How to Make Mornings Suck Less
When that alarm goes off in the morning, there’s nothing I want to do more than roll up into a tighter blanket burrito and postpone the day by at least half an hour. I know people say that the early bird catches the worm, but others have added that the second mouse gets the cheese – and I’ll take cheese over the worm any day.
Being a night owl, mornings are already tough as they are without Daylight Saving Time taking an hour of sleep away and making early mornings look like night. Some of us just aren’t programmed to function early in the day, but we have to force our sleep-deprived asses out of bed to keep up with a society that’s most active between 9 and 5.
Whether it’s out of necessity or curiosity, we can all benefit from starting our days earlier – science says so. There are also benefits to being a night owl, but this post will focus more on small changes to improve our quality of sleep and make our mornings more bearable. I can’t guarantee that you’ll be a bright ball of sunshine before the sun even rises, but at least you won’t be a zombie.
Prepare for the Day the Night Before
Having a clear picture of what tomorrow will bring makes it less aggravating to wake up to. The more you prepare the night before, the less stressed out you’ll be in the morning. And there are many simple ways you can do that.
Check the weather and plan an outfit accordingly.
Make a healthy breakfast that’ll be ready for you when you wake up. Some easy make-ahead breakfasts include overnight oats, chia seed puddings, or a bag of frozen fruits to blend into a smoothie.
If you use a planner or bullet journal, write down the tasks that you want or need to do the following day and highlight one or two entries that are top priorities.
Put all important assignments, documents, and other bits and bobs that you’ll need into your backpack or bag.
And if you’re really ambitious, tidy up! It helps to start the day with a clean slate.
These simple steps not only clear up your mornings, but they can also tire you out before you head to bed which really helps with the next part.
Get Good Quality Sleep
The second step, and one that I still struggle with from time to time, is getting good quality sleep. If I could, I wouldn’t sleep at all. But if staying awake for 53 straight hours has taught me anything, it’s that your body will absolutely hate you all day – not just in the morning – if you’re not consistently getting enough sleep.
For adults between the ages of 18 and 64, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep. That sleep duration increases to 8 to 10 hours if you’re a teen. That may sound like a lot, but your body needs those hours of rest to recharge and repair itself. I can write an entire post on sleep, but I’ll just keep it to a handful of tips for now.
Like thousands of other blogs and articles will tell you, unplug at least an hour before bed. Use that time to prepare for the next day or give yourself a good pampering. I like to use that hour to read or draw. It’s also an excellent time to write in a journal! Not only is reflection good for your mental health, but it’ll also relieve stress and get some weight off your shoulders, a weight that would otherwise keep you up at night.
Go to bed and get up at consistent times, even on the weekends.
If your sleep schedule is out of whack, slowly get it back on track. Whenever I try to sleep at 11PM after sleeping at 4AM the night (uh, morning) before, I have the worst migraine the next day. Not fun. I recommend slowly working your way up to the bedtime that you want. You can do this by sleeping 10 to 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach your ideal bedtime.
Add lavender to your routine to promote restful sleep. I’ve seen people use lavender pillow mists, body lotions, and oils. I actually don’t like the smell of it (sorry), so whenever I want to sleep like a baby, I drink lavender chamomile tea with unsweetened almond milk and a tiiiiny amount of honey at least two hours before bed.
·Do light exercises, but not too close to bedtime.
If all else fails, maximize your sleep with sleepyti.me. You enter the time you want to wake up, and it’ll tell you the best times to fall asleep based on the circadian rhythms. You can also input the time you’ll fall asleep to find out when you should be getting up. But remember that just because sleepyti.me gives you an option for four and a half hours of sleep, it doesn’t mean you should go for it.
Roll out of Bed
The real struggle. Some people take drastic measures to do this, like buying those tiny robot alarm clocks that force you to stumble out of bed and chase it. Yeah, no thanks. Here are some less extreme ways to get out of that warm and comfy bed.
Have your blinds and curtains slightly opened to allow natural sunlight in. That’ll help your body wake up.
As much as you want to cradle into a cocoon, kick off your blankets and stretch out your limbs as much as possible. You can do this while lying down, and it’ll still signal to your body that it’s time to get up. Then, when you can sit up, you can proceed to a lengthier stretching routine, and even yoga, to really wake yourself up.
Keep a bottle of water nearby to hydrate yourself first thing in the morning. Cold water is especially effective for me, which is why I use a bottle that can keep cold beverages cool for up to 24 hours.
Have something warm to put on when you get out of bed. Part of the reason why we want to stay bundled up in our beds is that it’s so warm compared to everything else around us. Have a fuzzy robe or socks within arm’s reach so you can warm yourself up immediately.
Give yourself a reason to get out of bed. That can be in the form of an event, a long-term goal to work towards, or a part of your morning routine, which takes us to the last part.
Also, don’t forget to make that bed!
Have a Solid Morning Routine
Whether your morning starts at 4:30AM or 8:00AM, it helps to have a routine to keep those earlier hours stress-free and set you up for a productive day. How we spend our mornings will vary based on profession, responsibilities, and definitions of self-care, but you want to make sure your routine doesn’t tire you out before the day even starts.
Have a very simple, but refreshing, skincare routine to wake up your senses. Some days, I just splash water on my face and I’m good to go. Others, I do the full five-steps. One thing that’s consistent, however, is eye cream. I recommend keeping them in the fridge because the cooling effect is great for tired eyes.
Stretch or do yoga. And if you have the time, squeeze in a light workout.
Read or write in a journal in the morning. As tempting as it is to scroll through social media or check emails, those can wait. Starting your morning unplugged can help relieve stress.
Drink water or tea. If I decide to drink coffee that day, I don’t want to drink it too early in the morning, otherwise, the crash will come sooner than I’d like. Instead, I first wake myself up with a glass of cold water. Sometimes, I’d add a squeeze of lemon. And if I’m feeling extra, I’d make some fruit-infused water the night before. I’d then follow it up with hot green tea. It has a bit of caffeine but with more antioxidants and no crash.
Have a healthy and filling breakfast. Make sure that your most important meal of the day is a nutritious balance of fiber, complex carbs, healthy fats, and protein. It sounds like a lot to prepare and eat, but it can be as simple as a veggie omelet with a side of fruit, an avocado toast topped with cherry tomatoes and an egg, or oatmeal with fruits and almond butter.
Schedule a fun activity in the morning. That could be taking a class with a friend at the gym, picking up a creative hobby, or spending time with loved ones.
Changing up your routine and sleeping habits isn’t easy, but with patience and discipline, you’ll find something that works best for you and your body. You don’t have to love mornings, but you can at least make them less annoying.