I haven’t always been a morning person. During my uni years, I would set my alarm so I could roll out of bed in time to watch reruns of The Practice. (Remember The Practice? With the whole Bobby and Lindsay will-they-or-won’t-they, and desperate legal teams going the dirty tactics of Plan B? And the only cool character ever called Eugene? No? Just me? I bloody loved The Practice.) The Practice was on at 1pm. I was a waiter and my boyfriend was a chef. We were living in the midnight zone, baby. Drag Queen Bingo and niche little early morning laneway venues were standard, nights out didn’t start until after 11pm, and seeing daylight from the other side was a regular occurrence. But times have changed. I finished uni. I married someone who lives during regular hours. And the clincher: babies were born. Babies tend to like to start their day early. If you’re lucky, early means 7am. In our house it has fluctuated, sometimes reaching 4.30am, but right now our babies give us until about 6am. But I like to get up even before that. I’m now a 5am kind of girl, and I love it.
Let me tell you why. Having that hour before anyone else talks to me means I get to spend some much-needed time with myself. I currently use this to go running or do strength training in the lead up to my half marathon in July. On rest days, I will have a cup of tea and sit out on the deck, waiting for the sun to come up over the trees (and resisting the urges gripping every bit of my twitchy body to open my laptop or check my phone). It gives me a few moments of something I cannot get at any other time of the day: solitude, peace, breathing space and time for clear thought. Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (spoiler alert: it’s not pull the doona up and hit snooze) reckons getting up early is the key to success in all facets of your life. “Mornings are a great time for getting things done, particularly the personal priorities that life has a way of crowding out,” she says. “Choosing to devote early morning hours to things that are important to us – exercise, strategic thinking, creative work, nurturing relationships – means you devote your most focused hours to these things, before other people’s priorities invade.” And that’s what we’re all about here – making you a priority. Not a morning person? You can learn to be – and it’s worth your while to do it. Various research (detailed in this great Sydney Morning Herald article published last week) has shown morning people:
- are healthier
- have lower BMIs
- are more proactive
- are more likely to set long-term goals
- feel more in control of their lives
- are more confident.
Do you remember that smug, self-satisfied feeling you get when you get up early, once you get past throwing off the blankets and go out and breathe that dewy morning air deep into your lungs? You can have that every day!
So if you’re not a morning person, but want to be, how do you go about it?
- Don’t sacrifice sleep! Go to bed earlier or, if you can’t sleep at first, change your habits incrementally. Wake up 15 minutes earlier for 2-3 days, and then wind it back again. With each change, go to bed 15 minutes earlier too. You still want to be getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
- Plan what you are going to do in the morning and prepare for it. If you plan on exercising, have your clothes and shoes out and ready. This makes it much easier to get up and go. But having no plans probably means you will roll over and go back to sleep.
- Don’t hit snooze – ever. It’s a dirty bastarding little fucker designed to kill your spirit and make you lose your will to move. Forget about motivation and wanting to get up early. Just tell yourself this is what is happening and, when your alarm goes off, do it. Don’t lie around thinking about it even for a second. Your brain will try to trick you into conserving energy but who’s the boss of your brain? You are!
Rise and shine and enjoy those precious moments of the day that are just for you. I promise, they are worth it. Are you an early riser? What would you do with an extra hour to spend just on yourself?