OK – If I can get out of bed when it looks like this snuggly ball of comfort and cuteness, you can too! It does become easier with time, but I will say that every morning is still a challenge and I want nothing more than to stay engulfed in my tsunami of blankets a little while longer. But there are a few tricks I’ve learnt over the years that help me get past that thought and feeling without fail, and you are one of the lucky folks that I’ll be sharing that with today!
If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking to switch up your routine a bit, you might’ve heard your friend raving about how much more time they they have in the day or how much energy they have after working out in the morning as opposed to at night. All of these things are true and reasons why I taught myself to be a morning person. I’ve always been more of an early riser, but don’t get me wrong, if I want sleep, I sure can sleep!
Training your body to wake up earlier takes time and persistence. The greater success often comes out of a set routine. It involves analyzing that routine and how you feel on various days so you can tweak your efforts and come out better on the other side. It means that somedays you’re going to wake up feeling like garbagio and other days you’re going to wake up feeling like a million bucks. The secret here is determining what changed between those two days and adapting your routine accordingly. For me, nutrition plays a huge role. When I was doing the Whole 30 (a strict 30-day Paleo diet) a couple years back, I woke up buzzing with energy. The other night I made homemade sushi and woke up feeling lethargic and groggy. What changed? Grains. Carbohydrates. This isn’t to demonize grains, but it’s important to know how certain foods make you feel so you can eat them at strategic times, in varying portions or in some cases, not at all.
Aside from training your body to enjoy mornings, it comes down to having a toolkit of tips and tricks in your back pocket, of which I’m going to equip you with:
The 5-Step Toolkit to Becoming a Morning Person
1. Give yourself something to look forward to and remember how good it feels – I don’t know about you but my reason for getting up in the morning is to hit up a 6:00am CrossFit class. I didn’t love CrossFit when I first began in 2013, so naturally the excuses to not wake up came rather easily. Now that I love it and don’t feel the need to run to the washroom before looking at the WOD (Workout Of the Day), I have no problem waking up – because I remember that though I feel tired right now at 5:29am, I am going to feel incredible by the time 7:00am hits. Having a community to look forward to and hold you accountable is also very helpful. I know I’ll hear it from my CrossFit pals if I choose to sleep in one day. Whether it’s the gym, a morning walk, meditating or making a stellar breakfast – find something that truly brings you joy that you’ll be excited to wake up for.
2. Put your alarm clock on the opposite side of the room – Whether it’s your phone or your alarm clock, place it on the other side of the room so when your alarm goes off, you’re forced to physically get out of bed. The motion of standing up alone will help to wake you up, as opposed to rolling over to press the snooze button. We can do that in our sleep and not even realize it!
3. Expose your eyes to light first thing – Your circadian rhythm, or “body clock” is a natural process that’s responsible for telling your body when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. In the past (as in thousands of years ago), we used to rely on these cues from things like sunlight to dictate when we should sleep (i.e. when it got dark) and when we should wake up (i.e. when it got light). Around 8:00pm, our body starts producing an increasing amount of melatonin, a hormone that helps us to fall asleep. Around 5:00am or in the morning, our melatonin levels start to decline and our cortisol, another hormone, starts to elevate which is responsible for waking us up. All of this to say, that exposing your eyes to light first thing jumpstarts that cortisol production as your body takes it as a cue that it’s time to wake up. Science rules, huh?
4. Treat yourself to 1 no-alarm day a week – Did you know Thursdays are the new Friday? Well, they are when you plant your 1 no-alarm day on this day (which I do!) Getting into the routine of waking up early and embracing mornings is fantastic, but it doesn’t mean it all has to be blood, sweat and tears – we have to indulge too! By having one weekday sleep-in morning to look forward to, it makes the other days much easier to wake up for. When you give your body this extra rest, it makes tasks in your day that much easier to ensure. As well, if your normal wake-up time is 5:30am, then sleeping in until say 7:30am feels extra luxurious!
4. Tune into your nutrition – This is huge. HUGE, my friends. Given that I start my mornings with CrossFit, paying attention to my nutrition has become vital. I learnt very quickly how much harder those 100 burpees would feel if I had some coconut ice-cream the night prior, than if I had a balanced dinner and maybe a healthy snack afterwards. It’s important to pay attention to how you feel each and every day and be mindful of what changes in your routine you’ve made throughout – are your joints achy? do you have a headache? do you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck? OK, rewind – what did you have for dinner last night? how much water did you drink yesterday? did you have a bit of a party-bender of a weekend? These are all things we can take note of for next time to avoid waking up feeling like a groggy froggy. There isn’t one certain food that is advised or should be avoided and that’s why I encourage you to listen to your body to determine what fuels you the most. I know for me, when I lean towards a more paleo/whole foods diet, I have the most energy, but that might not apply for everyone. Find what works for you and go forth with it.
Are you a morning person? What tips and tricks have you found to be most effective in waking up earlier?