Mornings – particularly Monday mornings – can really be hard to wake up to for some of us. That snooze button is oh-so inviting and bed, that warm, comfortable heaven of pillows and hugs can be hard to leave when you have to get out into the world and be an adult (groan). But I promise you, if you can master the art of the early mornings, it really can change your world.
There can be many reasons why getting up early in the morning is hard for you to do; the obvious being that you aren’t getting enough sleep, but there can be plenty of other ways to make your mornings more joyful if you are in fact already getting enough sleep each night. It may even surprise and delight you to discover exactly how much of a chirpy and annoying morning person you can become (singing along to Disney tunes at 7am on a Saturday while everyone else feels hung over is heaps of fun – trust me!). Here are a few ways to make your mornings more of a joy:
Let go of the idea that you are a “night owl”
While I do understand that some people work better late at night and find it hard to get to sleep earlier than midnight, if you want to feel better when you wake up in the morning, late nights don’t quite fit in to that equation for most of us. Staying up late is often something we slowly train our bodies to do over time, and as such, it’s possible for us to train ourselves to go to bed earlier, if we are patient enough to do so. Sometimes the thing that stops us from going to bed early is simply the romantic idea of being the type of person who stays up late. But if you really want to enjoy your mornings, you need to get enough sleep.
While this does mean the sacrifice of a ritual you’ve had in your life for a long time, in a way, you are just making room for the new ritual you are about to introduce – you wouldn’t be reading this if it wasn’t something you wanted to welcome into your life after all. So give it a go. It doesn’t mean that who you are is a lie, it just means that you’re a little different from how you used to be, and that’s ok.
Create a bedtime routine
“Sleep Hygiene” is the practice of creating an environment to support a good night’s sleep. It’s main purpose is to get the mind and body ready to go to sleep and facilitate the onset of sleep in a short period of time. Basically, it means the removal of anything stimulating close to when you’re going to bed, and replacing it with lots of soothing loveliness to help you drift off into a deep slumber.
Stuff to reduce before bed
- Caffeine after 3pm – such as coffee, chocolate, black and green teas
- White light (such as phones, TV, computer screens and fluorescent light) for at least 15 minutes before you intend to go to sleep – the light stimulates your brain the same way as sunlight does, confusing your circadian rhythms and keeping you awake for longer
- Eating food less than two hours before bed – the activity of digestion can be incredibly stimulating, and keep you awake
- Vigorous exercise less than two hours before bed is also quite stimulating due to the endorphins it produces
Stuff to do more of before bed
- Drink sleepy/relaxing herbal teas. My favourite is a blend of lavender and lemon balm, but passionflower, chamomile or ginger are other great options (there are heaps out there).
- Light candles and lamps the half hour before you go to bed. The soft yellow light they create is not as stimulating to the brain as white light
- Journal, get your planner ready for tomorrow or write a list to get any residual stress out and stop the thoughts from circling in your head. If anything comes up, you can keep a piece of paper by your bed to write the thought down instead of worrying that you might forget it
- Read a book, listen to soft music or have a warm bath to signal to your body that you are ready to relax
- Meditate with a lead-meditation if you’re new to it. The slow breathing helps your body and mind to relax and readies you for sleep. There are plenty of resources for this available, including apps and audiobooks
Give yourself something good to wake up to
Whether it’s a fitness class, a walk with your furry friend, a job that you love or a morning ritual that gives you the only time you’ll get to yourself all day (like meditation), finding something that makes you want to get out of bed takes away the “chore” of doing so. Occasionally it’ll still be hard – you’re only human – but think of how good you feel if you’re getting up early for breakfast with your best friend, or to go on an adventure in the mountains (or whatever your joy may be). You want to get out of bed when the reason you’re doing so makes you feel good, which is 80% of the battle really.
Personally, I’m a bit of a music nerd, so I love to put on a vinyl, a radio show I like or one of my many playlists and I find my mood is instantly lifted. It feels extra special to me to put on a vinyl because I put so much care into the one I choose and the way I take care of them, which is a nice energy to include in my morning if I’m feeling particularly flat or unmotivated.
Let there be light!
As I said in the sleep hygiene tips, light stimulates the brain the same way as sunlight, so why not harness this innate mechanism to wake up when you actually want to? As soon as your alarm goes off, reach over to your lamp/light switch, and turn it on. Or better yet, open your curtains and LET THERE BE LIGHT!
Especially if you’re the sort of person who needs multiple alarms at times earlier than when you need to get up, in order to get up (I am definitely that sort of person on a bad day), if you get into a habit of turning the light on with your first alarm – no matter what – the urge to snooze dissipates over time. It’s also quite a gentle way to stimulate the body (as opposed to caffeine).
Especially if you’re someone who struggles to drink water during the day, first thing in the morning is a great time to down as much water as you can. Keep a full drink bottle next to your bed at night, and as soon as you wake up, sit up and drink it until it’s empty. Not only does it hydrate you immediately, but it gently stimulates your body’s metabolism, waking everything up gently with it.
You may also like to start your day with a cup of warm water with the juice of half a lemon, or a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar for the same reason. Both of these options are just a little more stimulating to your digestive system due to the bitterness, sourness and heat they provide.
Getting up and washing your face or showering straight away are also gentle ways to use water and wake yourself up. I often wash my face before yoga if I’m feeling particularly sleepy and it helps me to feel more awake quite quickly.
Get outside as soon as you wake up
Without sounding too woo-woo, there truly is something magical about getting up at the same time as the sun that you really can’t feel unless you get outside to feel it. Even if it just means stepping outside on the way back from the toilet and stopping for a moment to feel the fresh morning air on your face, getting outside to walk to a cafe/yoga class/gym or going for your morning run/walk, getting out there amongst that energy is refreshing and rejuvenating, and bound to have you feeling alive!
Make time for breakfast
Even if all you can stomach at first is a piece of fruit, starting your day with breakfast is essential to fire up your metabolism and provide your body with long-lasting energy throughout the day. Try to steer clear of sugary options such as cereals, pastries, sweet spreads on toast and most muffins as they will only give you a short burst of energy and have you feeling flat soon after. Eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, yoghurt, meats, whole grains (quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, spelt, etc) and lots of vegetables or fruit are great sustained energy sources for first thing in the morning.
Time saving options include; chia pudding, soaking your muesli in milk or yoghurt overnight, using leftover vegetables in a quick omelette, pre-making a quiche, frittata or zucchini slice to quickly heat up each morning, a protein smoothie or even just eating the leftover casserole from the night before.
Be patient with yourself
Mastering a new habit always takes time. They say it takes 21 days of repeating the same routine before it becomes a habit, so keep that in mind when you endeavour to change your lifestyle in any way. Take baby steps too; if you try to change too much at once, you are more likely to get overwhelmed and give up, but if you change one or two things at a time and be kind to yourself about the changes, allowing yourself to actually enjoy them, you are much more likely to want to repeat them.
You can often find Miranda looking for adventure, sipping earl grey tea, hunting for vinyl treasures, and mostly, just enjoying good food and great friendships in her adopted home of Brisbane.