As an aspirational morning person, who dreams of becoming an early bird catching the worm—literally, dreams about it while the real early birds get the job done—I’m open to tips for making it happen.
Because while I’m still fast asleep, others have already had their coffee, worked out, gotten ready for work, and are sitting down for a healthy breakfast. In fact, some are up during most people’s definition of “the middle of the night,” taking full advantage of some me-time before all the emails, texts, and notifications start coming in.
Okay, now say it with me: But, how? Well, rounded up below are secrets from real-life roosters who get up and at ’em every single day. Because if anyone knows how to have a good morning, it’s them.
Need tips for how to wake up early? Here are 11 tips from some Olympic-medal-worthy early birds.
1. Light some incense and meditate
“When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is light my sandalwood incense and prepare for gratitude. I’ve found that taking about 30 minutes of my morning routine to reflect with meditation and saying positive affirmations completely changes how my day goes. It also reminds me to slow down and breathe before my crazy day in New York City begins. A lot of my career as a health coach is on the computer, so I tend to stay away from it—as well as my phone!—until 9 a.m. This has given me so much clarity in my work and truly keeps me present.”
2. Adopt a confidence-boosting mantra
“When people ask me what I do in mornings, I say ‘Nespresso! It’s running through my veins.’ But even before the coffee, I’ve adopted a mantra for myself. When I wake up on tough mornings and want to snooze one more time for that extra 7 to 9 mins, I say ‘You can do this!’ Sometimes I say it once and can I thrust myself out of the bed with full energy. Other times, I say it numerous times like an acting-school exercise with difference inflections until I believe it and am so confident that it’s going to be a good day.”
3. Work out with someone you love
Name: Nikki Harken
Wake-up time: 4:30 a.m.
“My husband and I have been taking a CrossFit-like class that begins at 5:15 a.m. This means we’ve been waking up between 4:30 and 4:45 since September. It took a couple weeks to get used to it, but now my body naturally wakes around this time. Since we do the class together, we hold each other accountable. There are mornings I would rather stay under the covers, but he reminds me how good I’ll feel when it’s done. There are mornings he wants to stay under the covers and I remind him that he’s paid for the class. There are also mornings that we both want to stay under the covers, so we do. Then, the trick is to know our bodies were just tired and needed a break.”
4. Listen to a podcast
“I wake up, drink a glass of lemon water—I wake up SO thirsty—and head to the gym in my apartment building. I really like the PUMA app, particularly Emily Cook Harris’s dance-based workouts, because they’re engaging and require zero advanced planning: something my half-asleep brain can appreciate. They’re typically 40 minutes long, so I can be done and showered by 6:45. I finish the morning with a podcast on my commute into the city, typically Second Life by Hillary Kerr, which I love for its wealth of inspiration and her soothing voice. All this means I don’t have to actually think until I’ve been awake for several hours…but I’ve still gotten a lot done.”
5. Go on a walk with your furry BFF
Name: Wade Cadenhead
Wake-up time: 4:30 a.m.
“A typical morning for me starts out around 4:30. My hours at work are 6 to 3, so I need to get up early, but I also have a three-year-old Australian Shepard that makes sure he gets his walk in the morning. I’ll usually drink a glass of water first thing, and then we’re off for a 2.5-mile walk to start the day. I’ve found it’s better to not get on my phone until after my walk. I may scroll through my notifications, but if I answer or even open an email, then I go down the rabbit hole of social media and the path that leads to skipping my walk. I’ve also learned to just keep moving. If you stop that early in the morning, it’s too relaxing and quiet to get going again.”
6. Practice self-care, whatever that may be
“My husband and I start the day together at 3 a.m. when my alarm goes off playing my favorite Foo Fighters song. With two little ones that hit the ground running at 7 am, we optimize our four hours and pack quite a bit in. From about 3 to 4 a.m., which most people call ‘the middle of the night,’ we hang out together and drink coffee. Then I head to the garage to work out. Starting your day with some self-care allows you to give to all the areas of your life abundantly. Sweating is my self-care and it’s a non-negotiable for me. I adore my Peloton, Aaptiv app, and I have fallen in love with Melissa Wood Health workouts. All can be done at home, on your own time. Being able to do this one thing each day for myself makes a big difference in my headspace and focus for the entire day. I feel happy, motivated, and like I can do anything after a great workout.”
7. Take time to read a book
Name: Abbey Bries
Wake-up time: 4 a.m.
“I got hooked on CrossFit almost two years ago and go to the gym at 4:30 a.m. The heart-pounding, gasping-for-breath post-workout feeling is truly an addiction and is the best way to start the day—especially with an awesome gym family. After a good workout, I love to get in a little time with a hot cup of coffee and a good book before my two boys—ages 3 and 2—wake up. This early morning time feels so healing and rejuvenating that I do it all summer too, even though I’m a teacher and don’t have to get up that early!”
8. Drink an adaptogen-loaded smoothie
“Even if I’m running late, one thing I absolutely cannot skip is my morning adaptogen-laden smoothie. I’ll throw in some alkalizing greens and the super anti-inflammatory, energizing, immune-supporting powers of turmeric, cordyceps, astragalus, and rosehips for the perfect morning boost. Sometimes I’ll also throw in a dash of my Genius Mushroom blend if I know I have a long day ahead of me, plus a bit of grated ginger. It’s my mood-balancing breakfast that helps me flow through the day with ease.”
9. Take a deep breath and stretch
Name: Colie Lumbreras
Profession: Associate marketing manager
Wake-up time: 5 a.m.
“I’m not going to lie—sometimes it can be hard to get up at 5 a.m. I go to the gym for a workout first thing in the morning, so when that alarm sounds off, there can be a bit of an internal groan knowing I could potentially get more sleep. After I turn it off, I take a moment for a deep breath and give myself one big newborn-like stretch. I then think about all the good things I’ll encounter during the day and get out of bed. I work out in the morning because I know I feel better when it’s done first thing; it helps me wake up naturally and opens up my evenings for whatever it may be.”
10. Enjoy some coffee
Name: Kara Detweiler
Profession: Material specialist at John Deere
Wake-up time: 5 a.m.
“When my alarm goes off at 5 a.m., the first thing I do is wash my face. I feel like when I wash my face, it wakes me up and is just a fresh start to a new day. After getting myself ready then get the kiddos ready, it’s time for coffee. I absolutely need it for a good morning. Without coffee, I feel like my morning isn’t complete for some reason. So once I actually get to work—which is around 6:30—I start sipping and work at my desk.”
11. Limit time on your phone
Name: Emily Heuvelmann
Profession: Analyst and fitness coach
Wake-up time: 4:15 a.m.
“After my alarm goes off, I give myself 10 minutes in bed when I’m allowed to scroll through my phone, check emails, and texts. Giving myself that 10 minutes to wake up—even if it’s just to read a Facebook post—gets my brain functioning so I don’t do things like start the coffee maker without putting the coffee in. Because yes, I’ve done that in a very sleepy state. Once my 10 minutes are up, I get out of bed and immediately feed my dog, Jax, drink some water, and get my workout in. I always feel more motivated and energized after working out, so it’s a great way to start the day. It also gives me natural energy that lasts all day long.”
If you’re still working on your morning person ways, try this super-enjoyable Japanese secret to waking up nice and early every day. And if that doesn’t work, don’t fear: You can also reap the benefits of being a morning person without waking up early.
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