Early Bird or Night Owl? Our genetics play a role in determining whether we thrive in the morning or burn the midnight oil. However, making the conscious choice to be a morning person can have a strong impact on your life.
There are very few people who bounce out of bed with a skip in their step. For the most of us, waking up early, even if we are a morning person, requires willpower. There is nothing cozier than lying between the sheets, under the duvet and blankets. Especially in the winter months when it is dark and cold outside, it is hard to listen to the alarm and throw back the covers. Instead of pressing snooze four times (more on that later) here are 3 reasons WHY you should wake up early and 4 ways HOW to make it easier to rise and grind.
First up, early risers can be happier and more productive people. A recent study in “Emotion” found that early morning routines had a correlation with higher self-reported happiness. Also, morning people are generally very proactive and are better at anticipating problems and minimizing risks. If you arrive to work at 8:30am and have already been awake for 3 hours, your brain is firing on all pistons and the sleep inertia brain fog has been burned away.
Second, morning risers have a healthier BMI and are generally more fit than their late-night counterparts. Countless studies have shown that early morning exercise can help with weight loss and muscle growth. It is easier to commit to a workout before your day at work starts because you never know what lies in your day ahead…the countless emails, or late phone calls that could prevent you from getting to the gym. Also, morning workouts strategically wake up your nervous system, get the blood flowing, kick your hormones into gear and introduce a massive amount of oxygen into the body. All of these things boost your brain’s productivity for the rest of the day.
Lastly, you can build stronger muscles if you nail 7-9 hours of sleep and if you have drifted off by 10pm. We want to hit our REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep cycle earlier than later because it is during this stage when the body is able to restore organs, bones, tissue; replenish immune cells; circulate human growth hormone to repair those muscles! As we sleep, our energy consumption is lowered and we are able to use the nutrient dense foods we eat during the day to repair muscle. Also, as we sleep our brain recharges. A rested brain is more motivated and focused. We can’t function with an uncharged battery so sleep to recover, and recover to replace, repair and rebuild.
Now that you know WHY you should be rising earlier, here are some ways to build an epic morning routine.
- Commit to two things (at least) you want to achieve before heading to work. For most this could be completing a great workout and preparing a nutritious breakfast without being rushed. For others it is studying, journaling, practicing a hobby… anything that you “don’t” have time to do in a typical day.
- Set your alarm for a time that lets you achieve your chosen activities. Pick a time (my alarm is set for 5:05am) and stick to it Monday-Friday. Creating a sleep pattern is essential for success and if you keep changing your wake-up time, you are making it more difficult for your body to establish a habit. Also, NEVER press snooze. Think of your snooze button as the anti-happy-epic-pattern button. As soon the alarm goes off, roll over, turn it off and sit up. The tone of your day stems from this moment and you don’t want to have a series of false starts as the way you begin your day.
- Set yourself up for success: lay out your gyms clothes the night before, prepare your breakfast, set the coffee up…anything that saves you a bit of work in the morning. This will make your early start more calm and enjoyable. Knowing that my coffee is ready for me when I get up, and that my favorite breakfast has already been assembled actually makes me excited to wake up. On that note, choose to enjoy the small, quiet moments. Cultivating those positive thoughts surrounding your morning routine will make it easier to stick to.
- Have an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE. Every day you get to wake up with eyes that see, a heart that beats and body that moves is a gift. Every morning, list 5 things that you are grateful for. It could be as small as being grateful for coffee (I have written this many, many times). It isn’t necessarily what you are grateful that is the important part but the act of acknowledging the things in your life that you are thankful for.
When you create space in your life for the things that you are most passionate about, the reward is far greater than the small amount of perceived effort of a 5am wakeup. It may seem challenging at first, but commit to the process and give yourself the gift of time, healthy-happy patterns, and beautiful mornings. Brew some coffee, catch the sunrise and crush your day.