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If one of your aspirations for this year — and maybe all years past — is to become a morning person, and you’ve failed, you may need to break up your goal into small chunks. After all, being someone who naturally rises with the sun is an appealing quality, particularly since this type of person reaps all sorts of benefits. Research has indicated that morning lovers are more likely to eat healthy throughout the day, they’re more productive, have less anxiety, sleep more soundly, and don’t procrastinate. Sounds ideal, right? Here, a day-by-day guide to finally becoming an earlier riser in a month:
Day 1: Journal on ‘why’ you want to be a morning person.
What to do: The night before you start your 30-day journey, take time to write about why you want to become a morning person. This sets the tone for your month — and will boost your spirits.
Why: “Starting the day with an intention, setting up a time to wake and getting up when you promise yourself you will begin your day in an intentional fashion. To do this, you should figure out why you want to be a morning person. You are in control of what comes next. Taking time to understand your ‘why’ frees you from the endless indecision of ‘if’ you are going to engage the task and allows you mental energy to focus on the ‘how’ it is going to happen. Making up your mind is key.” — Dr. Jeffrey Ditzell, a psychiatrist.
Day 2: Prepare the night before.
What to do: What do you need for success in the morning? Is it workout clothes? Your coffee maker brewing the moment you wake? Whatever it is, prep before you head to bed.
Why: “In order to perform at high levels, it is important to litter the path of your life with our tools or supports. Setting the alarm clock out of reach (across the room is best), with two or three backup alarms at two to three-minute intervals, will ensure that you are conscious. The hard part is over, you are awake, not how to resist the siren call of your warm bed!” —Dr. Jeffrey Ditzell, a psychiatrist.
Day 3: Add a personal goal to spend 20 minutes outside before work.
What to do: Rather than rolling right out of bed, opening your computer and checking email, make an effort to breathe fresh air in the A.M.
Why: “Spending time in nature can help reduce stress, and observing the natural beauty of the world helps us keep a healthy perspective on our lives to start the day. If it’s too chilly outside, exercising or meditating in front of a window with natural light counts too. You’ll realize this time of day is really beautiful, and you’ll look forward to your daily walk before you know it.” — Liv Bowser, a meditation and mindfulness teacher, founder of Liberate.
Day 4: Create a nightly routine that you can add to each night.
What to do: Everyone follows a different routine throughout the day, but if you haven’t had one in a while, it’s time to create a way to unwind before shut-eye.
Why: “Try turning off your phone or tablet about an hour before bed. The blue light coming from your phone affects the production of melatonin in your body, affecting the amount of sleep you get. Instead of scrolling through social media, try picking up a book or listening to relaxing music. You can even add skincare to your nightly routine. With a set routine to follow each night, you’ll find yourself adopting healthy habits that allow you to relax in a more natural, gradual way.” — Stephanie Mansour, health and fitness expert.
Day 5: Set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier than it is right now.
What to do: To ease into getting up earlier, start in small increments, so you won’t lose steam throughout the month.
Why: “If your goal is to run a marathon, you probably aren’t going to set out and run 26 miles your first day of training. The same is true for other types of habits. Starting with small changes and building upon them until you reach your goal will set you up for long-term success. Let’s say your goal is to wake up at 5:00 a.m. every day, and you currently wake up at 8:30 a.m. The best first step would be to start waking up a little earlier, maybe 8:00 a.m. or even 8:15 a.m for about a week. The following week you can set your alarm just a little earlier, and before you know it, you will be at your target time.” — Serena Poon, celebrity chef, certified nutritionist and reiki master.
Day 6: Now, go to bed ten minutes earlier.
What to do: Now that you’ve tried getting up a little bit earlier, now it’s time to start going to bed earlier. This will make it easier to get up since you won’t sacrifice sleep to be a morning bird.
Why: “Becoming a morning person won’t happen overnight, so it’s important to give your body time to adjust. Start off by heading to bed or starting your nightly routine just 10 minutes earlier than usual. When this starts to feel natural, probably after a few days, head to bed 10 minutes earlier than that. By giving your body time to get used to a new bedtime, you’re setting yourself up for success in the long run.” — Stephanie Mansour, health and fitness expert.
Day 7: Add a gratitude practice first thing in the morning.
What to do: You can journal in an old-fashioned notebook, the notes section of your phone, a Word or Google Doc, or just say your gratitude out loud. The point is just to make sure you practice.
Why: “By practicing gratitude, we can actually train ourselves to spot the positives in life. Try to begin every day like this: right before you open your eyes, think of three things you’re grateful for. This will become your indication that there is an exciting day ahead of you, and what’s to follow is your feet hitting the ground.” — Liv Bowser, meditation and mindfulness teacher.
Day 8: Connect with human beings.
What to do: Is there a friend you admire who quickly wakes with the sun? See if they will be your new accountability partner for your morning journey. Or, are there ten friends you need to catch up with but haven’t? Get in touch with them ASAP.
Why: “Now more than ever, it is extremely important to take time to connect with people you love, co-workers, strangers, whomever. Human connection is what inspires us, changes us, sparks us. As the day goes on, we feel more drained and less motivated for a call, so make time for morning check-in calls with a loved one to fill up your cup. Plan out your week and decide who you’ll call every day, maybe even on your morning walk.” — Liv Bowser, meditation and mindfulness teacher.
Day 9: Track your sleep.
What to do: If you are struggling to wake up in the A.M., it could be because you’re not investing in high-quality sleep, and you’re tired. The only way to know how you’re resting is if you track.
Why: “Include the time you fell asleep, the time you woke up, and your energy level in the morning. By taking note of how you feel in the morning and throughout the day, you’ll be more motivated to either change the time you go to bed or keep up the good work. Seeing your progress on paper is a great way to stay motivated throughout the month.” — Stephanie Mansour, health and fitness expert.
Day 10: Have dinner earlier.
What to do: Rather than heating something quick late at night because you have the munchies, give yourself a set dinner time around 6 or 7 p.m. Put it in your calendar, so you don’t forget.
Why: “If you eat dinner later in the evening, try gradually moving dinner earlier and earlier. Night people are more likely to drink more caffeine and eat dinner later in the day, both habits that can disrupt sleep. So if you find yourself eating close to the time, you would like to start going to sleep, try eating earlier and earlier each day. This gives your body time to digest before bed, making it easier to fall asleep each night.” — Stephanie Mansour, health and fitness expert.
Day 11: Stop staring at screens before bed.
What to do: It may be hard to pull yourself away from Netflix, TikTok, etc., but it is better for your sleep hygiene, and thus, your ability to get up in the morning.
Why: “Research shows that the light from screens can disrupt your sleep — not to mention over-stimulate you with information-overload. Keep things simple at night for a more restful sleep and an easier morning.” — Emily Vartanian-Tuttle, the founder of the guided meditation company, Pause + Purpose.
Day 12: Write down what’s on your mind before bed.
What to do: Instead of staring at the ceiling, wide-awake, going through tomorrow’s to-do list, write them down!
Why: “This will allow your mind to settle down instead of constantly checking back in to see if you’ve forgotten anything. Keep a pen and paper near your bed if you’re someone who is prone to distracting thoughts.” — Emily Vartanian-Tuttle, the founder of Pause + Purpose.
Day 13: Exercise for ten minutes.
What to do: No matter if you enjoy yoga, weight-lifting, high-intensity interval training, running or a walk outside, get your body moving in the morning.
Why: “This will help you to boost your energy levels and sustain energy throughout the day if you tend to wake up groggy and feel like you want to go back to bed. By jumping straight into a workout, you don’t have time to think about how tired you are. In addition, working out makes the most of a time when you may otherwise be less productive due to grogginess. Getting your body moving is a natural way to make you alert. This routine will help your body naturally wake up.” — Hanna Stensby, M.A., a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Day 14: Dive into work.
What to do: After you’ve finished working up a sweat, practicing gratitude and brewing your cup of Joe, keep the productivity going by tackling a hard work to-do list item.
Why: “The quiet hours of the early morning are the best time to be productive. For people looking to engage in deep work, I suggest using those hours to write, create, strategize, or otherwise focus on work that matters.” — Stacy Ennis, author, speaker, and founder of Nonfiction Book School.
Day 15: Give up social media and streaming for a day.
What to do: Just for this one 24-hour period, give up social media and streaming for a full 24 hours. This really gives your brain the chance to disconnect and recharge.
Why: “To really rip off the bandaid, sign off social and streaming. The best way to rewire your brain is to reclaim your attention. Powering down for a set period of time each night can work well, but some of us struggle to peel away from social media or Netflix at night.” — Stacy Ennis, author, speaker, and founder of Nonfiction Book School.
Day 16: Read before bed
What to do: Pull out your e-book reader or a hardback, and see how many pages you can get through in twenty minutes.
Why: “As an author and lifelong book lover, I’ll take any opportunity to share the power of books. There’s something about a good book before bed to help quiet the mind and ease you into a restful night’s sleep. Choose easy reads — think popular fiction — and read for 15 to 30 minutes each night. Pretty soon, your brain will pay attention to this nighttime cue.” — Stacy Ennis, author, speaker, and founder of Nonfiction Book School.
Day 17: Listen to a sleep story.
What to do: There are plenty of apps, including Headspace and Calm, that now offer bedtime stories, much like the ones you enjoyed as a kid. Only now, they’re made for adults.
Why: “If you’re struggling to adjust to a new routine and have trouble falling asleep earlier, listen to Calm’s Sleep Stories. Meander through the flowers of France, get to know cute, sleepy pandas — there are ample stories in the app waiting to lull you to sleep.” — Stacy Ennis, author, speaker, and founder of Nonfiction Book School.
Day 18: Take sleep-supportive supplements.
What to do: Research the type of supplements you are comfortable taking, and then give one a chance before bed with a small glass of water.
Why: “Taking a high-quality natural sleep supportive supplement before bed can help you feel rested and ready to take on the day in the morning. I personally recommend supplements that contain relaxing ingredients such as GABA, melatonin, and magnesium before bed. Natural supplements can support your body in finding an ideal sleep cycle and fully restoring.” — Serena Poon, celebrity chef, certified nutritionist and reiki master.
Day 19: Add joy to your morning routine.
What to do: Close your eyes and think about something small that brings you great pleasure. Maybe it’s sunshine on your face. The perfect cup of tea. A meaningful yoga flow. Whatever it is, work it into your morning routine.
Why: “Add an activity that you love to do to your morning routine to make it more enticing to get out of your warm, cozy bed. Maybe that activity looks like a workout, a meditation, a journaling session or a delicious breakfast. It doesn’t matter what the activity is so much that it makes you feel happy and excited to get out of bed.” — Serena Poon, celebrity chef, certified nutritionist and reiki master.
Day 20: Don’t hit snooze.
What to do: That’s right — no matter how tempted you are, resist the urge to sleep ‘just a few extra minutes.’
Why: “Just jump out of bed as soon as you can and either splash some water on your face or set the coffee maker the night before to brew fifteen minutes before your alarm goes off. That way, you will have the smell of fresh coffee as motivation to get up out of bed and the added support of some caffeine to wake you right up. Once you are up and moving around, you will feel more awake than if you lay in bed. Gradually, this will become a habit and will come naturally.” — Hanna Stensby, M.A., a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Day 21: Do your ‘me time’ activities in the A.M.
What to do: We all have those rituals that fall under our ‘me time.’ Perhaps it’s puzzling, taking a bath, or listening to a new podcast. Try and work your self-care hour into your morning to make it more enjoyable.
Why: “If you use that extra morning time to do something just for you before others are awake, you will begin to look forward to getting up earlier. You might spend that time reading, writing in your journal, stretching, stepping outside for some fresh air and a glimpse of the sunrise, meditating, praying, or setting goals for your day. Let it be your time, and you’ll soon start to crave it.” —Dr. Stacie Stephenson, certified nutrition specialist and doctor of chiropractic.
Day 22: Repeat an affirmation.
What to do: There’s power found in saying your goals out loud, in the form of affirmations. Figure out what words motivate you, and speak them in the mirror.
Why: “Three times a day, breathe deeply and say aloud to yourself, ‘I’m so grateful I’m easily becoming more of a morning person.’ This process serves to remind you of your goal consciously and begins rewiring your brain subconsciously. Try saying it every time you drink water or every time you use the restroom.” — Amber Trueblood, licensed marriage and family therapist.
Day 23: Don’t caffeinate prematurely.
What to do: For one morning, delay — or omit — your go-to caffeinated beverage. Then, document how you feel.
Why: “It’s easier to notice how good morning feels if you don’t assume you need caffeine. Your body naturally releases cortisol to help you wake up, starting around 7 a.m. for most people and sometimes within the first hour of being awake. If you wait for an hour to have that coffee, you’ll take advantage of this natural cycle and maximize your wakefulness.” — Dr. Stacie Stephenson, certified nutrition specialist and doctor of chiropractic.
Day 24: Don’t act like a night person.
What to do: If you try to be both a night owl who stays up past midnight and a morning person who gets up with the sunrise, you won’t succeed — and you’ll feel exhausted. Commit to calling yourself an early riser, and let go of those late-night habits.
Why: “It’s a lot harder to be a morning person if you behave like a night person. Most people need at least seven hours of rest every night, so if you habitually stay up until 2 a.m., you won’t feel rested until at least 9 a.m.” — Dr. Stacie Stephenson, certified nutrition specialist and doctor of chiropractic.
Day 25: Do a body scan right before bed.
What to do: While laying in bed, start with your toes, squeeze and release every part of your body right before you go to sleep. Keep your eyes closed and focus on how every section feels.
Why: “Tuning into your body does wonders and is one of your most useful tools we’ve got for getting a full night’s sleep. It will allow you to anchor yourself and cultivate a present restful awareness.” — Emily Vartanian-Tuttle, the founder of Pause + Purpose.
Day 26: Wake up gently.
What to do: It could be soothing classical or LoFi jams or a natural light that alerts you to open your eyes. Just take it easy.
Why: “Wake to a pleasant, non-jarring signal or sound, ideally from something that is not your smartphone. I prefer Now & Zen’s progressive-chime-based alarm clocks and light-based, sunrise-mimicking alarm clocks, like Philips Wake-Up Light, Lumie Bodyclock Active Wake-up Light, and MOSHE Sunrise Alarm Clock. Low-key, wake-to-music options can work, too — just be sure you can easily turn off, turn over, cover-up, or otherwise block any light-emitting displays. This reduces sympathetic nervous system response and associated inflammatory cortisol spike.” — Pilar Gerasimo, the author of ‘The Healthy Deviant.’
Day 27: Do some ‘bed yoga.’
What to do: Just like it sounds, this is a yoga practice you can do without stepping a foot off your mattress. You simply stretch and move under the covers.
Why: “For those of us that struggle to exit the bed or dread the start of the workday, it’s easy, gentle movement and the motivational message is all the encouragement one needs to start the day on a high note.” — Lizzie Brown, the CEO of Yoga Wake Up.
Day 28: Drink a glass of water.
What to do: Keep a cold pitcher in the fridge — maybe with lemon slices — so it’s easily accessible in the A.M. Or have a glass of water on your nightstand.
Why: “By drinking a glass of water, you’ll naturally detox your system and kick start your metabolism and brain, which will help in making mornings easier.” — Emilie Perz, the founder of Sequential Body.
Day 29: Create a benefits list.
What to do: Since you started your journey, what are some benefits of being a morning person that you’ve discovered? Write them down.
Why: “These benefits must be important to you, not your neighbors or your mother-in-law. Review your list every morning and every night, maybe while you brush your teeth. Regularly reminding yourself how this process benefits you and your life will allow you to follow through more easily and more smoothly.” — Amber Trueblood, licensed marriage and family therapist.
Day 30: Celebrate — you did it! Enjoy the sunshine.