We’ve all heard of the people who wake up early, get to the gym, eat breakfast, and read emails all before 7AM, right? How in the world do they do it?? Are they supermen and women? Have you tried it before and you were exhausted the whole day?
Believe it or not, it is not a superpower… You CAN do it too! Here are some tips and tricks to train your body, that’s right TRAIN your body to wake up early and get a head start to your day without feeling exhausted. Why emphasize “train” you may ask? Because it does take a conscious effort to make this happen. Let me explain..
1. Creating A Sleep Schedule:
You can try to get to bed earlier and wake up a few hours earlier than you were before, however trying is not going to be successful long term. It is important to establish a schedule around your sleep habits. Just like we create schedules around chores, bills, work, school, etc. Our sleep patterns and our body thrives better when it has a schedule.
I recommend you aim to fall asleep and wake up within the same hour each night and day. This may look like aiming to be asleep between 8-9:00 PM each night and waking up between 4-5:00 AM each morning. I, for example, aim to be in bed by 8:30 PM each night and I wake up at 4:15 AM each morning. By doing this, your body becomes accustomed to this schedule. You will begin to rewire your circadian rhythm (your sleep patterns). You will begin to get sleepier sooner and you may even begin to wake up before your alarm!
Tip: On your smartphone, set your sleep schedule. Apple Iphones have a feature in the health app where you can set your phone to go on sleep mode at your desired time. A reminder will go off maybe 15-20 mins prior to your bedtime to remind you to begin winding down. Then, notifications will be silenced to be sure you are not disturbed while asleep. You can adjust your schedule based on how many hours of sleep you would like.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Now if you are someone who believes you can function on 3 hours of sleep.. I’m sorry to break it to you, however this is NOT okay. Your body needs 7-9 hours per night to optimally function. If you are getting less than this each night then chances are you will be exhausted the next day no matter what. This is extremely important if you train/exercise daily or if you have a higher stress job/life. Bodies strengthen, heal, fight off illness, regenerate cells, process memories and experiences, and much more while we are asleep.
3. Create a Bedtime Routine
If you are someone who struggles to fall asleep at night, begin modifying what you do prior to getting into bed. Begin to wind down by decreasing your screen time. If you enjoy tea (decaf of course), sleepy time teas can help with trouble falling asleep. A magnesium supplement can also be effective at helping to fall asleep. *Before taking any supplements it is important to check with your doctor*. Dimming the lights, reading a book, playing soothing music or even listening to a meditation can help to quiet your mind before sleep as well. Find what works best for you!
I also recommend avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and simple sugars like candy, sweets, pastries, as well as fruit and starchy carbohydrates prior to going to bed. These can disrupt sleep or cause a spike in your blood sugar levels triggering an insulin and cortisol response. We want cortisol levels to be low prior to bedtime so we can fall asleep and have a better quality of sleep. Cortisol is the hormone that spikes and wakes us up in the morning so we do not want this level to be high before bed!
4. Don’t Hit Snooze!!
As hard as it may be… DO NOT hit that snooze button! Falling back asleep for 10 or 15 minutes is not going to help give you more rest prior to waking. It may actually make you even more tired. You will not be in a healthy sleep stage while attempting to get some more ZZZs in. You will wake up more agitated and foggy and this is not a good way to start your day.
5. Drink Water FIRST Thing After Waking
Aim to drink 8-16 oz of water first thing in the morning. Hydration improves mood and energy, helps with digestion, rehydrates you after a waterless sleep, and even improves cognitive function. Try keeping a glass or bottle of water by your bedside table!
6. Practice gratitude first thing in the morning
There is no better way to ensure your day starts on a positive note than to begin with gratitude. This can be as simple as speaking to yourself one thing you are grateful for. For others this may look like journaling, praying, or even meditating on gratitude. Whatever time you have for and what you prefer, do that. The point is to place positivity into your mind. It is very easy to begin thinking of the million tasks you have to do which can increase stress and anxiety. Start your day on the right thought.
7. Plan and prepare the night before
Preparation is the key to success. If you can set your clothes out the night before and pack your lunch or bags, it is a couple less things to worry about in the morning. This can help to decrease chaos and chances of forgetting something the morning of.
8. Have a balanced breakfast
I saved the best for last. Having a balanced breakfast is arguably the most important factor in improving energy levels throughout the day. If you start your day for example, with a Starbucks venti caramel frappe and your favorite pastry this is going to initially make you feel great, however, it is going to spike your blood sugar levels from the amount of sugar/carbs and then you will crash. The resulting crash will leave you feeling tired and cause you to crave more sugar. Then lunch time comes around, you have a carbohydrate dense meal like a sub, bag of chips, and soda. Another big spike in blood sugar levels to result in a crash… Do you see where this pattern is going?.. Break the cycle, break the fast in the morning and begin your day with a nutrient dense, high protein breakfast. This will stabilize your blood sugar levels and give you energy to tackle the day. A balanced breakfast may look like a veggie omelet with turkey bacon and ½ cup of blueberries or something convenient and quick like overnight oats made with a yummy protein powder and chia seeds! The idea is to have protein, a complex carbohydrate, healthy fats, and veggies if possible.
So.. How will you begin to train your body to wake early?
This may seem like a lot if you are just beginning to work on waking up earlier. My advice to you is to choose one goal at a time. Slowly incorporate these tips into your daily routine to make these changes sustainable. It will take your body some time to adjust so give yourself some grace, patience, and stay consistent!