While it’s true that some people are naturally larks (morning people) and others are owls (night people), you need not restrict yourself to being one or the other. Yoga and meditation practices can teach you to be flexible and adaptable in body and mind, but what about habit?
If you want to take advice from the research that says morning people are more productive, happier, and healthier than people who stay up late, try these 10 steps to becoming a lark in less time than it takes you to throw your alarm clock across your bedroom.
1. Stop Saying You’re Not a Morning Person
First and foremost, watch how you talk to yourself and to others. If you’ve made it part of your identity that you thrive late at night and you are most certainly not a morning person, you’ll have a harder time breaking free from your self-imposed limitations. The more you lament morning time (and roll your eyes at people who are chipper at dawn), the worse off you’ll be.
To become a morning person (yes, it’s possible!), you will have to shift your habits of thought and speech, as much as you will your habits of action and your body clock. Watch your self-talk, and take it for a positive spin. Rather than saying, “Ugh, I’m not a morning person,” say “I’m learning to become a person who makes the most of his/her mornings.”
2. Consider the Rewards of Shifting Your Routine
Shifting the self-talk must come from a true desire to greet the potential of earlier and more productive mornings. So, get clear about why you want to make this change. Is it because you’re tired of dragging yourself to work half-asleep and grumpy? Is it because you crave some time to yourself before your kids wake up? Is an exercise or meditation routine a priority for you, and you know it won’t get done if you wait until day’s end?
Clarify your motivation and put it down in writing. Talk to friends and family for whom morning time is precious, and find out how they do it (and why). Read blogs and books about the power of the early hours, like Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning. Keep coming back to the potential rewards of waking up earlier, and light the fire inside of you that desires growth and expansion.
3. Commit to Doing What It Takes, Not Just to “Trying”
So, you know why you want to wake up earlier, but are you really wiling to do what it takes? Most people who feel defeated by the alarm clock only “tried” to wake up earlier; they didn’t commit. Make your wake-up time a non-negotiable. When you avoid using willpower to wake up early (because it’s a habit, you’re perfectly capable, and you’re going to do it no matter what), you store up your willpower reserves for other activities (like eating well, being patient, and following through on your fitness goals).
Don’t “try” to go to bed earlier, just go to bed earlier. Don’t “try” to turn your devices off one hour before bed, just turn them off and go to bed. Obviously, things happen that might throw you off course, but part of being a mature adult is setting proper boundaries and not making excuses when you know you could do better.
4. Set Your Alarm and Don’t Hit Snooze
There are few things that feel as empowering as waking up on purpose, before the sun rises, to do something your future self will thank you for. Like a good work out or a solid meditation practice, getting up early feels really good once it’s done. When you arise just before sunrise, you align yourself with nature, which Ayurveda says will help even out your energy levels all day long.
Set your alarm for your desired wake-up time (by 6am, if possible), place the phone or clock across the room, and get into bed. When your alarm goes off in the morning, do not snooze. Get out of bed, put your feet on the floor, turn off your alarm, and honor yourself for getting up and following through on your intention.
5. Say Your Bedtime Affirmations
Before you go to sleep at night, make the last thoughts you think be positive ones. If you look at the clock and tell yourself, you will only get X hours of sleep, and go to bed worried or anxious about how tired you will be when you wake up, the first thought you will have in the morning will be one of dread.
Instead, affirm to yourself that the sleep you’re about to enjoy will be restful, refreshing, and give you all the energy you need for your upcoming day. Your system will listen to you!
6. Brush Your Teeth/Wash Your Face
Once you are up and out of bed (congratulations, you did it!), head straight to the bathroom to brush your teeth and wash your face. These 2 to 5 minutes of self-care will remove the toxins in your mouth and on your face that have developed overnight, not to mention it will leave you feeling more alert and refreshed.
7. Drink a Cup of Room Temperature Lemon Water
Jumpstart your system by drinking a full glass of room-temperature water first thing in the morning. Better yet, add lemon wedges to your water to stimulate your digestive fire (agni), which will boost your metabolism. The water will naturally get things moving, and help you enjoy a mindful and healthful morning.
8. Follow the Plan to Do Something that Enlivens You
So now what? You’ve gotten up early, you’ve washed your face and hydrated your system. Now, what do you do with all this extra time? Prioritize this precious first hour of the day, and then follow the plan. This is where the rubber meets the road. Your first hour of the day becomes your dedicated personal development hour, your spiritual practice, and your opportunity to do what successful people do.
Choose meaningful activities that inspire you and have a strong return on investment. Create a routine around something you’ll be excited to do, like pulling oracle cards, reading that book you’ve been wanting to delve in to, and doing those online yoga videos you’ve been putting off all year. The Miracle Morning suggests the acronym Life SAVERS (Silence, Affirmations, Visualizations, Exercise, Read, Scribe/Journal) to give yourself the most bang for your morning buck.
9. Be Consistent!
Now that you’ve got the hang of this morning thing, remind yourself that consistency is key. The more you reinforce your morning habits, the more you’ll grow to love them. A key step to any habit is regularity, so try to keep it up, even on the weekends and while you travel.
Despite feeling like you “deserve” a morning to sleep in on the weekends, try looking at the weekend morning routine as an even more special gift to set the tone for an enjoyable and relaxing day. Anytime you disrupt your positive efforts, you delay the formation of the habit itself. Set a goal of waking up earlier for 30 days in a row, and see if the results are all the motivation you need to keep it up.
10. If at First you Don’t Succeed, Guess What … You’re Perfectly Normal!
Stick with it, even if (when) you fall off the wagon. It will likely be imperfect, as most things are, but just on the other side of the most challenging bits lays the transformation. If you want to become a morning person, become one! You’ll be glad you did.