5 ways to become a morning person

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You may have received the icebreaker question: are you an early bird or a night owl? 

In fact, whether you rise early or drift late is determined, in part, by your chronotype—or the inclination toward sleeping at a certain time influenced by factors such as genetics and age.  

“Sleep is very individualized,” says Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine specialist at the University of Southern California. “There are individuals who have a genetic predisposition of being a night owl or a morning lark.” 

The typical night owl’s brain and body is geared toward being more alert and productive in the evening, often having a more difficult time rising earlier in the morning.

However, a myriad of other factors also influence whether or not someone identifies as a morning bird or night owl during their life, Dasgupta says, including someone’s work and home habits and their eating or exercise regimen. 

“So, a night owl can’t just easily flip a switch to become a morning person,” says Jessica Yu, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and senior director of patient experience at hims & hers. “They can, however, work towards new habits and routines over time that can help them get up and active earlier in the day.” 

How being an early bird benefits the brain and body 

Research suggests morning people may, in fact, catch the worm, as getting up early is associated with increased productivity, which can lead to feeling more successful doing the workday. An early start is also associated with improved mental health and life satisfaction and a decreased risk of diabetes and obesity

“I believe in my heart that we all could benefit by being a little bit of a morning lark,” Dasgupta tells Fortune. Even a range of successful CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook have embraced the early morning lifestyle. 

Rising earlier can also allow people enjoy their morning. Making a nutritious breakfast gives people sustained energy throughout the day, and one study suggests working out before noon is associated with a lower risk of heart problems and can improve focus. Getting up early can also help people start their day calmly and proactively without the chaotic rush out the door—which often triggers stress hormones.

“It’s like always feeling like you are behind in a race you can’t possibly win, which isn’t useful for motivation or positivity,” Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi, a psychiatrist based in New York and the medical director of behavioral health at Included Health, previously told Fortune about the rushed workday morning.

But successfully turning a night owl into a morning bird does not happen overnight.

“It takes a long time to finally get the wake time and bedtime you want,” Dasgupta says. “Don’t be disappointed if you take a step back.” 

For those who aim to get up earlier, there are adjustments you can make.  

Here are five steps to becoming a morning person 

1. Make incremental changes 

You don’t need to wake up at 3:45 a.m. like Tim Cook to be a morning person.

The best way to sustain new habits is to start slow. Instead of trying to jump out of bed two hours earlier than usual, push your alarm up by 15 to 20 minutes and see how you feel, says Rosie Acosta, a meditation and mindfulness teacher at Headspace, who has coached people on how to become morning people. 

“Small victories create new habits,” she says. 

2. Give yourself an intention and incentive 

The intention behind why you’re making a change is the key to long-term success and adherence. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to get up earlier in the morning?” and “What do I hope to gain by changing my schedule?” Acosta often asks her students how it will make them happier and more fulfilled. Hold onto this motive. 

“For example, maybe you want to become a morning person because you want to enjoy the calm and quiet before the house wakes up and the day feels like it’s running away from you,” Yu says. “If so, use the extra morning time to make yourself a nice cup of coffee, read through the day’s news before diving into things, or simply sit in silence.”

Even hyping yourself up about what you will get to do with your extra time in the morning can feel motivating. 

“Find activities that resonate with you and make waking up more enjoyable,” Acoasta says.  

While getting yourself excited for the morning can help you sustain your new habit, being consistent about your routine is equally important. 

3. Master the morning routine  

Starting the day off strong can help you love the morning bird mentality, like getting sunlight first thing in the morning which helps wake up the brain and body. 

“Starting the day with calming activities like meditation or enjoying a nourishing breakfast promotes focus, productivity, and sets a positive tone for the rest of the day,” Acosta says. “The stillness of the morning creates an opportunity for mindfulness, clarity, and personal growth, not that it doesn’t happen in the evening, it’s just a better way to ‘begin’ the day.”

And reducing the choice-intensive tasks in the morning can help you maximize your new-found time. 

“Think about reorganizing your morning routine so you have less to do, for example. Lay out the clothes you plan to wear the night before,” Benders-Hadi previously told Fortune. “Prep your breakfast and lunch meals to-go ahead of time, and do the same thing for any family members you may be caring for.” 

4. Have a consistent bedtime and wake up 

Once you begin incrementally adjusting your sleep and wake schedule, stay as consistent as possible. This ensures you get sleepy around the same time each night, experts say, which helps you fall and stay asleep. 

Having a bedtime routine also ensures you feel well-rested to wake up earlier in the morning. If you happen to go to bed later one night, don’t panic. A setback is okay, but it’s important to jump back into your routine. 

5. Limit alcohol and caffeine 

Using alcohol to help you sleep or extra caffeine to wake up is not sustainable, Dasgupta says. While alcohol may help people fall asleep, it does not promote sustained sleep throughout the night. 

And relying on caffeine to wake you up each day may help you stay focused in the short-term but won’t replace a strong morning and bedtime routine

“Remember, consistency and self-compassion are key. With dedication and patience, you can successfully transform into a morning person and embrace the beauty of early mornings,” Acosta says. 



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