By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Is morning a real struggle for you?
When you’re younger, in your teens or early twenties, being a night owl can have its perks. At that age, you’re looking to have fun and being groggy in the morning isn’t a big deal. But over time, your career and reaching life goals become more important. If you want to be successful at your job, staying up late and being barely functional in the mornings becomes a disadvantage.
To some extent, whether you’re a morning person or a night person may be a part of your personality. But like many other parts of who you are, you can shift your sleep-wake cycle so that your more alert and productive in the mornings.
Some creative people can adjust their work schedules to fit their periods of maximum productivity. But if you work for someone else, or you have other people in your home who schedules don’t match yours, becoming more alert in the mornings has its benefits, and there are things you can do to improve your morning functioning. Here are some of the helpful things.
Allowing enough time for sleep helps start your morning.
For a while, productivity gurus were telling us that the way to get more done was to sleep less. While that may have worked for some people in the short run, research suggests that depending on your biology; there’s a certain number of minimum hours of sleep you need each night. Less than that amount will impair your cognitive functions, lead to weight gain, and hold you back in life.
Scheduling yourself with not enough hours between the time you go to bed and the time you get up will take its toll. Don’t think you can do that Monday through Friday and then try to make up the sleep deficit by sleeping in late on the weekends. If you’re exhausted, the extra sleep may help temporarily. But changing bedtime and awakening times will make it harder for you to get adequate sleep as you move back-and-forth.
Most people require somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep. While it’s possible to learn to break that up, allowing enough hours for sleep each night improves your health. If you routinely sleep less than six hours or more than nine, you should consult a medical doctor or mental health professional.
Make going to bed a priority if you want to be a morning person.
Don’t try to borrow hours from tomorrow. No matter how tempting it is to stay up and watch the end of the movie, or play one more videogame, spending hours you should be sleeping is sure to damage your alertness and productivity the next day. Cumulatively those late-night activities could damage your physical and emotional health. Set a bedtime that allows you to get enough hours of sleep and stick to it.
Don’t dance with the snooze alarm.
Rest is most restorative when your sleep moves through the standard stages. Interrupted sleep stages don’t allow the brain to heal and prepare for the day ahead. Getting into the habit of being overtired and trying to catch a few more minutes of sleep each morning prevents you from developing a regular sleep routine.
Practice good sleep hygiene to wake up rested.
If you want to avoid being tired in the morning, you need to develop a good sleep routine. Avoid caffeine or strenuous exercise before bedtime. Turn off the electronics and avoid blue light from screens for an hour or more before your planning to go to sleep. You’re more likely to be able to fall asleep if the room is both dark and cooler. Doing all the things you can to get your body ready for sleep will help you fall asleep faster and wake up more rested.
Allow enough time for your morning ritual.
You’ll have a better day if you don’t start the day rushed and behind schedule. You can create problems for the next day when you went to bed too late and struggled to get up the next day. Leave plenty of time in the morning so that getting ready for your day doesn’t leave you stressed. Make morning something you look forward to, whether that’s your morning cup of coffee or a few minutes with your family or pets. Being chronically stressed and hurried in the morning can take all the joy out of waking up.
For a better morning, invite some sunshine into your life.
Natural light tells the brain it’s time to get moving. Being able to spend a few minutes outdoors in the sunshine improves your mood. There’s something very soothing about plants and flowers. Our bodies have developed a natural reaction to sunshine.
Psych yourself up each morning for a better day.
A positive mindset makes the morning go better, and a better morning leads to a better day. Avoid looking at what you must do today as more stress you’d like to avoid and try to view it as an opportunity. The mindset you take into the day has a significant impact on how you experience that day. When you wake up looking forward to the day, morning becomes your friend.
Taking time for breakfast makes morning pleasurable.
Incorporate some time for breakfast into your daily routine. Even a small amount of food gets the body prepared for activity. Students who eat breakfast tend to get better grades in school. Workers who have a good breakfast arrive ready to work and are clearheaded and more productive.
Straighten up after yourself for a less stressful morning.
Allowing time in the evening before bed to straighten up means you wake up in a pleasant clean environment. Make your bed each morning. Taking the time to honor your environment sets up the whole day. Make the bed, straighten things up, leave your home ready to greet you when you return. Make waking up and going to bed a part of good self-care rather than a chore that interferes with your playtime.
Being well-rested reduces the risk of burnout.
When you’re chronically tired, every task is overwhelming. Work can be stressful. People who go to work already worn out don’t have the resiliency they need and are at increased risk of experiencing burnout.
Are you ready to become a morning person?
Are you a morning person or a night owl or somewhere in between? Would it be easier to fit into your work life and your family life if you were more of a morning person? Please leave a comment and tell me your thoughts about the morning and becoming a morning person.
For more on this and related topics, please see – Sleep
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.
What if your family secrets put you in danger?
Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?
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