… and outsmart your body clock.
Be a morning person!
try to imagine a magical place where your phone never rings, your inbox is empty and there’s no queue at the coffee bar. Well it exists – it’s called early morning, and you can fake entry. While around 50% of our brain’s body clock is decided by genetics and age (we wake 30 minutes earlier every decade), says neurologist Dr Kirstie Anderson, the other half can be trained. How? With a wake-up workout.
1Have a reason to get up
We’d never visit the dentist if it weren’t for the fear of our teeth falling out. Ditto, mornings. Unless you’re biologically blessed, and have 5am blow-dries like Anna Wintour, you need incentive to get up. Start your morning-person training with a date you must keep: an earlierthan-usual meeting, exercise class, even online delivery.
2Don’t overdo day one
To make a permanent success, not a one-hit wonder, of your mornings, go gradual. Think of an ultimate wake-up goal (like 6am instead of 8am), then edge towards it in 15-20 minute increments each day. Experts agree this yields better results than one big shift, because you should get sleepier 15-20 minutes earlier each night, rather than feeling knackered and over it on day one.
3Get a smart alarm app
By which we mean, they sound smart now, but they’ll be annoying at 7am. And that’s the point. The alarm on Wake ’N Shake Alarm Clock (IOS; R10) only stops after you’ve shaken your phone enough, and there’s no mute. Step Out of Bed! (IOS; R26) and Walk Me Up! (free on IOS and Android) require you to walk a number of steps before they stop ringing. While CARROT Alarm (IOS; R40) sings, then talks to get you up. Sounds sweet? Nope. It threatened to kill a kitten when we pressed snooze!
4Open your curtains instantly
OK, not if you sleep naked, but as soon as it’s neighbour-friendly. When it comes to resetting your wake-up, “light is the biggest factor,” says Dr Anderson. “It signals alertness. Lower light levels within one to two hours of bedtime.” And know that light from a computer screen or device has roughly the same sleep-destroying effects as the sun.
5Invert your routine
Wonder why your time seems to evaporate in the morning? Here’s a clue: more than 12 minutes are spent deciding what to wear. Do time-consuming tasks like this and packing a gym kit or making lunch the night before. Less to do will flip your perspective. Instead of waking up to the prospect of chores, then work chores, it’s quality free time.
6Don’t cave at weekends
Do you wake up just before your alarm? That’s your internal clock piping up, and it loves routine like you love coffee. Once your early-rise rhythm has lasted a fortnight, nothing should throw it off – except that weekend sleep-in. “Avoid big differences between weekdays and your weekends,” says Dr Anderson, or risk resetting everything. Which means Saturday’s 9am yoga class now has a no-flake status.
This is most important of all. Mornings get a bad rap, but done right, they can be your most energising, productive hours. No deadlines, no other people and a legitimate excuse to eat a huge breakfast (hey, it’s got to last you). It’s fact: you snooze, you lose.