Why is it that sleep seems so much more necessary and luxurious in the mornings? At night, we toss and turn and text and netflix and do everything we can to pass the time until we [eventually] slip into sleep. Then, when morning rolls around, we would gladly sacrifice texting and netflix and food and oh, I don’t know, our first-born child(?) to stay in bed for ‘5 more minutes’. What gives?!
Scientifically, it makes sense. At night, we’re trying to shut off our brains after 12-16 hours of stimulation and quiet the thoughts that follow the day’s happenings. That’s tough to do! Brains have a mind of their own [pun very much intended] and can be very, very stubborn. In the morning however, we’re breaking the rem-cycle and jolting our body out of it’s deepest, lengthiest form of repair. I like to think of it like showering; it always sounds like a hassle until you’re in there– then you never want to leave. Being clean, refreshed and rejuvenated feels darn good…our bodies feel the same way.
Unfortunately, many of us are forced to adhere to very early wake-up calls. Whether or not you consider yourself a “morning person”, that’s not always easy. But there are a few simple tricks that I’ve learned over the years (ie: mainly in the last few weeks while working the 5am gym opening shift at my new job) that make mornings much more bearable…and dare I say– enjoyable?
Tip #1) Hit the Hay Earlier
While this may seem obvious, it’s easier said that done. But if you have an early wake-up call, you just have to ignore the “grandma” comments and get your butt in bed at a reasonable hour. All other excuses aside, you can’t go to sleep for the night if you’re not in bed. So, figure how what time you actually need to be laying down to get your required 6-10 hours (depending on how many you need to function) and do everything in your power to get there. Your morning-self will thank you.
Tip #2: Power Down
You’ve undoubtedly heard this one before but it’s so, so true. Our brains are stimulated by lights- particularly those from our phones, computers and televisions- and it takes time after powering those electronics down for your brain to do the same. Challenge yourself to shut everything down at least 20-30 minutes before you want to be asleep and see what an amazing difference it makes. Tip #2.5: If you absolutely need to do something before bed, try a non-stimulating activity like reading, writing, knitting, listening to soft music, etc.
Tip #3: Plan Ahead
Every minute that you spend preparing for your morning the night before is a minute saved in the morning. I like to decide on an outfit (try it on to be sure!) and lay that out, prepare any meals that I’ll need to take to work, make sure my purse/backpack/etc. is packed up and my keys are out, etc. all before I climb in bed. It saves me from trying on 18 different outfits in the morning, destroying my room and then turning it all upside-down to find my keys– which obviously have legs, right?
Tip #4: Shower in the Morning
While most of us want to save the time/hassle by showering at night, I’ve found that waiting until the morning (or doing both!) is actually super beneficial. The warm water awakens your senses and will help you feel and look more alive. Ladies, if you’re worried about the time it will take to blow dry and style your hair, grab a shower cap and just hop in for a quick body wash.
Obviously, this is a little bit time-consuming but it’s worth it, in my opinion. I’ve found that I benefit more from waking up a few minutes earlier to stretch or do a few jumping jacks than I do from snoozing for an extra five minutes. It gets the blood pumpin!
Tip #6: Eat Breakfast & Drink Water
Duh. We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day now, right? Right. I like to drink a full glass of water right when I wake up– studies have proven it to be more effective than coffee! Then for breakfast, I like to have fruit and a carb/protein source; oatmeal with blueberries and peanut butter or a green smoothie and a protein bar are my two faves.
More than anything, I think being a ‘morning person’ is mind over matter. If you convince yourself that mornings suck and you’r’e miserable, you WILL be miserable. Wake up, stretch and remind yourself that it’s a beautiful day– even if it may be a little early. And just think of how much more you can accomplish with that extra time. 😉
My new job at the gym has been quite the transition for me. After years in a restaurant where “opening” mean’t getting there at 8:30 or 9:00, setting a 4:00am alarm sounded like hell. But I’m doing it and I’ve [surprisingly] fallen in love with the peacefulness of those early hours. So it’s true– if you just start by convincing yourself that pitch-black 5am mornings are a fun, they eventually will be.
Here’s to becoming morning people…