The world can be divided into 2 kinds of people – morning people and night owls. Having been on both ends I can tell you why becoming a morning person has changed my life.
As a kid, my parents always tried to get me to sleep early, where a neighborhood kid who slept by 9:30 p.m. was my benchmark. I, though, managed to get to bed by about 10 p.m. and school years always meant waking up early.
When I joined graduation, volleyball coaching meant that I now had to wake up even earlier as I was out of the house by 6:30 in the morning for 7 a.m. coaching sessions. In the non-volleyball months, I would take the liberty to wake up as late as I possibly could to still make it in time for my classes.
However, 10 years back, when I moved out of my house and started living in a hostel for my MBA in Mumbai, my sleep cycle changed drastically and I was no longer a morning person. B-school meant late night collaborations and sitcom binge-watching. For any classes that happened at 8:45, I would often get ready in record time, having woken up by 8:15 and sometimes even 8:30.
Till some time back too, the best way for me to unwind after an uninspired day of work was to binge watch till late into the night and then wake up Japanese style – Just in time.
However, last year when I decided to go down the road of pursuing Certified Financial Planner, I realized I needed a chunk of focused, undisturbed time to be able to work on the course material. At the same time, I read Laura Vanderkam’s book – What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. That was my eureka moment to realise the urgent need to convert to being a morning person.
As for the CFP preparation, evenings were out as I was already working out and came back drained of all energy. The only possibility was then to wake up early, get in a minimum hour of study, go to the office gym to work out, work at my office and then come back.
I am happy to report that I still classify myself as a morning person and it has not just yielded results of my becoming a CFP but mornings remain the time of the day when I can get my blogging done. It’s the time when my brain and body really get exercised – brain with the things that I want to achieve and body with the exercise at the gym.
Why Become A Morning Person?
For me, becoming a morning person, and getting things done has been a eureka moment and things have really changed for me after that.
1. Mornings are the best times to create
I have seen a stark pattern in the way I operate – in the evenings after work, I am happy to consume content, be it books or Netflix. Somehow, in the mornings, the slate on my brain is still clean and far more eager to be channeled into working or thinking on personal projects.
Even though I am a marketer, there are often times when you realize your creativity is not really being channeled at work. If there is anything that you want to create or achieve beyond your work, morning is the time when work hasn’t already sapped your energy and thinking capacity.
2. Mornings are the best time to get your dose of natural light
I am a sucker for natural light. In some ways, I and my husband have this weird dance where I open all windows and he runs behind me to close them because of the fear of dust invading our house.
When I was waking up later and simply rushing to work, I barely got to see the day. I work in a big glass building with few reasons to get out during the day. Waking up early has meant that I feel like I am able to see some bit of the sun.
3. The willpower meter is full in the morning
Did you know willpower is like a muscle, which depletes with every use in the day? It follows logically that willpower is at its peak in the morning.
So, if there is a task that requires some coercing to your brain and some self-nagging, morning is the time to get it done. That’s the time I get most of my writing done. Looks like I might need to book a morning to file my Income Tax Returns too.
4. Mornings are a good time to get your workout done
Workouts are one of those things which really require my willpower. Getting it done with, in the morning is one of the best things that has helped me more regular.
Unlike this Body Building article, I won’t get into the details of just why working out in the morning is so good, suffice it to say that the fact that my office gym is more crowded in the evening also helps! And after work, all I want to do is come home.
In case, gym is not your thing, check out this article which gives you some good ideas on how to start with more location flexible non-gym workouts.
5. Peace in the morning
Have you ever woken up really early in the morning, maybe just before dawn? Two words that come to my mind to describe a morning are – calm and peaceful.
With the sound of the birds and the day just lighting up, it really feels like the daylight clearing away the darkness of the night. For me, mornings now symbolize a fresh new slate. A new day brings with it new hope.
How to Become a Morning Person?
Considering I am a recent convert and went through as much research as I possibly could, I will jot down 3 things that have helped me become a morning person:
1. Have a why
I think the core of becoming a morning person is just knowing for sure why do you want to be a morning person. I had very tangible measures of progress and getting to them required me to wake up early and work on it.
Unless you have a strong reason driving you to become a morning person, chances of successful conversion are slim. So, introspect and get your why in place before jumping on to the bandwagon.
2. Exercise Regularly
Ever heard of the theory that you need to tire out children so that they exhaust their energy and go to bed? I really believe it holds true for adults as well.
I see a vital difference in the days I workout and in those that I don’t. When I workout, I want to hit the sack earlier and I also sleep far better. Whereas on the days that I don’t, Netflix or Prime Video really walk all over my willpower and sleep pattern.
In some ways, it’s a vicious circle when it comes to working out. If you work out, you sleep sooner and better to wake up early for a better workout in the morning.
3. Have a night routine in place
We are creatures of habit. A predictable night routine helps the brain know when sleep time is around the corner so that it can start shutting down too.
My night routine is simple. Apart from watching some TV with my husband while eating dinner, I watch a 20-minute episode of a sitcom that I am interested in alone. Then I ensure all my electronic devices are away and settle in to read for at least 10-15 minutes of a book. The book, most days is non-fiction with the hope that the content is being absorbed by subconscious mind as well.
While this is not the optimal schedule since most experts advise that blue-light emitting devices (most electronics with screens like mobile phones, tablets etc) should not be looked at 30-60 minutes before sleep, I like to believe that I am getting there.
Are you a morning person or a night owl? What’s your motivation behind your sleep pattern? Let me know in the comments below or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org