This post on good mornings for night owls was contributed by Christine Hill.
Related: Steps to have a Productive Morning
There are few things I like better than reading a book late into the night. Or it might be a late-night conversation with a loved one that keeps me up. Sometimes, it’s staying out with friends. In any case, those hours after dark are when I really wake up. To be honest, it’s even when I’m the most productive and creative, or so it feels to me.
However, all that night-owl activity comes at a price, and that price is mornings. Bleary, achy, tired mornings. My whole life long, I’ve been bad at mornings. But I’m getting better because I’ve learned a thing or two. Now, I’m not saying that any of the tips below are magic hacks that will make it easy to suddenly recover from a late night with no effort on your part. However, they will help you have a better morning… without even drinking any coffee!
No really, exercise! Good exercise energizes your body naturally, and it doesn’t have to be a major strain to get results. Something as simple as taking a brisk walk around the block in the morning, getting in some stretches, or jumping on the trampoline, can all increase your heart rate and blood flow, working out the stiffness of the night’s sleep and making you feel awake and alert.
What’s tricky is time. You don’t want to sacrifice sleep to wake up easier. That just feels counter-intuitive. So if you’re not a morning workout person, just do 10 minutes of stretches and aerobics.
Plan Your Mornings Early
I work all day, and usually head straight out to errands, classes, or activities from work. This means that in the morning I need to remember a whole list of important things, like lunch, a change of clothes, an item I was going to drop off at the post office, etc. Before you even begin your evening activity, when you’re feeling energized and ready to spread your night-owl wings, think about the next morning. What can you do now to make it go easier? Sometimes to me, it’s as simple as putting certain things in my car and parking it somewhere that will allow me to avoid a busy left turn in the morning. Other days, it might consist of taking care of breakfast prep ahead of time, or picking out my outfit.
Stressful things can feel even more stressful to your delicate morning self. So note morning stressors like noise level and take care of those noisy tasks the evening before instead. You can find more ideas here.
Sometimes Quality Sleep Has to Compensate for Quantity
Wouldn’t it be great if we all had the luxury of 8.5 hours of sleep each night? Yeah, dream on, right? While setting a sleep routine and sticking to it is one of the best ways to beat insomnia, there are times when you’re going to have to just focus on the quality of sleep over how much you actually get. Make sure you have a good bedroom environment for relaxation, and eliminate disruptions that will rob you of those few precious hours. This might mean light-blocking curtains, or leaving your cell phone on the kitchen counter and buying a real alarm clock instead. Sometimes I trick myself by making bedtime feel really luxurious, with freshly laundered sheets and a really fluffy duvet. This post has more great ideas for having good sleep at night.
Have Something to Look Forward To
This one was a game-changer for me. The truth is that most things I really enjoy are best with long unstructured time. I like to get lost in them, like garden work or a bubble bath. They’re great tasks to look forward to at the end of a work day, but they just don’t work in the morning, when I’m sluggish and 30 minutes easily turns into an hour.
However, there are other things that I’m able to look forward to in the mornings. For example, there’s one podcast, 30 minutes long, that I just love. It’s the perfect thing to listen to as I get ready for the day. Since new episodes only come out once a week, I need to have other things to look forward to, as well. Sometimes it’s a new mascara or clothing combo that I’m looking forward to trying out. Other days, it’s a healthy breakfast treat, like a really creamy smoothie. Not every morning has something special, but when a morning comes around that I know I’ll really need it, I know what to do.
The False Start
Now, listen closely on this one, because it can easily go awry. I think that one of the best feelings in the world is waking up in the morning, and then remembering that you don’t have to be awake yet! And you can fall back asleep in your comfortable bed. For this reason, I sometimes set two alarms. One for half an hour early, and then another (with a different alarm sound) for the actual time that I have to get up. It tricks my mind into thinking that I slept in. However, it’s very important that you avoid the snooze trap. Pressing the snooze button can sometimes go on indefinitely, and you might just shoot yourself in the foot if you thought you only pressed it once, but you actually pressed it 5 times and slept clear through the morning. Set two different alarms instead and make sure that the second is one you can’t postpone.
Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in any form. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon. She blogs about marketing here. Follow more of her writing on Twitter @readwritechill.