I’ve almost always been a night owl. Starting from my school days through college, I preferred staying up late to get my studying done. Even through my adult life, my natural preference is to stay up late – be it for finishing work, or working on this blog, or just doing stuff.
I’ve tried becoming a morning person. While it doesn’t come naturally to me, enough smart people seem to attribute their (insanely) early morning wake up times to a more successful and happier life to make me want to keep attempting to transform my habits.
While I haven’t been successful yet on my mission to become a morning person, there are a couple of things I’ve learnt from my numerous attempts. Firstly, and not surprisingly, when do I wake up early with intention and a semblance of a morning routine, I tend to have much better days than usual. My productivity, my energy levels, my overall mood – everything seems to be better.
Secondly, maybe the trick isn’t so much in waking up at 5am, but rather in learning to wake up better. This was a bit of an aha moment for me, and I’ve tried working on this part of late.
Far be it from me to implore you to become a morning person, but I did want to share a few things that can help you wake up better. Because really, what’s the fun in waking up like a grumpy person each morning?
10 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO EVERYDAY TO WAKE UP BETTER
This is a step-by-step manual for how to wake up better and it actually starts from the afternoon before. That might sound strange, but the seeds of a better morning are in fact sown the day prior.
1| AVOID A LENGTHY AFTERNOON NAP
I will never understand why we used to hate nap time as kids, but as a full-fledged adult, I am here to tell you that an afternoon nap is one of life’s gifts that we should not pass up on when the opportunity presents itself. :P
An afternoon nap is one of my most favourite things in the world. But anything over 40-45 minutes, and I wake up as a disoriented, barely-human version of myself. And I can pretty much kiss goodbye to any hopes of sleeping at a decent hour that night.
If you struggle with this too, my advice to you would be to cut back on your afternoon nap. Make it a power nap, instead of an afternoon sleep. :)
2| PLAN YOUR MORNING THE NIGHT BEFORE
So you’re done with your afternoon nap, finished all your evening activities, and now you’re in winding down mode. Before you switch off all your planning cells, take 10-15 minutes to plan your morning and the next day.
If you’ve already got a set morning routine and plan for the day, great. If not, just take note of all the things you need to get done the next day so that you have a loose structure and you know what’s on your plate.
Constantly winging it can leave you feeling like you’re doing a lot of things but not really achieving much. Putting together a structure for the next morning and the day – no matter how loose – will allow you to relax into your night, because you won’t be playing a guessing game anymore of what all you need to get done.
3| HAVE SOMETHING TO DO IN THE MORNING THAT YOU LOOK FORWARD TO
And while you’re in the planning mode, fit in something that will give you a reason to wake up excited. Whether it’s exercise, some alone time, writing, reading, a hot cup of tea, a decadent breakfast, or pottering around your little balcony garden, find that one thing that makes you excited and that you would love to do in the mornings. Bonus points if it does not involve screens. :)
Your “exciting thing” does not have to be the same everyday. Feel free to switch it up. You don’t want this to end up feeling like another chore that you need to fit into your schedule. You just want something that you’re excited about and that you look forward to doing!
4| PREPARE FOR YOUR MORNING
Okay, you’ve put together a plan for the next morning and day. You even have something in there that you’re looking forward to. Now you just need to prepare for it.
If you’re heading to work, plan what you’re going to wear – check if everything is ironed/clean. If you’ve planning to get in a morning workout, set out your gym clothes and shoes. If you need to cook first thing, plan out your dishes, and do some prep if you can help it. You get the drift, right?
The idea is to avoid unnecessary chaos in the mornings, because constant chaos eventually leads to anxiety. The more steps you take to eliminate the headless chicken syndrome, the more peaceful your mornings will turn out to be.
5| HAVE A RELAXING NIGHT TIME ROUTINE
With a plan in place for the next morning + some prep done as well, you can (and you should) ease into a relaxing night time routine.
Whether it’s putting on some Netflix, or taking a long shower, or a mindful skincare routine, or reading in bed, do whatever it takes to help you unwind. I won’t judge you for it, but if you can avoid screens before bed, you’ll win some bonus points on the healthy lifestyle scale.
6| SLEEP AT A DECENT HOUR
You knew this was coming, right?
That being said, I am not asking you to sleep by 9pm! All I am asking for is a decent hour. And in your heart of hearts you know that 3am is not it.
You don’t need me to tell you that staying up late isn’t the most conducive to happy mornings, especially when you have adulting things to be done. Like, getting to work on time. Taking care of the kids. Exercising. Cooking. Cleaning. Or whatever else adults do in the morning!
Personally for me, I’ve realised that if I am able to sleep by midnight, my chances of waking up better and having a good morning are that much higher!
7| WAKE UP WHEN YOU SAY YOU WILL
It’s a really small thing, but starting your day off by keeping this tiny promise to yourself can set you up for a better day. It does not have to be 5am. Or even 7am. Choose the time that works best for your schedule and your day, and wake up accordingly.
8| TRY NOT TO HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON
This used to be me not so long ago, until I realised it was not really helping me in any way.
While technically you’re giving yourself a few more minutes of precious sleep, it’s not really beneficial sleep. You’re somewhat awake from the first ring of your alarm, so you end up in this half here-half there world which doesn’t really do you much good.
So instead of setting yourself up for a groggy start, wake up at the first alarm, and then shut that thing off. You don’t have to immediately get out of bed at the sound of the alarm. It’s okay to take a few minutes before you’re willing to give up the comfort of your bed. :)
It takes a little getting used to, but reducing your dependence on the snooze button will definitely set you up for a better morning.
9| SMILE, OR SAY THANK YOU FOR A NEW DAY WHEN YOU WAKE UP
Try this for a few days and witness for yourself the difference that it makes to your day. It’s one of the simplest things you can do for yourself, but a really powerful one. It sets a positive, thankful tone to your morning, and you can carry that sense of peace in your heart throughout the day.
10| GIVE YOURSELF AT LEAST 30 MINUTES BEFORE YOU REACH FOR YOUR PHONE
The key to a happier morning – and ultimately, life – is being intentional and mindful about it. And scrolling through Instagram first thing in the morning is the exact opposite of mindfulness.
Allow yourself the luxury of starting the day on your terms and in tune with your inner needs. Even your emails can wait for 30 more minutes before you get cracking with them!
And that’s really it. The secret to waking up better is a little bit of planning and preparation the day before and starting your morning with small wins and a positive heart.
It’s not rocket science, but I know it feels daunting when you’re trying to set up a routine. Give yourself a couple of weeks with these steps and see if it does indeed work for you. Listen to the subtle cues that your body is giving you about your natural sleep/waking up rhythm. I’ve found that 7 hours and 15-30 minutes of sleep is optimal for me, so I try to plan around that.
Let me know in the comments below if this was useful for you! And feel free to chime in if you have any other suggestions on how to wake up better. Are you more of a morning person or a night owl? What does your sleep/wake up routine look like at the moment? As always, I am super curious to hear from you!
Images via The Creative Library