. That means that you might not feel as recharged when you wake up because of the energy put into digestion during the night. Try eating a smaller, lighter meal or having dinner earlier so that your stomach isn’t full when you go to bed. If you like to snack at night time, fruits and vegetables are best but a few crackers or some popcorn would be okay too. Just keep it light so your body has less to process while you’re sleeping and you can wake up feeling fully rested.
There are also some specific things you should avoid consuming, especially later in the day. Alcohol is an important one. While alcoholic drinks might make you feel sleepy, they can actually negatively impact the quality of your sleep. Alcohol tends to make falling asleep easier initially, but it reduces the amount of time spent in REM phase. REM, which stands for “rapid eye movement,” is the part of our sleep cycle that is most restorative so if you don’t spend enough time in it you’ll probably wake up feeling somewhat unrested. When your REM sleep is disrupted for even just one night, the following night—or nights—can be affected since your body will try to catch up on the time it’s meant to spend in REM.
Caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee should also be avoided, since their stimulant properties can affect your sleep cycle in a few ways. Since coffee is known to help increase alertness, it’s obvious that it can make it difficult to fall asleep. This results in fewer total hours of sleep. Caffeine can also cause you to get fewer hours of deep sleep which will also affect how well-rested you feel when you wake up. Chocolate, especially dark varieties, can also impact your sleep. Though it contains much less caffeine than coffee or tea, it also contains a compound called theobromine that has similar effects. If you must get your coffee or chocolate fix, try to keep them earlier in the day—or six hours from bedtime at the very least. For those who like to have a tea in the evening, switch it out for an herbal blend with no caffeine.
Once you’ve taken these steps to wake up more energized, early mornings will start to feel good to your body. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be happy about it when you start out. You might not really want to get out of bed even if you feel awake, maybe because getting ready for work isn’t appealing or you’re unhappy about leaving your cozy bed. Taking steps to make waking up a more joyful experience will help make you feel great all around when you wake up early.
Since waking up earlier won’t come naturally at first, setting an alarm is going to be pretty unavoidable. But hearing some variation of a screeching beep isn’t particularly conducive to a good mood. Fortunately, that part of having an alarm can be avoided. If you use your cell phone as an alarm clock, you can choose just about anything other sound to play instead. Why not pick a song that makes you smile so you’ll wake up to something that makes you feel happy? It’s not a good idea to choose your favourite song, since it’s still going to be waking you up and that’s probably not an association you want to make if the process is hard in the beginning. But if you can think of a song that you’re not too attached to but that has a bouncy, fun sound, it’ll be helpful to hear first thing in the morning.
One thing that’s great for getting into a good mood and easy to squeeze in before leaving you bed is a bit of deep breathing. Deep breathing is known have countless benefits including inducing a calm mindset, improving circulation, and easing some bodily discomforts, among other things. It also increases serotonin levels which will help you feel happy right away. While lying in bed, take a deep belly breath and notice your abdomen rise; feel it fall again as you exhale slowly. Imagine each inhalation filling you with energy and joy. Even just spending a minute or two doing this simple breathing exercise can get you feeling positive about the day ahead of you. You can also repeat it at bedtime, but instead of imagining that you’re becoming energized with each inhale, imagine your body becoming more relaxed and drowsy as you exhale.
Our final idea to help you with a good mood when you wake up early is to make sure your morning routine is one that you enjoy, or that you at least don’t dread. If you wake up with all the things you have to do but don’t want to do on your mind, you won’t be feeling good at all. Take a look at your morning routine and figure out which parts you don’t like doing. Some people, especially those with longer hair, might hate showering in the morning. If you can, switch to showering in the evening so your hair is dry and ready to be styled when you get up. Some people find breakfast to be an annoyance to figure out and prepare. In this instance, you can plan some options that require minimal effort or cook something in the evening that can be quickly re-heated when you’re ready for breakfast. Just shifting a task or two that you don’t like can make your morning feel less daunting and will allow you hold onto a good mood all morning.
With so many ways to get you feeling great when you wake up early, anyone can become a morning person. Sure, it’s not without some effort and planning, but it’s doable, and once you get into the habit of it, it’s easy. Give a few of these ideas a try and see how great you feel waking up with the sun.