I Became a Morning Person for a Week so You Don’t Have To

Ah mornings; for some, this vital time that sets the tone for the day provides a window of healthy productivity, while for others, it perpetually evokes nerves and fatigue. I always crave the freshness that I assume morning people feel when they effortlessly bounce out of bed before sunrise and seemingly complete dozens of tasks before 11 a.m.; about the time I naturally rise due to my night owl tendencies. For me, as the sun sets, a spark of energy flows through me. I love the creativity, peace, and relaxation provided by being enveloped in a darker world. I’m a night owl through and through — always have been — but hopefully, that will change. 

oatmeal and coffee Photo by the5th from Pixabay In the past, my wake-up time was more forced, so mornings generally teemed with exhaustion, stress, and the necessity to rush. Ever since I reached college, I’ve had more control over my schedule which has allowed me to embrace my tardy circadian rhythm. Initially, I loved this freedom; it allowed me to be productive, satisfied with my work-life balance, and feel comfortable in my natural rhythm. However, COVID-19 has created a dystopian way of living, ushering in asynchronous remote classes and the elimination of many fulfilling aspects of life. Like many, the pandemic has eventually taken a toll on my sleep-wake cycle, which has adversely affected my productivity, mental wellbeing, and relationships. Recently, whenever I don’t have a responsibility to tend to, I find myself sleeping through most of the morning, reaching the peak of my day around 4 or 5, hitting a slump for the remainder of the night, and crafting an unfortunate habit with this pattern. So, what did I do to rectify this negative turn that my schedule has taken? I took a leap into the life of an early bird for a week. Well, at least I tried to…  

woman sitting on white bed stretching Photo by Bruce Mars from Unsplash A few days before my plunge into early morning life, I slowly wound back my bedtime. To do this, I took a midday walk, completed any pressing work before dinner, shifted my dinners to be earlier, spent an hour or two in bed before sleeping, and listened to a podcast or read a book before dozing off. Honestly, this was TOUGH, and I failed repeatedly; just the thought of going to bed at 10 or even 11 p.m. was hard for me to succumb to. But once I came to terms with the necessity of going to sleep earlier, I proceeded to gradually wind my wake time earlier. Eventually, my early bird “challenge” arrived on Monday, and waking up at 7 a.m. (for no pressing reason) was initially hard to stomach. I tossed and turned until the multiple alarms of varying sounds from across my bedroom became unbearable. Since I set my alarm across my room, I had to physically get up and did not let myself lay or sit back down until I completed a chunk of my morning routine. I opened my shades, drank water, made my bed, and proceeded with my daily tasks; this time completed earlier, not rushed, and in order (as opposed to being scattered throughout my day). Most importantly, other than listening to podcasts and checking the weather, I did not go on my phone until after breakfast which helped to set a positive mindset for the day. Throughout the week, I chose a positive practice to integrate into my lengthened morning routine such as meditation, a walk outside, stretching, etc. 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels Undoubtedly, this week as a morning person was difficult, but each wakeup became easier as the days proceeded and I felt my new schedule solidify. I discovered so much appreciation for having extended daylight available and this altered set of pace created a baseline of enhanced relaxation, even as the sun set. Although I do not know if this idealized lifestyle will be sustainable for my night owl propensity, this “experiment” allowed me to be unintimidated by a 6 a.m. alarm and has definitely shifted my sleep schedule in a positive direction. For anyone else struggling with their daily routine, productivity, and mental health, don’t be afraid to mix things up by hitting the hay earlier, embracing a good night’s sleep, and waking up fresh; ready to seize the day!