7 Easy Habits That Will Help You Fake Being a Morning Person, According to Experts

published Jan 27, 2021
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There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits all seven to nine hours of sleep every night, the amount of sleep you actually need — as well as the best time for you to fall asleep and wake up the next day — depends entirely on your brain and body’s unique circadian rhythm (aka your internal clock).

However, sometimes even the most dedicated of night owls have commitments that require starting the next day bright and early. “The good news is that whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, your state of mind is in your control,” mindset coach Jennifer Dawn explains. “With practice, you can learn to adjust your attitude about almost anything.”

Translation: No matter what time you prefer to fall asleep, it’s possible to feel more positive about having to wake up early. Here are seven small steps that mindset coaches say you can take to fake being a morning person (and maybe even transform yourself into one for good).

Plan for your morning the night before.

One easy way to ensure you feel better about waking up in the morning is to prepare for the day ahead of time. “Whatever you need to do after waking up early, prepare for it in advance,” says Vandana Mohture of Mind Art. “If you have to go somewhere, lay out your outfit the night before; if you plan to study or work, make sure your laptop/books are set up; and so on. Not only will this help you feel less overwhelmed when you wake up, it allows you to visualize and mentally prepare for the day before it actually begins.”

Set your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier than you wake up right now.

If you’re traditionally a late riser, Mohture says that setting your alarm just a half an hour earlier can help your brain and body slowly adjust to the idea of waking up in the morning. “It usually takes at least 21 days to establish a new habit, ” she explains. “The idea is to make a change, one step at a time, consistently, instead of forcing yourself to wake up.” 

So no, if you want to become a morning person, you don’t need to wake up and suddenly act like one. Mohture recommends gradually bumping your wakeup time up by a few minutes every day or every few days to ease yourself into an earlier schedule. “Drastically changing your wakeup time from 7 a.m. to 5 a.m. might work for a few days, but will likely not be sustainable. Instead, start by setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you typically wake up at first, and moving it up bit by bit till you achieve your desired goal,” she says.

Don’t hit the snooze button — start snoozing sooner.

No matter how satisfying it may be to press the snooze button when your alarm goes off, research shows it’s not doing you (or your mindset) any favors. Since the latter part of the typical sleep cycle includes deep, restorative REM sleep, disrupting it with five to eight minutes of snoozing can trigger everything from an increased heart rate and blood pressure, to feelings of grogginess and fatigue throughout the remainder of the day.

Instead of hitting the snooze button, Mohture recommends getting into bed at least 15 minutes earlier than you normally would so you can catch some extra Zzs that way. “Our minds respond to patterns, so making a habit of going to bed early can help train your brain to fall asleep faster.”

Congratulate yourself for getting up early.

A little self-encouragement can go a long way when you feel grumpy about waking up early. “Positive self-talk can reduce negative thinking, so every day that you wake up early, celebrate the win,” Mohture says. “Congratulate yourself for the accomplishment by looking in the mirror and tell yourself how proud you feel of achieving what you committed to. The reinforcement in a conscious state sends strong signals to your brain about how you are not only comfortable in this new state, but you are happy in it.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Start the day with an activity you love.

Waking up early is a whole lot easier when you have something to look forward to. “Probably the single greatest way to practice being more positive about waking up early is to attach something positive to it,” says Steve Scanlon, CEO of mindset coaching company Rewire. “Think about the kinds of things you enjoy and what positive activities you can look forward to upon awakening.”

If you’re looking for an enjoyable activity to practice in the morning that doesn’t take up a ton of time, Mohture recommends taking a short walk or jog around the block, or completing a ten-minute yoga practice,

Journal for a few minutes.

Whether it’s jotting down a to-do list for the day in your planner or writing about something you’re grateful for, research shows that journaling, even for just a few minutes a day, can lower anxiety levels and improve your mood. “Writing out your intentions for the day is a great way to get motivated in the morning, and stay focused on the tasks ahead of you,” Mohture explains.

If you find yourself overwhelmed after writing a to-do list in the morning, Scanlon says that making a quick list of three to five things that you’re thankful for can also be a big help. “Whether it’s writing about fresh air, good friends, or chocolate cream pie, starting your day with a gratitude list can counteract feelings of stress and anxiety,” he says.

Prep your room for the best sleep of your life.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but the more soundly you sleep at night, the better you’ll feel in the morning. “A good morning routine starts with a good night routine,” Dawn says. “If you are practicing poor sleep hygiene, it will make a good morning routine nearly impossible.”

If you struggle with getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night, Dr. Michael Gelb, director of The Gelb Center in New York City, says there are several steps you can take to improve the quality of the sleep you’re getting. “Cooling your bedroom to 68 degrees or less can help you fall asleep faster, as will turning off your phone or television at least two hours before bedtime,” he says. If you still can’t fall asleep, Gelb suggests incorporating a short meditation or deep breathing exercise into your bedtime routine. “This will help both your brain and body unwind before bed,” he explains.