You've likely heard that either you're a morning person or you're not. Well, we're here to set the record straight. Yes, research does suggest there are different chronotypes, early risers (morning larks) and late-night enthusiasts (night owls), who reach peak energy levels at different times of the day based on their circadian rhythm. But just because you consider yourself a night owl, that doesn't mean you can't become a morning person—and learn to love it in the process. We spoke with an expert who reveals how to be a morning person: 10 hacks that actually work.
According to the Sleep Foundation, there are a multitude of ways to have more energy in the mornings and kickstart your day with a positive attitude. These include adopting good sleep hygiene habits, getting enough exercise, and timing your meals, to name a few. To help dispel the myth that early risers are born, not made, we consulted Destini Moody, RDN, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and sports dietitian with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares 10 simple hacks to help those struggling to get out of bed become morning people. And the best part? They actually work!
If you're ready to stop smashing the snooze button and start jumping out of bed with enthusiasm, keep reading for Moody's 10 effective hacks on how to become a morning person. And when you're done, check out How Long Do You Need to Work Out for the Best Results?
Becoming a morning person isn't an overnight transformation. Start by gradually adjusting your wake-up time, giving your body the chance to adapt to the new schedule. A slow and steady approach will make the transition more manageable, allowing you to establish a sustainable routine.
Moody says, "Don't set yourself up for failure right from the start. When starting this journey, pick a few days a week to be a morning person and what evening and morning routines work to help you succeed. For example, go to bed 30 minutes earlier each day, wake up 30 minutes earlier the next day, and so on until you're at your new routine seven days a week."
Ditch the blackout blinds, and wake up with the sun.
Natural light is a powerful cue for regulating your circadian rhythm. Instead of blackout blinds, let the morning sunlight filter into your room. This approach helps you wake up naturally and keeps your internal clock synced with your external environment.
"A key factor to improving your sleep hygiene is to be in tune with your circadian rhythm," Moody explains. "One way to do that is to expose yourself to the daylight at the proper time, as your natural biological processes can get the message that it's time to start your day. Blackout blinds keep your brain from getting this message and waking you up like nature intended."
Get up as soon as your alarm goes off.
While it's tempting to hit the snooze button on repeat, training yourself to get out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off can prevent the temptation to stay in bed longer than necessary.
"If you still feel drowsy, sluggish, unfocused, and moody after waking up, you may be experiencing sleep inertia," says Moody. "One study found that using snooze on your alarm clock increases sleep inertia as it breaks up your sleep. The science says that you will likely feel much more awake if you get out of bed right away."
Choose a pleasant alarm.
Choose an alarm tone that gently nudges you awake rather than jolts you into consciousness.
"As effective as those jarring, loud alarms can be at getting you out of bed, they're not the best way to wake up as they get your adrenaline pumping as soon as you wake up," explains Moody. "Adrenaline releases the body's stress hormones and causes you to start your day stressed before your feet have even hit the floor."
Don't sleep in on the weekends.
Consistency is crucial when adjusting your internal clock. Avoid sleeping in on the weekends to maintain a steady wake-up time, allowing your body to establish a reliable rhythm throughout the week.
"Studies have shown that sleeping in on the weekends disrupts your circadian rhythm even if you wake up early during the week. So, if you truly want to be a morning person, you'll have to do it seven days a week to make it last," says Moody.
Have a wind-down routine the night before.
A smooth morning routine begins the night before. Plan your mornings the night before and create a calming pre-sleep routine to signal your body that it's time to wind down.
"You should get at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night, so tailor your bedtime routine to make this happen. Start winding down about one to two hours before your established bedtime. This means making some sleepy tea, turning off the TV, and opening a book. Don't expose yourself to the melatonin-suppressing blue light from your phone by putting it on night mode or avoiding it altogether," Moody explains.
Embrace morning exercise.
Whether it's a brisk walk, a quick bodyweight workout, or yoga, morning physical activity can invigorate your body and mind for an energizing start to the day.
"Consistent exercise has been shown to keep your circadian rhythm functioning optimally," says Moody. "Morning exercise can also tire you out enough to fall asleep more easily at night. Additionally, exercise helps relieve stress, which is one thing that could be keeping you from sleeping through the night whether you realize it or not."
Schedule a motivating morning task.
Give yourself a reason to look forward to mornings by scheduling a motivating task at the start of your day. It could be anything from pursuing a hobby to tackling a creative project that excites you.
"If you're having trouble not hitting the snooze in the morning, do something to force yourself to be up at a certain time, such as paying for a yoga class that meets at 6 a.m. or make an agreement with a friend, family member, or neighbor to take a run before work. Bonus points go to outdoor tasks, as the exposure to natural sunlight can help nourish your circadian rhythm and prevent sleep inertia," says Moody.
Aim for an earlier breakfast to give your body the fuel to kickstart your metabolism and energize you throughout the day.
"Digesting food is a highly metabolic process that requires a lot of energy from the body," Moody explains. "When you eat too close to bedtime, it's bad news for your sleep routine. This is because sleep time is the one time your body has to fully recover from the day it just had, be it repairing your muscles from your workout, dumping short-term memories that are no longer needed, or simply resetting your system for the next day."
Limit your caffeine consumption.
While a morning cup of coffee can be a delightful ritual, be mindful of your caffeine intake. Try not to rely on it as a crutch to wake up, and consider limiting caffeinated beverages—especially in the afternoon and evening, to support quality sleep.
"It goes without saying that you shouldn't have coffee or other caffeinated substances before bed if you want to sleep well. However, you should also be careful of hidden sources of caffeine like green tea, hot chocolate, or soda too close to bedtime. Also, depending on your caffeine tolerance, caffeine can continue to affect you into the evening even if you had it in the late afternoon," says Moody.