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Like many college students, my sleep schedule was questionable at best. At my very worst, I stayed up until 6 AM, went to bed, and got up in time for my 6 PM classes. Most of the time my schedule was a bit less extreme: staying up until 3 AM and getting up around 1 PM. I constantly felt like I didn’t have enough time, despite staying up late. On top of that, I was tired all the time to the point of falling asleep in class. When I was awake, I wasn’t motivated and most certainly wasn’t productive.

With 2020 behind me, I knew I needed to make a change. While I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, I decided that a new year was as good a time as any to start anew. A new sleep schedule and morning routine was what I needed.

When starting a new habit, humans have a tendency to overextend themselves. With the example of a morning routine, they might choose to create an elaborate routine where they get up hours before they’ve been previously waking up and then do a complex set of activities. They might be able to do this for a day or two, but it really won’t work in the long run. They’ll burn themselves out trying to achieve too much too fast.

 

So, how does one become a morning person?

 

It’s different for everyone as not only are we individuals, but we also live in our own circumstances that are unique and dictate possibilities through factors like environment, finances, health, and so on. Here’s what I did to help create a doable morning schedule:

  1. Gradually wake up earlier. I started increasing my “get up” time by half an hour every day. I’m used to rough sleep schedules, so the 30-minute increments weren’t a huge shock to my system. For others, 30 minutes might be too much. Try starting with just 10 minutes at a time until you find yourself naturally getting up earlier.
  2. Set multiple alarms. I typically set 3 major alarms: Thirty minutes before I get up, fifteen minutes before I get up, and the actual time when I get up. When my alarm goes off the first time, it wakens me enough to be aware of my surroundings. For fifteen minutes, I allow myself some “hitting the snooze” time with my eyes closed. I try not to think about anything in these fifteen minutes, instead just keeping my awareness of my environment. When the second alarm goes off, I sit up. This is probably the toughest step. The actual, physical act of bringing your head above your hips takes a lot of motivation! I usually journal or look at my planner during the fifteen minutes until my official getting-up alarm goes off, but sometimes I play some puzzle games on my phone. The most important part of this step is to not check social media, messages, or email. Checking these isn’t a great way to wake up, and they make me wish I could just go back to sleep. When the final alarm goes off, get up!
  3. Do something you enjoy first. Something that can help you get up in the morning is doing a small activity that you enjoy. I usually cuddle my cats, but it could be anything! Journaling, doing crosswords, watching a video, or anything you can do in fifteen minutes or so.
  4. Exercise. I know exercising in the morning isn’t usually appealing, but I promise it helps! Exercising wakes up our bodies and releases serotonin – one of the chemicals in our brain that helps balance out our moods.
  5. Go to bed early. Yes. You do need to go to bed earlier in order to get up earlier. I go to bed at 11 PM and wake up at 6:30 AM most days. The last thing you want is to wake up tired.

 

With these five important elements, you can also become a morning person! 

Annika G.R. Bunney is an interdisciplinary creator focusing on traditional writing, nature-based creations, and assorted textual pieces. She is a second-year in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Washington, Bothell. Her ever-evolving work draws on classic literature, folklore, and mass media. When not working on academics, she can be found taking care of her many cats and playing with her rescue dog. She also loves wandering in the outdoors, curling up with a good book, or playing video games.
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