How to Teach Yourself to Be a Morning Person

Amelia Diamond | August 24, 2015

Rise and shine! (But actually.)

Man-Repeller-Becoming-a-Morning-Person-Breakfast-Still-Life---4

During a recent phase of my life titled, “Permanently Insane,” it dawned on me that the only way I’d get more hours in the day (and thus, sanity) was to become an early riser. Here’s the issue: things that “dawn” and I do not get along.

I’ve never been a morning person. I also find birds to be the worst. Their historical appointment as productive, pre-punctual role models is unwarranted. I can sort of understand why one might wake up early for bacon or Christmas — not so much for worms.

I didn’t even know if it was possible to change your circadian rhythm. To me, there were two kinds of people in the world: those who slept in, and those who were serial killers. Still, this seemed to be my only solution. Birds really do get a lot done.

Here’s how I attempted to be one:

Step 1: Make a plan and set small goals.

In tandem with my Big Morning Decision, I was trying to get into meditation. The program I’d signed up for suggested two things: 1) that I Ohm at the same time every day and 2) that I do so incrementally, which meant that for one week, I just had to open my eyes when my alarm clock went off. The second week, I actually had to sit up. By the third week, I had to get my ass out of bed and sit on a “meditation chair.”

After 30 days I was seated on said chair every morning — not meditating, but not napping, either. This was Early Bird progress. It was also the most important part of the process.

Step 2: Say goodbye to blackout shades.

You need light. Switch every flip immediately upon waking up. It gets you out of bed and makes it hard to fall back asleep. Don’t have a window/need to get up before dawn to make this work? Buy one of these.

Step 3: Don’t send yourself into shock by immediately “doing things.” Let yourself actually wake up.

Once I got used to operating on farmer time, I tried to make the experience pleasant. First, I’d turn on music. Then I’d make coffee, read a quick news debrief and stare at my neighbors through the window. (Hi!) I found that telling myself, “We’re going to have a nice morning!” made getting out of bed less dreadful.

Step 4: That said, being a morning person actually means doing stuff, so do stuff, but keep it reasonable. Like don’t do math, but maybe do yoga.

By month 2, I began opening my eyes before the alarm went off like a recovered athlete in a Nyquil commercial. This meant it was time to start being productive.

I began with a 30-minute at-home workout every day (reasonable goal-setting), which still allowed me time to do other things like shower and run errands. Morning errands, I learned, are the only way to do errands, mostly because I had never before done errands. Now I am grown up.

Step 5: Once you hit your goal, don’t be afraid to expand it. It gets easier — like waxing.

By July I was a waking-up pro. So much so that I realized I could handle an even earlier call time. I began setting my alarm for half an hour earlier, which meant I could leave home to workout. This also left me with an entire hour to myself before work. I took up flossing.

Step 6: Keep it to yourself.

The most important thing I learned from birds is that no one wants to hear about your achievements in waking up. Birds have not yet learned this, which you know if you’ve ever had a window. They’re the loud, feathered equivalent of those people who send gym Snapchats. At least I’m waking them up now.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis

lazy-coffee

  • http://www.EatStylePlay.com/ Eat.Style.Play

    It’s wierd. I’m a morning person because I have to be at work at 6:45 am. This has been my routine for 4 years now. Even though I get up that early there is never time for anything else like cooking, or working out. What I’ve found is that cooking my stuff for the week on a Sunday and Weds helps me get so much done in the am. If I wanted to wake up a little earlier for stuff it’s possible. I still hate it though. MY body wakes up at 5:00 (the latest) no matter what day, or where I am. Sleeping in isn’t even an option anymore, but I tend to get a lot done on the weekend because of this.

    But I have to admit, the last tip out of this list is the best. People don’t need to know everything you’re working towards. Unless you want to share to keep yourself accountable. I personally keep things to myself and go at my own pace. Also, it’s just nice to not have every part of your life recorded and put on social media. Save that for the fun stuff.

    • Amelia Diamond

      have you always been that way though, or did you also have to train yourself out of necessity?

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  • Laura

    So, what time did you end up on? When do you wake up?

    • Amelia Diamond

      7 AM now, but I’ll do 6:30 for a 7 AM workout class if need be. On email earlier but have my butt in office chair by 10, that’s been the general call time at most of my full time jobs and have always lived close to work, so I would literally wake up 15 minutes before, throw clothes on, AND RUN. it was so stressful.

      • Andrea Raymer

        I used to live one block away from where I work. it just made it more difficult to get up because I didn’t have to plan for a commute.

  • luckyorchid

    I want to be a morning person but I need to accomplish going to bed at a reasonable time first. Thanks for the great read and the helpful (but realistic) tips!

    http://www.luckyorchid.com

  • http://insertwth.com/ Denisse

    If I don’t get out of the house by 6:30, I will miss my train and be late for work. So getting up at around 6am gives me enough time to rush…I set my alarm for 5:30am and every 15 minutes until 6. I’m still sort of trying to get up at 5:30 and at least make a proper breakfast.

    • Amelia Diamond

      ok but you’re a hero. 5:30 IS SO EARLY.

      • http://insertwth.com/ Denisse

        haha thanks! it’s either that or get fired, I guess : and a girl’s gotta eat! (jk I live with my parents)

  • Laura911

    I think the author means “circadian rhythm”.

    • Amelia Diamond

      !!! i did, merci

  • Leandra Medine

    Not to get all Penelope (https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/cast/kristen-) wiig-14671/character/penelope-16301on you, Amelia. But when I really, really need to rest, I let my body have it and snooze until 5:45 a.m.

    • Amelia Diamond

      you have the internal alarm clock of a farmer

  • Catalina

    Rock it out Amelia! This is one of my goals (for life!). I really enjoyed how your first month were these super attainable goals. Often times, I think I am going to wake up, go ‘surfing’ and then a bike ride… and then ‘do’ my hair. It’s like, yes, this is all feasible, but it makes the goal that much more difficult to obtain in a way by setting SUCH a high bar in the beginning.

    Baby steps are such a crucial part in this achievement! Good for you. And thanks for this post. (***Sets alarm for 6:30am for real this time…***)

    • Amelia Diamond

      haahah i do the same thing. I’M GONNA WAKE UP AND BAKE A CAKE (i can’t bake)

      • BK

        Do u want some foolproof recipes I can hit u up gurl

  • Lua Jane

    I wake up at 7, and usually, if I stayed up late chatting (long live LDR) hit the snooze button for another 10 minutes. I have to be at work at 9, but noone is having a heart attack if I show up at 9.15, so I guess I have it pretty good. I don’t think I wake up too early, but it does give me an hour for my slef. Hedonistic Taurean that I am, it means making a nice turkish coffee (even though it tastes nothing like turkish, because I tried it and still think that traditional Balkan home made coffee is much, much better), and sitting with whatever is on TV (Reruns of New Girl or Say yes to the dress), carefully applying my face (Balkan logic applied there too). It’s probably the calmest moment of my day. I may indulge in few cubes of chocolate with my coffee, although every nutritionist in the world would probably roll eyes at that first thing in the morning. But like I said, I’m a hedonist, not a health freak, and eat pretty clean the rest of the day.

    • Amelia Diamond

      i love that you get the chocolate in early, girl. that is LIFE.

      • Lua Jane

        Well, one must have strong motivation to get up, and chocolate is one hell of a motivation.

  • http://adeliberateimagination.wordpress.com/ CJKEYS2

    working out in the morning is so much better because 1. you don’t fully realize what you’re doing yet and 2. you don’t have to dread the gym all day.one morning recently i cooked an actual breakfast and ate outside on my porch before work. it was a real treat. i should do that more often.

    • Amelia Diamond

      hahaha i fully agree to #1 and 2

    • Andrea Raymer

      this was my mantra in college and i felt much more human after. Sadly, I have regressed into being a teenager on summer vacation all year round.

  • http://www.thekentuckygent.com The Kentucky Gent

    I love being a morning person, really do, but I have the hardest time getting out of bed in the mornings. Once I’m in the routine of it, it’s not nearly as hard, but getting back into the groove of waking up early is the worst.

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent
    http://thekentuckygent.com

  • https://therambleco.wordpress.com/ Amber

    This is a goooooood article, for which I thank you. Now I am going to nap because I woke up at lunchtime and the last four hours of reading novels and eating have wiped me out…

    • Amelia Diamond

      atta girl

  • Andrea Raymer

    I am supposedly a fully auctioning grown up, but I still don’t get out of bed until 10 every day. My alarm is set for 9:00, but that snooze button gets hit a whole six times. on occasion, my eyes open and stay open at 9:30, but i am never actually upright until 10. I use that half hour to browse instagram/pinterest/tumblr as research into what I will wear that day. Then I am up and throw on clothes and leave by 10:30 to get to work at 11. I am pathetic.

    Somehow I was able to be at school at 7:25 am once upon a time, but now if someone asks me to get up in the single digits I am pathetically late.

    I have recently joined the coffee train, so that could help if I wasn’t so afraid that it was going to give me heart palpitations. I also have realized that my problem may have to do will getting bad sleep and since I have taken melatonin I wake up feeling much more well-rested.

    I may print this out and hang it on my wall so i can teach myself to become a real adult who can speak to people in the morning and actually eats breakfast because she functions well enough to pour herself a bowl of cereal. Baby steps.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Andrea this was me but you can do it!! Teeny tiny steps every day. little baby toes even. also i don’t think you have to speak to people until noon at LEAST, regardless of when you wake up.

      • Andrea Raymer

        Exactly, my roommate wonders why I am so quiet in the morning, I tell her I can’t speak to people in AM hours.

      • Lua Jane

        Amen to not speaking to people until noon. It’s very reasonable.

  • Hadley

    Tried step 2 this morning and had to wear sunglasses in bed to make it easier on these eyes of mine!! I need a bed with an eject button.

    • Amelia Diamond

      hahahah this is like wallace and gromit!!

  • Yvette

    Ah i feel you. I used to struggle A LOT with this too. I feel like it becomes a matter of doing things in the morning that gives you a sense of joy. If I have to leave the house at say 7:00 am to get to work on time, I’ll have everything ready and set the night before that way in the morning I’ll have that extra 30 minutes to be able to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea (but really coffee) while listening to a favorite podcast or NPR. Even if you need to chip out time for a workout or meditation, I feel like it’s always important to have even just 15-30 minutes to yourself to do what you love every morning.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Getting stuff ready the night before is still hard for me because I get home and can’t move, but it makes things SO MUCH EASIER in the AM. I learned if I get home and just keep moving — don’t sit down until everything is done — that’s the best way.

  • Amanda Maria

    Great post! Waking up in the morning is definitely not my favourite part of the day! I love step 5 – it gets easier like waxing! so funny and quite true!

    http://amanda-speroni.blogspot.ca/

  • http://www.onsecondavenue.com/ On Second Avenue

    I became a morning person in college out of necessity. I firmly believe we have the ability to change our schedules – it just takes a while.

    I woke up at 5am to go study in the library because it was the only time I could concentrate. Plus the NYU library was insanely crowded during the day. I was wide awake and absorbed more at my 9am classes. I also worked about 30 hours a week after class, so it was great to go home at 8pm, relax, and watch Real Housewives instead of study. I used my time efficiently and didn’t find finals/term papers stressful at all.

    I don’t have trouble waking up at 6am or earlier at all. I like my job, and there’s a lot of extra things I want to do in one day.

    Also, Manhattan is wonderful at 7am.

    • Amelia Diamond

      “Manhattan is wonderful at 7am.” YES.

  • Ritika Kanojia

    I’m not a morning person. So whenever I stumble upon an article about rising early I make sure I read it.
    This is by far the best written article I have come across, content and write up both. You are so witty. I loved it.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Normally I would offer to buy you a drink but in this case I will offer to buy you a large iced coffee. YOU CAN DO IT.

  • http://www.sanssouci.website sanssouci

    Too good to be true! Love your photo!

    http://www.sanssouci.website

  • Hannah Cole

    Best.
    I’m a total morning person but still love the snooze button – now I need to trajn myself to not rely on a that and just get shit done

  • BK

    My mother famously gets up at 6.30am every day, be it for work, gardening, or visiting Grandma. It is also roughly the same time my dad awakens and starts complaining about his bad leg (he dropped an electric circular saw on it last summer in what turned out to be one of his more eventful trips to the shed). Furthermore my brother’s latest hobby is All Bread Everything so he actually enjoys standing upright at some obscenely early hour, wrist deep in homemade yeast. As a result of this composite household of weirdos, I have some sort of family FOMO (genetics, even) where I’m compelled to get up early for, you know, ‘quality family time’ et al.

    • Amelia Diamond

      this is kind of adorable. i never understood the bread thing though. why can’t bread rise later in the day.

      • BK

        I think for bread manufacturers it’s so the bread will be freshly baked for sale at around breakfast time, thus luring in the hungry consumer? For my brother it’s so he can fit ever more bread into his day. He recently went to Bread Camp.

        • doublecurl

          BREAD CAMP I want to go to there

  • http://www.roarintwenties.com/ Aleda Johnson | RoarinTwenties

    I have the getting up early part down pat. It’s the “doing things” I struggle with. I end up sitting around my apartment for half an hour doing nothing, then remembering I have to shower, eat breakfast and put clothes on (in that order) before still rushing to work.

    I’m hopeless!

  • Victoria

    i love waking up early! It totally allows you to take time getting ready, watch the news and even have some downtime before heading to work or school. However, I do love a good sleep-in on the weekends. I sometimes compete with myself on how late I can wake up in the morning w/o having gone out the night before

  • http://www.instagram.com/ashleytheeditor Ashley Bess Lane

    I’ve been a morning person (see: forced) since high school. If you were in band or chorus (or, like me, a double whammy dose of nerd and part of both) you were expected to be at school by 645am. So since the age of 13/14, I’ve been an early to bed, early to rise sort of gal. As a result, 28 year old me is super productive from about 6am-4pm. I find my best work/writing is done in the morning. I’m more keen to hit
    the gym/a PT session first thing. And feel all around better when
    I’m “up with the sun”. Ironically, I now work in an office where the hours are 10am-6pm and the last hour or two is an absolute struggle. Even more so, the culture here is far more of a ‘night owl’ one, which makes it hugely difficult when events can easily run until 11pm.

    • Amelia Diamond

      what time do you go to bed!!

      • http://www.instagram.com/ashleytheeditor Ashley Bess Lane

        Uhg this totally makes me sound like an 80 year old, but on week days 10-1030pm to be up at 6am the next morning (11pm if I get to sleep in until 7am). I’m a normal adult human on the weekends though (promise), who can stay up until at least midnight….(rereading this I realise how utterly comic this all sounds).

        • Amelia Diamond

          hahah no way. going to bed at 10 is MY DREAM, i just would wake up like, 5 times before 5 am if i did it.

          • http://www.instagram.com/ashleytheeditor Ashley Bess Lane

            Yeah no, once I’m asleep, you could basically drop a nuclear bomb on our apartment and I’d sleep through it. I’m also that person who can fall asleep ANYWHERE…

  • Alisha

    Briliant, Amelia. On a day-to-day basis, I’d say the general process of waking up takes me an average of 3 hours. Ugh. Upping the mental strength to stick to decisions made the night before is the addition to my list.

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    Sorry I’l never be anything else than Rise And Whine … Nice try though. 🙂

    • Amelia Diamond

      🙂

  • Camilla

    I read this last night and felt very inspired, as one does in the evening planning for a better tomorrow, so I set my alarm half an hour earlier than usual. Tired and annoyed at my stupid past self for not thinking of how tired future self would be I snoozed alarm repeatedly this morning, fell back asleep and ended up getting out of bed an hour later than usual. I think this week will be the week of ‘opening eyes’. Small goals.

    • Amelia Diamond

      SMALL GOALS. I am telling you: just start opening your eyes and maybe get up on your two feet. that’s all! then next week you can walk to get a glass of water or something and pretty soon you’ll be like, “fuck it, i’m up.”

      • Camilla

        Update: last week I went to TWO 6:15AM gym classes and I didn’t die or even cry, I just woke up and got shit done. I know step 6 says no one wants to hear about my achievements in waking up but really this is your achievement so you’re hearing about it.

  • Chloe Sapstead

    I’ve just moved into my student house for the year and I’m having my first experiences without a black out blind. Its such a strange feeling being awake when the sun wakes up and ive been struggling with things to do rather than lay there wishing I’d gone to sleep before 3 am. I think I may take up yoga to fill that awkward ‘should i get up or should I try go back to sleep’ phase. Thanks!

    chloesapstead.blogspot.co.uk

  • http://behance.com/carinelemyre Carine Lemyre

    Thanks for this article! I’m a college senior, and this coming semester will be the first time I have 9 am classes twice a week… which I’m obviously dreading. I’ve realized though, in order to turn yourself into an early riser, you should just go to bed earlier. I’m a person who absolutely needs 8 to 9 hours of sleep to function properly; so in order to be up at 7 am, I’ll just have to be in bed by 11pm maximum. I’ve also come to notice that the mind is much clearer in the morning and more productive in terms of creativity/art/writing. Early mornings, come at me!

    • Amelia Diamond

      you got this! (going to bed earlier helps 4 sure but if i go to bed too early then i wake up at all hours of the night argh)

      • http://behance.com/carinelemyre Carine Lemyre

        Oh! I never wake up at night. However I was wondering at what time you’re supposed to be at the office? Do you work 9 to 5?

  • shminta

    alternatively, for those of us that are truly hopeless, we could get a kickstarter going for the “simple life” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzDn4gBxElA

  • BMarino

    This would NEVER, EVER, EVER work for me. No training in the world would.

  • Linda Kenyon

    Once I got up at 5:30 and made banana bread from scratch to take to my co-workers. That’s what asthma steroids can do to a person. I felt like I should be wearing a cape. That was a while back. But lately I’ve wanted to wake early again and be more productive. What you wrote gave me hope!

  • Linda Kenyon

    Once I got up at 5:30 and made banana bread from scratch to take to my co-workers. That’s what asthma steroids can do to a person. I felt like I should be wearing a cape. That was a while back. But lately I’ve wanted to wake early again and be more productive. What you wrote gave me hope!

    • Amelia Diamond

      hahhah woww

  • http://www.25castleson25clouds.co.uk Lauranne

    Brilliant, I almost feel motivated to give it a go!

  • http://labrunette.be/ Lauren | LA BRUNETTE BLOG

    Lately I have been thinking about getting up earlier, because I want to be more productive. This plan really looks possible for me, so I’m going to try this starting this monday!

  • http://haveheart0814.blogspot.com/ Ashley

    I love the morning! I work as a teacher’s aide and school starts at 8 AM sharp, so to be fair I need to wake up early anyway. I try to get out of bed early enough to work out, journal, or give myself extra time to ease into the day. A happy and productive morning makes for a happy day- I hope you continue to enjoy your early mornings!
    haveheart0814.blogspot.com

  • Rayne Leonard

    I was never a morning person until I lived in China. Upon returning to the US, I suffered from serious jetlag, and in the process of adjusting my sleep schedule, I started getting out of bed early. It’s been a year now and I’m still waking early. Now if I could just train boyfriend…

  • Lindsay

    ever since i was the size of an almond, i’ve been the *worst at waking up* family member. i’ve found that if i charge my phone across my room, it forces me to get out of bed to turn off my alarm. yes, this means my late-night instabinges can no longer lull me to sleep but it’s been quite the lifesaver. can’t wait to try out your tips, Amelia!

    • Amelia Diamond

      I really like that you used to be the size of an almond!!

  • AvantiGarde

    I feel like I have been trying to wake up early for THE LONGEST TIME! Will definitely try this out but first I need to get to sleep earlier than 12:30 …

    Avanti
    xxx
    avantigarde.wordpress.com

  • Caroline Schurman-Grenier

    This is such a great post! I find now that even on weekends I feel bad if I get up past 10 am. During the week it varies from 6:45 to 8, still no courage for 5:30 wake ups….

    http://www.mademoiselleaventure.com

  • Paris breakfasts

    The thing is ‘Morning People’ don’t have a choice. These days (all of them…no weekend sleep-ins) I get up automatically at 4:05. True I sometimes go back for a mini nap at 7ish. One great thing if you’re heading to Paris you will have absolutely no jet lag. Heading home is no fun though. Maybe that’s why I moved to Paris?

  • http://clumsyagenda.blogspot.com/ Clumsy Agenda

    These are such great tips! I will definitely need them in a few weeks when school starts!

    clumsyagenda.blogspot.com

  • Maja Milocanovich

    Last winter I’ve read Benjamin Franklin’s biography and right after I was done, I’ve decided I’m gonna wake up at 5am everyday. (I think he did at 4, but that was gonna be my goal later.)
    It was VERY hard at first because it was the beginning of January (completely dark outside) and I need a lot of light to function.
    But, I did it for months and I felt like I was on top of the world. By the time I would get to work (8am), I would do my morning run, cook a lunch, straighten up the entire house, write in a journal and update my blog (sometimes schedule a few posts), take my dog out.. After work, I’d have the whole day free of almost any chores, so I felt like I could do anything at all.

    Then I lost my job and I did it for a while but stopped ’cause it’s A LOT to be awake from 5am with nowhere to go.

    I do work now, and have been for a while, but I can’t seem to get back to that routine – even though that would be my favourite.

    But now I sometimes go to sleep at 4 or 5am. To be fair, I kiss my new boyfriend till that hour, so I guess that makes it okay. 😀

  • Karel Paragh

    I so agree with this article. On days that i use the ‘early riser’ i get so many stuff done. Regards, Karel Paragh

  • http://fashionbackyard.blogspot.fr/ Camille Beygui
  • http://soiwokeuplikethis.blogspot.com/ Ali T

    okay, so small goals it is…does Wanting-to-become-somewhat-of-a-morning-person count? I honestly want to! Problem is I can’t force myself to go to bed before actually get tired or completely run out of things to do (which is never; I work from my home). So I end up going to bed at 3-4-5-6-7 am. I guess I am a Morning person in away, I am always awake in the wee hours 🙂

    • Amelia Diamond

      yea it’s 1:26 am and I have to be up in like, 6 hours. fuck.

  • http://www.waysofstyle.com Ways of Style

    You always make my day. You are an excellent writer (but you know that).
    I’m not a morning person at all, but I will try some of these tips! 😉
    Thanks!
    Aimara
    http://www.waysofstyle.com

    • Amelia Diamond

      you make my day!

  • Lily

    love this dress, are amazing

    http://www.lvbagukshop.com

  • zay

    I’m a, ‘in bed by 11:30pm up by 7am’ person now. I want to try to work out in the morning but that means waking up at 6am 🙁

    How on earth am i going to do it!

    • Amelia Diamond

      Go to bed at 11 and wake up at 6:30 to start. Also some workouts at home only take 28 minutes (do not laugh: try Jillian Michaels 30 day shred which you can download on iTunes and you basically jsut need a set of handweights for. killer. i do kayla itsines on days i only have 30 mins, too)

  • mscottveach

    I’m so confused by this… was her bedtime shifting too? If so, how was she getting extra time? If so, then why does she care about whether her yoga was in the morning at night. I run at 12am; two hours before going to bed. I can’t imagine why I would want to change that to run right when I wake up.

    • Amelia Diamond

      You run at 12 AM? Doesn’t that make you all hyper when you sleep? Nope, did not really shift bed time although going to bed earlier would help, I’m sure. I used to wake up at 9 every day, now I wake up at 7 AM..

  • Ariana Fotinakis

    I’m a converted morning person, and I have learned the truth to #6 firsthand. No one gives a damn that I get up early, and they sure as hell don’t want to hear my tips that might help them 😉

    • Amelia Diamond

      (but i want to hear so tell me!)

  • anindoortree

    What meditation “program” did you sign up for?

  • Yakshi Malhotra

    I totally have the same issue with birds but can’t complain too much as the annoying little chirping helps me wake up. That and the natural light in the morning is the best. I would love to try meditation in the mornings. I think the best way to start is to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

  • Keri Hill

    Love this post! I’ve tried being a morning person in the pat but I never stuck to it. I love all of your tips and tricks-such good ideas. Can’t wait to try it tomorrow!
    hillkeria.com

  • Tamíris Denkiu Hartmann

    Great tips.

  • Brittany Littlejohn Bonnaffons

    This is amazing! I am working on this. I have completed two days!! Yay (I know – I celebrate small victories because early means 4:30AM). Thanks for sharing!