I jump as the shrill sound of my alarm pierces the silence of the morning.
Bleary-eyed, I fumble to find my phone on the nightstand. I peer through my eyelashes and barely make out the time. Still half asleep, I hit the snooze button and roll back over. Snuggled into the warmth of my covers, I start drifting back to sleep.
Until 5 minutes later, when this entire scene plays out all over again. And again…and again.
You see, I have never been a morning person.
I’ve always been the kind of person who has not only been able to stay up late, I seemed to actually thrive on the still, quietness of night. It seemed as though my thoughts were clearer and my creativity at its peak during the nighttime hours.
The whole house would go to bed and I would spend hours upon hours soaking up the delicious free time that was ALL MINE.
As a mom to four kiddos, putting everyone else’s need before my own, making sure everything and everyone else was taken care of, I relished the solitude of the nighttime hours where I could sit in silence and do whatever it was that I wanted to do!
But there was just one problem.
I would wake up the next morning, groggy with bloodshot eyes, as my kids would be staring me in the face at the side of the bed, poking me to let me know that they’re hungry or that their sibling shook their bum at them. <insert eye roll here>
And then, to my dismay, I’d look at the clock and realize I’d only gotten about three-and-a-half hours of sleep.
“I can’t keep doing this,” I’d think to myself. “Tonight, I’m going to bed early and will get up before the kids from now on…starting tomorrow morning.”
But then I’d end up falling asleep with the baby during naptime, stay up late that night, and the vicious cycle would start all over again.
So how did I finally break the cycle?
It wasn’t easy, and I still struggle at times, but I can honestly say that I now enjoy waking up early.
I have actually become a morning person.
And I never thought I’d get here.
I never thought I would be able to re-program my body and shift my sleep cycle to one that was much better for me, and even more importantly, much better for my family.
But I did it. And I know that if I can do it, then you can, too.
How to Become a Morning Person in 5 Easy Steps:
1. Have a strategic set of alarms
When you know you need to get up at a certain time the next day, you will most likely set an alarm on your alarm clock or your phone the night before. Most people will hit snooze a few times before getting out bed, and there are even some
weird, non-human people who will jump up the minute the alarm goes off.
I am neither of those people.
I will literally, in my sleep-induced stupor, simply shut off my alarm instead of hitting snooze. And then I will later wonder why my alarm “didn’t go off”.
So naturally, I require a much more thorough approach to get me from snuggled deeply in my covers to being in a fully upright position.
I have not one, not two…but THREE alarms set to get me up in the morning.
Here are the alarms I use, from gentlest to most aggressive:
Alarm #1: Sunrise Simulating Alarm Clock. This is the one I have, but you can find many different kinds on Amazon. This clock will begin to cast a soft glow, much like a sunrise, just a little bit before your desired waking time. The idea is that the clock will simulate a natural sunrise and thus help you feel more naturally alert as you wake up for the day. I’m not entirely sure if it’s been helping my energy levels, but it is really nice waking up to a “sunrise” on an otherwise dark, pitch-black morning.
Alarm #2: Sleep Time. This app will track your sleeping patterns at night, and will gently begin to wake you when your body is in the lightest part of its sleep cycle and as close to your set waking time as possible.
Alarm #3: Alarmy. This is an alarm app that will not allow you to turn it off until you are up, out of bed, and completing a pre-set task. The tasks to choose from are: taking a picture of an object, scanning a pre-set barcode, solving a few simple math problems, or vigorously shaking your phone a set number of times. If you’re not awake and ready to start your day after using this app, then I’m sorry, there’s no hope for you. (Just kidding)
2. Look forward to something enjoyable
If catching up on emails, paying bills, or folding laundry are the first things on your to-do list, then you will never be motivated to get out of bed in the morning.
But if you have something really enjoyable to look forward to as the very first thing on your list, you may find it easier to get up.
Now, I’m not telling you to procrastinate or put off important tasks, but if you can identify something that sparks joy and plan that as the first thing you will do in the morning, it may just be the kick in the pants you need to get excited about your day.
For me, the thing that got me excited to get up in the morning and get started on my day was Bible journaling. I had discovered it one summer and found it to be so peaceful and calming, and a really wonderful way to start my days.
I would wake up before my kids got up for the day, grab some coffee, and journal in my Bible while talking with God in the peaceful quietness of morning.
3. Know your “why”
I asked myself one day why I was putting myself through this, why I was making such a big deal out of becoming a morning person when it was so much easier for me to stay up late and get up when the kids woke me up.
I needed to know my “why.” My reason for all of this. Why was this so important to me?
Well, I realized that when I dragged my tired body out of bed after my kids were already up, I was starting my day already a few steps behind.
I wasn’t ready to greet my kids with a smile. Instead, I was grumpily rushing around while I made my coffee, cooked their breakfast, and played catch-up.
I started my mornings in rushed chaos, trying to get one step ahead for the entire rest of the day. At night, my husband would kiss me goodnight and head upstairs to bed, since he had no choice but to be up bright and early the next morning for work. Instead of going up to bed to be with him, I chose to spend each evening alone on the living room couch.
I was messing up our family dynamic, and missing out on true quality time with the ones I loved the most.
When it really came down to it, I finally realized that I needed to make getting up early a priority.
The hard truth is that sometimes, the truly important things just need to get done and there’s no easy way around it. You will need to flex and strengthen the muscle called discipline and think about the impact your choices are making on those around you.
Identify your specific “why” and make that a priority.
4. Start small
Start with a small shift in your schedule. Don’t expect yourself to be able to just get up easily at the crack of dawn when your body is not used to it. Going cold turkey and doing a complete overhaul will not create sustainable results.
Begin by shifting your schedule up by only 15-30 minutes earlier each day. Once you’ve been at that schedule consistently for about a week, try moving it up another 15-30 minutes.
The key to becoming a morning person is to start small, stay consistent, and it will eventually get easier and easier. Before long, it will form into a daily habit.
I started small by setting (yet another!) alarm on my phone, but this one was programmed to go off late in the evening. I picked my bedtime, set the time on my phone’s alarm app, and decided that no matter what, I was going to drop everything and start getting ready for bed when that alarm sounded. I didn’t allow myself to stay up late anymore, which made getting up early the next morning a little bit easier.
5. Don’t think of it as punishment, but as a reward
Tell yourself this: You don’t have to get up early. You get to. You get to see the breaking of a new dawn, the hopeful beginning of a new day. You get to feel the quiet and solitude of the sweet, promise-filled morning instead of the weary, leftover of the dead of night.
Each morning, I thank the Lord for waking me up, putting breath in my lungs, and giving me the gift of another day.
Every day has a fresh, brand new set of 86,400 seconds in it. How you spend those seconds are up to you. This time is precious, so use it wisely, make the most of it, and commit to becoming a morning person.
You will thank yourself later.
You definitely CAN become a morning person
I know it’s hard to break the cycle of staying up late and sleeping later than you should. I know how difficult it is to change that because I struggled with this for many years myself (and I still slip up and stay up too late at times).
Be patient with yourself. Becoming a morning person is not something that will happen overnight, so give yourself some grace and be kind to yourself.
It’s not easy to become a morning person when you are so accustomed to burning the midnight oil. But the benefits are so worth it!
And there’s one more thing I must mention…
If you’re not currently in a season of life where a schedule like this would work for you (for example, if you’re up a lot during the night with a newborn or a teething baby, or if you’re working a part-time job at night), then don’t worry about all of this right now.
Bookmark this article for later, and come back to it when you’re able to implement these changes. I had to wait until my kids were all consistently sleeping through the night before changing my schedule. So don’t stress about it if this isn’t something you can realistically do right now.