When I was a kid, I often defaulted into nocturnal habits, especially on the weekends. It’s not that unusual, but I was constantly battling this urge to sleep in throughout my formative years.
Luckily, I had school, work and higher education, so that definitely prevented me from embracing the full totality of the night owl aesthetic. Instead, I ended up waking up early as an obedient person would, operating like normal.
When the pandemic came around, I curiously defaulted back to this earlier nocturnal-like state. I was still productive, just as much as the next person (if not more), but I found myself constantly at odds —especially with the world operating mostly in the day.
For example, if I had to attend a virtual team meeting or some other virtual appointment, it couldn’t be at night — it had to be early in the day. As time went on, I gradually retrained myself to get back to my earlier state of waking up early.
Here are some tips that I will impart to you.
1. Establish Some Consistency
It’s good to establish consistency with your time. For example, if you train yourself to repeatedly wake up at 9:00 AM, then it’s easier to eventually reach a state of mind where you can do it automatically. Think of it as training yourself to ride a bike — it becomes natural and automatic after some time.
It might also help to have an accountability partner, such as another person in the house who will literally jerk you awake, even if you struggle to commit initially. From there, you can try to gradually dial up your waking time where 9:00 AM becomes 8:30 AM, and then 8:30 AM becomes 8:00 AM.
You can use charts and entry logs if you need to, just to see how long it takes you to “upgrade” yourself to an earlier hour.
2. Change Up the Nighttime Rituals
Before you go to bed, there are many things we can do to ensure that our mornings are most optimal. For example, we may be in the habit of doing things that make things worse, such as drinking caffeinated beverages and watching brightly lit laptop screens.
Other bad rituals include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating a super heavy meal right before bed
- Excessive day napping
Instead, try to scale down on the computer or phone use, and use night-time filters if you need to remain glued to that device of yours.
Instead, try to:
- Drink a glass of cold water to keep hydrated
- Close your eyes and let your imagination run wild
- Do a mindfulness activity
- Read a small book to make yourself sleepy
- Do some stretches or exercises on the bed
3. Eat Differently During the Day
Think of yourself as a battery and your food as if it were ammo for a powerup, like a videogame character. You need to eat something different from what you usually eat.
Perhaps you need more salads and fruits throughout the day. Maybe a specific food triggers sleepiness, like bananas, oatmeal, or even a glass of milk. Experiment as much as you need to. For example, some people might report getting sleepy after some nuts, kiwi, white rice, or even fish.
Of course, once you eat something, it’s best to wait a few hours before hopping into bed. You need to let your body properly digest whatever you just ate.
4. Change Up the Exercise Routine
Maybe your specific exercise regimen isn’t working out for you. Maybe you just need to change up the kinds of exercise that you do. For example, some people work out a sweat, take a warm shower, and then head to bed.
As the National Health Service has noted, exercise can sometimes help people with anxiety and depression. Your mind is preoccupied with something and it becomes easier to process your ongoing stress. If you are well-rested, then you can wake up in the morning, more refreshed than before.
Overall, while it’s not easy to deal with something like this, there’s still hope for you. Whether or not you end up seeing a professional, like your family physician or therapist, you can still train yourself to wake up on time. It takes a lot of work, and some help, such as from family, but it’s possible. It just takes a little practice.
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