Walking Guide

Become a Morning Person: 8 Tips from a Former Night Owl


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  258 comments   :  776,773 Views

I spent most of my early and mid 20s working the second shift at newspapers. I loved working as a copy editor, and I loved the hours, too. My shifts began at 4 p.m. and ended at midnight, which meant I could stay up late, sleep until noon, and still have time to run errands and go to the gym (a rare occurrence then) before work.

Eventually I joined the 9-to-6 crowd, and it was tough. I did not like mornings.

Fast-forward to last fall, when my yoga studio announced it was adding traditional sunrise morning practice to the schedule during the week. Though I now love my morning practice and wouldn't return to evening sessions, it was not an easy transition. I am not a morning person by nature, but I have become one by necessity.
Life is more likely to interfere when I schedule yoga practices at night. I'm too tired, too stressed, too busy. I have time to formulate all kinds of excuses. But when the alarm goes off at 5:30 each morning, I have no excuse. When I don't want to get out of bed (and who does on a cold winter morning?), I ask myself: What else would you be doing at this time? The answer (aside from sleeping): Nothing. So I get up.

By 9 a.m. I have put in almost two hours on the mat, showered, spent time with my cats, and started my workday. Whereas before I had a hard time getting motivated first thing in the morning, now I dive head-first into the day. Even my work schedule has changed. I save less-intense work for afternoon and choose to work on larger projects first. I feel so much better--more energized and accomplished. I know that morning workouts are worth it!

Those first few weeks were tough. I was exhausted by 9 p.m., falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, and I dreaded the alarm clock each morning. I "accidentally" slept through it or hit snooze more than a few times. Within two months, my entire schedule changed.
Here's how I adjusted:

  1. Plan ahead. Each night before I go to bed, I make sure everything I need for the next day is ready to go: breakfast, lunch, and water bottle in the fridge; laptop case and purse by the door; gym bag is stocked with extra clothes, shoes, and toiletries. Even if I oversleep by a few minutes, I don't need to scramble to track down everything I need.
  2. Unpack, then immediately repack. Soon after I come home, I clean out my gym bag. Dirty clothes and yoga towels in the laundry room, extra accessories or clothes back in the closet (sometimes I end up with a few too many pairs of socks or underwear--more on that later), and clothes for tomorrow in the bag. I lay out my yoga clothes for the next day, complete with outer layers for cold mornings, plus shoes and a headband to keep my sweaty hair out of my face. I pack my work clothes into my gym bag and set it in the same place so I don't have to hunt for it the next day.
  3. Carry an extra set. There's nothing worse than arriving at work still sweaty from a workout (I shower and get ready at the SparkPeople offices most days) and realizing that you don't have clean clothes. Thankfully, I have never forgotten clean underwear, but I have forgotten clean socks, and, once, I forgot a towel. (I used a clean t-shirt to dry off.) I keep a spare of anything I couldn't live without: socks, undies, bras, towels. That way I don't have to take a 20-minute detour home and back in the morning.
  4. Stick to your plan. I have the same routine every morning: bathroom and shower, fill the kettle and turn it on, feed the cats, grind the coffee, fill the French press, take my vitamins with two cups of water, then get dressed, take my lunch out of the fridge, finish the coffee, put on my shoes… you get the picture. I find that I'm much less likely to lose track of time or forget to do something if I follow roughly the same order every day.
  5. No distractions. I scan my email when I turn off my alarm each morning but I don't respond to anything that's not an emergency until I get to the office. I don’t open my laptop, and I don't own a TV, so I'm not tempted to lose track of time that way. I learned the hard way one morning when I logged on to my laptop for "just a minute" and ended up being 30 minutes late to practice. (It's an open studio, so you do a self-paced practice with staggered start times.)
  6. Don't be vain. Working out in the morning means no time to dawdle in front of the mirror. I can't change my mind about my outfit--it's the only one I have with me. I don't wear makeup and don't dry my hair (obviously, this wouldn't work if your office is more formal). I have very long, curly hair that I love to wear loose, but I can't wash it daily or it dries out (and takes hours to air dry), so I braid it most of the time.

    I don't feel any different about myself when I skip makeup or wear my hair braided. In fact, I've learned to be more creative with my hair, and I spend less time fiddling with it. (I'm one who puts her hair up and takes it back down a few times a day if it's loose.) If you spend less time primping, not only will you save valuable time in the mornings, but you'll also learn to accept yourself for who you are, flaws and all.
  7. Stick with it, even on weekends. I can't stay out past 10 these days, and that's fine by me.  If I try to sleep in, stay up really late, or deviate from my normal schedule on weekends, Mondays are really hard. I "sleep in" until 7 on weekends, but I stick with my morning yoga practice and other routines. This was key, especially in the beginning, to adjusting to the new morning schedule.
  8. Cut yourself some slack. Some days, that alarm goes off, and I hit snooze a few times. I miss my window for practice. Other days I'm sick or something comes up. I realize that life happens, and sometimes my schedule and my workouts will be affected. I lean on my mantra: You did your best today. Tomorrow you'll do better.
If this former night owl can learn to love mornings (and morning workouts, no less), anyone can!

What is your best tip for learning to be a morning person?

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  • 258
    Great idea! - 12/7/2017   3:17:41 AM
  • 257
    thanks - 10/29/2017   2:36:08 PM
  • 256
    Hey look: if being a morning person either by necessity or nature works for you, then great. But there's nothing wrong with being a night owl either -- or a "middle-of-the-day"-er. Judging from the number of people I see at Planet Fitness in the evening, not everybody finds it stressful to carve out time for exercise at the end of a busy day. I also get a little impatient with young people who blithely advise people not to be "vain" by primping. While just rushing out the door works fine when you're in your 30s, by the time you're 54, you DO require a bit more self-care in order to look presentable. - 9/21/2017   4:47:51 PM
  • 255
    thanks - 9/18/2017   12:43:23 AM
    Another bash the night owl praise larks bull post. Being a night owl has not negatively impacted my life, but trying to live getting up at dawn sure did. A nastier person than me you would never want to meet before 10 AM. I'm not nice or friendly until almost noon. Why should I be up then? - 9/1/2017   12:47:49 AM
  • 253
    I need to get back to being a morning person..... - 8/27/2017   7:32:08 PM
  • 252
    Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?
    - Edgar Bergen - 8/27/2017   2:52:01 AM
  • 251
    Since i'm retired, it doesn't really matter how early or late i get up. I am used to getting up early though. - 8/25/2017   6:55:22 PM
    Hello - I am a nighthawk! Got up at 12:30 today. It is now 2:20 pm. As the song goes, "I'm on my 2nd cup of coffee, and I still can't face the day"! My schedule for the last 28+ years has been reversed days and nights due to a couple of deaths in my immediate family. Guess it was what you call "shock value"! My motto became and still is - "I eat when I'm hungry, sleep when I'm tired, and get up when I feel rested". It works for me as I have no reason to get up early. I make all my appointments for the afternoons. If I have to get up early, I can get up with the alarm, or have a sleepless night just thinking I will miss the alarm.I used to sleep twelve hours. My Doctor said I was on China time. Now I sleep ten hours. Years ago raising a family, and working 8:15 am to 5 pm, I coped and still went to bed around one or 3 am. Never liked getting up early, but could survive on 3 or 4 hours sleep per night. Possibly needed a power nap of 5 or 10 minutes prior to hockey/lacrosse/baseball games every night of the week, and tournaments almost every weekends. I still did all my own house cleaning, laundry, ironing, baking, and managed quite well. My husband didn't help in the house, but looked after the outside grass cutting, hedge trimming, and swimming pool maintenance. Have seriously been thinking of trying again to rise earlier. I think about Sept.15th,2017, I will try again, and get back into every day exercise. I do most things with my best friend who happens to be myself. I have been going dancing at least twice month, and call that my exercise. Love the twist and jive and get a good workout. My prime time when I feel most awake and energized has been 11 to midnight when I start to bake. I give most of it away to friends. I am sure it will be difficult to rearrange my life, but I think I need to be ready to live my best life when my 4th quarter begins later in November.Very good article on how different people have different schedules. I guess whatever works for you is best! I hope everyone has a great weekend! - 8/25/2017   2:39:06 PM
  • 249
    Doable - 8/25/2017   12:52:05 PM
  • 248
    Great tips! - 8/25/2017   12:21:36 PM
  • 247
    Great points! - 8/25/2017   11:49:43 AM
  • 246
    I am going to try these tips - 8/24/2017   8:42:49 PM
  • LEEANN53
    I needed this! :) - 8/24/2017   5:52:52 PM
  • 244
    I suppose this is good for some. I love being an night owl. - 8/24/2017   4:51:44 PM
  • 243
    Good tips! - 8/24/2017   4:44:31 PM
  • 242
    good points. - 8/24/2017   11:14:39 AM
  • 241
    Goals for next month! - 8/24/2017   10:12:23 AM
  • 240
    Very inspirational article. I am currently working on waking up and staying up! - 8/24/2017   8:47:04 AM
  • 239
    It's not possible for everyone to convert to morning...I tried several times and I basically never slept. I was sick and unhealthy the entire time! Some people are just night people, and that's it. Not everyone can transition. This is an article that assumes it's your habits, it not for many. It's how we are made. - 8/24/2017   2:57:33 AM
  • 238
    Hmph. I became a "morning person" when I simply stopped being able to sleep in late! I reach the 7-7 1/2 hours in bed mark & boom--wide awake. I find I'm now too tired to stay up past 10:30/11:00 p.m....and I'm up everyday by around 6 a.m. So it goes... - 7/31/2017   9:04:45 AM
  • 237
    I would add, make sure you get your 8 hours of sleep by going to bed at a good time. That makes an early morning workout easier. - 7/18/2017   11:49:43 AM
  • 236
    Stick with it, even on weekends is great advice! - 7/9/2017   1:33:48 PM
  • 235
    I would love to be a morning person, the mornings are so beautiful. But I have been a later riser most of my life. My late husband used to get up early, make coffee, and bring me a cup in bed. I really miss that. - 6/10/2017   5:55:15 PM
  • 234
    Would love to get back to being a morning person again! I used to run on the morning track at 7am and do water aerobics on the weekend 745am Sat and Sunday. I have to admit planning your workout in the morning would definitely be a reason to get up. Not putting on any makeup nor styling my hair for work, that's something I still make time for 😇😇 - 5/7/2017   10:12:46 PM
  • 233
    I am a morning person, but I liked the ideas as reminders of great ways to stay healthy. - 4/8/2017   4:13:51 AM
    I am a night owl and see no reason to change. What is the purpose of getting up earlier than your natural body clock dictates if you have no reason to? There is nothing inherently better about being awake early in the morning as opposed to late at night. - 1/1/2017   5:29:14 PM
  • 231
    I am a night owl and retired. I like the author's ideas.But do not feel this would work for me at this time in my life! I am just doing one thing ~getting to bed earlier~ and ANY amount of earlier,works for me! - 12/31/2016   11:42:49 AM
    I am not a night owl nor a morning person -- more of a daytime person. I do my best to keep cheerfully going no matter what time. Have worked out in earlier a.m. evening, and whenever my schedule works best. Sometimes it depends on weather, family schedule and other factors - 9/21/2016   11:31:37 AM
    It is NOT a choice to become a night owl or an early bird .. your chronobiology has a default - but you can chose to fight it. However, there are consequences! If you try and sleep before your body is ready you will not get good quality sleep, and may actually create a behavioural problems that lead to insomnia. Additionally, waking up to an alarm (while the norm) is is the worst thing for your sleep health. If you need an alarm - your body is sleep deprived!! As a night owl myself I believe we have been made to feel inferior and bullied into living according to a schedule that is not conducive to our health or wellbeing. Embrace your chronobiology rather than fight it! Lets create a business world where we value both - even more important as we move to a global economy. - 8/16/2016   11:34:43 AM
    I am a night owl. Was very happy when I finally got a job that fit my sleep/wake schedule. Retired now but I still go to bed at 3Am and get up around 10AM. Do not see any reason to change. Really think people who get up bright and early need to reexamine why they do that. If that's the way their body moves, fine. If not, why hurt yourself? Back in the day when I went to work at 8AM, with a raising time of 6AM, I was a cranky, unhappy woman. I could feel myself waking up at 10AM, after I'd been at work for a couple of hours. I've seen plenty of sunrises on my way home from work, and really enjoyed the colors then. Being a night owl is just as good as being a lark.
    - 7/31/2016   12:48:41 AM
  • 227
    I used to work 7P to 7A and 11P to 7:30A and still have not gotten turned around into a morning person. I have been retired several yrs. and still can't get to sleep before 1A and up between 7-8 with fatigue. Would love to be more of a morning person as my DH is a 6A riser. - 7/25/2016   9:30:17 PM
    I worked in an office building with a gym, and figured out what worked for me.

    Personally, I would not put my clean clothes in the same gym bag as my dirty exercise clothes and wet towel, then put them back in the drawer when I got home.

    Keep a plastic bag for your wet/sweaty clothes to separate them from your clean clothes. Your gym bag can get smelly after storing your used exercise clothes & shoes all day, so don't repack it immediately. Let it air out or wipe it out and make sure it's completely dry before putting clean clothes back in. Better yet, keep 2 gym bags so you can alternate them.

    Keep an extra set of undies/socks, small travel size bottles of shampoo in a bag in your desk in case you forget something. - 7/24/2016   12:58:51 PM
  • 225
    I became a morning person when I got an early-morning (2 AM) newspaper route years ago. Having a supervisor who would literally scream at you if you were late was enough to get me out of bed as soon as the alarm went off! I kept that job for 15 years (but the supervisor changed after a few years, thank goodness!). My body learned that as soon as my feet hit the floor, we were off to work. Even though I still enjoy staying up late some evenings until 11 PM, I really do function best in the mornings. You can reprogram your body to adjust. It probably took me a year or two to do this, but I was successful. Thanks for a great article! Now that I'm a teacher and with the school year starting in a couple of weeks, I need to implement some of these hints so I can get to my classroom before the required set time. While the weather is still hot, I'd also like to take my dogs for a walk in the early mornings, like 5 AM, because it will be too hot to walk at 4 PM. Using some of these hints will help me get out the door to school earlier! - 7/24/2016   11:52:02 AM
    135% night person here. Work schedule is 7p-7a. Love it and am not happy working days. However, there is no reason these ideas cannot be flipped to fit a night schedule! - 7/24/2016   6:43:03 AM
  • 223
    Congratulations on your success to become a morning person! Thank you for sharing the tips, now I'm going to have a go! Just added you as a Sparkfriend, please motivate me along the way if you like :) - 4/30/2016   5:13:34 PM
    good advice for any habit building adventure - 2/14/2016   2:35:46 PM
  • 221
    I like the fact that you have no TV. That indicates to me that you might be a purist. Glenn - 1/27/2016   12:27:15 AM
  • 220
    Get to bed early. - 1/23/2016   10:55:51 PM
  • 219
    this is a struggle for me for sure! I am a stay at home mom and it has been really hard for me to find a schedule that works...especially finding a time to work out at home without little ones needing me...so I need to get up at 5 or 530 to have that much needed me time...but it is so hard! You had some great tips! Thanks! - 1/15/2016   2:03:59 PM
  • 218
    I am definitely a morning person! - 12/2/2015   10:01:02 PM
  • 217
    I, too used to work 4:30 to 1am. Did so for 11 years. That was 5 years ago and just this past Spring I began walking each morning with my across the street neighbor. We do almost exactly 4 miles in 69 minutes. The only times we miss is when it is raining. Even now with the cold setting in, we layer and soldier on! I am amazed that I actually enjoy it and look forward to it. We spur each other on. She doesn't do weekends, but I have surprised myself in that I go by myself even Sat. and Sunday! I haven't lost a single pound but my Dr. is super pleased in that I am no longer pre-diabetic. My numbers are excellent and for no other reason than the walking.I am a convert! - 11/30/2015   8:55:49 PM
    I am not a morning person by nature, but my job starts at 7:30 a.m. I try to have everything ready the night before, and lucky for me, my spouse is a morning person and makes my coffee right when my alarm goes off. One thing I have had to do to settle down at night is give up almost all evening chocolate. When I was doing Nutrisystem, the brownies and even the chocolate chip cookies had me awake until midnight. When I was younger, I slept well no matter what I ate. Once I hit 40, it all changed. I also find I have to exercise before 7 p.m., or that throws off my sleep schedule, too. There is just no way I will exercise in the morning before work. I only get up before 5 a.m. for one reason - vacation!
    - 11/29/2015   10:22:58 PM
  • 215
    I have always been a morning person. I did work the last 18 years at night and once I retired it was hard to get out of the night shift mode. I now get up at 645 to 7am and go to bed around 10pm. I get my walking and workouts in during the daytime. If I feel like I need a nap, I take one but only or an hour or less. - 11/29/2015   6:14:59 PM
  • 214
    I was a morning - really did not have much of a choice, being a working, single Mom. But, now that I have retired, I find that i stay up later and later, and sleep later and later. But, that just does not work for me - so am in the process of switching back to "early to bed, early to rise". Have started by getting to bed by 10 pm and setting my alarm for 6 am. Hard to get up - but i just do it!! and it is starting to take. - 11/29/2015   10:10:07 AM
  • 213
    I became a morning person because of our bunnies! I started getting up at 7 and that became the routine for them. Even though we no longer have bunnies and I've retired I find that i naturally get up around 6:45 and with my Nike Fuel band to spur me on do a 5 minute walk around the house to move my body. Love the morning now. - 11/29/2015   8:14:50 AM
  • 212
    By necessity I had to become a morning person a few months ago. The physical therapist/trainer whom I am working with 5 days/week had an appointment open at 7 AM. I have to be awake and moving at least 2 hours before the session, so I am up at 4:30 most days. I do all those things listed in the article. I am up early on the weekends too because that is when I wake up naturally. Sometimes I take a nap on the weekends if I have had a late night. - 11/29/2015   6:05:37 AM
  • 211
    I am not a morning person anymore since I work overnights, my morning is your night. I find the push to get up earlier and do exercise counterproductive, I need my sleep, when I work it is only 4-6 hours a day, getting up earlier to exercise would mean 3-5 hours of sleep instead. - 11/29/2015   1:58:12 AM
    Weekly Meal Plan
    5/11/weekly-meal-plan-diet - 11/18/2015   11:42:01 AM
  • SEASUN21
    Good for you but, some of us are genuine night people. I am one, and I love it, I am more creative, more focused and much more insightful during the night. A lot of highly creative people are night owls. Nights are magical. - 11/14/2015   4:02:00 PM

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