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In a dream world, my prime working hours would be from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., which is a bit unconventional considering the rest of the world works from the early morning into the evening. Why is it for some of us, our minds come alive in the exact moment we need to wind down and go to bed?
I began focusing on making health and fitness a part of my lifestyle about six years ago. In the beginning of my journey, it wasn’t difficult to make time for working out because it was so new and exciting, I would look forward to going to the gym after a long day of school and work.
Fast forward a few years, and while fitness is still a priority for me, life has gotten increasingly more busy, making it even more difficult to find time in my busy schedule to work out.
The idea of early morning workouts crossed my mind, but I'm a night owl, I thought to myself. I continued with my usual evening workout routine, but I found myself continuously feeling too tired, and would end up skipping more and more workouts.
So I finally decided to give this morning workout thing a shot. And here is what I found:
1. Morning routines require a nighttime routine.
Start with designating a time you need to be in bed, preferably a full 30 minutes to an hour before you need to actually fall asleep.
2. Stick with this routine.
This is crucial even on the days you don’t NEED to get up that early. A solid nighttime routine can be easily interrupted and derailed after one or two nights of falling back into old, night owl patterns. Sure, it’s understandable you may want to enjoy a night out on the weekend (and you should!). Just make sure that the following night you get right back to your nighttime routine as usual.
3. It may take a few days to adjust.
You may have to endure a few nights where you don’t get a full 7-8 hours of sleep. For example, if you are aiming for a 5:30 a.m. wake-up time, but you aren’t quite used to being in bed by 10 p.m., you may just need to force yourself to wake up at 5:30 a.m. You'll be exhausted by the end of the day, making it easier to fall asleep earlier, and the 5:30 a.m. alarm the following morning won’t be as difficult as it was the first night.
Continue waking up at 5:30 a.m. until your body starts to get sleepy around the time you need to be in bed.
4. Implement a no electronics rule.
Before bed, put down your phones or smart devices. The artificial blue lights in electronics can suppress the release of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. It could also reduce the quality of sleep, potentially causing you to feel more groggy than normal upon waking.
5. Come up with a plan for nights when you can't fall asleep.
Keep a book by the bed for those nights when you just don't feel tired. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back asleep, try getting up and going to another part of the house. Try reading there, and then go back to your bedroom when you find yourself feeling sleepy again.
You could also try adding white noise to your routine, like a fan or a noise machine, or try to meditate to help you relax. Eventually, all of this will come naturally to you, and it won't require so much of an effort.
If you're looking for more diet and fitness advice, sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter. Anna Victoria is a certified personal trainer and the creator of The 12 Week Fit Body Guides and The Body Love app.