If you’re like me, waking up in the morning can be the hardest part of the day. I want so much to be a morning person, but alas, nightowlery is the life for me. (Darn that Netflix!) That warm cozy bed is just too enticing to leave, so why should I?
This is what goes through my mind every morning, and its hard to break that habit. Due to recent, pleasant developments in my life, I absolutely must wake up before the sun rises, so I have made it my mission to find ways to wake up early without being a total grouch. In my search I received many suggestions from friends and family, and to my surprise some of them actually worked!
The routines and methods that I used have really been helping me jump out of bed feeling more refreshed and motivated to start the day. For me, it’s all about stimulating the brain. There are so many ways to get your brain working in the morning, without having to read some Roberto Bolaño masterpiece to do it. (But, who knows: that might work for you too!) While some of these methods may not be the right fit for you, don’t worry fellow night owls: there are plenty of resources out there to help you wake feeling refreshed and energized in the wee hours of the morning!
Let’s dive in.
Tip #1: Set your coffee pot to automatically brew just before you wake up.
Look at that photo. Can’t you almost smell the rich, bold scent of coffee brewing? Many people drink coffee to wake up in the morning, but did you know that just the smell of coffee can be enough to get you out of bed?
My dad has a tendency to wake up early (even though he’s retired), and make coffee. Without fail, every time I visit them, I end up getting up much earlier than I would at my house. I had always wondered why, but now that I’ve set up my coffee pot to brew just before my alarm goes off, I understand!
According to Caffeine Informer, scientists have determined that because coffee has such a powerful and unique scent, many scent receptors in the human brain are activated. Your brain can almost be trained to associate the delicious scent of coffee with waking up early in the morning. The scent and taste of coffee are tied so closely to many of our “pleasure centers” that we can’t help but wake up and drink some!
Tip #2: Listen to energetic music!
Now this is one thing that I have always done to help me wake up. Listening to music stimulates the brain, unlike any other form of stimulation. If you find the right music, it will tempt you to join in on the song and dance. Personally, I like to listen to fast paced music in the morning. (Dead Kennedys, anyone? Anyone?) Getting focused on the beat and lyrics takes my mind away from the reality that it’s 5:30 in the morning!
According to a study published in Music and Memory, levels of brain activity increase when a subject hears music. By using a PET scanner and an injection of radioactive glucose, scientists were able to see the subjects brain “light up” when they heard music. They found that listening to music gives the listener a dopamine boost, thus increasing their motivation and emotional response.
Tip #3: Get up and move!
Exercise is a great way to get your body and mind motivated to start the day. This one was definitely hard for me. Doing physical activity rarely motivates me to drag myself out of bed, but I promise once you get in the routine, your body will crave the movement in the morning!
Even if you don’t want to start the day with a rigorous cardio workout, a few simple yoga moves are enough to get the blood pumping. Here is a link for a quick, 5 minute yoga routine that will energize you enough to get your day started off just right!
Tip #4: Eat a good breakfast!
I know we’ve all heard that the most important meal of the day is breakfast, but that’s because it’s true! Eating a good breakfast will get your metabolism going in the morning. Of course, you don’t have to eat this delicious and hearty looking German feast, but just something that will make you feel satisfied in the morning. Greatist has compiled a list of quick, healthy, and tasty options for breakfast. My personal favorite is the “Avocado Toast with Egg,” because who doesn’t love avocados? (I put them on pretty much everything, so I might be a little biased.)
Tip #5: Drink plenty of water!
Another way to rev up your metabolism in the morning is to drink at least 16 oz. of water right when you wake up. When we sleep through the night we tend to become dehydrated, resulting in that groggy, sluggish feeling in the morning. Because drinking water right when you wake up causes your metabolism to kickstart, you are also much more likely to consume fewer calories!
Tip #6: Read a book before bed.
Lately I’ve adopted the habit of reading a few pages in a book before I go to bed. (I suggest David Foster Wallace’s “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.”) There are so many benefits to reading before bedtime. One big benefit is that reading before bed relieves stress that otherwise might keep you awake late into the night.
According to the University of Minnesota, “reading can reduce stress by up to 68 percent.” It works “better and faster than other relaxation methods” because “your mind is invited into a literary world that is free from the stressors that plague your daily life.”
I’ve found this to be very true; after reading a few pages, my thoughts about the days stresses melt away and I become very sleepy. If you can get in just one more hour of sleep, it might help you wake up early in the morning.
Of course you can write anything you would like, but once again: giving your brain a kickstart first thing in the morning can increase your alertness significantly! Usually I’ll just write one or two things about the dreams I had the night before, and that’s all I seem to need to wake up a little. Plus, it’s kind of funny to remember all of the bizarre things my brain cooked up while I was asleep!
Tip #8: Treat yourself!
Another way to train brain to work earlier in the morning is to use positive reinforcement on yourself. I tell myself that if I wake up on time (without hitting snooze!) I can buy myself a chocolate bar at the end of the week. Sometimes this works for me if all else fails. You can train your brain to expect the reward when you wake up at a certain time. After awhile, your inner clock will just automatically go off at that time.
Tip #9: Get some good ole Vitamin D!
Many of us wake up before the sun rises, but it is so important to get that daily dose of vitamin D in the morning. According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, exposing yourself to sunlight first thing in the morning raises cortisol levels in your brain and makes you more alert. When I get up, I’ll go outside and drink my coffee, and it really does help me wake up! (Of course, it also might be the brisk mountain air too.)
Tip #10: Use your smartphone!
Whether you have a smartphone that runs on the Android or Apple operating system, there is an app out there that is designed to help you wake up. These apps range from simply ringing every 5 minutes to making you play a game to disengage the alarm. Here are some top rated apps that have worked for many people:
You can do it!
In conclusion, waking up is hard! But once you find the method that works for you, leaving the comfort of your bed will seem less like an insurmountable hurdle and more like an adventure! So remember: get plenty of sleep, but seize the day once that alarm goes off. Because dreams only become reality when you go out and make it happen!
Until next time: sleep well, live well and be well!