While the TikTok girlies are posting their "5-9 before their 9-5's" (basically, videos of them working out and ticking off 101 morning routine ideas before they start work), the rest of us are reluctantly rolling out of bed five minutes before our morning meetings. If you tend to fall into the latter category but want to start making the most of the early hours, you might be wondering how to become a morning person. 

So, question: Is it even possible to become a morning person if it doesn’t come naturally to you? According to the experts, there are many benefits to being a morning person. “When you wake up early, you benefit from having extra time to get things done, plus fewer distractions to disrupt your flow,” says mindset psychologist, Dr Rebekah Wanic. “The additional time can also be used to reduce rushing so your day starts with less stress and you’re able to incorporate activities for self-improvement, like exercise, meditation, reading, or even just a solid breakfast, into your morning routine.”

For those who work in traditional employment, Wanic says that being a morning person means your schedule aligns with standard work hours, making it easier to coordinate with colleagues, reduce stress and increase productivity. “Morning people also often have more regular sleep schedules and better sleep quality, which has both physical and psychological benefits," she continues.

Research indicates that there may be benefits to following a morning workout routine, as opposed to training later in the day, too. “Studies have shown that exercising in the morning is a great way to boost energy, reduce blood pressure, and improve focus and concentration,” says Victoria Anderson, clinical exercise physiologist and founder of Longevity Health & Fitness. “We are often more likely to make healthier food choices and decisions for the rest of the day after beginning the day on a high.”

Case in point: one 2020 study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, revealed that a moderate-intensity workout can improve memory, attention and decision-making, too.

That said, for all the research on the topic, there’s insufficient evidence to say for sure that being a morning person is in any way superior, points out Anderson. “For those that struggle to be morning exercisers, know this: it's not proven to be more beneficial to workout early doors.

If you are a late riser, asking your body to wake up hours before its usual schedule and start exercising will likely feel like a complete imbalance to the day, points out the expert. "Do make sure you start off with small, manageable changes to your sleep cycle," she advises.

That said, if you are keen to switch up your routine, we've asked two experts to share their failsafe advice on how to become a morning person. Keep scrolling.

How to become a morning person: your guide

1. Create new habits

According to Wanic, it’s absolutely possible to become a morning person if it doesn’t come naturally to you. “The process involves adjusting your habits and routines to gradually shift your body clock,” she says.

She also notes that a mindset shift is required if you’re committed to becoming a morning person, though admittedly this can be easier said than done.

“Changing your mindset to look forward to getting up, and considering the benefits is really important,” says Wanic. “If you constantly let yourself dread getting up, it’ll make doing so that much harder.”

2. Plan ahead

You’ve heard the tip of laying your workout clothes out the night before a morning session a hundred times before – but that’s because it’s a really solid piece of advice. If you know that mornings feel challenging for you, making them as easy to navigate as possible will help no end.

As well as organising your gym stuff ahead of time, Anderson recommends taking care of a few additional tasks the night before. “Pre-plan your whole morning before you go to bed: set your alarm (and a couple extra), lay your clothes out, decide what you will eat in the morning, and so on, so your morning is made easier for you,” she says. “It's harder to fail when you have taken the correct steps.”

Try the following checklist:

  • Lay your workout clothes out the night before
  • Plan your breakfast
  • Pack your bag for work
  • Set several alarms.

3. Develop an evening routine

Sleep, as you’ll come to see, is the most pivotal part of the equation where being a morning person is concerned. If you haven’t had sufficient sleep, getting up and going will feel extra challenging. The trick is to do everything you can to improve the quality of your sleep – starting with an evening wind-down routine.

“Avoid heavy meals, caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, and limit screen time at night,” Wanic advises. You can also work on some mindfulness practices to encourage rest before bed, such as reading, journaling or meditating. Our guide to how to improve sleep will come in handy here.

4. Focus on quality sleep

As above: sleep is pretty important, not just for helping us get out of bed in the morning but also because it supports most bodily functions. 

“Insufficient sleep can leave us feeling groggy, less concentrated, with less energy and generally more lethargic, so this certainly isn't going to help you become a morning person,” says Anderson. 

How to make sure you're boosting your sleep quality? Be mindful of your habits throughout the day, ensuring you get enough movement and time outside, and also avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day, shares the expert. It also pays to be conscious of your sleep environment. Is it quiet, dark, comfy and cool enough for you to sleep? Sunrise alarm clocks, at the ready.

5. Make changes gradually

There's no two ways about it: being woken up by a 6am alarm when you only managed to get to sleep at 1am is a recipe for disaster. Instead of feeling energised to workout and have a productive morning, you’re likely to feel fatigued and knock-on to your energy levels for the whole day. 

Instead, Anderson advises making gradual changes to your sleep and wake-up times. “I'd recommend starting with changing your routine by just fifteen to 20 minutes to begin with,” she says. “If you are a 7:30am riser, for example, start by setting your morning alarm at 7:15am and go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. As this small change becomes achievable, continue to bring down your waking time, and adapt your sleeping time accordingly so you are not compromising sleep. Over time, you can see yourself change from a 7:30am riser to a 6am riser adopting healthy habits and with enough time for a morning exercise routine.”

Once you’ve got your routine going, make sure to go to bed at the same time every night and rise at the same time every morning. “This consistency helps regulate your body's internal clock,” says Wanic.

6. Get sunlight ASAP

Wanic emphasises the importance of getting out of bed right away when you wake up to give yourself an energy boost instead of repeatedly hitting the snooze button. “You can enhance this by doing some activity or stretching when you get up as well,” she says.

She also encourages you to get some sunlight or, if that’s not possible (looking at you, Great British weather) use a sunlight lamp as soon as you wake up. “Natural light helps reset your internal clock and boosts alertness,” Wanic says.

7. Schedule something fun for the morning

On the dark, frosty winter mornings when you have a hectic day ahead, you might need more than a mindset shift to yank you out from under the covers. This is why having something fun planned for yourself to enjoy before you start work is important. 

“Schedule something enjoyable for your morning, such as a warm shower, special activity or treat for breakfast so you have something to look forward to when you get out of bed,” Wanic recommends. 

Try this: You could also rope a friend into a morning run, make yourself a mug of your favourite coffee, or watch an episode of the show you’re currently obsessed with while doing a living room workout. Whatever works.

8. Try to be productive

While we don’t want to feed into hustle culture, there is something quite motivating about being productive. You know what it’s like; one ticked-off task inspires the next, and before you know it what started as a load of laundry has ended in a clearout of the kitchen cupboards. 

This isn’t a unique phenomenon, and it is theoretically possible to trick yourself into being more productive. “If you schedule something and get it done, you’ll start to see the benefits of the extra time and this can increase your motivation to keep the habit going,” says Wanic. This may mean that a few productive mornings in a row could make the whole becoming-a-morning-person thing a lot easier. It may also mean that you become more productive throughout the day.

9. Exercise at a time that suits you best

Last but by no means least, if you want to use your mornings to workout before work, that’s great. But, becoming a morning person doesn’t mean you have to exercise within that window of time. It may be that it just doesn’t suit your lifestyle, or that there are other things you’d rather do in the early AM, whether that’s walk your dog, read a few pages of your book, take your children to school, or tick some tasks off your to-do list. Remember that everyone’s different, and that’s OK.

“If exercising during the day on a work break is more appealing to you and is easier to fit into your routine, that’s fine,” says Anderson. “Consistency really is key for forming habits,” she adds.

Remember this advice: “The best time to exercise really is individualised and further research is required into the dose, timings and benefits to each timezone, so for now find what works for you, and stick to it.”

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Why is it so hard for me to wake up in the morning?

A number of factors can impact your energy levels in the morning, including your sleep hygiene, total amount of REM sleep, hormones and more. The simplest ways to make getting up easier include keeping to a consistent bed and wake up time, waking up to natural sunlight, and avoiding screens for an hour before bed time. Oh, and ditch the caffeine from around lunchtime, too, as this is a stimulant and will only keep you awake.

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