Waking Up for (and Enjoying) Winter Mornings

No, I am not really morning person. I am pretty sure if I didn’t have an alarm I would be sleeping in until noon, but I had to fight the urge to stay in bed this winter with my mornings mostly 9am or 10am starts. Even though I still have off days, I think I have kind of got the hang of waking up in winter mornings. I thought I would share how I do it since there is still plenty of winter left to go.


1. If you can do it the night before: do it then

I like to make it so I have as little to do as possible in the mornings so I do not leave the house feeling flustered from running about the place. Things to do the night before could be packing your bag full of your books, deciding your clothes, making a packed lunch, or even making your breakfast! (see 4.) 

If you prefer having showers the night before, do them then too. For some showers play a major part in waking them up. This is something I personally would consider a necessity in the morning, but if they do not make a difference for you, then do it the night before. 

This means that I can do the morning at my own pace and give myself time to do things that I have to do first thing in the morning. It also means I am less likely to forget things if I plan to be at uni all day.


2. Decide what you want to achieve the night before

Not sure if this is just me, but I find it much more difficult to get out of bed in the mornings if I do not have any specific goal in mind. If I am not aware of what needs to be done in the day, it is easy to convince yourself you are better off staying in bed. Sometimes I like to write a to do list the night before (or even better: at the end of a library sesh for next time you study). Is there some reading I need to do? Do I need to be in a lecture at a certain time? Or getting up for the gym? Or a supermarket shop? Another advantage is when you do eventually sit at your desk, you do not have to spend 10 minutes figuring out what you need to do, you can jump straight in. 

Your short term aims, and I mean literally the order you will do things in the morning, are also something to consider the night before. I have sometimes found myself “frozen” in bed because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have a shower or breakfast first. In that moment, weighing up what you want to do in the morning can be quite overwhelming sometimes and leave you stuck in bed. If I decided the night before I want to get up and shower straight away, I am not allowing myself time to contemplate if I really want to shower, because in that moment when you are in your warm bed, it is so easy to talk yourself out of it.


3. Wake up early so you have time!

When I attended my 9am last year, after finally slipping out of bed at 8:20 (I live very close to uni), I always came out of it feeling it was not worth my time because I was too asleep to take in anything. It was not a problem with the time, it was a problem with me. I remembered that when I was at school, I woke up at 6:30 to catch the bus, and the first lesson would be at 9:20, by then I would have been up for just under 3 hours. It was easier to take those lessons in because I had plenty of time to wake up. 

To avoid feeling dead at 9ams, give yourself some waking up time. Set the alarm at a time that gives you time to wake up. It’s up to you from here to be honest with how much time you actually need to wake up. If you are blessed with perking up straight away as soon as you get up, then carry on extending your sleep. Also it goes without saying that if you are going to wake up early, this also means getting to bed early so you have enough sleep. 

Also, giving myself time in the morning to do things gives me time to get things done and not in a rush. You can also give yourself a moment to sit on your phone shamelessly. Reading articles on my Facebook news feed can help wake me up and get my mind working. One thing to do, although I normally do this when I want to fall asleep at my desk in the library, is “morning pages”. You sit and just write your thoughts for 3 pages. It does not matter what you write, just as long as you keep writing. It can either erase any worries you have, or help switch your brain on.


4. Breakfast - Make it a good one!

Now, I am a big believer in doing what feels right for you and your body, so if eating breakfast does not appeal to you, then don’t force yourself. Just remember to eat something at some point in the morning so that you have enough energy to do the morning, and no, coffee does not count. 

Whether you are a breakfast person or not, make breakfast something you look forward to. It is something that makes me get up in the morning, gets me excited about getting out of bed. All it takes is investing a little bit of thought into it. Change up your breakfast every once in a while since eating the same thing can make you lose the excitement of it. 

This term I have mainly be living on “Overnight Oats”. Just chuck some porridge oats, nuts, cinnamon, milk, honey, (chia seeds if you are feeling pretentious), or anything you fancy into a bowl. Leave it overnight and it’s ready to eat straight away! You can do whatever you like with it afterwards as well, I like to add apples. Also, you did it the night before, so you have one less thing to do in the morning: making breakfast! I like to put mine in keepcup so if I do accidentally wake up late (it happens) and need to leave in a rush, I can just grab a spoon and eat it on the go. 

Also if that’s too much effort, can’t go wrong with hot milk on cereal (chocolate Weetabix is the best). Great comfort breakfast achieved with just some milk on the hob for a couple minutes.


5. The Snooze Button

The snooze alarm tricks me into thinking I’m his friend and next thing I know I have woken up an hour later after snoozing 10 times in a row. (Sorry flatmates). I have been known to snooze my alarm so many times my alarm clock has literally run out of snoozes and I sleep in a couple more hours. I have a problem. 

Buy yourself a loud obnoxious alarm clock, (again, sincere apologies to my flatmates), and sit it on the other side of the room. Sounds old school but if you are someone who snoozes their alarm in their sleep: this really works. Make sure to change the location of it in the room every couple of weeks or so too because you could get too used to the alarm’s location. 

Try getting into the habit of turning a light on as soon as you are stirring so you are no longer sitting in darkness. Also keep your dressing down nearby (I practically have mine in bed with me) if it’s the cold that makes it hard to get out of bed.


6. Form an Alliance

Get your friends involved so you are held accountable! In school, I was blessed with my Mum yelling at me in the morning so I got up. The student culture means that nobody bats an eyelid if you sleep in. Arrange to meet your friend in the morning, either to go to a lecture or maybe do something fun! If you want, get them to be savage to you, get them to call you and get you out of bed if you are nowhere to be seen. 

Of course, the problem is that you wouldn’t rush out to get your lecture if your friend called you just as it is starting, so another way to go is to arrange to call each other at a sensible wake up time. A friend and I decided to call each other on the phone at 8:30 each day. This meant that I had enough time to recover if I did end up sleeping in to that time. 

However, the alliance should hopefully give you some pressure meaning you avoid sleeping in in the first place. Both of you can benefit from this. If either of you sleep in, you let the other down.


So this is how I have found myself getting out of bed. They probably seem like obvious ways to get up in a winter morning, I recognise the hard bit is having the discipline to do them. I find the way to maintain the discipline and get myself to do these things is remind myself of why they make a difference to my morning. Hopefully this is just a reminder of how they help. 

And finally, be kind to yourself. If you do sleep in or have a rushed morning, do not beat yourself up about it. It happens, and the best we can do is think about why it occurred and how we can avoid it in the future. Sometimes this means scheduling a lie in! All we are trying to do is work with our mind and body, not fight what it needs.