Can You Become a Morning Person?

Last Updated Jul 8, 2011 11:45 AM EDT

Several weeks ago, I blogged about "What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.” The idea was that, if you have a full-time job, early mornings are often the best time for devoting to personal priorities: exercise, quality interaction with your family, spiritual practices or focused thinking. Later on, the day tends to get away from you. There will always be a reason not to exercise at 5pm, and it's going to be a good one.
Of course, as many readers pointed out, this advice presumes that you are capable of exercising, interacting with your family, thinking, or focusing early in the morning. What if you aren't a "morning person”?

Obviously, creative work, focused thinking or spiritual practices can be done whenever you're in peak form. Exercise or family time may be harder to pull off -- you hope your 2-year-old isn't in peak form at midnight!

But I think it may be possible for people who aren't confirmed night owls -- those who are more in the middle like me -- to become morning people over time. I know I have, partly because of necessity (small children seem to shift the whole day earlier), and partly because mornings really are good times for getting things done. Here are three tips for shifting your schedule earlier:

1. Look at what you're doing before bed. Are you watching TV late at night? TiVo your late night shows and watch them at some other point. Everything about television is designed to keep you watching for another half hour. Real life doesn't have the same pre-commercial cliff-hangers... which makes it easier to get in bed. When I stayed in an eco-lodge once with no electricity (i.e. no TV, no internet, and no lights for reading) it was almost impossible to stay up past 9:30PM. So much for being into late nights.

2. Look at what you're consuming. Alcohol can affect sleep patterns (as can caffeine). Too much before bed will have you falling asleep, but will make getting up needlessly painful -- necessitating several cups of coffee during the day. Best to stick to a drink at dinner and one cup of coffee in the AM rather than engage in an arms race with more of both.

3. Plan something enjoyable for your mornings. The point of training yourself to get up early is not to then fill that extra hour with something you find tortuous. The idea is to make time in your busy life for something profoundly important to you. I love running outside, especially in quiet, wooded parks. Unfortunately, in July, I simply can't do this in the 90 degree heat in the middle of the day. So, knowing that waking up at 6AM is the only way I'll get my run in, I find myself far more motivated to set the alarm.

Have you managed to become a morning person?

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Photo courtesy flickr user, sh0dan

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