5 Ways to Become a Morning Person

Some experts say that even if you are a night owl by nature, you can transform yourself into a morning lark and be more productive during the day.

These tips, for exercising in the morning to changing your sleep habits, may seem obvious—as you may have tried some of them from time to time to no avail—but the secret to a successful switch is to be consistent.

1. Exercise in the morning. Tracey Marks, MD, a psychiatrist and author of Master Your Sleep: Proven Methods Simplified, recommends 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise to get yourself energized first thing in the morning. No more than that, however, or you might defeat the purpose and burn yourself out.

2. Eat right. Stay away from foods like high-sugar cereal, doughnuts, or plain pancakes with syrup. These foods cause a rapid surge in your blood sugar levels, which feels like instant energy, but they also cause an equally rapid drop in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling fatigued. Instead, eat more complex carbohydrates in the morning, such as oatmeal or whole-grain French toast, topped with fresh fruit, and balance out the meal with a glass of milk or dairy alternative such as fortified soy, rice, or almond milk.

3. Control the light. In accordance with normal body rhythms, we generally wake up to the sun and go to bed when it's dark outside. If your rhythms are off, you can normalize them by using a light box that produces blue light, which is similar to sunlight. A light box timed to go on in the early morning helps you wake up because it simulates natural light, which helps your body feel more alert in the same way darkness simulates nighttime and signals to your body that it's time to go to sleep. Alarm clocks that use gradually increasing light to simulate a natural sunrise are available wherever personal health care products are sold. Marks also recommends hand-held light boxes that you can carry with you and use in the morning or whenever you need a lift.

4. Limit caffeine. A cup of coffee first thing in the morning may give you the boost you need to get going early. But too many cups of coffee or other caffeinated beverages, too late in the day, can make it difficult for you to fall asleep and stay asleep long enough to get enough rest to wake up early in the day and feel refreshed.

5. Go to bed earlier. You can't wake up easily at 7:00 a.m. if you didn't get to bed until 2 or 3 in the morning. If you want to become a morning person, you have to break the cycle of falling asleep late at night and sleeping in. Gradually push back the time you go to bed until you can count at least seven or eight hours back from the time you want to get up in the morning. For example, if you want to wake up at 6:30 a.m. feeling refreshed and ready for the day, you need to fall asleep between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. the previous night. Once you've established your appropriate bedtime, be consistent, and go to bed at that same time every night.




Sound Medicine: Become a Morning Person. Web. Sep 2011

Tracey Marks, MD: Beyond Burnout Blog Web. Sep 2011

University of Washington: Opportunities for Computing Technologies to Support Healthy Sleep Behaviors. May 2011. Web. Sep 2011