I am absolutely a night owl. I always have been. I hate waking up in the mornings, and I feel most productive at night. For me, there is never any point making an attempt to get up early to do something extra at the start of the day; I would much prefer to stay up a little later finishing things off instead. I simply have never done early mornings.
That said, for work and uni, since September my weekday alarm has consistently been set to 6:25am. This may not seem terribly early to an early bird, but to a night owl, that time of morning should be used for one thing only: the sweet unconsciousness of slumber.
Let me tell you right now, it is a painful transition to make but when it’s one of necessity you really don’t have much of a choice. But it is possible – I still don’t enjoy it and I still don’t consider myself an early bird, but now that I’m at that point, I no longer feel it’s the worst possible thing in the entire world. My best friend Gabbi is my opposite – she loves to get up early (and I’m talking about 4:30am early) to go to the gym or for a run before taking on the day, and really struggles staying up very late, but we calculated that we probably get roughly the same amount of sleep, which makes it seem like the change should be pretty easy to effect. So here are my top tips for turning yourself into an early bird.
1. Don’t do it unless you need to!
If you’re used to being more productive at night and it works fine for you, don’t go switching up your routine just because you feel some kind of obligation to do so. Studies have shown that certain types of people really do produce more, higher-quality, work late at night. So I’m not just advocating the lie-ins – if you don’t actually need to make the change, I really wouldn’t bother.
2. Set your alarm. And actually get up…
Ah the snooze button. See, even as a night owl I’ve never been a huge proponent of the snooze button. In fact, every time I set a new alarm on my phone I go right into the settings and switch the option for a snooze button off completely. Regardless, if you’re trying to get up in the morning, this button is your biggest adversary. You’re trying to get up early, snoozing gets you into the mindset of not getting up. And the more you snooze, the harder it becomes to get out of bed, until you realise you’ve got 10 minutes in which to brush your teeth, do your hair, do your make up, get dressed, and leave the house. And that’s before you get to work and realise you left your lunch box at home because you were in such a rush. And on that note…
You can save yourself some time in the morning by doing various morning tasks the night before (i.e. when you’re at your most productive anyway!). For example, preparing your breakfast and lunch the night before, and if you’re a morning showerer, try having a shower before bed the night before. If you’re particularly prone to snoozing, this is the best tactic, because instead of constant snoozing you can be happy in the knowledge you’ve set your alarm, for example, a good half an hour later than you would otherwise need to.
4. Be realistic about your bed time
Okay, there is absolutely no point in trying to go to bed at 10pm knowing full well you’re just going to lie there thinking about how you can’t sleep but oh god your alarm is set for 8 hours time and stressing even more in an endless cycle. If you’re used to going to bed at midnight, you can continue to do this as long as you use your time wisely beforehand. Where you’d normally carry out 85 different tasks and feel accomplished but worn out, you have to try to start winding down. Try reading a book or doing something relaxing. If you come up with something to do, instead of running off to do it, write it down and use your newfound extra time in the morning to do it then instead.
5. Naps are your friend
This is an obvious one really, after years and years of going to bed at 1am and getting up at 9am, making the change to going to bed at 11pm and getting up at 7am is just going to be a shock to the system. So have a good old afternoon nap! After a few weeks you won’t need to nap as much but trust me, they will be indispensible when you start changing your routine.
So there you have my top tips for turning yourself from a night owl into an early bird, if you’re thinking of doing so. Do you have any other handy hints? I could always use more tricks so let me know!