Dr. Kim Foster: Wicked Health


Hack Your Body Clock and Become the Morning Person You Never Imagined

In 3 Steps

How to be a morning person

I get up at 5am every day for a lot of reasons. For me, it’s the only time of day that’s quiet, peaceful, and nobody needs me for anything. It allows me time to relax, and time to get organized. Plus, it’s when I do all my writing. Of course, as soon as 7am hits, everything changes, and the controlled chaos of daily life begins. But getting those two hours to start the day on MY TERMS is not only how I get stuff done, it also makes me a happier and more complete person.

And here’s why you should consider it too: morning people tend to be more optimistic and feel proactive. There’s evidence they are healthier and less stressed than people who stay up late.

But maybe the idea of getting up so early sounds somewhat...painful to you. You’ve always been a night owl. Truth is, I haven’t always been such an early riser—I really only started doing it two years ago when I got my book contract.

So the good news here is that it is possible to hack your body clock and transform yourself into a morning person.

Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Start With A Solid Foundation Of Good Sleep

No matter what, you can’t let your sleep quotient suffer. Obviously, if you’re going to get up earlier, you’ll need to go to bed a little earlier, too. Most adults need somewhere between 7-9 hours a night, so calculate your bedtime accordingly.

Second, make sure the sleep you’re getting is the best possible quality. How to make sure your sleep is optimal? Here are 12 tips to improve your sleep quality.

Step 2: Plan A Good Morning

If you’ve got a plan, and something to look forward to, it will make it much easier to crawl out of your nice, warm bed. Put together a soothing, enjoyable routine. Maybe yours will include your favourite music, the morning paper, and a steaming cup of coffee. The early hours are the perfect time to meditate, read, write...whatever activities speak to you.

It’s helpful to incorporate some movement to get your circulation going—if not a full workout, just few jumping jacks, some stretches, a short yoga flow, whatever you like.

Prepare for a good breakfast. Something easy, something that will get you going. Oatmeal, yogurt with granola, fresh fruit...those are perfect choices. Make sure you’ve got what you need in your kitchen.  

Get prepped in the evening, before bedtime, for whatever morning activities you’ve got planned. Assemble your workout gear, set up the coffee maker, clear your desk—whatever you need to do.

Now you’re ready to reset your body clock.

Step 3: Reset Your Body Clock

Our bodies function according to circadian rhythms. Your digestive tract, your nervous system—all these systems are happiest when you follow regular sleep-wake cycles. To become a morning person you need to reset that clock, so all your systems can function well according to that new schedule. (And yes, I’m talking weekends, too.)

Start by gradually pulling your bedtime back, going to bed 15 minute earlier, and setting your morning alarm 15 minutes earlier. Keep moving in that direction, in 15-minute increments. Make each incremental jump every few days (or every week or two, depending on how quickly you’re able to adjust).

Other things that will help with the adjustment:

  • Increase your natural light exposure early in the day to help your brain and body truly understand when the “day” part of your day-night cycle begins.
  • Morning exercise also works wonders when it comes to resetting your body clock. Again, it’s another signal to your brain that NOW is wake time. Sets you up nicely, several hours later, for SLEEP time.
  • Also, the best wakeup plan does not include the snooze button. Hitting snooze over and over is a recipe for a groggy wakeup. It messes with your sleep cycle and can really side rail your plans for a feel-good, productive morning. So try your best to just get straight up.

Now, many people will be able to follow these steps, and with some perseverance, become morning people. Others might have more of a struggle, in spite of their best effort. I do believe we all have natural set points, and there may be a limit to how much we can control that in ourselves. But if you’re motivated, it’s worth a try.

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