Isn't it great? Jumping out of bed before your alarm, ready to take on your day? You're up before everyone else which means you get to get a yoga flow in, journal a little, maybe watch some news or read the paper. You eat a nutritious breakfast and walk out the door feeling calm, and strong, and ready to take on your day.
Uhhhhhhmmmmm, probably not, right? is it more like this?
Alarm goes off, hit snooze. Alarm goes off hit snooze. Alarm goes off, throw phone across room. Wake up 10 minutes before you are supposed to leave, throw on whatever is first in your closet, barely have time to throw your hair in a pony tail, brush your teeth, and run out the door with a plan to swing by Starbucks for a Venti somethingoranother to get you to lunch where you can then maybe properly eat something that will truly fuel you.
I have been both. And let me tell you, the first option has an unbelievably positive effect on the rest of my day. Like, I can't even describe. Seriously.
But I probably don't have to sell you on wanting to be a morning person, do I? You probably either already are, wish you were, or resigned yourself to never being one. If you really aren't one, then that is not a problem. Some people seriously aren't. BUT, if you are someone who still thinks they have a shot at being a morning person, I wanted to offer up a short list of helpful ideas to get you up and bumpin' before you can say "Venti Americano with 3 shots of espresso."
1. If you want to get up early, you are going to have to go to bed early.
Sorry. I know you probably want something easier, but there is just no way around it. You can't eat healthy if you don't have the food in your pantry already, and you can't wake up at the crack of dawn if you stayed up until the wee hours of the morning. Well, some people can - but I bet if you were one of them you wouldn't be reading this post.
When I am in my prime morning mode, I am hitting the hay no later than 10 - and I am doing it consistently. Now, everyone's sweet spot is different. In high school, I knew I only needed a solid 6 hours to function optimally. That is no longer the case. But through trial and error I have found that if I consistently am in bed and asleep by 10, after about a week of putting in the time, I am usually waking up before my alarm.
As with most things, if you want it, you have to plan around it and stick to the plan consistently. It doesn't just happen overnight.
2. Use the SleepCycle App.
I swear by this thing. As I previously stated: I know my sleep cycles. I know what time I need to be in bed by and I know how long I have to stick to the routine to get results. But sometimes even going to bed early doesn't do the trick. In times like these I remember "there is probably an app for that." And there is.
Enter SleepCycle. This app is great for a couple of reasons. The first reason is it uses increasing volume to wake you up. So you're not being BLASTED by a buzzer shaking you out of your REM cycle and swinging your fists in a 5 foot radius around your body. No, this app uses a gentle, increasing alarm to slowly wake you up. The way you start your day matters, and I would rather gradually wake up to the world than be jolted awake by a buzzer.
Secondly, this app also times the increasing alarm very selectively. Here is where my friends usually get creeped out, but stick with me. You pick a window of time you would like to be up, and set the phone face down on your night stand (like you always do). Then it tracks your breathing. By tracking your breathing, it is able to tell when you are in your lightest phase of sleep, and initiates the gradually increasing alarm.
Seriously, the way I wake up when I am using this things is crazy. I've never felt anything like it. My dreams slowly transition to reality, and all of the sudden...I am awake. It's really cool. Download it.
3. Have something to get your ass out of bed.
We all need motivation. There has got to be something outside of your bed that is better than going back to sleep. Now, this doesn't work if you aren't doing the previous steps either. You can't rely on good old motivation to get you out of bed if you stayed up until 3 am watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey. (Who, me???) But, if you are going to bed at a consistently early time, and are gradually waking up, then it's easier to soundly reason with yourself that you have something worthwhile waiting for you on the other side of that bedroom door.
Here is where I let the lines get blurred. I don't think it has to be anything "healthy." If a butter croissant drizzled in chocolate gets you out of bed, then who cares. Go for it. Here is why: it's my strong belief that once you start waking up early and making healthy choices, you just kind of start to want to keep making them. I bet if you wake up early for a month, you end up not needing a sugar craving to get you out of bed. I bet you find healthier replacements along the way. At least that has been my experience.
4. Figure out a morning routine.
SERIOUSLY. I can't tell you the difference this made in my health and how I live out every day. Everyone is different, and not everyone is an organized routine freak like me....but I do think that a little routine can do everyone good. Read any successful autobiography, listen to any podcast featuring anyone who excels in their craft, and they will all have a morning routine.
My prime morning routine went like this: Wake up, make a cup of tea, roll out my yoga mat, do 4 or 5 sun salutations, meditate for 10 minutes, spend half an hour to an hour picking out my outfit, doing my hair, doing my makeup, turn on the morning news and eat a small breakfast, watch the main headlines, grab my laptop, and head out the door.
Now that I am doing this whole Mexico thing, it looks a little more like this: Wake up, brush my teeth and do my makeup, throw my hair in a pony and set up my classroom to teach for about 2 hours. Chris makes me a cup of coffee and I complete work. Then I clean up the classroom, clean up the apartment, settle in and meditate and journal for however long feels right. I work on ACE stuff for a little bit and then we have a late breakfast. It's not as much of a routine as I would like, but it's what fits in with our lifestyle right now, which is what it's all about. Flexibility with a dose of commitment.
5. Get up before everyone in your household.
I would be willing to bet that your morning routine goes right down the shitter when your boyfriend/husband/wife/children/whoever wakes up. Right? The only time you can guarantee to do things at your own pace on your own time is when you have zero distractions. And let's be honest. You DESERVE some time just to yourself.
So, if your first one is up at 6, maybe you need to get up at 4. I know it sounds redic, but if you want some time to yourself, then that's what it might take. Waking up at 4 might mean going to bed at 9. This might mean you don't get to watch that last episode of Law & Order (I don't know why I just picked that show, what am I, 50?) Anyways, you get the idea. If you want to set up your day on your terms, and you want to have a little peace and quiet while you do it, you have to cut out and rearrange some of the things you are doing.
For me it meant I had to not watch Netflix at night. I had to shut the damn thing off at 9 and start getting ready for bed if I wanted to be up by 5. Then by default I ended up listening to podcasts in bed, which flooded my mind with positive things instead of Pretty Little Liars (once again...who, me???)
So that's pretty much it. I'm not really good at a lot of things, but I have definitely dialed in how to be a morning person. And to be clear, this was not a natural progression for me. When I was bartending in college, there was a stretch where I could NOT, under ANY circumstances, get up before 1:00 pm. Hand to God.
So if I can do it, I bet you can too!