HOW TO BECOME A MORNING PERSON
As I sit here writing this post at 7:30am, I realise how grateful I am to naturally be a morning person. By this point I’ve already meditated, drank tea in bed journaling, done a few morning stretches and made a smoothie to sip on whilst working. I feel alert, I feel ready for the day and I know that come 9:30pm my body will sound its sleepy time call and I’ll curl up until 5:30am the next day.
I know that having minimal trouble getting out of bed, even on sleepy days, is a blessing considering the kind of ‘schedule’ our world is in. But also because I’ve found myself on the yogi path, early mornings come hand in hand!
I get asked all the time by clients, friends and even strangers how to become a morning person. I understand that for those of you with a strong pull towards night owl behaviour that after a certain age (when you are young and partying being a night owl works in your favour) sleeping in just gets in the way of soaking up your day.
There are a few easy ways to start morphing into a morning person. It is possible, but for some of you who have been in a long habit of sleeping very late and rising late, this will be hard to break. I will stress though, that being a morning person isn’t just important for functioning in this world, but mostly, the benefits of rising early are health and wellness related.
The philosophy for jump-starting the day with an early rise comes from Ayurveda. The focus is on creating morning rituals that align the body with nature and its rhythms, to bring you into balance and to foster self-disciple and confidence.
Personally I need routine and especially a morning one. It helps me to feel grounded and stable. Two things that are vital to my overall wellness. When I feel earthed I find feelings of stress, anxiety and insecurity don’t torment me as much as they do when I’m flighty and un-anchored.
Try adopting just one or two of the following practices for a decent period of time – try a month. Give it some time to form and solidify into a new habit. You might come to find that your experience of each day radically changes. Oh, and don’t be surprised if you view mornings in a new light!
1) Have an intention
There is no point saying you want to become a morning person if you don’t have a clear intention as to why you are creating this shift. Is it because of your current life schedule? Do you feel frazzled in the morning as you madly get ready for work? Do you want to get a puppy that will need morning walks? Whatever your reason, write it down/journal it and be clear. Set the intention and put it out there
2) Look at your sleeping pattern
How many hours do you currently get and think you need? Most of us need between 7-8 for the body to restore. If you are currently sleeping from 12am – 8am then over the next few weeks ease yourself into a new pattern. For a few days try 11:30 – 7:30am. The next few days go to bed another 30-45mins earlier and wake earlier, respectively. Hopefully by the end of a 2-3 weeks you would have shifted your pattern slightly.
Eventually you want to aim to be in bed by 10pm at the latest and rising at 6am. Vata energy, according to Ayurveda, fills the pre-dawn hours of the morning. Vata is known for movement so this is the perfect time of the day to wake the body and mind. I can vouch for this. If I rise by 6 at the latest I am alert and focused. Anything after 7 and I start to feel heavy and groggy (Kapha period which is a slower and heavier energy).
3) Use tricks to trick yourself away
For some of us once our alarm goes off it’s a no-brainer. No thinking, just doing. We rise and the routine commences. For others, a few little tricks can help fool yourself awake.
- Put your alarm on loud and far away from you – annoying, but it’ll get you out of bed.
- Stop thinking… the moment you kick into rationalising your way ‘out’ of waking up, then you are in danger zone. Just sit straight up and get on with it
- Switch the light of straight away – this helps to reset your circadian rhythm and makes you a little more alert
- Brush your teeth and wash your face with cool water straight away – it’s hard to go back to bed once you’ve done these two, but also cooling the face and eyes is an Ayurvedic practice that helps balance the doshas and reduces the warm, pitta energy
- Make the bed – less inviting that way
- Turn on some music
4) Use your time wisely
The key to not undoing your hard-work when changing your sleeping pattern is to fill the free time you create in the morning. How do you want to enjoy the time you have in the morning? If you have nothing to ‘do’ then sleeping in will just seem like the obvious solution.
Perhaps you could try:
- Meditating for 20 minutes, enjoy the silence before the world wakes up
- Do a few breathing exercises
- Journal in bed, write down your dreams, goals for the day or what you are grateful for
- Stretching helps to open the body and prepare the mind – a series of gentle yoga stretches is a perfect, unless you already have your own regular daily practice
- Go for a sunrise walk – experience nature’s rhythms first hand
5) Eat a nourishing breakfast
From 6am – 10am is the Kapha period, a time when it’s best to exercise and move to counteract the heavier energy of Kapha. It’s important to ‘eliminate’ before eating, so activate your system – drink some hot water and lemon to get the digestion going. Breakfast is important but it doesn’t need to be huge and heavy. A nourishing breakfast that includes grains, nuts, seeds, yoghurt and a little stewed or baked fruit (fresh can be a little too acidic) can be the perfect way to ease into your day. The grains and nuts provide a good balance of quality carbohydrate with slow release energy and nourishing fat.
6) Be kind to yourself
Realistically, this will take time, so don’t set yourself up for a down-fall but putting the bar to high. Lower your expectations and just take it one day at a time. It’s a big transition but one that will offer so many rewards.
There is something quite special about creating space in the morning for you to experience, just for yourself. Overtime you’ll come to notice a change in attitude throughout the day and a clearer rhythm in your body, especially as you match with the seasons.
Signing off with an exhale.
Pause. Listen. Live.