I’ve always liked to sleep in. Let’s face it, I’ve always like to sleep (in general). If you ask me about my hobbies, I will be sure to list “sleeping” among them. I’ve had a lifelong battle with my desire to be a morning person and my desire to sleep in. I have tried to adjust my alarm, and get to sleep earlier, because I’ve noticed how happy I am when I get to watch the sun come up; but no matter what I did, I always slowly found my way back to feeling rushed every morning. I couldn’t seem to make it a habit and there are a few reasons for that, so more on that later. But as a dive instructor, I was required to be to work early, and often was lucky if I woke up 30 minutes before I left the house. Yes, I was a 30 minute morning person! My routine was easy, I needed to throw on a bikini- nothing else required in my line of work. As you can see, this profession allowed me to rush out the door and I’ve been known to use the excuse that I “wake up when I hit the water”. This was normal for me throughout my 20’s but I always wanted to be a bright and shiny morning person.
You’ve all seen the science behind waking up early right? I have obviously seen the studies that show productivity levels in people who tend to be early risers. I’ve also learned that how we spend the first part of our day sets us up for the rest of the day as a whole- it sets the tone, if you will. So, rushing out the door in the morning and not giving yourself any time to breathe could become a bad habit. People that take the time to slow down daily whether it be for meditation or mindfulness in general, make wrong decisions less often. And I’ve learned through Ayurveda that a “morning ritual” gives our body the signal that all is well and not to stress. Cultivating a morning ritual has become a daily practice of mine after years of falling in and out of love with mornings. So, I know what all the science says, and I’ve always innately known that I needed to become a morning person so I wanted to share what I’ve learned and what’s helped me embrace my mornings and set myself up for success throughout the day. I would also like to say that I know people who function much better in the evenings, and if you’re one of those people I don’t encourage you to change. My way isn’t the right way! But if you’re like me, and you’ve been wanting to change your ways for years, then maybe you’d like to keep reading.
Firstly, part of my dislike for mornings stemmed from the 50% chance I had of having a hangover for most of my adult life. It’s hard to love mornings when you wake up feeling like shit, or rushed. Duh. But I really really REALLY thought those extra 15 minutes were doing me good. *sigh* Since I quit drinking, I go to sleep at 11 at the latest, and am up at 8 (at the latest). It turns out, just removing drinking made a much more positive influence on my mornings! Secondly, I used to also think I was a nap person but I’m not. Apparently, getting regular sleep is incredibly good for your mental health and when you’re a non drinker and exercise regularly, you aren’t tired. I’m RARELY tired! Even on days that I do tremendous amounts of physical exercise (not lately) I don’t feel the need for a nap, I usually just need my bed come 9 PM. I still love to sleep though and I can sleep anywhere (it’s a gift). I’m a great sleeper. I’m also a Taurus and if you’re an astrology person you know we love naps!
A few months into sobriety I had a regular sleep pattern down and was already naturally starting to wake up earlier. If I had to leave the house I wanted at least 1.5 hours to myself in the morning. Now that’s AT LEAST 2 hours, if not more, to enjoy my morning ritual, take time to myself, and then start the day. I then started turning my alarm clock back 15 minutes every 2 or 3 days. Although I think it’s admirable to want to dive in all at once, that’s why most of us fail! Set realistic goals. If you try to wake up 2 hours before your normal wake up time, your body won’t adjust, you’ll fall out of the habit fast, blame yourself and then give up. Don’t do that! Start slow, this takes practice. This is really a conversation with yourself about your needs and changing your habits, it will be uncomfortable so be patient with yourself. Beating ourselves up and saying, “I will never become a morning person” ensures that you will never become a morning person.
Another thing that was huge for me was reminding myself every time I didn’t want to wake up, or I was tempted to hit the alarm that I WANTED TO DO THIS- that I had chosen this! Any time we complain to ourselves, we are giving a signal to our bodies that we don’t want to do whatever we’re doing which means, the subconscious is going to try to convince us we can get out of it. Reminding yourself that you’re choosing to wake up early and that you WANT to be a morning person is an incredibly strong shift in your motivations not only in your subconscious but also in your physical body. I encourage you to apply this to all areas of life! I just realized that I should write a blog on this topic alone (to be continued…)! Shift your language and watch your thoughts!
Speaking of thoughts, what we allow in our brain right upon waking is incredibly important. If we wake up and our first thoughts are dread, our physical body is going to feel stressed. Don’t judge yourself if you don’t wake up like a ray of sunshine, but become aware of your thoughts and just allow them to go without focusing on them or labeling them as “good” or “bad”. Also try to avoid waking up and immediately thinking of all the things you need to do that day. Before you even get out of bed, spend 5 minutes laying there and connecting to your body. Put one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly and feel any sensations that are coming up for you. Then list 3 things you’re grateful for. They don’t need to be huge things, just simple things. This will become a habit upon waking and instead of seeking out worries, your subconscious will automatically see the blessings. This simple shift attracts more things to be grateful for into our field. Gratitude is incredibly powerful! I knocked it as too “new age-y” for years, but such a simple thing completely changed my perspective.
Once you’ve checked in with your body and listed a few things you’re grateful for, sit up slowly and plant your feet on the ground for a minute before you stand up. Ground into the present moment. Drink a full glass of water to start your metabolism and visualize your day. Once again, focus on you succeeding. What we focus on grows, so focus on the good. Call in the feeling you will feel once you’re completed these things, or had that conversation with your boss, or asserted yourself to someone regarding something that has been on your mind. How does it feel to have these things work out for you in your favor?
Once you’ve finished your water, head to the bathroom then splash some water on your face! Throwing water on our faces is so underrated but doing so actually sends signals to our bodies to wake up! This is why we have been told to throw water on drunk people or to calm our nerves. Once again, there is science behind this! How cool is our body? Then go make your coffee, tea or whatever ritual you enjoy in the morning. This doesn’t need to be a long process, and it is most definitely supposed to be personal. This is the part of the morning for me where I then shift into either journaling, or listening to a podcast, or some movement on my yoga mat, music or taking my coffee outside and walking on the earth barefoot while I take in the sounds of the birds. Life gives us a million pleasures a day that are free, tap into those things that really bring you joy! Include moments of bliss in your practice.
For those of you that insist on sleeping with the black out curtains… try letting some light in? I know, I know, you cannot sleep like that! I’ve heard it all! But for real, being woken up with NATURAL light is so invaluable! They have done studies that show how women who sleep outside and are exposed to more natural cycles of the moon will actually start to sync their own cycles with the moon’s. Women naturally cycle in 28.5 day cycles exactly like the moon anyways. How powerful is that? This means that we are obviously much more affected by nature than we like to acknowledge! I know, I know, crazy!?! Back to the natural light though… if you insist on black out curtains maybe consider the moon lamp because it will slowly get brighter and wake you up naturally which is pretty cool.
For those of you with children that are reading this and saying, “for real Lauryn, you don’t have kids you don’t understand!” You’re right, I don’t. I don’t understand OR have children. But I do have a few close mama friends who make time for themselves in the morning and insist it is VITAL for them to show up for their children the rest of the day. We show up for ourselves so we can show up for others right? You cannot fill anyone if you haven’t filled yourself first. Stop making excuses and make yourself a priority! It is not selfish! If you focus more of your attention outwards than inwards, it’s time to consider a shift in priorities. The journey back to ourselves is our most important one. If it involves waking up 30 minutes before your kids so you can take your coffee in silence in the garden, make that a priority.
I have always known that I needed to work out earlier in the day because the later it got, the less likely I was to work out. Mostly because I would probably have a drink later in the day, and then I was DEFINITELY not going to work out. Back to the alcohol! Anyways… I’ve heard that exercise in the morning is great to start the body and get our organs woken up. When we sleep our bodies accumulate toxins and since our skin is the biggest detoxifier for what our bodies are getting rid of, getting our sweat on in the morning has amazing health benefits to our bodies in more ways than one! This is something I’m still working on though. I have found a comfortable rhythm where I want to work out and will find myself on my mat or moving my body in another way naturally throughout the day, it tends to only happen in the morning a few hours afterI wake up instead of right away. I hope to start including a regular wake up and go straight to the mat. I think it will be a beautiful way to start the day if I can make time for 30 minutes of organic free flow movement every morning. I plan on starting this experiment this week! So there we are! Always a work in a progress!
Once quarantine kicked in I really lost my morning routine. I started jumping on my phone in the morning (don’t do this) or grabbing the iPad to look at the news (also not recommended)! Going back to what we put in our brain the first 30 minutes of the day being incredibly important- I’d avoid news sources or phones if you can. Even better, if you can plug your phone in outside your bedroom in the evening. If you have to set a morning alarm I’d encourage a moon lamp or an alarm with a natural sound to wake you up so that you can leave your phone. Haven’t heard of a moon lamp? Check it out! They’re so cool! It wakes you up with natural light instead of sound. If you have to use your phone keep it on silent at night or airplane mode and refuse to look at it once you’ve turned the alarm off. If it is in the room, face it down. Even then, they have shown that our eyes and brains respond to the blue light just from looking at our phones and it takes us away from a place of relaxation which is another reason I’d encourage finding an alternative alarm other than your phone. I used to use my dive computer alarm since it was on my wrist anyways, but now I wake up naturally, right before the sun comes up, and then I decide if I want to sleep in a little more or not.
And voila! You’re a morning person! Just kidding! But for real, I hope some of this helps or may work for you! Not all of us are morning people and that’s okay, so if you aren’t don’t beat yourself up! It’s important to know when and how we function best. For me personally, that involves getting up and starting my day early! I love daybreak, the silence, the sound of the birds, and the stillness that comes before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. Now I feel guilty when I don’t take part in the “dance of the sun” as I love to call it! I used to smoke cigarettes late into the night while I wrote poetry a few beers deep. But now waking with the sun feels good, not to mention I feel a lot more bright and shiny than I used to! I enjoy my time in different ways now, and I think we will always shift and move with what feels good to us in these moments, we should. So before you decide who you WANT to be, ask yourself if you’re doing it for you or because you feel like you should.