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The Night Owl’s Guide: How to Become a Morning Person

Want to become more of a morning person? Ditch the snooze button and boost your productivity with these seven simple morning tips.

Vicki Chen
Writer at Motion
May 6, 2024
Table of contents

When it comes to sleep habits, there are two groups of people: those who wake up early and those who come alive at night and struggle with mornings. For night owls, it can be hard to imagine waking up at seven in the morning focused and energized.

But what if becoming an early riser could change your life?

In this article, we explore the science behind sleep cycles, the benefits of waking up early, and, most importantly, how to actually become a morning person and stick to it.

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Why are only some of us morning people?

Believe it or not, your genes can affect your ability to be a morning person. They influence our internal clock or circadian rhythm, making some naturally wake up early and others wake up groggy and unrefreshed, even after hours of sleep.

Other factors, such as sleep habits, exposure to blue light, and mealtimes, can also influence your sleep and energy.

What are chronotypes?

Your chronotype is your body's natural inclination toward a specific sleep-wake cycle. It determines whether you’re naturally a morning lark, a night owl, or somewhere in between.

Chronotypes influence core body temperature fluctuations and hormone production — particularly melatonin, which helps you sleep, and cortisol, which helps you feel alert.

There are four main chronotypes: bear, lion, wolf, and dolphin. If you’re a bear, your sleep aligns with the sun — up with dawn and down with dusk. Lions are early risers and rest early. Wolves are nighttime warriors who struggle with mornings. Dolphins often have restless minds and have trouble sleeping.

4 chronotypes

‎Can you change your chronotype?

While genetics do play a big role, your chronotype isn't entirely fixed. It can naturally shift throughout your life.

For example, maybe you were a night owl as a teenager, but since reaching adulthood, you’ve found it easier to wake up earlier.

If you want to become a morning person, you can influence your circadian rhythm with small, gradual adjustments. Consistency and persistence are key, but if you stick with it, you’ll be a productive early riser before you know it.

What are the benefits of becoming a morning person?

What if the secret to a happier, more productive life lies in those quiet hours before the rest of the world wakes up?

Becoming a morning person has a range of benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the main ones:

Seize the morning, seize the day

Mornings give you time to design your day with intention. As a result, you’re more in control.

One study found that 23% of people believe their lack of motivation is due to poor-quality sleep. Improving your sleep habits to help you wake up feeling refreshed can make a world of difference in your energy level and drive throughout the day.

Boost your mood and beat the blues

Mornings can be tough, especially if you often wake up feeling grumpy. But adjusting your sleep habits and welcoming early mornings can actually improve your mood and mental well-being.

Beginning your day with a proactive mindset instead of a frantic scramble can significantly reduce your stress levels. Moreover, early risers may have a lower risk of depression. This could be linked to morning sunlight, which acts as a natural mood booster by increasing serotonin production and helping regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

Happy employee at work

‎Build healthier habits

Mornings are the perfect time to fit in important activities that support your overall health. By carving out time for activities that nourish your mind and body in the morning, you set yourself up for success for the rest of the day.

For example, a morning workout can boost your energy and improve your mood. And enjoying a healthy breakfast can help you feel energized and stay productive.

Establishing a consistent morning routine that supports your goals and helps you feel good physically and mentally creates positive momentum, leading to healthier choices all day long.

7 tips to become a morning person

Trying to become a morning person but finding yourself falling back into old habits? Here are some helpful tips:

1. Shift your sleep schedule gradually

Gradual changes to your bedtime and wake-up time minimize sleep disruption and make the transition to becoming a morning person smoother. That’s because your body’s internal clock needs time to adjust.

Don’t start off too drastically, as it’s hard to keep up and easier to get discouraged or fall off the wagon. Instead, try shifting your bedtime and wake-up time in 15-minute increments every three to four days. This will give your body time to adapt.

Use a sleep journal or app to track your bedtime, wake-up time, and how rested you feel. This data allows you to see your patterns and progress. Remember, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends, will reinforce your new rhythm.

2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine

A relaxing bedtime routine signals to your body that it's time to wind down. It promotes better sleep quality and helps you wake up feeling ready for the day.

Develop a pre-sleep ritual that includes calming activities. Experiment with options like reading, taking a warm bath with bath salts, listening to relaxing music, or gentle stretching.

Additionally, designate an hour before bed as tech-free time and dim the lights. The blue light from screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep. Switching to warmer, softer lighting helps your body get ready for a restful night.

Person doing bedtime routine

‎3. Resist the urge to hit “snooze”

The temptation to sleep an extra five minutes is strong, but hitting that snooze button can sabotage the progress you’ve made in your quest to become a morning person.

Studies show that people who snoozed were three times more likely to feel mentally drowsy after waking up than those who didn’t. This is because snoozing disrupts your sleep cycle, leading to sleep inertia — which leaves you feeling even groggier than you would have if you'd gotten out of bed at your first alarm.

To break the snooze button habit, try out these tips:

  • Put your alarm out of reach so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
  • Focus on how good getting up on time will make you feel.
  • Visualize accomplishing your morning goals or just enjoying a few moments of peace before the day's demands kick in.

Becoming a morning person won't happen overnight, but getting rid of your snoozing habit is half the battle.

4. Find your morning motivation

All too often, we hear people ask, “What makes you get out of bed in the morning?”

While this question usually refers to big-picture goals, finding small morning motivations can help you get going on your day, too. These can include having a hearty breakfast, making a workout playlist that gets you pumped, having quiet time for journaling, getting in a few extra snuggles with your pet, or even drinking a hot cup of coffee.

The goal is to plan a specific reward to create a positive association with waking up. This positive anticipation makes getting out of bed so much easier.

Writing down the reward can be a powerful reminder and keep you focused on that early morning win.

5. Ditch late-night munchies and caffeine

For better sleep and easier mornings, ditch those late-night snacks and caffeinated drinks. Caffeine is a stimulant that blocks sleep-inducing chemicals, making it harder to fall — and stay — asleep. It's best to avoid caffeine at least six hours before bed — or even earlier if you're particularly sensitive or prone to anxiety.

Heavy meals consumed before bed, especially those high in fat or spice, can also cause discomfort and disrupt sleep. Choose easily digestible foods for dinner, and avoid having large portions of food within three hours of bedtime.

Person looking in fridge at night

‎Another sleep inhibitor is alcohol. While it might initially make you feel drowsy, it can disrupt your sleep cycle later in the night and prevent you from falling into a truly restful slumber.

6. Harness the power of natural light

Natural light does wonders for your energy levels in the morning. Your eyes contain photoreceptors that sense sunlight, triggering your brain to suppress melatonin and start your natural wake-up process in the morning. This sets off a positive ripple effect throughout your day. It helps reset your internal clock, which regulates hormone production, digestion, and even your metabolism.

So, when you wake up for the day, open your curtains immediately to flood your room with bright light. If it’s harder for you to access natural light, a light therapy lamp can provide a similar effect.

Even a short walk outside or enjoying your coffee on your balcony or porch lets you absorb the benefits of sunlight.

7. Be patient but persistent

Remember the wisdom of Atomic Habits author James Clear: "Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress."

Any major change takes time and dedication. So, don't expect immediate perfection. Instead, be patient with yourself and celebrate the small victories, like waking up 10 minutes earlier than usual and enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee instead of the usual grab-and-go option.

Some days, you might hit “snooze” or stay up later than you intended — and that’s okay. Don't let it stop you. Just recommit to your goals the next day.

3 bonus tips for maximizing your morning energy

Since you're already up, why not maximize the benefits of your early start? Here are three bonus tips to help you ride your energy wave into the afternoon:

1. Set clear intentions for your day

Start each morning with purpose by outlining your top two or three priorities — the most important tasks you want to accomplish that day.

Writing down your intentions the night before or first thing in the morning guides your actions throughout the day. It gives you clear direction toward what needs to be done and minimizes decision fatigue since you've already made the important decisions.

There’s a way to make intention-setting even easier. Use Motion to set reminders to review your daily intentions and track your progress. Celebrating those small wins will keep you motivated and focused on achieving your bigger goals.

Plan and track daily goals

‎2. Minimize morning distractions

Mornings are often the best time for focused work — but distractions can quickly disrupt your flow. To protect your energy and focus, you need to identify your biggest disruptors. Are you likely to fall down the rabbit hole of emails, social media, or non-urgent tasks, for example?

Be honest about what tends to pull you away from your priorities. Then, time block specific times for deep work and turn off your notifications during those times.

Motion can be your distraction defense. Plan times for deep focus and add them to your calendar. Moreover, Motion rebuilds your schedule when any changes or emergencies happen to ensure you’re never thrown off guard.

Plan for sudden changes

‎3. Tackle a high-value task first

Mornings are ideal for tackling your most important or challenging tasks, as you typically have the most focus and energy at that time.

Completing a significant task early on gives you confidence, builds momentum, and boosts your motivation for the rest of the day. It’s also a great way to beat procrastination because it eliminates the looming dread of that difficult task, letting you focus on other important items on your list.

With Motion, you’ll know exactly what to do first and next. Your day is planned based on tasks and priorities, making it easier to take action and avoid stress.

Plan day based on priorities

‎Set the pace for a winning day with Motion

Don’t let your morning momentum go to waste. Take control of your schedule, crush your goals, and feel accomplished every day. Try Motion for free today.

Vicki Chen
Vicki Chen is a content writer and marketer using proven storytelling methods to create high-quality copy and content for SaaS companies. When she's not writing, she's spending time with Taco, her rescue dog.
Written by Vicki Chen