5 Small Steps Toward Becoming a Morning Person
By Sheryl Kraft
Are you an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type of person?
Or do your habits fall on the opposite end of the spectrum—still wide-awake at one o'clock in the morning, still melted into your pillow at 9 a.m.?
Expert opinions on morning people and night owls are as varied as the types of sheets lining store shelves. Some say most people fall somewhere in between, while others cite a genetic link that determines the preference for living life as an early or late riser.
I've always had a tough time waking in the mornings. Not the type to kick off the covers and hit the ground running, I'm more the "10 more minutes" type—a fan of the snooze function, a true bed malingerer. My husband, on the other hand, dashes out of bed well before his alarm even thinks about buzzing, cheerful and firing on all cylinders.
Whether it's possible to alter your circadian rhythm or your genes is debatable but likely improbable.
Perhaps, however, some of these tips can help move the needle in the direction of becoming more like the person who greets each new day with a huge smile (don't you just want to hate them?).
Here are some tips to help your mornings become less of a nuisance and more of a joy!
- Watch what you consume before bed. Sometimes you must think ahead. As tempting as that extra glass of wine, cup of coffee or sugary scone might be, food and beverages can affect your sleep. For example, alcohol may help you fall asleep faster but will disrupt your sleep during the night; it also prevents you from getting into the deeper stages of sleep. The effects of caffeine can last up to six hours (and beyond, for some). Like alcohol, it, too, reduces the time you are in a deep stage of sleep. And the more sugar you eat, the more you'll wake during the night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
- Eat right. It's not just the foods you eat the night before, but eating to power up your energy at breakfast will set you on a good path for the rest of the day. The lists these things as the core of a healthy breakfast: whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy and fruits and vegetables. The combination of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and a small amount of fat are not only healthy, but will fill you up for hours.
- Exercise—or just move. You might not have time to exercise in the morning, but just five to seven minutes of exercise in the morning can help pump out endorphins and boost your mood. So can stretching—and you can even stretch while you're still in bed (if you're a bed malingerer, like me).
- Pump up the music. Calm music makes you relaxed (that's why it's so nice to fall asleep to it), so wouldn't the opposite be true? Upbeat music can help elevate your emotions (in a good way), increase your energy and reduce your stress levels, all to help you get off on the right foot in the morning.
- Put your clock across the room. This one is obvious but may be so obvious that you haven't considered it: Placing your alarm clock on the opposite side of the room is a not-so-subtle "trick" to get you to leave your bed. And, by the time you get there, it's likely you'll forget all about hitting the snooze button!