Published: Friday, September 01, 2017 @ 2:35 PM
Updated: Friday, September 01, 2017 @ 2:35 PM
By: Rose Kennedy - For the AJC
— Sunrise hours can be a magical time − when your home is quiet, your agenda is clear for a workout and a healthy breakfast. But you can't experience the magic if you're still asleep.
If you are stuck in the rut of staying up late and sleeping in, take heart. Anyone can become an early riser, says Men'sHealth magazine sleep advisor W. Christopher Winter, M.D.
1. Shorten your morning to-do list. If you can operate on autopilot for a few minutes first thing in the morning, you'll be fully awake before you know it, according to personal trainer Richard Rees of British Columbia, who shared advice in MensHealth.
He sets his alarm for 3:50 a.m. and is out the door for a run a few minutes after that. The fast morning start comes from working out the details the night before, like laying out clothes, coffee and breakfast supplies, right down to his socks and coffee scooper. When you don't have to plan a lot of details the second you wake up, he said, it's much simpler to get out of bed.
2. Set up your sleep patterns, so you wake up when you want. It may seem obvious, but you need to remember to go to bed at a time that allows you enough sleep to be fully rested if you'd like to get up earlier on a consistent basis. Also speaking in Men'sHealth, Denver-based certified turbulence trainer Craig Ballantyne advises setting an alarm an hour before you want to be fast asleep at night. Then use those 60 minutes to unwind, make your lunch for the next day or even forgo electronics for a calm read. If your mind is still abuzz close to bedtime, Ballantyne recommends jotting down a couple of ideas or to-do lists, so you can clear your head and be ready for a good night's sleep.
If you need extra motivation to get to bed early for an early start, consider the health advantages of being a morning person. Those who get up earlier generally have better energy levels, moods and workout habits, according to Women'sHealth magazine and the SLEEP 2014 study from the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. Early birds are more likely to schedule time for fitness and stick to the plan, while waking up late is linked to being more sedentary.
3. Don't open your email as soon as you open your eyes. Doing anything stressful first thing can set you up for stress all day long, and it also discourages you from wanting to get out of bed early and greet the day.
One of the worst habits for someone who'd like to get up earlier is checking your email inbox right after you wake, according to Melissa McCreery, Ph.D., founder of Too Much on Her Plate. McCreery told Women'sHealth that starting your morning with a calming activity like sipping tea or talking to your roommate will get your creative juices flowing. In addition, the pleasant ritual will make you more likely to stick to getting up early.
4. Do something that makes you happy as part of your early morning ritual. You are loads more likely to wake up earlier on a regular basis if you have something to look forward to. Mahri Relin, founder of Body Conceptions, for example, cranks tunes that she loves early in the morning and on her way to meet the clients she trains. "I swear I'm ready to jump by the time I get to my client, because I feel so revved up from the music selection," she told Prevention.com.
"I feel like I attract attention on the train, because I'm moving to the music and smiling."
Far too many people choose a "should do" instead of a "want to do" activity for first thing in the morning, which can derail a resolution to wake up earlier. "Humans don't do well with suffering long-term," said time-management expert Laura Vanderkam, author of "I Know How She Does It" and "What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast." "If you're going to exercise, find a kind of exercise you like enough that you're willing to set the alarm a little earlier. If you intend to work, make it the part of work you're excited about. It's easier to stick with habits we enjoy for their own sake, not because we know we should do them."
5. Quit hitting that snooze button. While "just five more minutes" seems like a harmless perk, the snooze button can thwart your careful plan to wake up early.
"When you are waking up, your body is in the process of sleep inertia, a mental and physical sluggishness that will go away after about 15 minutes," explained James Wyatt, Ph.D., director of sleep disorders and sleep research at Rush University in Chicago. Wyatt contributed his tips for becoming a morning person to an article about early risers on Prevention.com. He explained that nodding off after the alarm sounds will send you into an unproductive light and fragmented sleep, and then you simply repeat the sleep inertia phase when the snooze alarm goes off, delaying both your waking time and the time you're able to be productive.
Another contributor to the Prevention article, Vanderkam, reminds those who want to wake up earlier that you only have a limited supply of willpower to get you through the day. "Successful people don't use it up on something as small stakes as whether to get out of bed." Instead of hitting snooze, she recommends being honest about when you intend to get up and just enjoying every second of the high-quality sleep you have coming to you.