1. Adopt a healthy attitude
This was by far my favourite piece of advice and something that I realised I could work on myself. When the morning comes and I’m not ready for the day, my mind becomes cloudy and lethargic. I view the day with a heavy heart, rather than something to look forward to and explore.
Of course, adopting a healthy attitude and changing your frame of mind isn’t always easy. But, as I’ve learned from my colleagues, there are things we can do to help shift this.
- When you wake up in the morning, try not to let your mind look too far ahead. Check in with yourself, take a breath and just notice the morning for a moment or two.
- Consider making part of the morning just about you. What do you like to do? Listen to the radio, or perhaps a cuppa sets you up nicely for the day?
2. Get up, out and exercising
Exercising in the morning is something I have always wished I had the motivation to do. I appreciate this isn’t for everyone. But it turns out, for some, this is just what they need to set their day up to a flying start.
If you don’t want to launch yourself into a full-blown workout in the morning, try some morning stretches. One friend described how doing even a short workout routine at home can really help him to embrace the day. Why not give our 15-minute body weight workout or HIIT routine a go. You can do it at home and don’t need any equipment – just mind your head on the coffee table!
For some, a little bit more commitment was needed to get them up and exercising. One colleague told me how she books onto her morning exercise classes in advance. This public commitment helps her to stick to her plan. And once she’s moving, there’s no stopping her.
For me, just getting out to stretch my legs in the morning with a short walk helps. If I can, I do this before I’ve gotten ready for work. I’ll simply chuck on a trackie and go. I tend to head to the park behind my flat where I can take in the vast green space. I sometimes pass a few joggers or people out walking their dogs. I find this helps me to feel connected to the day without committing myself to interaction that I’m not ready for at that time in the morning.
3. Think about your bedtime
The above are great tips to help get your morning of to a good start, but crucial to their success is having a sensible bedtime. I know, a ‘sensible’ bedtime doesn’t exactly scream fun, but it really does help. I believe that it’s important to do things that enrich your life and make you happy (even if that involves a late night here and there). But, if you are struggling with getting up in the morning, maybe it’s time to reassess.
What do our experts say?
Most of us know how much sleep we should be getting. And even if you don’t know the exact amounts, you’ll likely know if you’re not getting enough shut-eye. Dr Luke Powles, Associate Clinical Director, told me: “If you want to become a morning person, it’s best not to burn the candle at both ends. Consider an earlier bedtime and better still, work on this gradually. If you’re used to going to bed at 11:30pm, chances are that when you hop into bed at 9:30 in the hope of rising early, you’ll lie in bed unable to drift off. So, do it gradually. Shave 10 minutes off your bedtime one week and get up 10 minutes earlier. The next week, increase this by a further 10 minutes and continue until you reach sleep and wake times that suit your routine.”
I also spoke to Julius Patrick, Senior Clinical Physiologist in Sleep and Respiratory at the Cromwell Hospital, to see what he had to add to the conversation. He said: “It has been suggested that during the morning hours, the ‘head office’ in a night owl’s brain remains asleep despite them being awake. And this is due to no other than sleep deprivation – when you get an insufficient amount, or opportunity to sleep.
“So, as a night owl myself, the first thing I do is to make sure that I get between seven to nine hours sleep each night. I also find it helps to drink a glass of water as soon I get out of bed (yes, before the coffee) as I find it helps to kick-start my day. I also splash some cold water on my face and take some time in the morning to do some mindfulness or meditation. If you wake up and you feel like you need to clear the clouds over your head, this might help. I also find it helps to set my intentions for the day by not checking emails or watching the news first thing in the morning. If I start my day by watching the news, I find it subconsciously has a further dampening effect on my mood.
“As Luke suggests, reprogramming your bedtime schedule to increase your sleep opportunity is also a good idea. It’s thought that approximately 30 per cent of the population are night owls and in the words of Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience at University of California, Berkeley, “this is not their conscious fault but more their genetic fate”. So if you’re struggling to get your head off the pillow in the morning, be kind to yourself – you’re not the only one!
“And finally, it’s important to note that, despite their best efforts, some people may not feel refreshed in the morning. This could be due to an underlying sleep disorder. So, if you’ve tried everything you can to feel more refreshed in the morning and nothing seems to work, I’d recommend speaking with your GP.”
For even more practical tips to help make your morning more manageable, keep reading – we’ve got you covered.
- Plan what you’re going to wear the night before – you’ll have one less decision to make in the morning.
- Pack your bag and get your bits together in the evening too – this way you can switch off when you get into bed and you won’t be kept awake worrying that you’ll forget something.
- Take a few minutes to choose and download an interesting podcast to listen to on your commute in the morning.
- Let the light in. You could use a wake-up light alarm clock, or I usually sleep with one half of the curtain open so that I can wake up to natural light in the morning. However, this might not be the best idea if you have street lamps outside of your window, as the artificial light might make it tricky for you to drift off.
Happy waking up!