How I Tricked Myself Into Becoming a Morning Person—and How You Can, Too
I remember my college self once saying that the "adult world' would be much less stressful than my current college life. I felt like I was always busy running from classes to meetings to study sessions and then trying to find an outfit for a date. I laugh at my *extremely* naive college self several years later, since the "adult world" doesn't allow most of us to start our day at noon or squeeze in a 3 p.m. run simply because the weather is beautiful. I quickly realized that if I wanted to accomplish all of my goals each day, I had to wake up earlier. Like, before the sun earlier. But that was something I never thought I would be capable of.
When I began working my first "big girl" job, I quickly found myself exhausted at 5 p.m., with barely enough energy to whip up dinner (much less sneak in a run beforehand). My weight started to creep up, as I was spending most of the day in a sedentary state and then coming home to sit on the couch—which was not like me. I finally decided I would try taking a morning workout class and see how it went.
I absolutely loved my first early morning workout class, and it left me with a great sense of accomplishment. It felt empowering to work up a sweat before most of the world was even awake, and I felt energized—until about 2 p.m.
Many of us know the afternoon slump all too well, but after waking up an hour before my normal wake-up time, I was really feeling it. My new morning workout regimen stopped seeming so great after all. Maybe I was just destined to be a night owl, I thought.
I finally realized I needed to create a sleep schedule and find a relatively consistent wake-up time every day, instead of going back and forth from waking up at 5:30 one morning for a cycling class and then sleeping in until 7 a.m. the next. Setting my alarm for 6 a.m. most mornings helped give me a little more balance, in that I had some flexibility to get up 30 minutes earlier for class or 30 minutes later if I *really* needed some extra sleep.
Mornings when I didn't have a class scheduled, I would get up and brew a pot of coffee, spend some time reading and then either run out the door for a workout or a few errands. Then I wouldn't have to come home stressed about dinner or feel guilty for plopping on the couch afterwards, because I had already meal prepped or vacuum the floors to my favorite Spotify playlist that morning.
In trying to become a morning person by creating a sleep schedule, I actually looked forward to engaging my brain first thing in the a.m. And because I was excited to squeeze in some "me time," I didn't want to crawl back under the covers. The excitement of the cozy aroma of coffee filling my house (and then my favorite mug) along with having a quiet time to read—something I rarely do outside of work these days—is just the motivation I need to get out of bed and get moving. I have now even started teaching barre classes that require me to leave my house around 5:30 some mornings—and even so, I still make my coffee and get a quick reading session in. I think this means I have achieved "morning person" status!
If you don't enjoy exercise, there's no need to try to run out the door first thing and get in a workout. Most of the time, it will lead to hitting "snooze" and ditching your sweat sesh. Easing into the day with journaling, baking some healthy muffins or picking up where you left off in your library book is a much more enticing way to start the day, don't you think?
And who knows, after 20 minutes of doing something good for the soul, you may be ready to get out there and take a walk while listening to your favorite podcast or meet up with a friend to bike a nearby trail. Don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you!
Related: 9 Foods to Help You Sleep