Prior to this past summer, I had never, ever considered myself a morning person.
I used to be the kind of person who enjoyed staying up late and then struggled to wake up in the morning. The kind of person who would hit the snooze button until I only had 5 minutes left to get ready, at which point I’d jump out of bed like a ninja, throw on the nearest clothes I could find and run out the door before you could say good morning.
I think it’s safe to say that most people, especially college students, have a hard time getting up in the morning. This was certainly the case for me, up until last summer when I had to start waking up before sunrise because I was working an internship from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. With traffic (welcome to Los Angeles, the only place in the world where there’s traffic at 6 in the morning), it took me about 45 minutes to get to the office, which meant I had to wake up at 5:30 am.
Yeah, 5:30 am.
The previous semester I was struggling to make it to my 10 am classes, and now I had to wake up at 5:30 am and sit through 45 minutes of traffic to then work an 8-hour day.
Given these circumstances, I knew that I was not going to be able to keep up my hectic morning ritual if I wanted to perform well at my internship, let alone survive it. The only way I was going to be able to get through it was by becoming a morning person. So that’s exactly what I did.
For two and a half months I was up at 5:30 am sharp with enough time to eat breakfast, pack my lunch, get dressed and hit the road by 6:15 am. Although I don’t wake up as early as 5:30 am anymore (I usually wake up around 8 am now), I’ve found that waking up early is one of the greatest productivity hacks of all time.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love to sleep in every now and then, but there’s something incredibly fulfilling about waking up before everybody else. You’re essentially getting a head start on your day, which makes your days feel noticeably longer and gives you more time to do the things you want to do.
Studies show that those who wake up earlier are generally more proactive, which leads to better job performance, greater career success, and higher wages. Another study of college undergraduate students found that morning type students had higher GPAs than evening types. And if you look at some of the most successful CEOs, you’ll find a common pattern—they all wake up early.
If you want to be successful, the benefits of waking up early are pretty clear. So how can you become a morning person too?
Just like with most other things, learning to become a morning person is largely a mental process.
What are your first thoughts when you wake up in the morning?
Are they about how early it is and how tired you are? Or about how grateful you are for your life and how excited you are for a new day?
These first thoughts are crucial, not only for getting up and out of bed, but for setting a positive tone for the rest of your day.
Everything starts with a thought, and you control your thoughts.” – Tweet This
This is the most important thing to understand, but because you know that I’m all about giving concrete advice that you can actually apply to your life, here are my top 4 tips on how to become a morning person:
Most people set their alarms the night before with the intention of waking up at that time, but then fail to do so. Why? Because when their alarm goes off, their brain is still half asleep and their subconscious mind tells them that they want more sleep. Their conscious mind would say it’s time to get up, but the problem is, they’re not fully conscious.
This is why it’s so important to mentally prepare yourself the night before. Tell yourself that you are going to get up as soon as your alarm goes off. That you’re not going to hit the snooze button. Visualize yourself waking up and immediately getting out of bed. Visualizing will help ingrain the idea into your subconscious.
Once you have developed the habit of getting up immediately when your alarm goes off, it will be so deeply ingrained in your mind that you won’t have to think about it anymore, and it will simply be your default physiological response. If you’re currently a snooze-button addict, however, your current default physiological response is to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep. Changing this behavior pattern will require a conscious reconditioning, but once changed, it will require no effort at all.
Another reason why most people have such a hard time waking up in the morning is because they have nothing to look forward to. But think about the days when you had something exciting planned. Did you have a hard time waking up that morning? I don’t think so. Chances are you probably had a hard time going to sleep the night before because you were so excited.
If you can find a reason to be excited to wake up in the morning, you will learn to love waking up early, no matter how physically tired you might actually be. Start your day off by doing something you enjoy (reading, writing, stretching, etc) and reward yourself for waking up early by having a hearty breakfast. Find something to look forward to later in the day and be genuinely excited for the opportunities that the new day present.
How can you possibly want to sleep all day when you have an exciting day to look forward to?
This is probably the easiest and most effective way to start your day off right. When your alarm goes off, immediately sit up and smile.
Smile as big as you can.
Then take a moment to think of a few things you are grateful for. There’s a direct correlation between gratitude and happiness, so start off your day by expressing gratitude. If you’re reading this article, that means that you have a computer with internet access, and are probably better off than the majority of the world.
If you want to establish waking up early as a habit, you will have to be consistent about it, just like with any other habit. Try your best to wake up at the same time every day, especially when you are first changing your wake-up ritual. This will make it much easier for your body’s internal clock to understand that you are establishing a new routine. Wake-up rituals are self-reinforcing, so the more you repeat your desired wake-up pattern on a consistent basis, the more you condition it into your subconscious. Once you’ve established the habit, waking up early will require no effort at all, almost as if your body is on auto-pilot.
If you’re a snooze-button addict and you’re tired of rushed, stressful mornings, it’s time to make a change. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change. You can start by setting your alarm just 15 minutes earlier than normal, and then moving down in 15-minute increments until you reach your desired wake-up time. The most important thing, however, is that you stop hitting that snooze-button. When your alarm goes off, sit up immediately. Don’t give yourself time to think about it, just do it.
Once you’re up, I promise you won’t regret it.
BONUS TIP for starting your day off with your best foot forward:
Take a Cold Shower
I honestly believe that taking a cold shower is the best way you can possibly start your day. It will instantly wake you up and keep you feeling more energized throughout the rest of the day. Check out my post on Why I Took the 30-Day Cold Shower Challenge and Why You Should Too.
Image Source: cstephen