Rise + Shine: Becoming A Productive Morning Person


If you want to get more things done in one day, I highly recommend that you become a morning person. Following my return from Asia this past summer, I endured the usual struggle to conquer my terrible jet-lag (Singapore is a whopping 15 hours ahead of Vancouver). However, this time around I forced myself to recover swiftly by maintaining a regular schedule. I would wake up at relatively early times (about 9 am) to meet up with friends I hadn't seen for over a month; as well, I wouldn't let myself nap during the day as that would completely ruin my sleeping routine.

The biggest motivating factor came from one of my friends who usually keeps a highly disciplined schedule of waking up early, eating a good breakfast, working out immediately after, and then doing whatever work and chores need to be done throughout the rest of the day. Since I wanted to work out with her before I had work or school, I also had to begin sleeping and waking up as early as her. It's gotten to the point where waking up at 5:20 am is normal for us (we had three 6 am workouts this week, including an  hour-long boot camp session this morning).

Here are some of my top tips for how I made the transition from a jet-lagged slob to that highly-productive morning person that you not-so-secretly-hate:

Sleep: 

When you begin the shift from night owl to early bird, you first must identify what keeps you up so late at night. People in my age group often believe that if they stay up later, they will get more things done; however, you are more likely to get quality work done if you sleep earlier and finish up whatever you were doing early in the morning. I found that silly things such as watching Netflix and constantly checking social media on my phone were the main things keeping me from sleeping at decent hours (before midnight). As well, both of those things can keep your body awake longer as they emit artificial light that disrupts the natural release of melatonin, a hormone that makes you drowsy and starts your sleep cycle. 

After I realized what was keeping me awake for no good reason, I made sure that I stopped watching Netflix and checking my phone about 10-15 minutes before I needed to sleep. Also, I know that I usually take a long time to fall asleep so I try to give myself about half an hour before I actually fall asleep-- for instance, I'll try to go to bed at 11 pm if I want to wake up at 6:30 am. When I prepare for 6 am workouts, I finish my nightly routines before 9 pm, get in bed by 10 pm, sleep at 10:30 pm, and wake up by 5:20 am.  

Eat: 

You may have heard that it's healthier to eat 4-6 small meals throughout the day than to eat just three large meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You want to avoid 'food comas' as much as possible as those raise your blood levels to unhealthy levels, make you extremely lethargic (and, thus, unproductive), and slow down your metabolism.

When I began waking up earlier, I found that it was much easier to eat smaller and more frequent meals as I would wake up at 5 or 6 am and find myself feeling very hungry.Therefore, I would eat one small breakfast (usually a bowl of cereal), work out, eat another breakfast (usually a larger meal containing protein such as egg), have a small lunch, and then finally dinner. If I'm still hungry after that, I usually add in some some healthy snacks such as grape tomatoes, nuts, and fruits.

If you are trying to sleep early, try not to eat anything two hours before sleeping so that you won't be kept awake by your body's attempts to digest your meals. Also, avoid anything containing high amounts of sugar or caffeine like the plague; not long ago I was unwise enough to have milk bubble tea at about 4:30 pm and I felt so wired from it that I couldn't sleep until much later than I had intended.    

Fitness: 

As you know, I began sleeping earlier for the exclusive purpose of being able to work out more. Previously, I would find myself too physically and mentally tired to work out before or after a work shift or school-- as a result, I would only work out three times a week while in the past I used to work out four to five times. As I have discovered, it's all about convenience and timing-- if I sleep early enough and plan out my daily schedule well enough, I usually can fit in a workout somewhere in there! I currently am working out five to six times a week; I vary my workouts with weight-lifting sessions (focusing on arms, legs, back, and core), spin classes, boot camp classes, and 20-30 minute runs. 

As an outcome of a good day's workout, I find myself falling asleep much easier and faster. Unless I've slept less than 7 hours the night before, I will also avoid taking naps so that that my sleeping schedule won't be disrupted.

Discipline: 

In order to accomplish any of the above, you do need a certain amount of self-discipline and motivation. When you wake up in the pitch-dark hours, it's incredibly tempting to justify sleeping a few more hours and then fall back asleep. However, if you want to accomplish more in your day, you need to pull yourself out of bed and get your day going. I usually feel half-awake until I am in my washroom brushing my teeth; I suppose the bright lights in my washroom and the familiar actions of my morning routine have an important role in waking me up.   

Just Do It: 

In my experience, people can come up with an unlimited amount of excuses for why they can't get up earlier, work out more, eat healthier, or be more productive. When it comes to important activities that aren't the most fun, you just need to jump in there and get started.You will never feel completely ready to start something new, so the best place to start is now! When I had my first workout with my friend after my Asia trip, I felt like cancelling because I was afraid I would look foolish learning new exercises. The same feelings occurred when I was getting ready for my first boot camp session. However, I pushed through the mental anxieties and found myself well rewarded for pushing myself to accomplish new goals. As my mom taught me from an early age, work hard first-- then you can play.  

Will you challenge yourself to become a morning person? 

Comments

  1. Oh my! i love the title of the post.
    JUST DO IT is a very important key word that's vital towards helping you achieve all what you're meant to do. Personally, i don't think i have a specific hour for sleep time, i only adhere to the nature calls saga.
    With what you just posted now, i'd work on some of the points aforementioned.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've honestly been trying this for about a week now, except I was planning on 6:30am wake ups and a jog before school. It's been three weeks and I haven't succeeded in that once. I really do want to though. It sounds like such a healthy lifestyle. Thanks for the tips! I'll try to discipline myself and stop with the social media and computer checking. <3

    -M
    The Life of Little Me

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post and I love it!! After a long break I am officially back and thank you so much for your support!! I deeply appreciate it ;)
    My Lyfe ; My Story
    @MyLyfeMyStory
    @MyLyfeMyStoryBlog

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've lost count of the times I've told myself to sleep early to that I can wake up early but I kept getting caught in that vicious cycle of sleeping late and waking up late. Thank you for this motivational post! I'm gonna try to fix my sleeping habits for sure.

    http://www.stripedlune.blogspot.com

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  5. Stunning pictures Debbie! What a beautiful place!
    ♥XO♥
    Jeanne
    http://fashionmusingsdiary.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice post, it's hard to change our live but it's important to feel better! So nice :D
    Hugs dear, Nabil ;)

    http://www.nabilunity.com/

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  7. Love these tips Debs! I suck at being a mornings person...this post was definitely good inspiration!

    Hope all is going well for you in Vancouver :)

    Justin
    Walking, Talking Style
    New post: #AEOLive

    ReplyDelete
  8. I can really relate to this because by the end of my sem break, i decided to go and live a healthy lifestyle, and i wonder why i didn't do it the past years because its always nice to wake up and sleep early.

    Visit my blog: www.sarahrizaga.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey Debbie, thanks for sharing these helpful tips! I agree that waking up early will give us more hours to do more things. However, no matter how I try to sleep earlier, I just couldn't do it. I gotta wake up in the morning for work, so I gotta force my tired self up, but after a long day at work, I still couldn't sleep before 12 midnight. Anyways, I tried for smaller meals too, because it's so true that a large meals makes one sleepy. Esp after lunch! Sometimes when I wanna sleep, I get so hungry despite just eaten around 7 to 8pm only. So I refused to eat anything and sometimes the hunger makes me unable to sleep. :(

    Angelus | angelus-officially.blogspot.com

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  10. Well ..and I am extremely proud of you that you kept that so long and that you're even still on it but (there comes the big BUT lol) I myself don't feel really ready for it. As you said you need a lot of discipline to keep going and honestly I don't have it now, I barely have to teach myself how to. It starts from putting the phone aside when I'm in bed to planning the next day a day before. But I can proudly say that at least I don't eat that much a day. My days starts with a sometimes healthy breakfast haha. The good news is that I can not eat like a lot in the morning. My stomach stops me all the time from eating over my limit.
    Anyways I went through all your tips and I bet that you could help somebody out there with your advices, me including!

    xx Lori
    http://fabeau-trends.blogspot.de

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  11. nice post :)

    http://allornothing-blog.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete

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