How To Turn Yourself Into A Morning Person

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If you're not a morning person, you may have found yourself jealous of those who are. Maybe you're simply in awe of all they can accomplish before the sun is even up. Do you ever marvel at those who have already hit the gym, run a few errands, and grabbed their second cup of coffee before you've even hopped in the shower? You don't have to beat yourself up over not being a morning person, because being an early riser or night owl is often not up to you. Your waking hours are dictated by your internal clock, known as your circadian rhythm, which tells your body when you're tired and when you're not.


According to Sleep Foundation, we all have a chronotype, which defines when your body is most awake and alert. "Neither chronotype is inherently better than the other; they are simply different. However, in many ways, night owls are at a disadvantage," they note. This is because many of our important daily tasks, including school and work, are typically scheduled in the morning.

Even though genetics play a large part in whether you're a morning or evening person, you can help your body change. If you've decided that your New Year's resolution is to ditch the late nights in favor of early mornings, we have some useful tips on how to turn yourself into the morning person you've always wanted to be.


Develop a nighttime routine

If your evenings typically consist of a late-night snack along with endless scrolling through TikTok or Netflix, you are going to have to make some changes if you want to become a morning person. Sleep Foundation writes that a consistent nighttime routine is essential in helping someone become a morning person. After all, ensuring that you are getting enough sleep is important for both your physical and mental health, so having a nighttime routine that allows you to not only get to bed but to sleep earlier is important.


They suggest that "you perform the same activities in the same order, night after night, before going to bed." Part of this routine will be limiting the use of electronic devices for a certain amount of time before bed, including e-readers. "These devices activate the mind and trick your eyes into thinking it is still daytime, delaying sleep." Taking a bath or shower, reading, meditating, or going for a walk are all activities that can help you wind down from the day and help you create an environment conducive to falling asleep earlier. As they note, consistency is key in helping you change your body's chronotype. The more you repeat the same routine nightly, the easier it will become to wake up earlier.


Set realistic goals

Just because you have made a New Year's resolution to become a morning person doesn't mean you're going to be able to wake up (early) on January 2nd out of sheer willpower. It's simply unrealistic to think you'll be able to make this change overnight, which is why having more manageable goals is important.


Although eight hours of sleep each night tends to be the gold standard when it comes to general recommendations, some people need more, while others need less. Figuring out how much sleep you need to function daily is important in setting those goals. According to Rise Science, your sleep debt is how much sleep you owe your body. That means if you're forcing yourself to wake up early but by doing so, you're not giving your body enough sleep, you're building up your sleep debt. They go on to explain that "once you know how long you should sleep for each night and what time you need to be up in the morning, you can count back to work out your new bedtime goal to make sure there's enough time to meet your sleep need." That won't happen overnight, and you need to set realistic expectations on how long it will take your body to adjust to this new schedule. This may involve gradually going to bed earlier to ensure that your body is getting enough rest.


Change your mindset

Becoming a morning person can be as much of a mental change as a physical one. After all, some of those who proclaim themselves to be night owls fully believe that it's almost impossible for them to be as productive as those who are early risers. That mentality can affect their ability to change their daily routine. "Depending on the kind of person that you are, early mornings will either be something to embrace or something to fear," says Headspace co-founder and former Buddhist monk, Andy Puddicombe.


Puddicomb notes that a change in your internal dialogue is important in helping your body shift from your night owl tendencies to embracing those early morning hours. If you're constantly telling yourself that you're not a morning person, it's going to be really hard to become one. Acknowledging the change and embracing mornings is a key step in successfully changing your daily routines. This change in mindset happens from the time you go to bed to when you hear that alarm go off in the morning. Making a concerted effort to be positive about waking early can make a huge difference in shifting your lifestyle.

Follow the (natural) light

One of the most important ways to become a morning person is to seek out as much natural light after waking up as possible. Jennifer Martin, president of the board of directors for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, explained to TIME that "the sun is the driver of our internal clock," because it suppresses your natural melatonin, which impacts your circadian rhythm.


She suggests getting exposure to sunlight when you wake up to help make the shift to becoming a morning person a lot easier. This could be going outside for a short, early morning walk, or simply enjoying your coffee outside. If it's cold in the mornings or still dark out where you live, light therapy lamps can also be helpful.

Sleep Foundation agrees that natural light can have a huge impact on helping someone become a morning person. "Exposure to bright light in the morning is considered one of the best ways to become more of a morning person and shift your chronotype earlier," they note. While you may love to linger in your dark bedroom when you wake up, opening your blinds and letting the light in can make a big difference in helping you wake up earlier.


Break your phone habit

This is going to be a hard one, especially if your first instinct is to grab your phone as soon as you wake up. Breaking your phone habit in the morning is a great way to become a morning person. Try to resist looking at your phone for at least 30 minutes after you wake to give yourself time to get up and move without becoming distracted. We all know that a quick glance at the phone can turn into endless scrolling, texting, or emailing, so postponing that first look allows you to focus on getting out of bed and preparing yourself to get ready for your day.


Julie Morgenstern, author of the book Never Check Email In the Morning, explains to Forbes why it's so important to resist the urge to look at your phone when you first wake up. "Those requests and those interruptions and those unexpected surprises and those reminders and problems are endless ... there is very little that cannot wait a minimum of 59 minutes." Checking your phone as soon as you wake up is simply "priming your brain for distraction," which won't help you as you're trying to become a morning person.

Move your alarm clock

Because it can be almost too convenient to hit the snooze button multiple times when your alarm is right beside you, experts agree that placing it out of reach is ideal if you're trying to become a morning person. If you use your phone as your alarm, it can also be tempting to pick it up and start scrolling first thing, which we already know is a no-no when you're trying to get up and moving.


Having to physically leave your bed to turn your alarm off helps you develop the routine of getting up when your alarm sounds, avoiding that repetitive snooze cycle that only delays when you get up. If you don't love the idea of moving your alarm, The Cleveland Clinic notes some alarms require you to do certain activities, like solving a puzzle, to turn it off. "Do whatever works to keep you from hitting snooze," psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine specialist Michelle Drerup, PsyD, DBSM explained.

Track your goals

You've decided to change your sleeping patterns for a reason. Regardless of whether you want to be a morning person because you think you'll be more successful at your work or school, you feel you can make better use of your waking hours if you're up early, or because studies show that morning people are more proactive, it's important to track your goals and progress as you start to implement these changes.


Healthline suggests that you keep track of your mood, energy levels, and even your productivity as you begin your journey to waking up earlier. It can be tough to continue to make changes if you aren't sure if they're making a difference. By noting these changes, you can see the positive effects waking earlier has on your life. That can mean the difference between sticking to your new routine or hitting that snooze button over and over again.

Make a schedule

If you've made the decision to start waking up earlier, you probably know it's not going to be easy. One way to help you stay on track is to create a schedule for yourself to follow. Schedules can help because they aid in creating new habits for your body to follow. "Habits eliminate the need for self-control," author Gretchen Rubin writes in her book Better Than Before. "Habits make change possible by freeing us from decision-making."


However, if you're going to get in the habit of waking up early, you're also going to need to get in the habit of going to bed early, and that is where a schedule can be effective. Scheduling your day to include a nighttime routine that can ensure that you get the proper amount of sleep your body needs, while also allowing you to wake up earlier, can be the key to successfully becoming a morning person. Creating a schedule that is realistic and flexible will allow you to shift your sleep patterns until they simply become a habit.

Shift your mealtimes

If you want to become a morning person, you may need to start looking at what time you eat dinner. Studies have shown that those with a late chronotype tend to eat their meals later in the day (via PLOS One). Not only do they eat dinner later, but the quality of what they are eating differs as well. "The circadian preference towards eveningness is associated with a delay in meal timing, the breakfast skipping habit, engagement with excessive consumption during night time, lower protein and vegetables intake, as well as increased sucrose, sweets, caffeine, and alcohol intake," one study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reads.


Becoming a morning person may not be as easy as setting your alarm a few hours earlier every day. Instead, it may involve a complete lifestyle shift, including when and what you eat. Many people don't realize the correlation between their mealtimes and the quality of their sleep, but research shows that consistent later mealtimes can have a big effect on your circadian rhythm (via Cell). If you're serious about becoming a morning person, you may need to take a look at your eating habits first and begin to shift what and when you're eating.


Developing a consistent morning exercise routine can not only help you transition to becoming a morning person, but your overall health will benefit as well. Studies have shown that exercising in the morning may impact your natural circadian rhythm, which will eventually make it easier for you to wake earlier (via the Journal of Physiology). Incorporating natural light into your morning workout can give you an extra burst of energy that will help you feel more energized. Whether that's a walk or run outside, or working out in an area exposed to natural light, getting that added dose of light will provide added benefits to your exercise routine.


Shifting your workout times to earlier in the day can have the same impact on your body as shifting your mealtimes and your bedtime. Slowly shifting your daily schedule earlier and earlier will allow your body's circadian rhythm to gradually shift as well, making your morning wakeups easier — as long as you stay consistent. You may also find it easier to exercise regularly in the morning, as your workout time won't be affected by other factors that could impact your day.

Watch your caffeine intake

Nothing tastes better than that morning cup of coffee, but it's the later afternoon caffeine boost that may be causing you more harm than good. According to Rise Science, caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours, which can impact when you should be having that last coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverage if you're trying to avoid it affecting your sleep schedule. One study shows that you should limit caffeine at least six hours before bedtime if you don't want it to negatively affect your ability to fall asleep (via Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine). There's nothing worse than doing all this work to try to become a morning person, only to be up all night thanks to a late afternoon iced coffee.


If you struggle with not having the coffee you're used to drinking later in the day, try substituting it for a different, non-caffeinated beverage. Sometimes it's just about maintaining the habit and not necessarily the caffeine. Sleep Foundation recommends limiting your coffee intake to less than 400 milligrams per day, which, according to the FDA, is about four or five cups of coffee.

Be consistent

Becoming a morning person isn't going to happen overnight. To shift your internal clock you're going to need to create a routine and be consistent with that routine. That means waking up early on weekends as well as weekdays. "If someone says, 'I want to be more of a morning person during the week, but I want to sleep in on the weekends,' that's not going to work," Philip Gehrman, a clinical psychologist who directs the Sleep, Neurobiology, and Psychopathology lab at the University of Pennsylvania, told TIME.


Healthline also notes that becoming a morning person doesn't mean your days of enjoying a leisurely morning in bed are gone for good. If you're on vacation or have had a particularly tiring week, it doesn't mean you can't indulge in the odd sleep-in, but keeping a consistent schedule as much as possible will help deliver the results you're looking for when it comes to becoming a morning person. However, when you're first transitioning to an earlier wake-up time, you should maintain the same schedule during the weekends that you have during the week for optimum results.

Have something to look forward to

It can be difficult to feel energized in the morning if you don't have something to look forward to, which is why Jennifer Martin, president of the board of directors for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, tells TIME that planning something special for your mornings can help you want to get out of bed earlier. "Now is the time to go buy your favorite coffee or pick up some pastries to have when your alarm goes off at 5 a.m.," she said. "You're not dreading it if you think of that."


She also suggests booking an exercise class, scheduling an important phone call, or some other activity you've been trying to find time to do early in the morning to help entice yourself out of bed. Maybe it's just spending an hour alone before the rest of your house begins to wake, or finally taking that yoga class that you've been wanting to try. You've decided to become a morning person for a reason, so do everything you can to make the most of this extra time you now have it.