Welcome friends to Episode #114 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. How we spend our mornings and evenings can often be reduced to the single phrase, “I’m not a morning person” or “I am a morning person.” If you’ve struggled with morning routines, you’ll know that it can feel challenging to get these new habits to stick, especially when you feel that you’re a night owl. Today, we’ll really check into the idea of mornings versus evenings – if one is better than the other – and most importantly, how to make it work for you.
So much of our days are running based on our habits. When we get up, what we do after we get up, even how we feel. All running on autopilot. Do you even remember the last time you got up and felt good? Refreshed and excited? What about the last time you went to bed, joyful and full of love? If you don’t feel like these things are your norm, I’ve got news for you. It’s possible.
Yet, it can feel like the mountain of waking up earlier is too big to climb. We struggle with going to bed earlier and hitting the snooze button in the morning.
Research has shown that true morning versus night people are actually due to biological differences. Most people actually fall into the category of being neither a morning person or a night person, biologically – but we might have a propensity for falling asleep later and waking up later. Research has also shown that there can be higher IQs related to people who are night owls, but societal norms and living conditions might create stress for those who want to go to bed and wake up late. You might have kids or a work schedule that would fit waking up earlier than you do today. Even if you feel you are a night owl, waking up earlier might just work better for you and your goals.
What’s the point of even trying to become a morning person?
Many of us associate waking up earlier with success. It means that we’ll have time to work on ourselves through meditation or moving our bodies, or get ahead in our work with some undistracted time. We associate discipline to an earlier wake-up and laziness with a later wake-up time. If you’re an achiever, you feel a sense of accomplishment from being disciplined so it’s natural for you to desire to create a morning routine.
You might also find that waking up early allows you to start the day with a feeling of preparation instead of rushing. Or your schedule requires you to be up at a certain time. Yet, if you’re “just not a morning person”, what do you do then? I’ll share with you 5 steps to become a morning person.
Step 1: Find a Reason
If you don’t have a reason to be up earlier than you’re used to getting up, chances are you won’t. We all know what it feels like to catch an early morning flight. We may not love it, but we are up and at the airport on time so we can catch the plane. If you’re in a season in your life where you don’t have to get up earlier and your current schedule is working for you, there’s no need to force yourself into an earlier morning schedule. The schedule serves us, not the other way around. Don’t make getting up early become a badge of honor if life is working.
If you do have a reason, then remind yourself of that reason every time you want to stay up later. Imagine yourself hitting snooze on the goal or dream you have – it will compel you to decide what you want more – excuses or results.
Step 2: Go to bed earlier
Your days begin with your nights so if you want to get up earlier, it goes without saying that shifting our schedule in the evening is also required. You don’t want to cut your sleep short each night in order to wake up earlier. You may not want to cut your evening routine short, but sleep deprivation over extended periods of time can have a significant impact on your physical and psychological health. Figure out what time you need to go to bed in order for you to have the sleep you need by the time you wake up at your new desired wakeup time.
Step 3: Start small
Start with small shifts of 15 minute increments so that your body isn’t thrown off by the schedule change. It’s easier to fall asleep and wake up earlier within a 15 minute window than it is with a 1 hour window. You can gradually shift this over time, but unless there’s a pressing need tomorrow for you to make the change – do it slowly. It will increase the chances of your success which will make it more sustainable in the long term.
Step 4: Be consistent
Pick consistent waking and sleeping times every weekday at the minimum. If you can do every single day of the week at the same time, even better. Your body likes to work on a rhythm and will then automatically wake you up and start getting sleepy at the same time every day. This keeps you from feeling extremely tired when you wake up or extremely awake when you go to bed.
Step 5: Keep trying
Many times we say, “I’ve tried doing it and it hasn’t worked for me” so then we give up on it and stop. It’s not hard to have great ideas. It’s actually harder to follow through on them. This is where accountability comes in. Give yourself accountability either by committing to a partner, coach or peer that you’re going to do what you say you’ll do. Tell them what you want to do, your reason and ask them to follow up on you. This gives you more reasons to keep trying and instead of thinking that not waking up when you said you would means that something’s wrong, you figure out what to do instead and how to try again.
Shifting into a morning person when you’ve thought of yourself as a night owl can feel very inspiring. I know it because I’ve experienced it myself. I was always that person that could stay awake, working and talking into the late hours of the night and bound out of bed in the morning – but over time, I needed to wake up earlier. I also realized that I was not a special unicorn and that I did need sleep. I also had work, kids and other goals that were important to me. I had to figure out how to use my time differently given the circumstances.
I did what I shared with you today and it’s allowed me to have time to have a morning routine and do it consistently for years. If I can do it, so can you. I urge you to consider that we are more flexible than we realize and that even if you’ve had a lifetime of habits going in one direction, you can still start today and it will be worth it. You might not become a morning person, but you can become a person who wakes up when they desire to in the mornings. Being able to do what you want without the self-sabotage is something that you can feel good about and is a skill you can take to other areas of your life where you also feel that “you’re not just that type of person.” I hope you know you might not be right now, but with the right tools and resources – you can be if you want. Once you know that is true for yourself, the question stops being, “can I do it?” to “what do I want to do?”
Have an amazing week. I’ll talk to you next time.
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