How I Easily Became a Morning Person in 6 Months
From Late-night S'more to Morning Glory Muffin
“I have the personality of a morning person but don’t let that fool you. I’m definitely not” -Me, 1 year ago.
Who knew that I, who used to wake up at 10AM and frequent the gym at 11PM, would identify as a morning person. Both in personality and action.
Disclaimer before I dive into how and why: just because waking up early gets lots of praise doesn’t mean it’s a universal fit. But, there’s a reason so many people tout the benefits of an early start. As someone who used to reject the concept and certainly still needs to set an alarm no matter how long it’s been, I might be able to provide a fresh perspective.
For me, the shift provided a way to align my personality with my habits (first sentence!).
Despite my strong attachment to my hilarious 2AM jokes and almost-empty midnight gym, I found value in inverting my daily schedule, shifting my waking hours from 10AM-2AM to 7AM-11PM.
The start: gradual and organic
My initial exploration of new morning times didn’t start with a decision. I was abroad in Sydney from July-December 2019, and the city does not share the everything-open-all-the-time culture of the US. Coffee shops open 6AM-3PM, which left little time to experience the scene after a late wakeup. My roommate was a natural 6AM riser, and I admired how she went city exploring before her classes. It was a clear opportunity to better fulfill my goal of seeing all of Sydney before leaving, and thus the shift began.
The encouragers: relationships and goals
Time differences meant my communication window for Eastern Time conversations was before 10AM. Towards the second half of my semester, I also picked up several projects that required more of my time. Rather than sacrificing my daily exploration of Sydney, I simply woke up earlier to get my work done and communicate with the other side of the world.
The test: back at Georgetown
And… I kept it up. This part took effort—explaining my new schedule to friends, breaking up with my old gym time, and stopping everything at 10:30PM so I could be in bed by 11. But my roommate stuck with me and continued to inspire me, and by then and I was very familiar with the benefits: securing the best study spots, coordinating schedules with like-minded people, feeling accomplished early in the day, packing delicious lunches (and many snacks), and having more time for projects.
This post is in no way a pitch for waking up early—just a reminder to stay open-minded about life changes you might not expect (although everyone around you may not find a well-aligned shift all that surprising):
“Are you sure…?” -Reply, 1 year ago
If you are looking to bump your schedule up a few hours, here are my tips:
Go to bed early. And I don’t mean when you start getting ready for bed. I mean, tucked-under-the-covers ready. Yes, this is a common-sense statement. But for some reason, my younger self did not understand that waking up at 7AM after going to bed past midnight is unsustainable, unhealthy, and much more difficult.
Have a reason. Why do you want to wake up earlier? If it’s to do an unenjoyable task or because you feel pressured to, you probably won’t make it a habit. I tried doing homework before class in the mornings following a friend's recommendation. Didn’t work. Early morning workout, project time, or city exploring? Sign me up.
Shift gradually. Your body is used to your current sleep schedule and will complain if you try and move it 4 hours off all at once.
After 6+ months, your sarcastic jokes about being a grandmother unable to stay up late will become an ironic reality. It’s a reality I happily embrace, but you’ve been warned :)