For those of you who aren't naturally morning people, there are two options. You can either learn to optimize your night owl tendencies, working against a society that favors morning people in all regards, or you can embrace what morning bird tendencies you have. Everyone has them to varying degrees, and you can tap into your own reserves.
To be clear, you won't be guaranteed more success, happiness or a better body if you get up at 6 a.m. instead of 7:30. However, if your schedule, life, kids or boss dictates earlier hours, you need to oblige. Here are the best ways to adjust your natural circadian rhythm and bring out the morning you.
1. Practice good sleep hygiene
Most Americans don't get enough hours of quality sleep. How much anyone needs varies from person to person. However, avoiding food, exercise and looking at a screen for at least two hours before going to bed, minimizing light and darkness, and finding your body's rhythm (which might mean no caffeine after 10 a.m. or none at all) are crucial. For those with insomnia or serious sleep issues like sleep apnea, medical intervention is a must.
2. Build a healthy morning ritual
If you're prone to drifting in and out of sleep after your alarm goes off, checking your Facebook feed right away or running to the bathroom already feeling like you're late, you're not doing yourself any favors. A healthy morning routine should include peace and prepping your body with some light stretching (which can be done in bed if you like). Create a skin regimen that you follow each morning, try starting the day with warm lemon water instead of coffee (coffee can come 30 minutes later if you like), and learn to let go of the snooze button.
3. Create a pre-10 a.m. task list
Morning people often say they're more successful because they "get so much done" before many people have even stumbled into the office. Prioritize your tasks as if you were a triage nurse: What absolutely needs to get done and/or requires the most care and attention? This will be different for everyone, whether it's making sure the kids are sent to school with a healthy lunch or answering Client X's requests before any other project. See what you can get done before 10 a.m., and reward yourself by carving out "me time" later in the afternoon.
4. Do as much as you can the night before
Do you catch yourself putting off a lot of easy tasks and chores for the morning when you're most rushed? Putting out the day's outfit, re-upping your gym bag, packing your lunch or putting away the dishes can all be nightly tasks. Plus, it's time better spent than vegging on the couch and getting overly stimulated with screen time.
5. Shower the night before
In some countries, such as South Korea, it's incredibly strange to shower in the mornings because there's too much to do. Shower or (even better) take a bath the night before to take care of your shampooing, shaving and other necessities. You'll save an incredible amount of time in the morning that's better used elsewhere. Plus, a hot shower or bath can be a great help with sleep hygiene, making you groggy and more ready for sleep.
The morning bird doesn't always get the worm, but the worm-catching seems to fall in its favor. Try switching up your habits to optimize your mornings and see what you can catch.