I became a morning person in 11 steps (and you can, too)

I used to be a night owl, but figured out how to wake up early—and actually enjoy it! Here's how I do it.

sunrise Photo: pxhere.com

We all know someone who is a morning person. A few years ago, I would have considered Morning People to be a different species. I was, and always had been, that one friend who would stay up the latest at sleepovers. I would happily watch movies and hang out until the sun came up and joyfully sleep in until afternoon the next day.

I realized that my lifestyle was no longer serving me well. I skipped my 8:30am classes and struggled to make it on time for my 10am. I was falling behind quickly because I was missing so many lectures and felt like I was constantly trying to catch up on schoolwork. I would be running to class, unprepared, because I’d forget things in the three seconds that I gave myself to jump out of bed and make it out the door.

But now, the girl who would go to bed at 5am actually sometimes wakes up (VOLUNTARILY!!) at 5am. Night owl turned morning person.

DISCLAIMER: There's nothing wrong with not being a morning person! This article is simply to help people who might want to start getting up earlier. To those who struggle to make it to early morning classes, this is for you! Learn from my own experiences.

1. Find your WHY

This step is the cheesiest step, and also arguably the most important one. If you skip this step, NONE of the other steps will work. Why do you want to start getting up earlier? You have to sit down and have a talk with yourself and find your motivation.

Every time your alarm goes off, think about the reason that you wanted to get up early in the first place and visualize yourself getting it done. Maybe you’re finding that snoozing your alarm until the last possible second and frantically running out the door without your lunch/breakfast/that thing you needed for class is just not that fun. Maybe you want to find time to actually do something nice for yourself before you dive into school or work. Maybe you want to be able to enjoy your cup of coffee or tea, or to have time to tidy your room in the mornings, or get a workout in.

Whatever that reason may be, figure it out and constantly remind yourself of what you’re trying to achieve.

2. Go to bed earlier... but don't pressure yourself

Kind of a no-brainer, but train yourself to go to sleep earlier and you’ll make things much easier on yourself. You might not have had a bedtime since you were 10 years old, so it’ll feel weird to be doing it again.

Studies have shown that you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself to try to fall asleep early, because that pressure can stress you out and actually keep you awake until the late hours. A good idea is to have a “stop time”—a time when you stop working on everything and give yourself time to wind down from your homework/whatever else. I usually set my “stop time” for 30 minutes before I start getting ready for bed so that my brain can chill for a bit before my head hits the pillow.

Make sure to limit caffeine intake throughout the day (especially in the evening).

If tomorrow is your first day of shifting to an earlier start time, don't try to go to bed early tonight. Just go to bed when you normally do. Sure, you'll be tired tomorrow, but that's OK. Natural fatigue will help you get to bed a little earlier that night, or the next night.

3. Wake up at the same time each day

Don’t slack off on your wakeup time because the body LOVES routine. It loves knowing exactly what to expect—and waking up at the same time every day will do just that. I read an article that said that when you have habits, you eliminate the need for self-control. Willpower sucks and a lot of us struggle with it. Simply put, if you have habits, you won’t even need to have the willpower to get up early – it will just happen.

It sounds like magic, but it’s just biology! Make habits and your internal biological alarm clock will literally wake you up at the same time every morning.

4. Have 1–2 days a week where you don't set an alarm

(If possible). For me this is the weekend. Since you’re waking up at the same time 5/7 days a week, though (see tip #3), chances are you won’t sleep in too late on the other two days. However, this will let your body get any rest that it needs.

5. Make the morning easier on yourself

Prepare the night before by:

  • laying out the clothes that you plan to wear the next day on your chair
  • filling the kettle or Keurig with water so that you can make your coffee ASAP
  • putting all your school stuff in your bag
  • packing your gym bag

This way, you don’t have to do all those pesky things in the morning that you normally would dread. Rather, your morning will be more relaxing and enjoyable.

6. Take a cold shower

Wake up instantly.

7. Put your alarm on the other side of the room

This way you will be forced to get out of bed to turn it off.

8. Do not hit snooze

Studies show that over half of us hit the snooze button at least once in the morning. By snoozing your alarm, you’re just putting yourself through the awful wake-up process AGAIN! Don’t do that to yourself. Forget about the snooze button.

9. Use a math-question app as your alarm

This math-question alarm app will only turn off after you’ve answered a math question correctly. This will stimulate your brain and hopefully get you feeling more “awake.”

10. Have a good breakfast

Do I really need to explain this one? Good food = good morning = good start to the day.

11. Reward yourself

Do at least one thing that makes you happy in the morning! For me, this is being able to scroll through the daily news while I’m sipping on my coffee and catch up on social media or Pinterest before heading to class.