We get it – mornings can be tough.
Some people just aren’t cut out for mornings, and a lot of the time, the sound of your alarm clock can be one of the most unpleasant things in the world.
Although there isn’t any one-stop solution to magically becoming a morning person, there are a number of things you can do to make the act of getting up as pain-free as possible.
Here are some of our top tips for starting each day with the energy you need.
Step #1: Be Consistent
As with all healthy habits, the most important rule in mastering your morning routine in consistency.
We all know the power of repetition in getting ourselves used to a certain way of doing things, and it comes to sleep, this kind of regularity is more important than ever.
The good news, though, is that mastering your wakeup time is actually far, far easier than simple “mind over matter.”
Your body wants to establish routines.
Nothing makes it happier than being able to tell what’s going to happen next, since that allows it to get all its systems geared up and ready to go.
Because of this, it’s really best to make both your bedtime and your wakeup time as consistent as possible – even on the weekends.
Wakeup time is especially important here, since if you sleep in too late even once, it’s often much harder to get to sleep that night.
Your body has a precisely-calibrated internal clock that controls the release of all kinds of hormones over every 24-hours cycle.
The more regular you can make your sleep/wake routine, the easier it will be to both wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night.
It might seem like holding yourself to such a rigid schedule will cause you to miss out on life.
But while this might be true in some cases, the more time you can spend feeling awake throughout the day, the more richly you’ll be able to enjoy your life.
So do yourself a favor, and make consistency a priority in your morning routine.
Step #2: Set Your Alarm out of Reach
Now of course, the main challenge in establishing those kinds of routines is self-discipline.
Even if you can make yourself set an alarm for roughly the same time every day, actually getting up when you hear that alarm is another question entirely.
It’s all too easy to keep hitting snooze the minute you hear that alarm – especially if you sleep with your alarm clock right next to your bed.
Because of this, it’s often helpful to set your alarm across the room from your bed, or at least somewhere that will force you to stand up in order to make it stop ringing.
Now, since many people use their cellphone for an alarm and often like to sleep with their phone within arm’s reach, this might seem like a bit of a sacrifice on your part.
The thing is, though, there’s a growing body of research out there to suggest that your cellphone might be a less effective sleep aid than you might expect.
While scrolling through your various feeds might seem like a simple way to power down for the night, late-night electronic use actually tends to make it harder to get to sleep, not easier.
This is because the LEDs on most modern electronics emit blue wavelength light, which tends to be problematic for your circadian rhythms.
This kind of light in particular disrupts the regular release of the hormone melatonin, which delays the onset of drowsiness.
So, setting your cellphone off to the side might actually be more helpful than you realize!
Step #3: Let the Light In
And if your body appreciates darkness when you’re trying to get to sleep, it’s no less dependent on light when you’re first waking up.
There are a couple reasons for this.
First of all, there’s the simple fact that lights tends to wake you up.
If you leave your blinds open at night or invest in any kind of wakeup light, you’ll likely find that the gradually brightening rays make it easier for you to wake up at your own pace.
Most alarm clocks tend to be pretty jarring, wrenching people out of sleep regardless of what part of the sleep cycle they happened to be in.
If this happens during REM sleep or any of your other deep sleep stages, you’ll likely have a pretty tough morning.
Sudden awakenings lead to increased sleep inertia – that is, you’ll find it more difficult to wake up and get ready for your day.
Far better to give your body time to ease its way into the morning with a bit of light.
This gives it the time to wrap up deep sleep before the alarm goes off, saving you the headache of a rude awakening.
Incidentally, many people find that gentle-wake alarm clocks can help bring about a pretty similar effect.
Like wakeup lights, these alarms begin soft and gradually increase in how noticeable they are until you’re finally awake.
Again, this allows your body the time it needs to finish whatever it’s doing and steel itself for the coming day.
Step #4: Stop Hitting Snooze
Now, you might be thinking that an even simpler way to ease yourself into the morning is built into your alarm already: the snooze button!
Many people are in the habit of hitting snooze at least a couple times before they finally get out of bed – the rationale being that they’re sneaking in some extra sleep while they psychologically prepare themselves for getting up.
Unfortunately, though, this kind of reliance on “snooze” has a strong tendency to backfire if you’re not careful.
Hitting the snooze button is not the same thing as a gentle-wake alarm.
Instead, it’s more like a series of harsh awakenings, each of which forces you to go through the wakeup process all over again.
Here’s how it works.
Often after you hit “snooze” the first time, you’ll drift back to sleep.
If you were in the middle of REM sleep when you were first woken up, your brain treats your morning alarm like some random interruption in the middle of the night, and tries to pick up where it left off.
If you’re lucky, it might wrap up with deep sleep during this time, and you really will feel better the next time your alarm strikes.
The much more likely alternative, however, is pretty much the exact opposite.
Nighttime interruptions often cause your brain to reset the REM cycle, beginning with the deepest stage of sleep.
When your borrowed time finally runs out and the alarm goes off again, you’ll most likely feel more tired than ever – and remember, this kind of grogginess can sometimes last for hours.
Add to this the fact that the snooze button is often unpredictable and can sometimes eat up your morning without you even realizing it, and you see why most experts recommend simply picking a regular wakeup time and sticking to it.
Step #5: Get Better Sleep
Finally, another incredibly effective way to make your mornings easier is to just get better sleep to begin with.
Unfortunately, this is always much easier said than done (which is why we saved it for last).
Mostly, it just involves making your sleep a priority.
It’s easy to cut back on sleep when you feel like you’re running out of time, but always remember just how big a difference sleep can make on your basic quality of life.
The more you put into it, the more awake and productive you will be.
One of the best ways to improve your sleep is actually quite simple: improve your sleeping environment!
Obviously pretty much impossible to get high-quality sleep if you can’t get comfortable.
Because of this, getting a high-quality mattress makes getting to sleep far less of hassle – and once you’ve been getting the right amount of sleep, waking up becomes a breeze.
Often, people hesitate before investing in a new mattress, likely because of the inflated prices you’ll find in your local mattress store.
Far easier to just stick it out until your current mattress becomes truly unbearable – right?
Well, actually, thanks to an innovative, new-school mattress sales technique, finding a high-quality mattress has become more affordable than ever.
Moreover, in addition to improving the quality of your mattress, there are a number of helpful lifestyle changes you can make to get to sleep and stay asleep more easily.
Some examples include:
- Developing nightly rituals to help get your mind powered down for sleep
- Setting up a “buffer zone” before bedtime where you stop doing any kind of stressful work
- Taking up meditation, especially before bed
- Getting regular exercise
- Reserving your bedroom for sleep and sex alone
Mornings can be a challenge, but with just a couple tweaks to the way you do things, you’ll find yourself waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in no time.
Don’t worry – you’ve got this!