I do my best work in the morning. In addition, starting the day off with a healthy and productive morning carries over into the rest of my day — increasing my energy and focus throughout. That’s why I’ve worked for over three years to find a morning routine that works for me and make it a habit.
However, on the nights that I do not get a sufficient duration, or quality, of sleep, my morning routine is basically useless.
I’ve had almost every sleep problem you can image.
- Not being able to fall asleep
- Waking up in the middle of the night
- Not being able to get out of bed in the morning
And I’ve tried almost everything to solve it.
- Eating before bed
- Not eating before bed
- Maintaining a consistent schedule
- Setting my alarm clock to play funky jams
- Journaling before bed
- Over the counter medications
- …many more!
Most solutions were almost completely useless. Some actually hurt my sleep or had negative side effects.
However I did find four strategies that have become staples of my night. With the four hacks I share below, I’ve increased the quantity and quality of my sleep. Each morning I’ve maintained a routine that’s helped me write 2–3 blog posts per week, maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen, and stay focused and energized throughout the day.
Here are four ways to ensure you wake up early feeling motivated every morning (no doctor visits, prescription drugs, or expensive equipment required!):
1. Wear a sleep mask to block the light.
Even with the lights turned off, almost every room will have some light from outside street lights, moonlight, or lights from neighboring rooms. It may not seem like it would be enough to harm your sleep, however it may mean the difference between hopping out of bed rejuvenated and hitting the snooze button over and over again. According to National Sleep Foundation,
“A key factor in regulating sleep and your biological clocks is exposure to light or to darkness so falling asleep with lights on may not be the best thing for a good night’s sleep.”
A great sleep mask solves just this problem.
I got my sleep mask, a Komossa, on Amazon. The Kamossa Sleep Mask has molded cups so that you can open your eyes freely while maintaining complete darkness.
I find a sleep mask especially effective when I wake up earlier than planned and the sun would otherwise be glowing in my window. I sense my eyes opening, but as the light never shows, I fade back to sleep.
If your bedroom is anything less than pitch black, which it probably is, give a sleep mask a try. You’ll question how you ever slept in a room with more light before!
2. Wear earplugs to block the sound.
In addition to light, another common reason for not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep is sound. If you’ve ever been kept awake by an air conditioner, a noisy neighbor or roommate, or your partner snoring, your know what I’m talking about.
A set of ear plugs is enough to prevent sounds that might otherwise prevent you from achieving a consistently deep sleep.
I use simple foam ear plugs. You can buy them on Amazon or at your local CVS, Walgreens or Duane Reed.
Wearing ear plugs along with a sleep mask creates a feeling of being disconnected from the outside that I find euphoric. It puts me right to sleep.
3. Use Sleep Cycle to wake up at the right time.
When you sleep, you cycle between REM and Non-REM sleep. REM is a deeper sleep. It’s usually when dreams occur. When you wake up during deeper sleep, it feels disorienting, and makes it harder to actually get out of bed.
The Sleep Cycle alarm clock tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up during light sleep. It uses sound analysis to identify sleep states by tracking your movements in bed.
Waking up during light sleep feels like waking up naturally rested without an alarm clock. It makes it much easier to hop out be bed.
Here’s how you use Sleep Cycle:
- Select the 30 minute window you’d like to wake up.
- Leave your phone within a few feet of your bed.
- The alarm will go off when your phone picks up sound of you moving.
- View charts showing your sleep quality and quantity each night.
Here are the key benefits:
- Maximize the amount of deep sleep you get.
- Wake up at the time that will make it easiest for you to actually get out of bed.
- Track and analyze your sleep so that you can improve it over time.
4. Schedule something fun in the morning.
Have you ever experienced the feeling of having your alarm go off, but not feeling inspired to get out of bed? I know I have and if you’ve read this far it’s likely that you have too.
The biggest influence on this occurrence for me is this: When I know the first thing I’ll be doing in the morning is something I don’t want to be doing, such as some grunt work, I’m far less motivated to get out of bed. However, when I know I’ll be doing something I love doing after I get out of bed, I am far more motivated.
Here’s how my morning starts now:
- Drink Bulletproof Coffee (coffee with grass-fed butter and MCT oil)
The caffeine in the Bulletproof Coffee obviously gives the mind and body a burst of energy. More interestingly, the butter and MCT oil provides healthy fats and helps sustain the energy from the coffee, without the crash.
After some stretching and deep breathing, and once the coffee starts to kick in, I move on to reading. Usually a personal development or philosophy book — something inspiring or thought provoking. Then, I start writing.
I start by journaling. I simply write whatever is on my mind. It’s a stream of consciousness without any concern for quality. I end each entry by stating something I’m grateful for and writing an affirmation.
Then, I write something that I intend to publish. This is usually my most focused and productive time of my entire today. I get the vast majority of my best writing done at this time.
Writing has helped me:
- Get my brain started in the morning and increase my creativity.
- De-stress by getting my thoughts out of my head.
- Increase my confidence and happiness levels by writing a gratitude list and affirmations.
- Build a following and make money.
Become a morning person
There are a million and one things you can do to hack your sleep. And everyone is different. So I do recommend you try the various suggestions that have been made by the pros and measure the results on yourself. These four hacks have been the most impactful for me.
Here are 4 bonus hacks that have also helped me:
- Take a magnesium supplement about an hour before bed.
- Reduce the quantity of water you drink at night and stop drinking it a few hours before bed so that you don’t wake up to go to the bathroom.
- Keep your bedroom at a low temperature.
- Drink a tall glass of water first thing after waking up.
I hope this is a good starting point for becoming a “morning person” and building a powerful morning routine!