If you want to become a morning person, you might want to try becoming a night person first.
A counterintuitive approach, I know. But, let’s get real here—how many times have you told yourself that you’re going to start getting up earlier? How many times have you set your alarm early, and told yourself, “Tomorrow is the day I become master of my mornings. It’s only one day of pain to get me on track.”?
I’ve certainly done it hundreds of times, only to either hit snooze, or force myself up to have a very unproductive and exhausting day. It never seemed to work for me and my schedule always reset itself to my chronotype. I resigned myself to my fate as a night owl (or wolf), and accepted society’s demands to be a morning person. Society seems to be designed by early risers and us night owls have to conform for the most part.
We are all different, and it is very hard to change from a night person to a morning person—almost impossible, in fact. However, I have made some headway in adjusting to society’s demands for early risers by focusing on my evenings.
There is wisdom in routine, as Charles Dunigg writes in his book The Power of Habit: “Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” It won’t change your chronotype, but a good nighttime routine can help you cope with the demands of the modern world.
I kickoff my nighttime routine with a half-hour of free flow writing. Sometimes this extends beyond half an hour when I really get into the flow, but I try to cap it at one hour. From there, I take a shallow bath in hot water. I do my beauty routine, brush my teeth, then do a quick tidy of my room before I pop into bed. Waking up to a tidy room makes it that much easier to get up and out of bed, instead of pulling the covers back down at the sight of your mess and hitting snooze.
I always take my planner, tarot cards, and a good book with me to bed. This is the crux of my nighttime routine—snuggling into bed early with some nighttime reflection and reading. I pull three tarot cards, which I use to reflect on my life, where I’ve been, where I am, and where I would like to go. They’re more a tool for introspection than a signal from the divine. I jot down the cards into my planner, then plan for my tomorrow, today. Setting out my plans for tomorrow in my planner helps me get all the nagging “I have tos” out of my head and onto a page. It keeps my anxiety and ruminating thoughts under control.
After that, there’s nothing left to do but read for a half an hour, or until my eyelids start to droop. Reading things on a page or in an e-reader is a lot easier on the eyes than the blue light in our phones, which can mess with our circadian rhythm. That’s my routine, and I determine its start time, backwards from the time I want to turn out the light—which for me is 12 a.m. (that’s early for me).
You can put anything into your routine that you like, but you need something to kick it off (writing for me) and something to signal its end (reading). Pick a bedtime where you can get at least 7 hours of sleep and go from there. Focus on your evenings. Turn your nights into evening rituals and watch how your mornings start to change.