Last month, I shared 5 Ways to Conquer Your Bedtime Routine. When we really started to look at our bedtime routine, we more easily found ways to change our morning routine as well. While my sister was visiting, she asked if we were morning people or not and I said we're not terrible in the morning, but then the next day I woke up earlier than both her and Luke and she came downstairs and started talking to me and I said, "No, it's not time to talk yet." So I guess I'm not a morning person after all. I need all the help I can get to having a calming, peaceful morning, so I'm here to share with you a few things that I've found work for me.
WAKE UP ON A REGULAR SCHEDULE
I promise you I love sleeping in as much as the next guy! But I've also seen the consequences of not sticking to a regular sleeping schedule on weekends. For nearly two years, I had a job that required I wake up sometime between 5:00 or 5:30. Of course I wouldn't wake up that early on Saturday and Sunday and sometimes if I slept too late on Sunday, I couldn't get to sleep at a reasonable time that evening and really suffered upon returning to work. Now, we wake up at a slightly more reasonable time (about an hour later) and sleep in until about 8:30-9:30 on the weekends, so it's not too much of a difference. Unless I'm absolutely exhausted, I'll set a "just in case" alarm on the weekends for 9:30, but I've found that my body has gotten into a rhythm so I'm not sleeping till noon like I did when I was in high school. The most important piece of this, however, has been our Sunday night routine. Generally, we don't schedule anything on Sunday evenings, so we're guaranteed a relaxing night at home. We watch Game of Thrones and do a little self care. We stick to our routine and are sure to be in bed at a reasonable time, even if we're not quite ready to fall asleep.
USE A GENTLE ALARM CLOCK
I've been using the SleepCycle app as an alarm for years and Luke started using it after I moved. Still, we would hit snooze for as long as possible and then finally jump out of bed at the very last minute, throw on some clothes, brush our teeth, and run out the door. It was not an enjoyable way to spend the morning. So we decided to start waking up earlier than the last possible minute. We both changed our alarm from 7:00 to 6:30, meaning our app would wake us up when we were sleeping the lightest, any time between 6:00 and 6:30. It's a bit of an adjustment because you have to be prepared to wake up 30 minutes before you need to. But keep in mind that it's analysing your sleep so it's waking you up at the best time (you're sleeping the lightest), which means even though you're missing out on 30 minutes of sleep, you're probably less groggy when you do wake up. The app also uses a really soothing noise to wake you up, that gets progressively louder, and snoozes itself when you pick up or move your phone.
STAY UNPLUGGED AS LONG AS POSSIBLE
This was something I was really focused on while I was unemployed. I had no real routine, especially when it came to sleep, so I would often sleep quite later in the morning and immediately pick up my phone when I woke up. There were days when I didn't even get out of bed till noon because I had passed an hour or two mindlessly scrolling on my phone. There's no arguing that having less screen time is a good thing, but it's particularly good in the morning and evening when you're adjusting to and from sleep. I've found staying off my phone in the morning also helps keep me present and on time. Whether you're looking for updates from your friends or the news, you're bound to find something that could create an emotional reaction from you, so why start your day off that way? Get out of bed and start your morning routine before you allow the rest of the world to effect you. Set a goal for yourself--whether it's not picking up your phone for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, or whatever would work for you--and try to stick with it. You'll be surprised what else you can accomplish first thing in the morning if you're not catching up on the news or checking your Instagram.
DO A FEW MINUTES OF YOGA
I know I included this in the bedtime list, but I'm a bigger fan of morning yoga than I am of evening yoga. I've never been one to work out first thing in the morning, but yoga is something I can manage. Even if it builds to be a quite intense flow, it usually starts out slow and lets your body wake up. We've done sequences with varying intensity and I've found all of them to be suitable for the morning, whereas in the evening, I only want to do slow, calming sequences. Not only is it a great way to wake up your body and your mind, but you start the day in a great place mentally and you've already done some movement for the day. It helps me feel accomplished and less guilty for skipping an evening workout or walk since I've already done something.
One morning back in January, I decided to check to see if there was a Headspace meditation for waking up. Sure enough, there's not only one, but a few options to choose from. I gave it a shot and realised it would be a great addition to my morning routine. I don't always have the time to do it, but I can tell a difference on days I start with meditation and days I don't. I try not to miss it on days when I'm particularly anxious or nervous about something coming up later in the day. It helps me start with a clean slate and feel grounded and focused.
Different things work for different people though and sometimes you just need to try some things to see what will work best for you. It's all about customising it to fit your needs and committing to it. You'll be surprise at how much it changes your ability to wake up rested and start your day on the right foot.
Updated March 2019.