How to Become a Morning Person
The term morning person is defined as “a person who likes the early part of the day.” If you’re the type of person who hits the snooze button more often than not, the idea of training yourself to like mornings may seem inconceivable.
It’s undeniable, though—getting up early has a ton of benefits, and it’s not all that difficult. You might wake up, shower, eat breakfast and commute to school or work five mornings per week. You’re already doing so much in the morning. Why does waking up 30 minutes earlier to squeeze in a workout or some self-care seem so daunting?
Your daily routine is all about habits. Don’t expect to wake up at 5 am tomorrow and instantly love it. Habits don’t form in a day, but with a little patience, you can become the type of person who wakes up feeling fresh each morning, ready to take on the day.
Benefits of Being a Morning Person
Morning people love talking about the benefits of getting up early, and it’s not just hype. Research shows that waking up early is linked to:
1. Better Performance at Work and School
A study by University of Texas researchers found that early risers had GPAs that were, on average, a full point above students who classified themselves as night owls. The researchers found that the more aligned a student’s characteristics were with the “morning person” classification, the more likely they were to have an exceptionally high GPA.
2. Higher Productivity and More Proactiveness
Author and scientist Dr. Robert Carter (who says we’re all morning people, whether we feel like it or not), hypothesizes that morning people are more productive because “The killer of persistence is fatigue and frustration. Early risers are less fatigued, less irritable and have less frustration.”
3. Greater Health
“If you’re looking to shed weight or improve overall health, studies are starting to favor the morning [for exercising],” says Dr. Lara Carlson of the American College of Sports Medicine.
In an analysis of data from 400,000 adults in the United Kingdom, the University of California’s Dr. Charles Vega reports that the research shows a clear link between being a night person and having a higher risk of overall mortality.
4. Better Sleep Quality
Dr. Katherine Sharkey, associate director of the Sleep for Science Research Lab at Brown University, says that morning people sleep better and have more regular sleep patterns.
5. Happier Mood
Researchers at the University of Toronto interviewed 700 people and found that morning people were 25% more likely to feel happy and be more satisfied with their lives. They suggest that hacking your sleep schedule and becoming a morning person is an easy way to become a happier person.
Ways to Become a Morning Person
Some people are natural morning people. For a natural morning person, “sleeping in” may mean sleeping until 7 am. Natural night owls, on the other hand, rarely feel fresh in the morning, even after eight to ten hours of sleep. Night owls may wake at 8 am and struggle to find their groove until noon or after.
If you’re reading this, chances are you fall into the second category. There’s good news, though, if you’re not a morning person.
While nature may be responsible for your night owl tendencies, you’re in control. If you’d like to reap the benefits of being a morning person, there are changes you can make to help you get up earlier and cherish those early morning hours.
Go to Bed Earlier
This one is tough, but going to bed early is the first (and arguably the most important) step to becoming a morning person. You’ll never feel good about getting up early if you’re not getting enough sleep.
Morning people aren’t necessarily short sleepers (people who naturally need less sleep to function). Morning people get the sleep they need by going to bed earlier. You may feel like you’ll sleep better if you stay up later because you’ll feel more tired.
According to the University of Southern California’s Keck Medicine group, the opposite is true. Staying up late is associated with poor sleep quality, leading to chronic insufficient sleep.
To start going to bed earlier, you need to have a new target wake-up and bedtime. For example, if you want to start waking up at 6 am but you need eight hours of sleep, your new target bedtime will be 10 pm. If you currently go to bed around 11 pm, set bedtime reminders to gradually arrive at your 10 pm target bedtime.
Here’s an example of a sleep schedule you can follow:
- Week one—10:45 pm bedtime
- Week two—10:30 pm bedtime
- Week three—10:15 pm bedtime
- Week four—10:00 pm bedtime
After four weeks, you’ll be on a new, earlier sleep schedule, and you’ll now be a morning person.
To learn more about how to get on an earlier sleep schedule, read How to Go to Bed Earlier so You Can Wake up Earlier.
Have a Morning Routine
It doesn’t matter what you do with your extra time in the morning, but you should always wake up with a plan. It’s easy to roll over for another hour or sleep if you don’t have a reason to get up, so give yourself something to get up for.
Olympian Caroline Burckle and former President Barack Obama wake up early to work out, and power couple Will and Jada Pinkett Smith start each day with a meditation session. Regardless of what you use those extra hours for, make them count.
Your morning routine should be achievable and unique. It should be tailored to suit your personality and goals. Startup superstar Steve Corona suggests picking just four morning habits to start, and sticking with them for 30 days. When those habits feel like they fit neatly into your morning routine, add more.
To develop your own morning routine, start with these steps:
- Choose your new sleep schedule, such as 10 pm-6 am.
- Pick four morning routines that address your physical, mental, emotional and professional goals.
- Schedule the order in which you want to perform these habits.
- Allocate a time slot to each of them, such as 20 minutes each.
- Track them on a calendar or checklist for four weeks.
After four weeks, your morning routine will have taken shape. Remember that you can be flexible as you develop this ritual. If something isn’t working, drop it and replace it with something else you’d rather do.
Learn more about starting the day off right. Read How to Develop Your Own Morning Routine.
Keep a Daily Schedule
Becoming a morning person is a lot easier when you know exactly what you’re doing. Having a schedule you can stick to reduces the level of friction you encounter as you develop this new routine.
To become a morning person, begin by scheduling your day. Know what you want to get done within the first hour of the day—aka the Power Hour. Then, outline the rest of your essential morning tasks, like when you’ll eat and get ready for work. Schedule in any other tasks you need to do throughout the day as well as goals you want to work on. The morning is a powerful time to focus and you can use it to schedule your time wisely.
Learn the benefits of creating a daily schedule. Read our Guide to Planning Your Day Each Morning.
Give Yourself Something to Look Forward to
Usually, when you have something to look forward to, you’ll be more inclined to stick to a habit. Your morning routine should be pleasant and incorporate at least one thing that you enjoy. It shouldn’t feel like a punishment.
Determine what activities you know will get you out of bed. This could be a walk in nature, time painting or crafting, reading a new book or working on an exciting personal goal. By knowing your “why,” you’ll have a better time transitioning to early mornings and turning it into a long-term lifestyle habit.
Getting bored of your daily rituals? Read 6 Ways to Shake Up Your Morning Routine.
There’s an app or device for everything these days. If you need help regulating your sleep schedule or you could use an extra boost in the morning, technology can help.
Sleep Cycle: Smart Alarm Clock
The free app, Sleep Cycle Sleep Tracker, is highly rated based on feedback from over 27 thousand reviewers. It uses patented sleep analyzing technology to wake you up when you’re in the lightest phase of sleep. Waking up in this phase is easier as it more closely emulates natural waking (waking without an alarm).
Light Therapy Alarm Clocks
These alarm clocks aim to make waking up easier by emitting a light that imitates the sun. Light therapy alarm clocks vary in features and price, but there are many affordable, four-star options to choose from on Amazon.
Learn more about sleep technology. Read Best Sleep and Wake Apps and Gadgets 2020.
Eat the Right Breakfast
The most important meal of the day is even more important for early risers. People who wake early rely on the energy they get from breakfast to fuel their bodies until lunchtime. Sugary foods can provide a temporary boost, but you’ll soon find yourself feeling sluggish, so avoid them.
Choose a breakfast that’s high in fiber and protein—it’ll keep you satisfied and energized longer. And FYI, coffee isn’t breakfast.
If you feel like you never have time for a proper breakfast, consider these tips to help you fuel up in the morning:
- Meal prep the night before. Whisk your eggs, chop your spinach or measure your protein powder.
- Schedule time for breakfast. When planning your day, designate 15-20 minutes for preparing and eating your food.
Learn more about eating the right breakfast, read our guide to the Healthiest Foods to Eat in the Morning.
Take Advantage of Your Mornings
The “rise and grind” philosophy may not necessarily suit your personality or lifestyle. Some people do their best work in the few hours after waking, but if you’re not one of those people, don’t force it.
Getting up earlier doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get more done. Getting up earlier could mean enjoying a quiet cup of coffee on your deck or reading your favorite magazine. Whatever your motivation for becoming a morning person is, take it easy. Make gradual changes and be patient with yourself.