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15 Tips to Help Night Owls Become Morning People

night owl, morning person, how to become a morning person, how to get better sleep, tips for productivity

Turn that yawn upside dawn! (That's not a real saying. But you get my point!)

If you’re like me, you almost never get to bed before midnight. Whether it’s because you work late, love nightlife, are trying to clean up after the kids or just can’t seem to fall asleep, being a night owl can wreak havoc on your life if you have to wake up early in the morning. In my case, I’m out performing a few nights a week, but I have to be up in time to get my daughter to school by 8:30. While I can manage alright by just kind of rolling out of bed, throwing her lunch together and getting her out the door, I wanted to find ways to feel more alert and alive in the morning. Yes, packing lunches the night before and planning outfits ahead of time can help, but that’s not all it takes to turn a night owl into a morning person. Becoming a morning person requires some slight behavior changes, a little positive thinking and a bit of planning, but you can easily – and effectively – incorporate all of the following tips without losing your sassy, party-person edge. So if you’ve got to get up in the morning for work, to take the kids to school, or both, here are some things I’ve learned (by trial and error) that can help you make the most of your day:


  • Don’t drink (as much) alcohol. 1 of 15
    Don't drink (as much) alcohol.
    If you're a night owl, chances are you like nightlife. If you know you're going to a party or event where there will be alcohol, make a pact with yourself not to drink more than 2 drinks. Consuming alcohol nightly really does take its toll.
  • Relax before you go to sleep. 2 of 15
    Relax before you go to sleep.
    You can't expect to get a good night's sleep if you just throw yourself in bed with your clothes on. Relax before you go to sleep and do some self-talk about the kind of sleep you plan to get. It's dorky, but it works! Tell yourself things like, "I'm gonna get some delicious sleep right now! I'm gonna dream about that sexy co-worker I have a crush on (who looks a lot like the guy in this photo). In my dream, we're going to romp around in a bouncy castle made of cupcakes!" There are physical exercises you can do to relax as you're falling asleep, too, like slowly tightening then releasing your muscle groups starting from your toes and working up. You can also try deep breathing, meditation and/or prayer to calm your mind. (Feel free to print this photo and post it on your headboard. Even if you're a straight dude. Hot is hot.)
  • Keep a journal by your bed. 3 of 15
    Keep a journal by your bed.
    That way you can write down whatever is on your mind before you go to sleep, either the events of the day or the stuff you have to do tomorrow. You could also keep a gratitude journal, an idea I would have written off as corny, but a friend gave me one and I've started to make a small list at bedtime of things that went well each day, and I find it to be helpful. If you've got nagging feelings that are preventing you from sleeping peacefully, write those down, too. I sometimes veer away from prose while I'm journaling and just draw or make a word collage. The writing shouldn't feel like a chore, it should feel like you're putting down baggage. If you had a great dream you want to write about in the morning, you can do that, too. Added bonus: journaling will help keep your penmanship in shape. No one writes by hand anymore!
  • Don’t stay up as late! 4 of 15
    Don't stay up as late!
    It's an obvious fix, and hard to do if you're a night owl. Even going to bed one hour earlier can make a huge difference, though. Instead of staying up til 2, give yourself a curfew of midnight so that you can be asleep by 1 am, for example. If you have to wake up very early, say at 5 or 6, don't go to bed later than 11. You should never get less than 6 hours of sleep.
  • Wake up to music that makes you feel happy. 5 of 15
    Wake up to music that makes you feel happy.
    When I was in college, I used a radio alarm clock that woke me up to my favorite pop station. It helped me always wake up in a good mood and got me excited about the day.
  • Sleep in a dark room with as few electronics present as possible. 6 of 15
    Sleep in a dark room with as few electronics present as possible.
    Many of you probably have TVs and radios in your room (like I said, I think there's value in a radio alarm clock), but feng shui experts will tell you that a bedroom should actually be completely free of electronics in order for optimal chi flow. Something about the energy buzzing around you, I suppose, but also the noise and light electronics give off can prevent you from falling into a deep sleep. Get blackout curtains if you don't have them - I got a pretty brown satin pair for a decent price at Lowe's. Great purchase.
  • Make sure you’re sleeping through a complete REM cycle. 7 of 15
    Make sure you're sleeping through a complete REM cycle.
    Sleep for a length of time that allows your body to complete several REM cycles. A REM cycle lasts for 90 minutes, so you should sleep for 6, 7.5 or 9 hours, not 8 or 10. Being interrupted in the middle of a REM cycle will make you feel out of it.
  • Trick your mind with the snooze button. 8 of 15
    Trick your mind with the snooze button.
    Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than when you need to get out of bed (making sure even the first alarm allows for that 90 minute REM cycle), and know how many times you can hit snooze. For people who love to sleep, this little trick can make you feel like you're getting "extra" zzz's and may make you less resentful about having to flip off the covers. You shouldn't go back to sleep when you're snoozing, but you can enjoy a few more cuddles - with a pillow or a mate.
  • Don’t play with your phone in bed in the morning! 9 of 15
    Don't play with your phone in bed in the morning!
    It's so tempting, especially because so many of us sleep with our phones, but it wastes time, will keep you in bed longer, and doesn't wake your mind up. If you want to be able to check Facebook in the morning, tell yourself you have to do it on your computer, that way it's a reward for actually getting out of bed. (Unless you sleep with your laptop, too. Which case - stop doing that.)
  • Do yoga or stretch when you wake up. 10 of 15
    Do yoga or stretch when you wake up.
    If you can't manage a 1/2 hour yoga routine, do even a few simple stretches, like cat/cow stretch, child's pose, and a modified salute to the sun. Deep breaths will send oxygen to your brain and moving your muscles is energizing.
  • Give yourself extra getting ready time in the morning. 11 of 15
    Give yourself extra getting ready time in the morning.
    I know it's counter-intuitive since you're not a morning person, but getting up earlier gives you time to take a longer shower, which can wake up your body and ease your aches and pains.
  • Drink coffee or tea in the morning at home. 12 of 15
    Drink coffee or tea in the morning at home.
    Use some of the extra time you give yourself to luxuriate in the whiff of a nice cup of coffee or tea. Warm liquids will warm your body up, and taking time to sit and focus will allow your mind to warm up as well. Also - EAT SOMETHING. A lot of us night owls tend to eat late at night, which is a horrible habit. Your body has trouble processing late-night snacks (or let's be honest, late-night meals) and at some point you will suffer from acid reflux, gas pain, weight gain and bloating, just to name a few. Not a good look! Or a good feeling.
  • Never get back into bed! 13 of 15
    Never get back into bed!
    Don't get back in bed once you've gotten up! Even if you just get up to pee and it's about the time you should be waking up - stay up. Falling back asleep will make you groggy, and you'll probably end up sleeping in too long then having to scramble to get ready. Feeling good in the morning is all about giving yourself time to acclimate to the day!
  • Try to plan something fun to do ahead of time. 14 of 15
    Try to plan something fun to do ahead of time.
    Planning something fun and special for first thing in the morning will make you jazzed to start your day. Even if you have to be at the office or drop the kids off by 9 am, can you schedule a fun stop-off before work one or two days a week? Maybe have breakfast with a friend? Stop by a lake or park? Something a little different to break up the doldrums and give morning a positive connotation.
  • Don’t drink coffee after 3 pm. 15 of 15
    Don't drink coffee after 3 pm.
    Drink water instead. And try to limit your caffeine intake in general. No more than 3 cups a day. (That allows you two in the morning and one for the afternoon slump.) Be sure you're monitoring your drink sizes as well. Instead of getting a large coffee when I'm out, I get a small. A large should count as two cups.

All photos via iStock

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Learn more about Carolyn at her blog.
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