The alarm goes off. It’s 6 AM. It doesn’t matter if it’s still dark outside (dead of winter) or the birds are singing and the sun is shining (helloooo, summer!). You peek one eye open. Groan. Moan. Hit the snooze (or was that the off?) button and roll over. Just 5 more minu…..
You jolt awake. Eyes wide, sitting straight up in bed. You hear them. 2 of the kids running up and down the hall. One singing at the top of her lungs in the bathroom. The toddler still stuck in her bed, banging the wall with her feet. What on earth happened? The alarm went off 2 hours ago and you had every intention of getting up. What HAPPENED?!
You drag yourself out of bed and into the bathroom, tripping over pillows along the way and stubbing your toe on the end of the bed. Hair a jumble, teeth growing fur, grumpy and discombobulated. Where’s the coffee? Oh, right, it has to be made, there’s no such thing as a bathroom faucet that serves up hot coffee in the morning (that would be kind of gross anyway). And if memory serves you correctly, coffee doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. The day’s not looking too hot, and you’re certainly not feeling it.
Can you relate? I know I’ve been there! I used to let the kids wake me in the morning and start my day feeling wasted, groggy, grumpy and energy-less, no matter the fact that I had gone to bed at 10 the night before (or was that midnight?). And coffee did NOT help the situation much! So what changed?
Well, I learned how to become a morning person. And I’m here to present you with a case for getting up early.
Now before you shut me out, hear me out! There are plenty of scientific studies that show that rising early in the morning is completely beneficial to your health, makes you more proactive and optimistic, and harder working and on the ball. But if you don’t wanna hear it, it’s just going to be blah, blah blah.
So I’m going to skip talking about the science research bit (because I’m sure you’ve heard it all ;D) and help you figure out why this is something you struggle with, and why you should make getting up early work for you.
Being a Morning Person is Genetic
Yes, being an early bird or a night hawk is genetic! You’re wired for one or the other, and it runs in families. So if your parent(s) are largely early risers, it’s more likely that you will MORE EASILY become a morning person.
Don’t walk away now and say that’s the end, because it’s not in your genes! Bet you didn’t know you can change your genes ;0) Didja? I certainly didn’t!
But you can! You can train your body to become a morning person. It will take 2-3 weeks to do it (a month is even better!), and if you slack off, you’ll go back to what’s natural. Still, with determination (and accountability!), you can do it!
Determine Your Sleep Number
Everyone needs a certain # of hours of sleep – some people can just do better with less than others. The average number of sleep hours recommended is 8 hours. But this doesn’t hold true for everyone. My magic number seems to be 7 hours – any more or less and I really feel the difference.
HOWEVER, I have noticed that my body does adjust over a period of time to less sleep to the point where I can function the same. This can be good or bad. Good if I’m trying to change a bad habit of sleeping in. Bad if I am going with much less sleep than my body actually needs (IE 4-5, even 6 hours). Long term, this is not a healthy plan.
So how do you determine how much sleep you need?
- Go to bed when you feel tired
- Don’t eat, drink or exercise less than an hour before bed. You don’t want to raise your heart rate or over stimulate your body before sleep.
- Don’t read on your phone/tablet or watch TV in bed. Your brain releases melatonin, a hormone which aids in sleeping – but it can’t do that if it doesn’t think it’s nighttime, and you’re tricking it into thinking the artificial light from your devices is actually daylight!
- Give yourself enough time to sleep up to 9 hours uninterrupted (which, with kids, is sometimes impossible, no?! But try!)
- Notice what time your body naturally wakes up.
- Do this for about a week. As time goes on, you should notice that you start to naturally wake up after a certain number of hours. That’s your sleep number!
Listen to Your Body
Another way to determine how much sleep you need is simply by listening to your body.
Set your alarm to wake up at the same time every morning (choose a time where you know you won’t be woken up earlier), forcing yourself to get out of bed at that time, for two weeks.
After that period of time, your body will know that it needs to get up at that specific time and SIGNAL you to start feeling tired at night. When you start to feel tired – GO TO BED!
Becoming a Morning Person Starts the Night Before
This is the part that I find the most difficult. Getting to bed at a reasonable time! As our kids get older, they go to bed later and later. So the temptation is for us to stay up later and later, in order to “unwind” or feel like we’ve gotten that downtime we so desperately need.
If you are listening to your body, and training it to get the right amount of sleep you need, you will start to notice that you’re feeling tired. Listen, you will, yes? Yes, Master Yoda.
So now that you know how much sleep you need, make sure you’re going to bed at a time where you can reach that maximum. Easier said than done. Here’s how I make sure it happens:
- Go to bed with your spouse. Keep each other accountable to keeping healthy hours and getting enough sleep.
- Get ready for bed ahead of time. Sometimes the mere thought of just getting ready for bed when I’m already dog-tired is enough to keep me from slipping under the sheets when I need to.
- Create a bedtime routine.
Start off Slow
You may have to start off slow with getting up early, so if you’re having difficulty with the previous methods, don’t be discouraged! You’ve trained your body for years to function on a certain number of hours of sleep – even if it’s not the optimal number for you, you may still need to work up to it.
For example, don’t jump from getting up at 8 AM to getting up at 6 AM in one shot. Gradually work your wake up time back 15 minutes at a time (making sure you’re getting to bed that much earlier the night before, of course). This is how I went from getting up at 6:30 (which is already really early for a lot of people!) to getting up at 5 AM (yes, gasp, that’s my goal time to wake up!). It took me about 6 months, but it’s easy enough now (IF I go to bed on time!).
The Coffee Question
Here it is. You knew it was coming. The question of whether coffee is helpful or not to helping you become a morning person.
And the answer is…. Yes. And no. You see, it’s all in the timing of your coffee consumption.
Studies show that there are good, better, and best times during the day to drink your coffee. I’ll let this graphic speak for itself.
Surprise, surprise! The best time for coffee is NOT first thing in the morning! Cortisol is a natural stimulant your body produces, and it’s typically peaking between 8 and 9 AM, 12 to 1 PM and 5:30 to 6:30 PM. What does this mean? It means that during cortisol-peaking times, you’re approaching your most alert state.
Essentially, by drinking coffee first thing in the morning, or during those other cortisol-producing time periods, it over-stimulates this stress-related hormone to produce MORE cortisol… and, well, you can see where this is going. CRASH.
Whereas, if you drink coffee the rest of the time (and I’m not saying you should consume 3 cups a day, but if you’re going to drink it, at least shoot for those time slots!), you’ll actually enjoy it more and feel it have more of a positive effect on your body.
(If you really like science or want to have your mind blown trying to understand the terminology, read the original post on the Brain Facts blog.)
My Final Case for Getting Up Early
If I haven’t convinced you by now that you need to at least TRY to become a morning person, then this is my final case.
Getting up early affords you with that coveted peaceful, quiet time. Where everything is calm in the home. The kids (hopefully) aren’t up yet. And it’s just you and some quiet time with God.
I love my morning quiet times. By getting up a full 2 hours before the kids, I am able to exercise my body, my spirit in quiet time with the Lord, and my mind (either by reading or writing). It is really a blessing, and not something I take for granted. I may be giving up some time at night, but it’s worth the sacrifice for getting up early.
Are you with me? Are you committed to trying to become a morning person? Let me know how I can help and encourage you along the way! I’ll call, e-mail, text, or come over and pull you out of bed if you want to be held accountable ;0)