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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!

Honor, a Senior Editor of UMass Amherst HC, is currently a junior honors student majoring in public health and psychology. In her free time, she loves to explore the outdoors on walks with her dog, listen to music and podcasts, decompress with her sketchbook, and experiment with new recipes.
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