Let’s talk about mornings, shall we? I’ve never been a morning person, so I used to hate them. Mornings were the pain of my existence. The only thought in my mind when the alarm rang was to hit the snooze button. And then, after that third snooze, I’d count the hours until I could crawl back to bed.
Hating mornings is a thing. Especially on Mondays. Believe me, I’ve been there. I did it for almost 28 years. Until about 4 months ago when I decided I didn’t want to hate mornings anymore. I was so tired (pun intended) of wasting all this time, just sleeping the hours away.
To give you a bit of back-story on me and mornings, we’ve never been tight. I’ve always considered myself a night owl and when given freedom from alarm clocks, my body tends to set itself to be alert in the evenings and sleep until noon. That’s just how my biological clock works. And for the longest time, I didn’t want to fight it, because I believed I couldn’t.
I remember always hoping I’d get a job where I could get in late and work at my own pace. And then, wouldn’t you know it, I had that job. I started working for myself, and that’s when everything changed.
When I first arrived in Germany, I was unemployed, which meant I could structure my days however I wanted. No alarms, staying up late, sleeping till noon – I could live the perfect picture I had painted for myself all those years. Except, it wasn’t that perfect after all.
I noticed how little I really got done in a day. Those late hours in the evenings weren’t really spent on anything productive, and I slept for most of the first half of the day. I started to feel depressed and constantly tired. Not a good place to be. Some of this can be written off on the stress and anxiety of settling into a new living environment, but I knew I that my sleeping habits weren’t doing me any favors either.
So, when hubby started his language courses in February, I decided to also start a new routine. We would get up at 7am every morning and I’d get to work by 8am. Starting the day together was an added bonus to this new routine.
To my surprise, sticking to this routine was easier than I had thought. And, I instantly noticed a positive change in my days. I was not feeling that tired, or stressed, or depressed anymore. I felt I was getting things done and making progress during the day, which gave me the energy to keep going.
There have been a few shifts in the past 4 months, but for the most part, I’ve stuck with this routine and it’s helped me to make a lot of progress on my goals. Sometimes, what you want is not what you need and changing those patterns can help you move forward.
Here are 5 tips that helped me break my sleeping habits and get into a more productive routine:
1. Get up with the first alarm
Hitting the snooze button does not help you get up. On the contrary – you just fall asleep and have to wake-up to that God-awful alarm more than once. Which brings me to another tip – get a nice alarm tone.
Try to get out of bed or at least stay awake after that first alarm. I found that striking up conversation with hubby helped me wake up more easily. Or, better yet, just get up cold turkey. This is the hardest part of the whole thing, and it doesn’t really get any easier. But, the good news is that once it’s done, the rest is easy.
2. Shift your focus from what’s hard to what’s good
This is something that’s true not only when you have to get up in the morning, but overall in life. Thinking about how hard it is to get up in the morning only makes it harder to get up. Focusing on what you hate about mornings, how you’d love to sleep in and how annoying that alarm clock is, doesn’t make it any easier to get out of bed.
So, instead, I try to focus on positive that’s ahead. I think about how I’ll actually feel much better once I’m out of bed and going through my morning routine. I think about those awesome blog posts that are waiting for me in my reader and the good coffee I get to sip while reading them. I remind myself that that awful feeling of not being able to open my eyes is just temporary. And, I dream about all the extra projects I get to make because I got up early.
3. Develop a morning routine
I’m still not a morning person in the sense that I’m rather grumpy and sleepy when I get up. Developing a morning routine has helped me get rolling more quickly. When I get up with hubby, I make us breakfast and myself coffee, then we eat, he leaves, and I do my morning rounds on social media and blogs. I don’t even have to think about it, I just go through the motions.
Every article that I’ve read advises against opening up social media and emails in the morning, but I’m not fully functioning until about 2 hours after I wake up, so for me, it makes sense to fill those 2 hours with actions that don’t require that much brain power.
Getting some sort of exercise worked into that routine is a future goal, but so far, it’s been working pretty great. Of course, everyones routine will be different and should be different. Just see how your body and mind work the best and follow that.
4. Have something to look forward to
I find that it’s hardest the get up on the mornings when I don’t have any fun scheduled into the day. When all I have to look forward to is hours of video-editing and mundane tasks, waking up is the last thing I feel like doing. This means I need to always schedules at least one item that I love into my daily schedule. Even if it’s an hour of me time in the evening, it’s something I can look forward to. This is actually the second reason I do my social media and blog rounds in the morning. It’s like a reward for getting up. I get to have that hour to myself just sipping my morning coffee and reading great blog posts or articles.
5. Strict bed-time
This takes me back to my childhood. I used to hate when my parents told me to go to bed at the same time each night. I always thought it was way too early for bed (night owl tendencies) and that I should just go when I felt like it. It’s funny how I’m creating those boundaries for myself now. With the exception of weekends and a few nights I had to work late, we’ve pretty much been in bed by 11pm every night. In an ideal world, it would be at 10pm, but we know that’s unrealistic for us.
Having set times for when to go to sleep and when to wake up has created a rhythm that my body has accepted. It’s hard to stick to those times at first, especially bedtime, but when you follow through, you’re body will get used to it. Now, I do get tired around half an hours before bedtime, and we rarely sleep past 9am even on the weekends.
Changing my sleeping patterns has had a huge positive impact on my productivity, the way I feel, and my mood. As much as I love sleeping in and staying up late, it doesn’t really help me achieve my goals. Sometimes you’ve got to force good habits on yourself, even if it’s hard at first.
Have you ever struggled with your sleeping patterns? Are you naturally a night owl or an early bird?