I often share my early morning wake ups and workouts over on my Instagram stories, and each time I do inevitably someone slides into my DMs and asks how on earth I get out of bed at that time. I understand how it can be baffling, trust me. I have never been someone who sleeps in until midday, but I certainly wasn’t waking up at 5.20am in my teenage years. It is a habit I consciously built for myself in my twenties, one I am so grateful to have. It allows me to seize the day, fill each moment of opportunity and make the most of my time.
Before we jump into the tools and principles I personally use to remain a morning person I want to acknowledge that being an early bird isn’t for everyone. Biologically, some of us lean towards being night owls. That’s not to say that you can’t form a new routine and change things up, but it is just a little reminder to have compassion for yourself. Your sleep schedule is a huge part of your life and it can take time to shift it.
Right, let’s jump in.
1) Shift your mindset.
This is the key. You can view an early wake up as a chore or as a window of opportunity. I personally love waking up early as it means I get a head start on my day and can tick off things like a morning workout before the rest of the world wakes up. Instead of thinking “I am not a morning person” when the alarm goes off, think “I am becoming a morning person”. Find intrinsic motivation to make the change and embrace the journey of shifting your body clock.
2) Shift your schedule gradually.
If you’re feeling wild you can go cold turkey and move your alarm from 9am to 6am, but that might be a bit of a shock to the system. Instead by moving your alarm 30 minutes earlier every few days your body has time to shift and adjust more gradually.
3) Go to bed earlier.
It is going to be a serious struggle to get out of bed at 5am or 6am if you only went to bed at 1am! Try to give yourself an 8 hour sleeping window, minimum. Personally I am usually in bed between 9-9.30pm and asleep soon after. That means if I wake up at 5.20am I am getting roughly 8 hours a night.
4) Get out of bed.
Put your alarm far away from the bed, so you can’t just roll over and hit snooze. Then once you’re out of bed make it, so you don’t want to get in and mess up the sheets again. Jump into the morning shower and blast yourself with water before your brain realises what is happening. Basically make it as hard as possible to go back to sleep!
5) Think about what you’re eating and drinking.
The night before, try to avoid eating too late into the evening. You want a few hours between eating and sleeping, so your body can fully rest and recover. Similarly, try to stop drinking caffeine before midday (or earlier if possible) to give your brain a better chance of switching off early. I know a “nightcap” of alcohol can be tempting, especially on weekends, but booze actually reduces the quality of your sleep and makes you wake up feeling unrefreshed.
6) Stay consistent.
Speaking of weekends, keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible across all seven days of the week. Your body will form a stronger routine if you do it every day. In my case, I typically wake up at 5.20am on weekdays and 6.30am on weekends. It means I am still up early, sticking close to my routine, but it isn’t quite as painful!
7) Facilitate a good night’s sleep.
It is easier to get out of bed when you have slept well, so try adding some key tools to your sleep arsenal. Dim the lights and look at less screens as you near bed time. Install black out blinds and keep the room a little cool. Exercise during the day and eat nourishing foods. Develop a wind down routine which signals to your brain that it is time to switch off, such as reading a book or doing your skincare routine.
8) Morning light.
Exposing yourself to morning light is an incredible regulator of the circadian rhythm and will make shifting your sleep schedule that much easier. Try to get outside (looking through a window doesn’t work as effectively) and look at the morning light (not straight into the sun!) for around 5-10 minutes in the first couple of hours of the day.
9) Plan your morning.
If you’re going to wake up earlier you’re going to have so much more time for activities first thing. How are you going to spend it? I recommend scheduling in something you love, such as sitting with a good coffee or doing a morning workout, to make getting out of bed a little less painful! Schedule in some tasks to make the early wake up call worth it.
10) Let your body do the work.
When you first shift your routine I understand that coffee can be a crutch to get you through the early mornings, but if after a while you’re feeling badass then I have a challenge for you. Leave it two hours after waking before you have any caffeine and allow your body to do the work, this will teach it to take control and regulate your energy levels. Then caffeine becomes a simple pleasure rather than a necessity.