I don’t know that I will ever completely be a morning person. At heart, I’m a Night Owl, but the older I get, the more I value good sleep and productive days. The days of teenage schedules and sleeping until the late afternoon are gone. Long gone, my friend. So now, I try to get up at a reasonable hour, even on weekends, so that I can feel good about my day. I still need some cold water splashed in my face and at least one cup of coffee before I feel awake enough to function, but I have learned a few tricks to getting up and at ’em in the early morning hours.
Set the coffee pot before you go to bed.
Kyle and I try to do this every evening, but he is better about it than I am. Probably because he usually gets up a few minutes before I do and makes the coffee anyway. Anyway, this makes your morning so much easier. You just have to get out of bed and the coffee is already there waiting for you. It’s like room service, but cheaper. Most coffee makers these days have a timer option, but if yours doesn’t, you could always just load everything and push the start button in the morning when you wake up.
Not a coffee person?
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
You could always sit out your tea or whatever you like to drink in the morning and have it all ready to go. I just think this little step goes a long way in making my morning easier.
Have a dedicated nighttime routine.
This is easier said than done, I know. When grad school is in full swing, my nights can look very different from day to day. The day before a paper is due, I am likely up late and crashing into bed at odd hours after finishing an assignment. The day after I submit something, I am likely watching TV with Kyle and spending a little time chilling out. If you have kids, I’m sure you have a thousand things going on at once just trying to get everyone the f*** to bed. So I hear you.
However, having something you do every night that signals your body that it’s time for bed is a really awesome way to get better rest and feel better in the morning. Obviously watching TV or looking at your phone would not be wise choices for this routine, but it can be something as simple as putting on lavender hand lotion, or washing your face (which is what I do). By doing something every night, your body and brain will eventually realize that it’s time for sleep.
Kyle actually told me about this idea from a podcast he listened to that discussed this need to signal your body that it’s time to wind down, and how the chemicals in our brains send those signals to our bodies. Essentially, you are creating a habit with your schedule, and therefore, creating a habit within your brain. There is more science to this notion, and feel free to nerd out with the scientific hoodoo with the podcast here.
Make your bedroom a peaceful place to be.
After you’ve found your nighttime routine to get you in sleep mode, it’s time to rest. And I mean, really rest. Making your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep is super important. Our bedroom is currently stuck in the middle of redecorating, but we try to keep it cozy in there as much as possible. Side table lighting is essential, and we like a little white noise, so we have a little heater in the winter and a fan or window air conditioner in the spring and summer. It helps drown out random street noises and animals outside.
I also don’t believe in having a television in the bedroom. I know. Gasp! I think a bedroom should be for sleep and sex only. No work or TV allowed. I will read in bed before going to sleep sometimes, and on rare occasions, Kyle and I will watch an episode of a show on a laptop in bed (like when our TV downstairs was broken and we just had to watch House of Cards or die!), but we don’t have a TV in there and I will keep it that way forever. I am also really bad to scroll on my phone for way too long when I get into bed, so that’s something I have to keep in check. I try to just set my alarm on my phone, turn it on Do Not Disturb, and plug it into the charger without scrolling. It’s very tempting and I know I will just get sucked into the mind-numbing world of Facebook or Twitter. By limiting the lights of the TV and phones, we are able to have a more sacred place to rest.
Get up as soon as your alarm goes off.
This one is really tough for me. I seriously hit snooze almost every morning, but I feel so much better when I just get up right away. I usually set my alarm for three different times at 15 minutes apart, and the middle time is when I usually get up. However, when I force myself to turn the alarm off and swing my legs around to the floor, I feel better and like I have more day ahead of me. Again, I know this is probably easier said than done for most people, but it really does make all the difference.
Get out the door. Take a walk. Get some sunshine.
This is the most important item on this list, and is the one that has literally changed how Kyle and I do mornings. This doesn’t work as well in the winter, because, you know, snow. But in getting up and immediately going for a short walk, we are completely different people throughout the day. The sunshine forces you to wake up and get going and gives you an awesome energy boost.
Our routine is to walk to the end of our road and back, which is about a mile and usually takes us about 20 minutes. We throw on whatever clothes are lying around, we don’t worry about brushing our teeth or hair or putting our contacts in, we just get our cups of coffee and leave. It’s wild that 20 minutes can change your entire mood and day, but it’s true.
You might not live in a place that you can walk a mile down the road or even want to spend your time doing that, but even just stepping outside for a few minutes can do wonders for you in the morning. Walk outside and breathe in some fresh air for a few minutes and get ready for your day.
This is especially good for when it is cold or rainy outside and you can’t take a walk. I have learned that I am almost always too exhausted by the end of the day to do a real workout, so I need to do it in the morning. By fitting in a workout in the morning, I am set up for a better day already, and can check that off my list. Again, that is not always going to be possible for everyone. My sister, for instance, already gets up at 5:30 to get to work by 7, so the thought of getting up earlier than that is miserable for her. And of course, I am not always going to be able to fit in a workout before work, but for now, I’m trying to take advantage of this luxury I have with my flexible schedule.
While the mornings are still tough for me sometimes (I mean, I totally overslept today), but I notice a difference in my productivity, my energy, and my overall mood when I get up early enough to wake up and set myself up for a good day. Morning people: how do you do it?! Give me your tips, too!