Nighttime Tips for a Better Morning

Not much of a morning person? 
Do you find yourself feeling like you got hit by a semi truck when you wake up? Desperately scrambling to get yourself some caffeine? If you aren't busy hitting snooze, that is. Always forgetting something? And inevitably ending up being rushed out the door without feeling completely ready? 

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It might mean you're not a very good night-person either...
You might be surprised how much can be cured by a good night's rest. Maybe all you need to feel more refreshed in the mornings are better night-time habits.

Here are some tips:

1. Avoid exciting your body's systems by eating, exercising, showering, or staring at a screen right before going to bed. All of these habits "awaken" us in ways that may make it hard to fall asleep once we hit the pillow.
--- INSTEAD? Make sure to eat dinner a couple hours before going to bed, so you're satiated, but you're digestive system has calmed. Get your exercise in well before going to sleep, if possible, so your muscular and nervous systems are more relaxed for bed time. Shower in the morning to avoid exciting your nervous and neural systems. Try reading for 30-60 minutes before going to bed instead of watching TV.  
All of these habits will help physically and mentally prepare you for sleep.

2. Avoid doing any kind of activity in your bed other than sleeping (aside from the obvious -- I'm not your mom!). This can create a damaging mental association between your bed and things that AREN'T sleep making it harder to actually fall asleep when the time comes. 
--- INSTEAD? Find a separate place for reading, watching TV, drawing, studying, computer work, etc. Somewhere you can sit upright with proper posture, preferably! 

3. Try to get a solid 7-9 hours each night. Sleeping too much or too little can heavily effect energy levels throughout the day, so it's important to know how much sleep you need to function optimally and to try and get that amount as often as possible. I've learned through trial and error that my optimal sleep time is 7.5 hours. 
--- HAVE TROUBLE GETTING TO BED? Try tips #1 and #2 first to see if there's any improvement, and then try aiming for your optimal amount of sleep. Rome wasn't built in a day. 

4. Avoid a rushed, sloppy, haphazard morning. This can potentially negatively effect your mental state and provide for a somewhat crappy rest of your morning/day. 
This one has some tips within tips... 

--- AVOID HITTING SNOOZE (more than once!). I heavily empathize with the plight of the snooze button... As a habitual snoozer myself I definitely battle with the desire to sleep just a little longer and the rational knowledge that it'd be easier to wake up with my first alarm rather than 5 snoozes later. And I do find that my best mornings are the ones when I bite the bullet and get up with my first alarm. That extra little taste of sleep really just wreaks havoc on my morning. So how can you avoid hitting snooze until the last possible second? 
>> Aim for your optimal amount of sleep. (Over time your body might naturally wake up even before your alarm!)
>> Sit up, or stand up, or otherwise move physically when the alarm goes off. This small step will do a lot to encourage waking up. 
>> Set at least two alarms with LESS than the amount of snooze time between them. For example, I'll set an alarm for 6:15a and then one for 6:20a, because my phone snoozes for 10 minutes at a time. This way if I snooze my 6:15a alarm, my 6:20a alarm goes off BEFORE the snooze from 6:15a. Even just knowing that this will happen usually results in me deciding to wake up rather than waiting for another alarm.
>> Give yourself something to look forward to in the morning. For me, it's coffee. As such, the alarm goes off, and I hate everything for a minute, but then the first thing I do is start making my coffee, and everything is better. It gives me a positive reason for waking up. 

--- GET 'READY TO GO' THE NIGHT BEFORE. Now, I don't mean get fully dressed and ready to go right before laying down for bed. But there is a lot you can do the night before that makes a morning routine run more seamlessly. For example, if you pack a lunch you can go ahead and pack it the night before, so you can just grab it on the way out. If you fill up water bottles or other drinks, the same is true. If picking out your outfit takes a while, you can get that out of the way the night before, and so on.

--- GIVE YOURSELF SOME WIGGLE ROOM. Feeling rushed out the door is one of my least favorite parts of the morning. I always feel like I'm forgetting something, or I'm just not mentally ready for the day yet. One of the best things I did for myself to combat this was allowing for some wiggle room in my time frame in the mornings. This allows me a few minutes, sometimes just 2 or 3, to sit, relax, drink my coffee, and GET ready. All I have to do to make this possible is prep things the night before, set my alarm at a time that allows just a couple minutes to myself, and then actually wake up at that first alarm. If I do all of those two things mornings are a breeze. 

--- ESTABLISH A ROUTINE. This is easily the most important tip. We are creatures of habit. We thrive on routine. This gives us structure and even further motivation for climbing out of bed. If you can't list out in detail the exact steps of your morning routine, you might consider creating one for yourself.
Mine? Start coffee. Let dog out. Get dressed. Put on make up. Let dog in, give her a treat. Give guinea pigs some veggies. Pour coffee. Make my own food. Eat that food (this is my few minutes to myself). Grab lunch for work. Head out.

--- STICK TO THAT ROUTINE. This may seem like it goes without saying, but I don't just mean on the days when you HAVE to be awake at a certain time. I mean on the weekends, or holidays, or days off. Sticking as close as possible to that morning routine even when you don't have to (with some leeway of course) will make it even easier on those mornings when you do have to. 

Now, I definitely realize these things are all much easier said than done; especially the habits that actually happen in the morning. So, maybe start with the night time behaviors first. But, after YEARS of struggling to wake up on time and have positive, productive mornings, I've found a lot of success in following these tips. I went from snoozing for literally an entire hour and then having to run out the door completely unprepared for the day to waking up to my first or second alarm almost every morning and having that hour to get myself ready to go instead. It has been a glorious change of pace, and it's really made a huge difference in my life. 

I'll never be a morning person, but I can definitely work on being a better night time person in the hopes of continually improving my mornings.