How to Become a Morning Person

Be successful, starting at sunrise.

Mornings are tough, but they don’t have to be. So whether you’re a morning person or an I-hate-mornings person, read on to learn how to craft the perfect morning routine.

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Why Do It?

Over 80% of Americans experience work-related stress which can negatively impact a person’s physical health. A morning routine provides familiarity which relieves stress and supplies a calmness to the rest of the day. Additionally, many morning routines that reduce anxiety, such as exercise or drinking a cup of tea, have the added bonus of improving one’s physical health. In that way, a good morning routine is like double-dipping, but no one can yell at you for it.

Morning habits establish the tone for the rest of the day. That’s why Navy SEAL, William H. McRaven, makes his bed as soon as he wakes up to give himself a sense of accomplishment that acts as momentum towards the bigger tasks of the day. Additionally, a set routine saves time by allowing you to switch from task to task without thinking.

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Morning Routines To Try

There’s plenty of habits to form in the morning, but we’ve curated a list of our favorites for your to test out. Each routine is organized into one of four categories based on the goal they accomplish: (1) Waking Up With Energy, (2) Calm Your Mind, (3) Get Off to a Productive Start, (4) Better Sleep for a Better Morning.

We’re starting with exercise because it’s a classic. In a study of 60 successful people, exercise was the most popular morning routine. To start, create a fitness plan that outlines what type of exercise you’ll do each morning. It might be endurance training or strength building or it might change each day. The key, as with any habit, is to make a plan so you can stick to it.

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Getting moving in the morning — to clarify, just getting out of bed doesn’t count here — can release endorphins, (counterintuitively) increase energy, and make you healthier so you can keep doing morning routines for lightyears to come. If exercise doesn’t call to you, here’s some additional ways to boost your energy during the second sleepiest time of the day (right before you fall asleep is the first):

  • Eat a protein-rich breakfast. Make the most of this routine by setting up a food tracker and meal journal to track your eating habits and stay healthy.
  • Stretch. While less taxing on your body, stretching still offers important health benefits and signals to your body that the day has begun.

Once your body has woken up, it’s time to focus on your mind. Before spacewalks, astronauts will often meditate to help ensure success. So treat your day as a spacewalk, and use your morning as the time to ensure success with some meditation. If you’ve never meditated before, that’s okay, it’s easy to get started and track in a notebook. You can use the Headspace app for guided meditation or find your own method of relaxation.

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Meditation in the morning doesn’t just reduce stress. It also has countless positive ripple effects including better relationships, lower blood pressure, and improved self-confidence. Or if you’re still wishing for more sleep, take solace in the fact that you might drift off during your meditation. For alternative ways to keep calm, try these routines:

  • Gratitude Journal. Using a gratitude journal is simple, and with only a few lines a day, you’ll notice an increased sense of optimism.
  • Do Something Fun. Practice an instrument, sketch a drawing, or spend time with your family. Take this time to do something you enjoy and that’s sure to boost your mood.

Up until now, your morning routine has been built around getting your body and mind right. Now it’s time to start checking things off your to-do list. You’ve got the best shot to stave off procrastination in the morning since it’s when you’re willpower is the strongest (that’s why the urge to eat a sleeve of Oreos comes exclusively at night). Open up your laptop, answer some emails, and watch as your productivity takes off throughout the day. If you’re looking to really launch your email skills into the stratosphere, try the Inbox Zero method.

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Whether your day calls for creativity or critical thinking, use your morning routine to engaging your brain to be optimized for the day ahead. Here’s some alternative ways to stimulate your mind in the early hours:

  • Read a Book. A study of 1,200 successful people found they all read. All of them. 100%. Plus, it (can be) fun.
  • 10 Ideas A Day. Really get those juices flowing by making a list of 10 ideas. The lists can be as complicated as invention ideas or as simple as a daily to-do list.

To have a successful morning, you first need to get a good night’s sleep. That doesn’t quite make sense, but you get the point. One key way to improve your sleep is setting consistent bed and wake up times which can be aided by a sleep log. A sleep log helps identify which sleep habits need improvement and naturally makes you proactive about achieving good sleep. To start this as a morning routine, choose a notebook, and record the hours you went to bed and woke up each morning.

Pro-tip: break out your protractor from 8th grade geometry to create a sleep log like the one shown below.

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Below are two additional ways to improve your sleep for not only a great morning, but also for better well-being. Notice that counting sheep isn’t included on this list because that is instead categorized as a way to lose your mind and stay up all night.

  • Sleep Cool. Spending the night at a slightly cool temperature tells your body it’s still sleepy time. This will help prevent reverse naps (that’s when good sleep is interrupted by a mid-night wake up) and keep you feeling refreshed.
  • Wake to Natural Light. Natural light communicates to your body that it’s time to wake up. This leaves you feeling much less groggy than being woken up by an alarm clock.

That’s the four key components to a perfect morning routine: (1) Waking Up With Energy, (2) Calm Your Mind, (3) Get Off to a Productive Start, (4) Better Sleep for a Better Morning. Pick the morning habits you’d like to incorporate into your daily routine and remember, like habit tracking, establishing a routine takes discipline and the patience to forgive a misstep. So write down your morning routine, stick to it, and enjoy better days.

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