Back in my elementary school days, being a morning person came easily. I remember waking up at 6 or 7 am in order to hang out with my older siblings. But with each new grade, getting up early became more and more of a nightmare. By the time I was in high school and had to be ready by 7 am every day, I thought I would never be energized again.
In college, we have the luxury of making our own schedules. Though I still tend to go for the early side so I’m not stuck in class until 9 pm, many students opt to start classes in the afternoon and not finish until it’s dark outside. While it might be nice to sleep in, we need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable real world where we’ll need to be at work in the early hours of the day.
Have no fear! You can be a morning person without having to sacrifice sleep or going to bed when your grandparents do. Many of you may feel like you’re a night owl: at night, you’re most productive and motivated. Maybe for you all-nighters are a norm. While it’s great you’re getting your work done, wasting an entire day and having to spend your nights working will not only mess up your social life, but will get you in a bad groove for the 9-5 job you’ll likely have one day. So, it’s time to embrace the daylight.
Tip #1: Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day
It may sound simple enough, but waking up at the same time each morning, including the weekend, can be a tough habit to get into. Setting your alarm for 8 am every day and actually getting up when it sounds will take getting used to. At first, your body will protest. Your fingers will inch toward the snooze button and your eyes will immediately shut themselves again. But the more you force yourself to get up at the alarm, the easier it will be. Better yet, the more regularly you get up at this time, the easier it will be for you to fall asleep at the same reasonable hour every night. You can even make this step easier by gradually changing your rise time, pushing it forward 15 minutes every few days until you reach the desired wake up call.
Tip #2: Lights On
You know those days when you’re laying in bed after a long night, and the afternoon sun just won’t stop glaring through the windows, effectively keeping you from sleep? Well, now you can no longer curse the sun—or your regular bedroom light—because it is key in becoming a morning person. Light helps control our sleep schedules: we (hopefully) feel more tired when it’s dark, and the light starts to make us alert and awake. By either leaving your blinds open when you sleep, or putting a light on right away, this will effectively help keep you awake so you can begin your day.
Tip #3: No Late Night Coffee or Food Binges
Though as college students facing high stress especially during exams, a midnight snack shouldn’t turn into a 3-course meal—and if you want to wake up early, you probably shouldn’t be eating at midnight anyway. Eating large meals late at night will only keep you up longer, as will any Red Bulls or coffee runs. Save coffee for the morning and large meals for during the day and dinner time. This tip will also help you avoid the freshman-but-let’s-be-realistic-anyone-can-gain-weight-in-college 15.
Tip #4: Make Yourself Work To Turn Off the Alarm
By putting your alarm in another room (only do this if it is super loud) or on a desk on the opposite side of the bedroom, you will have no choice but to get out of bed to turn it off. Just like that, you’re a little more energized, a little more awake, and have no choice but to start the day. If you share a room with a roommate, this will further encourage you to get up right away to turn off the persistent ringing—unless you hate your roommate, in which case, you’re on your own.
Tip #5: Think Soothing
When it gets close to bedtime, you need to go into super relaxed mode. No more stressing and thinking about all the to-do’s of tomorrow. No getting caught up in a super lengthy movie that makes you more awake. No exercise that gives you an adrenaline and temperature boost. Instead, it’s all about the calm serene of peaceful sleep. Get a sound machine to lull your eyes closed. Meditate or try some relaxing yoga to ease the mind and relax the body. Take a soothing bath. Do whatever you need to so your eyes are drooping and your mind is quiet.
The road could be long and hard, but don’t give up on your ventures to become a morning person. It is doable and will lead to long, happy days of productivity and fun. Good luck and sweet dreaming!