There’s often a lot of debate in the productivity/entrepreneurship space as to whether it’s better to be a morning person or a night person. Invariably, most successful entrepreneurs often mention how their day starts at 4am or 5am… or some other unearthly hour. Yes, I am one of those annoying people, so I’m going to help you with tips on how to become a morning person and change your life in the process.
It’s almost as if waking up before the rooster crows is a prerequisite for success. In reality, there are people who work into the wee hours of the night who are just as successful. You just don’t hear much from them, probably because they’re still sleeping.
But all levity aside, your productivity and output are determined by the focused effort you put into the hours when you’re working (regardless if it’s day or night) and NOT some magical wake up hour. This can help lead you to a lifestyle by design, and that is what it did for me…
Forget the Old Narrative
You may notice that people who have no problems waking early will often struggle to stay awake late into the night. By 10pm, their eyelids will feel heavy like lead. Next thing you know, they’re off to bed and snoozing like babies.
These larks will then wake up early the next day and brag about how they started their morning success rituals while the world was sleeping.
On the other hand, the night owls have no problem working late into the night well past 2am… with many working until 4 or even 5am before they hit the sack. They’ll then sleep till 11am or noon.
Despite the late risers working late into the night (while the world was sleeping too), they still get a bad rep because society has been led to believe that one needs to be up at the crack of dawn to be successful in life.
The saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” … sounds good.
But if you stopped to think about it, there are many unsuccessful people who wake up in the wee hours of the morning as they drag themselves to work. They hate their jobs and earn a hand to mouth wage, while they moan about a lack of work-life balance.
So, one’s waking time doesn’t necessarily determine his/her success. It’s your actions that matter.
Why Do Late Risers Struggle to Wake Up Early?
It’s in their genes. This is not a cop out or an excuse. It’s science.
When you’re born, your chronotype and circadian rhythm will determine if you function best early in the day… or if you find your groove later in the day.
This means that if you have an early chronotype, you’ll wake up earlier feeling fresh and ready to conquer the world, but you’ll also go to bed earlier.
The reverse holds true for late risers who may wake up at 11am but start shining and thriving as the hours get later and the sky gets darker.
You can adjust your circadian rhythm and gradually try to become an early riser with effort. However, this will be a continuous work in progress and one that you’ll need to vigilantly maintain. If you don’t work at it, you’ll slide back into your old sleeping patterns because they’re genetically ‘hard coded’ into you. It’s who you are.
Ask Yourself: Why Do I Want to Be an Early Riser?
It’s imperative that you ask yourself this question before trying to wake up at 5am (or earlier) daily. You’re not in the military. No one is forcing reveille upon you to jolt you awake.
You must know why you’re doing it. Much of my “why” for wanting to become a morning person was centered around my writing. I knew that time management was crucial to success and that finding time to write a book required me to plan ahead.
If you’re busy throughout the day because of work and family commitments, and you’d like an hour or two of quiet time in the morning to do your work – that’s a good enough reason to try waking early.
Even if you’re a late riser, you may find that by the end of the day, you’re too tired to do any productive work. In this scenario, even if you’re sleeping late, you’re not doing any meaningful work at night. Netflix binges are consuming your late nights.
In situations like these, waking early will have a positive impact on your life.
However, if you’re a late riser and a dynamic individual who has no problems being productive and doing outstanding work in the middle of the night – why would you want to be an early riser?
Just because CEOs and the self-improvement gurus espouse the virtues of waking up early doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right.
You need to do what works for you. If working late and sleeping late works in your best interests, stick to it.
It’s never a good idea to jump on the bandwagon and follow the masses just because they’re chanting the same slogans.
It’s crucial to know what times during the day (or night) you perform best and do your work during those times.
Of course, this applies to self-employed individuals who have the freedom to decide their hours. If you have a day job, you’re usually bound by the working hours stipulated by the company, and may have no choice but to wake early.
10 Tips on How to Become a Morning Person
1. Pay up your sleep debt – It’s alarming to know just how many people are sleep deprived. Before becoming a morning person, you’ll want to spend 2-3 days sleeping as much as possible. Try going to bed earlier and wake up without an alarm clock.
This will ensure that your body gets all the sleep it has been deprived of. When it’s fully-rested, you’ll be able to start with a ‘clean slate.’
2. Gradually wake up 15 minutes earlier (every few days) – Since it’ll be a struggle for most late risers to wake up early, the best way to go about it will be to take the slow and steady approach.
Wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual… and repeat the process every 3 days. For example, if you’re used to waking at 11am, aim to wake up at 10.45 am. Do this for 3 days so that your body gets used to waking up at this time.
After 3 days, wake up 15 minutes earlier (at 10.30am). Once again, do this for 3 days and repeat the process until you reach the specific time you wish to wake up at daily.
NOTE: You’ll need to go to bed 15 minutes earlier too. So, change your bed time correspondingly.
3. Have a consistent sleep schedule – This is one of the most important rules to having a good sleep pattern. Do not go to bed later than normal and wake up any time you want on weekends.
You’ll want to have the same sleep/wake times DAILY. No exception on weekends or public holidays.
Since you’re always battling your body’s chronotype, you’ll be making it harder for yourself to become an early riser if you’re not consistent. Structure and routine in your sleep schedule is essential for maintaining it.
4. Do NOT hit your snooze button – It’s normal to feel ‘sleep inertia’ when you wake up in the morning. Some people shake it off faster than others, but millions of people experience grogginess, feeling tired, confusion, etc. when they first wake.
Consuming caffeine or taking a cold shower can be useful for increasing your alertness after waking. Do what works for you, but don’t keep hitting the snooze button repeatedly. Instead, wake up and give your body time to adjust and become alert.
It takes energy to sleep… and it takes energy to wake up. If you repeatedly go through this process by hitting your snooze button, your sleep will not leave you feeling refreshed – and it’ll be more difficult to become an early riser. Be willing to push through sleep inertia.
5. No caffeine after 11am – Caffeine has a half-life of about five hours. If you consume a cup of coffee at 11am, by 4pm, half the caffeine will still be in your body. By 9pm, very little of it will be left in your system.
This will make it easier for you to sleep at night. Assuming you need 7 hours of sleep a night, if you wish to wake up at 5am, you’ll need to sleep at around 9.45pm (it takes about 15-20 minutes to fall asleep).
So, plan your caffeine intake so that it doesn’t impact your sleeping time adversely. Very often, people tend to focus on their waking time without realizing that the time they go to bed is just as important.
6. Plan your meal times – Ideally, you should have dinner about 2-3 hours before bedtime. You do not want to go to bed with a full stomach. The process of digestion requires energy.
If you’re digesting food while sleeping, your body’s resources will be utilized for that process instead of healing and repairing your body. It’s difficult to wake up feeling rested when your body is working half the night.
7. Exercise regularly – It’s best to exercise early in the day. This will not only help to boost your metabolism, but you’ll be less likely to procrastinate the activity.
There are a multitude of benefits that are accrued from exercise, including more blood flow to your brain, but in this scenario, exercise will tire your body out – which is exactly what you want.
When you reach the end of the day, your body will be depleted of energy and sleep will come much more readily. This is the reason why soldiers in the military can fall asleep in seconds. Their bodies are tired from physical exertion and long for rest.
“Turn resolutely to work, to recreation, or in any case to physical exercise till you are so tired you can’t help going to sleep, and when you wake up you won’t want to worry.” – B. C. Forbes
8. Avoid screens 2 hours before bedtime – A lot of the tips in this article are about helping you sleep easily at an earlier time. If you can fall asleep earlier, you’ll wake up earlier.
One of the best ways to wind down towards the end of the day will be to avoid using your mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc. 1-2 hours before bed. These devices emit blue light which blocks melatonin in your body. This will make it more difficult for you to fall asleep, and stay asleep.
This was a tough one for me, as I am accustomed to checking my email on my phone one last time before I go to sleep. I also use the “Balance” meditation app as I fall asleep each night, so I had to find a solution…
9. Use a sunrise alarm clock – This invention is sheer genius and has been proven to work for thousands of people across the globe. A sunrise alarm clock will emit a natural orangish-yellow glow (that simulates sunlight) at a preset time to wake your body up gradually and gently.
It uses light strategically to prevent sleep inertia. Even if you’re waking up at 5am before the sun is up, these clocks can be set to create a sunrise simulation to ensure your waking process is not jarring.
There are many sunrise clock models available for sale online. I have a sunrise alarm clock that even has a bluetooth speaker sound machine and other cool features. Depending on your budget, you can get one that can be controlled with an app. Do your research and find one that suits your needs.
10. Practice good sleep hygiene – Besides the 9 tips mentioned above, there are a few other sleep hygiene pointers to abide by:
- Sleep in a cool room
- Make sure your bedroom is dark
- Avoid working in your bedroom (it’s reserved for sleep)
- Do not consume alcohol before bedtime
- Make sure your bed and pillow are comfortable and support your body well
- Avoid napping during the day
In conclusion, most late risers can get used to waking up early. It’s just a matter of being consistent and gradual in your approach. Ultimately, you must know why you’re doing it and be aware that you’ll always be fighting your ‘internal clock.’ Knowing how to become a morning person is the first step to changing your life and shifting your mindset to achieve the goals and results you want and deserve.
Make sure the juice is worth the squeeze and that waking early will significantly improve your life before you get started. The early birds may get the worms, but the night owls can be wise and successful too.
I’m Connie Ragen Green, up with the earliest creatures every morning, writing and living the lifestyle by design I had craved for decades before achieving my goals. Let’s connect and discover what our future might bring to us, shall we?