Do you struggle to get up and greet the day? If so, read on, as Bonnie Eve Grifford shares nine top tips to help you build good morning habits, and start your day the right way
CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Happiful
Mornings are like Marmite: you either love them, or hate them. As a long-established night owl, trying to make the switch to become a morning person has been an ongoing struggle for me. Yet, according to the experts, the earlier we start our day, the more likely we are to see improvements in our sleep patterns and overall mood. But how do we flip the switch and make that change? Here, we share nine essential tips to help you get started.
Follow the rule of 15
Start slowly. Trying to become a morning person often starts with getting an earlier night, so that we can still get our beauty sleep – but that’s often easier said than done. If your body isn’t ready to rest, and your mind just won’t shut off, chances are you aren’t going to be able to force things.
Instead of shifting the goalposts too much, try to set your bedtime just 15 minutes earlier. Sure, that doesn’t seem like much now, but make this small change just four times over a week or two, and soon, you’ll be getting to sleep a whole hour earlier.
Turn down the lights
Between our ‘phones, tablets, smartwatches, TVs, PCs and games consoles we all spend more time than we’d like to admit – or perhaps than we even realise – watching screens. While we’re not here to judge, it’s worth remembering that many of the screens we use without a second thought give off an artificial blue light that can disrupt our natural sleep patterns. To avoid overstimulation, switching off at least an hour before bedtime is recommended.
Try the five-second rule
While the rule of 15 might help you to get a more restful night’s sleep, the five-second rule is designed to help you push past feelings of hesitation, self-doubt, and fear – and can also be a great motivator for getting started in the mornings. If you find yourself laying in bed feeling exhausted, or dreading the day ahead, it can be tempting to hit that snooze button over and over again. Instead, try counting backwards from five, and then get out of bed. The idea is to give yourself just five seconds before getting on with whatever task has you feeling overwhelmed. That’s not to say it make the dreaded things easier, but it does make them happen.
Set a sleep schedule, and stick to it
We all love the occasional lie-in, but even one late start a week can erase the progress you’ve made towards changing your sleep schedule; this can leave you feeling like you’re back at square one when Sunday night rolls around, making Monday morning that much tougher. If you really can’t resist the urge for a lie-in as a weekend treat, try to limit yourself to no more than an hour later than usual and, if possible, try to be more active in the day. This can help to avoid pushing your sleep schedule back too much, so you can still get up at a reasonable hour the following day.
It’s not just an old adage – breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast helps to replenish your supply of glucose, boosting energy levels and helping you to feel more alert. Without breakfast, you’re running on empty, so it’s no wonder you may feel lethargic or have trouble focusing. Ideally, eating within two hours of waking up is recommended in order to help improve our memory, concentration levels and mood – as well as to help lower stress levels.
Research has shown that as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise can boost your mood for the next 12 hours. What better way to start the day off right? Fitting in a regular workout early in the day means there’s less time to find excuses to skip the gym during your lunch break, or to give your evening walk a miss, and you’ll feel energised and ready to face the day ahead.
Do something you love
Starting off the day with a task or activity that you enjoy can be a great way to feel more enthusiastic about what’s to come. If possible, prepare the day before so you know exactly what is top of your to-do list. Make mornings into something you can enjoy, rather than endure.
Track your mood
When we try to make big, long-term changes it can be difficult to see our smaller successes and how they are affecting our day-to-day lives. By using a journal, or mood tracking app, you can see how changes to your sleeping and waking habits are affecting your mood and energy levels. This, in turn, can help you to recognise the positive effects they have been having if change is slower than you had hoped.
Consider your end goal
Why do you want to be a morning person? Is it so you can be more productive at home or work? So you feel like less of a zombie first thing? To help you spend more quality time with friends or family on weekends? Perhaps it’s so you can ditch that feeling of losing the day to lie-ins. By focusing on the ‘why, you can continue to feel motivated if you find yourself struggling.