When you were still in college, being a night owl probably wasn’t such a big deal. College students have a bit of freedom with their class schedules and can often arrange to only take afternoon or evening classes, which mean you can sleep in all morning. Once you’ve finished college and are out in the real world, things change, though.
Gone are the days of sleeping in until noon, now you have to be at work by 9:00 a.m. and have a two-hour commute to get there. It’s enough to make any night owl want to quit, but fear not: It is possible to adjust your internal clock and become a morning person! It will take a little bit of effort and dedication, but eventually you’ll forget what the world looks like at 1:00 a.m. with no trouble at all!
1. Set aside an hour every night to wind down.
For night owls like myself, it seems impossible to fall asleep early. It can be a real struggle, laying there awake in bed unable to get to sleep until finally you give up, get up, and end up staying awake later than you would have if you’d just gone to bed at your normal time. If you’re trying to adjust to a new schedule and become more of a morning person, it’s important to put yourself in the right mood first.
Take an hour before you need to sleep, and just spend the time unwinding. No business, no chasing after the kids, nothing that will get your stress levels up. Set aside this hour for a relaxing activity, perhaps a nice hot bath, cooking your favorite comfort food, reading a book, or listening to some soothing music. Avoid things like television and cellphones, however, as they are proven to stimulate your senses and keep you awake longer.
2. Stop hitting snooze.
It’s time to get serious, and you’re going to have to get rid of the snooze button to do it. The fact is, hitting that button and dozing off for another five or 10 minutes has actually been proven to make you feel sleepier, not more well-rested at all. There’s two reasons that hitting snooze is bad for your adjustment to morning person.
First of all, dozing off again for those last five or 10 minutes messes up your sleep cycles. This makes you feel worse and will cause you to drag your feet all day long. Second, you’re starting your day off on a bad note by procrastinating. What you do when you first wake up will set the tone for your whole day, so it’s time to get rid of your snooze button habit. If that’s difficult for you, consider placing your alarm clock on the other side of the room so that you’re forced to get out of bed to turn it off.
3. Adjust gradually.
No good will come out of doing a sudden, complete shift of your sleep schedule, and there’s no need for you to do that. Instead, adjust yourself gradually until you’re internal clock is on the right schedule. For example, if you normally wake up by 10:00 a.m., but your desired wake up time is 7:00 a.m., set your alarm for 9:30 a.m. tomorrow. Continue the process, getting up 30 minutes earlier every day until you are on your desired schedule. Don’t shock your system by going into a complete overhaul, that will do more harm than good.
4. Keep your schedule even on weekends.
I know you groaned when you read that, but when you’re still in the adjustment phase, it’s important to stick to your guns and set that alarm even on your days off. You can give yourself an extra hour, sure, but if you entirely let go of your new 7:00 a.m. wake up routine for the weekend, you could easily end up all messed up when Monday rolls around, and it will be like starting all over again.
After you’ve kept a certain sleep schedule for a while, your internal clock should eventually adjust until it feels natural, and then you’ll be waking up within an hour or two of your desired time even on weekends without having to set an annoying alarm. This is when you know you have finally become a morning person.
5. Adjust your environment.
Just as important as what you do before you sleep is where you do it. Make sure that the room you are sleeping in has ideal conditions for a good night’s rest. If there’s light coming in from outside, invest in some blackout curtains so that it’s not keeping you awake. Make sure the room is nice and quiet; pick up some ear plugs if you must. Try your best to keep the room at a comfortable temperature for you as well; whether you prefer sleeping in a cool room wrapped up in blankets or a warm room with just a light sheet, small things like these will go a long way towards a better sleep and having an easier time adjusting your sleep schedule as well.
Being a morning person or a night person isn’t genetic, and it’s not something you are stuck with for life. You can change your habits if you have the motivation to do so; just follow these steps for a good night’s sleep and one of these days, you’ll find yourself getting up early with no problem at all!