Ok, I’d never thought I was ever going to write something like this, not in a million years. Ask anyone who knows me. I’ve been known (and probably most of the people still think I am) to be the person that sleeps in, wakes up around 11 am and doesn’t even have breakfast because it’s always lunchtime when life starts for her. Since I was a little kid I loved to sleep in. From middle school to high school, my mom used to wake me up just 10 minutes before the time I used to set the first step out of the door. Those 10 minutes were pretty rough, always in a rush, but I used to prefer to sleep in and run than wake up earlier. I always skipped breakfast (I know, bad habit) because I still now don’t have a huge appetite in the morning, my stomach is closed to anything, not even sweet food can attract me. During university, if I didn’t have classes in the morning, sleeping in until 10 or 11 am was normal to me. Even skipping classes because too early in the morning was me.
When I moved to the States, two years ago, the first thing that I noticed was that I couldn’t sleep past 8 am. At first, I started blaming it on the jet lag. “My body still thinks I live 7 hours ahead” so I told myself “it will pass”. But months started to pass and my body couldn’t stop waking up at 8 am or even earlier. For a while, I blamed it on my host family waking up early and making noises upstairs (my room is in the basement and American houses are built with paper). Slowly, I’ve started to realize that it wasn’t their fault, it was me and that instead of fighting that new me, I should have embraced it. So I did and I slowly understood what made me a morning person.
LET THE LIGHT IN
Definitely not a religious quote, I’m talking about literally let the light of the sun in. While I was trying to understand what made my body constantly awake by early morning I fastly realize that it was because of the difference between Italy and the States and not, I’m not talking about the jet lag. At home I sleep with blinders at the window, no sun comes in except tiny little rays. I grew up like this, pitch black in my room and I could sleep forever. On the other hand, here, those curtains can shade the light but the room is pretty bright even with them on. So I found out that what I just needed to be a diligent morning person was just a little bit of sun. That was probably the major change in a really positive way. I don’t always wake up rested, sometimes I just turn around and wait for the alarm to ring. Other mornings, on the other hand, I wake up even before the alarm goes on because of the light. I feel rested, peaceful and ready to start the day without the annoying sound of the alarm.
TAKE IT SLOWLY
Another trick that I’ve learned and then put to work was to set my alarm one hour before the time that I should have actually needed to be awake. I’ve actually started with half an hour. Let’s say, I had a yoga class at 9:30 am. I knew I needed to be there at least 15 minutes before and that it took around 5 minutes to get there, so around 9:10 am I should be there. At the beginning, my alarm was set at 8 am. So I had half an hour to chill, reply to texts from Europe received during the night, check stuff and then another half an hour to get ready and eat something easy. Now my alarm is actually at 7 am because I’m doing this PIIT28 training that I can easily do at home and that takes around 29 minutes, plus 5 minutes of warm-up and 5 minutes of stretching at the end. The old Elena would have done that workout at night. The new Elena, knowing how tired she is after a day of work, likes to chill in the night and workout in the morning. All of this didn’t happen in one night. It took me around one year to switch from the 8 am to the 7 am the alarm but I don’t regret it. I actually like it. I wake up slowly, I take my time and then I have much more time to do other things.
FIND A PURPOSE
If you are not a morning person and you don’t have a job that forces you to wake up early, well, that’s a problem. Like I’ve said before, when I was in Italy I used to struggle to wake up and go to class at University. Why? Because I didn’t like what I was doing. I would have preferred to stay in my cozy warm dark room then step outside and attend classes that I didn’t like. On the other hand, since I moved here something clicked in my brain. I didn’t want to waste my time in bed anymore, I wanted to do something, I wanted to be awake and enjoy my day. When I started yoga I was even more excited to wake up and go to class. I think this, besides the light and the alarm, this reason is the most important one in my shift of attitude towards mornings. Some mornings I still struggle but it’s more because I’m tired than because I want to escape the world. Find a reason that makes you want to go out of bed. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just planning a yummy breakfast is an amazing trick. I personally use yoga and working out as my main purpose, you can use whatever makes you happy.
GO TO BED EARLY
It may sound a stupid advice but it’s the truth. The earlier you’ll go to bed, the earlier your body will wake up rested. When I was in Italy I used to go to sleep past midnight, around 1 am or 2 am because I couldn’t sleep. My biorhythm was all wrong and since I was sleeping a lot during the day, my body couldn’t fall asleep until late at night. Here, I rarely go to bed past midnight. I still browse the internet, watch movies, read or write, but I do it until my phone tells me to go to sleep. There’s this amazing iPhone feature that allows you to set a bedtime. Half an hour before your time you’ll receive a notification telling you that you should get ready to go to bed. I actually don’t go to bed at 11 pm, like my bedtime says, but when I see the notification I know that it’s time for me to finish what I’m doing, turning off the computer and go to bed. Once your routine sets, you won’t even have trouble falling asleep like I usually did.
Do you have other tricks on how to become a morning person? Share it with me in the comments below. Some mornings are still a struggle, I always need more and more motivation since I don’t have a common 9am-5pm kinda of work (thank God).