If you’re the type of person who hits the snooze button over and over in the morning, you’re not alone. But, as it turns out, there is a downside to being a night owl. According to a new study that explored the body’s circadian sleep-wake cycle, early birds have a reduced risk of developing depression.
“Waking up early has some real benefits for mental health and emotional well-being,” says Angela Amias, licensed therapist and the co-founder of Alchemy of Love. “How we begin things tends to be how we continue them, so waking up early and giving yourself time to start your day thoughtfully helps your whole day feel calmer and more productive.”
The good news is that even if you’ve never been a morning person, you can still develop the habit of waking up early.
“Being a morning person is actually a habit nearly anyone can develop if they want to. The ideal amount of sleep each person needs is different, but most people need between 6-10 hours of sleep per night,” Amias explains. “If you'd like to become a morning person, make sure you're going to bed early enough to feel well-rested at the time you'd like to get up.”
Your step-by-step guide to becoming a morning person
To set yourself up for success, getting in the right headspace is key. Here's what you should keep in mind.
Don’t set unrealistic expectations
It may take time to change your sleeping habits, so don’t be discouraged.
“Don’t expect to wake up exactly at the time that you have set up,” says Amelia Alvin, psychiatrist at Mango Clinic. “Initially, it will take some time to become an early riser. However, with consistent effort, you'll get there. For example, if you wake up 15-20 minutes late after your alarm went off, that's okay. Gradually, you will get habitual of waking up on time.”
Don’t keep the alarm near your bed
This simple tip can go a long way. “The farther you keep your alarm from you, the less likely you are to hit the snooze button and sleep again,” Alvin states. So, always keep your alarm at a distant place from your bed.
Know why you want to get up early
What’s your why? Having a strong reason for waking up early will increase the chances that follow through with this.
“You need 30-60 days to develop the habit of waking up early, depending on how strongly you are motivated to do so," says Alvin. :If you have a strong purpose, it will not take long to become an early riser."
Establish a healthy bedtime routine
“A healthy bedtime routine is actually the first step to becoming a morning person,” Amias states. “This means eliminating screen time before bed and creating a relaxing nightly routine that helps you fall asleep and sleep well.”
Make sure enough light can enter your bedroom in the morning
Room darkening curtains are great when you want to sleep in, but they aren't helpful when it comes to waking up early.
“Most people have an easier time waking up when their bedroom is light. Allowing some light into your bedroom, either through your windows or by using a daylight-simulating alarm clock is helpful in resetting your biological clock to start waking up early,” says Amias.
Create a morning routine that helps you become alert
This can look slightly different for everyone. “For some this means showering first thing in the morning,” Amias explains. “For others, drinking a big glass of water helps them wake up.”
Give yourself something to look forward to
While your first instinct may be to grab your phone, avoid the temptation. “Instead of gravitating to your phone to check social media, text messages, and emails as soon as you wake up, find a quiet and comfortable place in your home to sit and journal or read from a favorite book before you get started with your day,” says Amias.
Getting in the right headspace will set the tone for the rest of the day.
“I like to begin with my planner, to review what my day looks like and then spend a few minutes journaling about anything that's still on my mind from yesterday and then focus on how I'd like my day to go,” Amias explains. “Sitting quietly with a cup of coffee is also a lovely way to start your morning. For other people, taking 5-10 minutes to meditate first thing in the morning helps their whole day feel more calmer and more focused.”
Alvin shares a few additional tips:
Don’t eat a heavy dinner because it can cause heartburn, indigestion that can’t let you sleep properly at night.
Before sleeping, contemplate all the things for which you’re grateful.
Make your bedroom an ideal place to sleep at night to minimize distractions.
Stay away from the blue lights of TV screens and mobile phones so that you don’t suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that is responsible for sleep.
Now you’re ready to rise and shine!
Do you tend to be a morning person or a night owl? Let us know in the comments. And while you're at it, make sure to subscribe to Silk + Sonder today.