How to Become a Morning Person

Recently, someone listened to my podcast entitled “Become More Productive by Reengineering Your Morning Ritual.” They wrote to me and said, “I really would like to be a morning person. Do you have any advice for becoming one? Is that even possible?”

How to Become a Morning Person

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mammuth

First of all, yes, it is possible. This is not like trying to become a professional basketball player if you are only 5'6" tall. This is more like trying to change a belief system and a set of habits. You can do it if you are intentional.

Why would you want to do this? I listed some of these reasons in my podcast, but let me repeat them. They are pretty compelling.

“Morning people” tend to:

But how do you actually become a morning person if you aren’t one now? Here are nine steps you can take starting today:

  1. Change your story. So many people say, ”I’m not a morning person,” as though it were an immutable fact. Could it be that there is no biological evidence for this? What if you discovered that this was merely a preference and years of practice? What would happen if you changed the story and began telling yourself, “I am a morning person.” Usually, we adjust our behavior to fit our story.
  2. Determine what’s at stake. Whenever I want to change anything in my life or accomplish a significant goal, I start by articulating to myself why it is important. Write down on a sheet of paper what becoming a morning person would make possible. Then, conversely, write down what is at risk if you don’t. This is great to do when you are motivated; however, its real value is to keep you going when you’ve lost that first blush of enthusiasm.
  3. Plan your sleep. Like changing any other habit, you have to set yourself up for success. You probably can’t keep going to bed at the same time you are now and get by on less sleep. Your body will resist. Instead, if you know you need seven hours of sleep, and you know you’d like to get up at 5:00 a.m., calculate backwards to determine what time you must be asleep. For example, I get up at 5:00 a.m. and need seven hours sleep. That means I have to be in bed asleep by 10:00 p.m.
  4. Use an alarm. After years of waking up early, this has become an engrained habit for me. I wake up at 5:00 a.m. without an alarm. It is amazing how consistent this is—sometimes when I don’t want it to be. But if you haven’t been a morning person until now, you will likely need to use an alarm. It’s part of training yourself mentally and physically. Whether you use the alarm on your smart phone or a dedicated one, put it on the other side of the room—so you have to get up to turn it off.
  5. Turn on all the lights. The environment provides subtle clues to your body, so it knows how to respond. When it gets dark, your body naturally begins preparing itself for sleep (unless you have conditioned it otherwise). When it gets light, you naturally begin waking up. If you want to jumpstart this process and signal to your body that it is time to get up, simulate full daylight. Turn on all the lights in the room.
  6. Set out your clothes. If you are groggy when you get up, the fewer decisions you need to make the better. So, make the decision about what to wear the night before. If you get dressed immediately, it is also less likely that you will take off your clothes and get back into your bed. Since I exercise in the morning, I put out my workout clothes, including my shoes. I put them on and lace them up!
  7. Drink a cup of coffee. At various times, I have eliminated coffee from my diet. However, after considerable research, I’m convinced it is fine in moderation. In fact, it’s probably beneficial. Regardless, it is definitely beneficial for me first thing in the morning. I used a Cuisinart SS–700 to make it, because I can brew one cup at a time.
  8. Enlist an accountability partner. Whether it is a mentor or a peer, find someone who understands the value of accountability. Explain your goal, tell him (or her) why it is important to you, and then give him permission to hold your feet to the fire. When I was in college, a friend and I wanted to get up early to study for a class. So we called one another at 5:00 a.m. to make sure the other was awake. We did pretty well in the class too.
  9. Commit to 21 days. According to many psychologists, this is how long it takes to form a habit. I recommend you become a morning person for three weeks and then decide whether or not this will become a permanent part of your life. If not, you at least gave it a try. If so, you now have a new habit that can serve you well for the rest of your life.

To be honest, the real issue here is not becoming a morning person per se. What I really want to communicate is you have more power than you think. You don’t have to be stuck in a rut. If you are intentional, you can build the habits necessary to accomplish your goals—even if it means becoming a morning person.

Question: What other suggestions would you have for someone who wants to become a morning person? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://www.dmleblanc.com/ Dustin LeBlanc

    I find this to be so much easier in the summer. Time to reform the habit, winter edition

  • cynthia

    I found that info very insightful,I jus need to change the mindset first.Great! Thnkul

  • Pingback: How to Become a Morning Person | New Church Whittier

  • Jean Buller

    I am a morning person because I grew up on a farm with parents who went to bed early and got up early. Living on a farm required being totally on board by sunrise. It was a way of life and is part of my makeup; more biological than habit

  • Stan Nelson

    Excellent tips on how to become a morning person,
    and well worth the pursuit.  I don’t know that I can add any other tips to
    the ones you provide.  However, I did hear of a story about a father
    that had a hard time getting up in the morning and he conquered that challenge
    by putting an alarm clock in his baby’s room, set to go off a few minutes after
    his alarm clock, and if he didn’t get to it before it went off, then the baby
    would go off and that definitely got him up.  Extreme I know, and I
    wouldn’t recommend it. Just wanted to share it. 

  • Virginia D.davidson

    I can get up early–and I do, and make breakfast for my Dearly Beloved and a lunch for him to take to work.  But my best insights and most creative energy come along about bedtime.  It seems no matter how tired I’ve been during the day, I get my second wind around 9:00/p.  And if I go ahead and go to bed at 9:30, without a “sleep aid,” I’ll lie awake for 3-4 hours.  Not cheerful.  There are reasons I consider myself a “night owl”!

    The consistent “sleep aid” is helping establish a more consistent bedtime, which is making a 5:00/a  rise time more doable…but there is a whole cocktail of  parameters necessary to success–for me, anyway.  1. Make sure the hormone levels are healthy [otherwise, your own body is promoting insomnia!]. 2. Don’t  let yourself get dehydrated during the day, but don’t drink much water after about 8:00/p–and no caffeine after about 2:00/p. 3. Eat a very light dinner or none at all. 4. Exercise, but nothing vigorous within 4 hours of your desired bedtime. 5. Wind down with [non-stimulating] reading, journaling, prayer, etc. 6. Make sure your space is dark, even if you must simulate night by laying a black sock over your eyes!–which is necessary in the summertime.

    I have to have 8 hours of sleep, but do better with 8½.  That’s a pain, but not nearly as bad as sleep deprivation.  It’s hard to be disciplined *or* creative when I’m tired…so I’m continuing to work on the routine for “early.”

  • E Luna Consultancy

    my motivation to get up: watching the sunrise because it is magical. i miss watching it now because i have diminished my own power by sleeping in. thanks for reminding me the benefits of being a morning person.

  • Pete Herrick

    Great post!  It’s been 15 years for me, up at 2A to work on a morning radio show (yes, I know that’s earlier than what Michael is describing),  it’s so awesome to get a jump-start on the day.

    Of they keys that Michael listed above, the LIGHTS can make a world of difference.  Don’t be groggy just because it’s early, turning on the lights help a lot!

    And there’s something about a sunrise that’s motivational.  Get in the habit and you’ll never want to miss another one.

  • Mrkdevries

    Michael, lots of years have passed from those days when we called each other to study Greek at 5 every morning!  And (I know, strange for a youth pastor) I’ve been a morning person ever since.  Agathos.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I remember those days with fondness, Mark!

  • http://marleeward.com/ Marlee

    Hi Michael,
    I must say when I stick to my “morning person” ritual, not only am I more productive, etc., but I just feel really good about myself. I find that there is a serene energy that you take hold of when your an early riser that you just can’t snag if you’re up after 7am. That feeling alone is incentive for me to keep it up. Thanks for these practical tips.

  • http://exciramedia.com/ Shannon Steffen

    Out of all these steps, the most powerful is to determine what is at stake. Morning people are generally more successful as they get a jump on the day and it’s that morning momentum that keeps them living on that “high” throughout the rest of the day.

    When you don’t start the day with momentum, you have nothing to keep you going.

    I absolutely love being a morning person but your post has reminded me that I need to create more momentum upon waking if I truly want the success I’ve dreamed. Thank you, Michael!

  • http://www.confessionsofaparent.com/ Mike Berry

    I couldn’t agree with this more. I became a morning person several years ago and since then my productivity, me alertness, my health and my peace of mind have all increased tremendously. Thank you for this post!

  • http://orgspring.com/ OrgSpring

    I try to be a morning person, but fail every time. My body seems to gravitate toward working better at night. Not sure why.

    I also found some evidence that suggests night owls are a more intelligent group: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/201005/why-night-owls-are-more-intelligent-morning-larks

    But, if I were IQ tested that might be the direct evidence to disprove this hypothesis :)

  • Pingback: Becoming a Morning Person…a Spiritual Discipline? : Set A Mark!

  • http://defeatdespair.wordpress.com/ Julia Denton

    Hi, at 56 I’m a lifelong night owl, and two months ago I would have told you that it’s impossible for me to become a morning person.  But when my husband was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic cancer recently, all that changed.  I’m getting up and going to bed very early (as he always has) and find that it is giving me more stamina. I’m not advising anxiety as a strategy, but what experience taught me is that our physical bodies are quite susceptible to whatever is going on in our minds…and CAN be changed.  My experience has opened my eyes to what is possible if we have enough motivation. 

  • http://twitter.com/alewis28 Adam Lewis

    Thanks Michael, I appreciate this post.  It makes the task of getting up early seem not so insurmaountable.  I’ve been feeling challenged to do this for quite some time.  This was the nudge I needed to take the plunge!

  • http://richlangton.com/ Rich Langton

    I really enjoyed this post, Michael!
    I’ve been wanting to change my habits in order to become a morning person for years. It wasn’t until recently when my family got a dog that things started to actually happen. She’s like an alarm that want turn off. Barking and barking in the mornings. For some people that would be so frustrating, but for me it’s been fantastic! All of a sudden I’m up early – It’s been more than 21 days so we’ll see if I can keep it up. The tips you’ve given will sure help!

    Thanks for the great post, and I hope you have an awesome day!

  • Shawna Lampi

    I chuckled at this advice. I spent 10 months getting up early and discovered that changing 30+ yrs of going to bed at midnight does not change so easily. I just learned that I would be exhausted by the end of the week and would catch up on lost sleep on the weekend. I am married to a morning person who has always been a morning person and he couldn’t change to be a nighthawk even if he wanted too.

  • Cindy Cleaver

    15 plus years of herding kids out the door to school and college, and myself to work, has turned me into a morning person. :)  (Picture of me at writing conference).

  • Steve

    Don’t take naps.
     

  • Joshuawallace07

    Great post! For much of 2012 I have been trying to become a morning person. This post and the “Morning Ritual” podcast will help me set intentional steps to changing my bad habits

  • http://www.jasonjnicholas.com/ Jason J Nicholas

    There’s just something powerful about the stillness of the early morning that gives me clarity for the day ahead. 

    • Jim Martin

      I like the way you express this.  So true.  The stillness of the early morning can certainly help to bring clarity and perspective on the rest of the day.  This has been so helpful to me.

      • http://www.jasonjnicholas.com/ Jason J Nicholas

        Thanks Jim.

        Last week I added something new to my morning routine.  The first thing I do when I wake up is to do a quick sketch/drawing to empty out whatever thoughts may have accumulated in my head while I was sleeping.  I call them “inklings” and have been posting them on my blog page. 

  • http://twitter.com/JASalvage Josh Salvage

    A lot of people don’t realise it’s only in your head. I wake up to a poster saying “THINK HAPPY, BE HAPPY” -  I wake up with a smile, no matter who else may be stressing.
    It makes my day so much nicer and much more productive. I also tell myself that I’m lucky enough to sleep on a bed,  under a roof, and I have coffee waiting downstairs.

  • Pingback: Como se Tornar Numa Pessoa Madrugadora » Mexxer

  • Pingback: Check out | HeadHeartHand Blog

  • http://twitter.com/lammoush Lama

    I am a morning person, in the sense that I prefer mornings to get things done and it is when I feel most energized. I like waking up and getting going, and if I sleep in, I feel like the day is wasted. However, I’m more like a 7am morning person, not a 5am morning person. I’d love to get up earlier, because I could get my workout in (instead of waiting until after work, when I’m tired and it’s already dark outside). I will try to follow these tips, but not sure .. 

  • http://twitter.com/lammoush Lama

    Just to add on, there are some questions I still have. I jog in the evenings, and would like to switch that to the mornings. I don’t drink coffee, and never have, but I’m not sure about breakfast and water intake. 

    1) Should I drink water and then wait 30 minutes before I go jogging or does it not matter?

    2) Should I eat breakfast before or after the workout?

    3) Is there anything else I should do to prepare for a morning jog?

    Thanks! 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I used to think it matters; I don’t anymore. Maybe it does if you are an elite athlete, but I’m not. I always drink water after I wake up and usually breakfast before I work out.

  • Bill

    Read the bible for 15 minutes a day.  If you read 5 psalms and 1 proverb a day, you will read all of Proverbs and Psalms in one month.  Trust me it will change your life.

  • http://www.intentionalcareer.com/ Henrieta Riesco

    I know what you mean :-) It makes a huge difference for me to think the evening before about what it is that I really, really want to do the next day – building excitement and anticipation. And that would be what I would focus on first thing in the morning. Doing something I was looking forward to builds my momentum for the rest of the day. If I don’t sort it out the night before, I end up wasting time no matter how early or late I wake up.

  • Pingback: Marriage & Parenting Weekly Highlights #4

  • Tjeturtle

    I have wanted to be a morning person for years. I have a blog I am trying to write as a part of my teaching goals this year. For 2 years I have wanted to write a children’s book. I have the idea, notes, a sketch and yet it sits in a spiral notebook. A notebook I can no longer find. Most importantly I want to spend my morning with God. The last reason should be enough to get me out of bed and yet I can’t seem to do it. Lately it has been getting even worse. I have been getting up later and later. This just makes it more difficult for me to get out the door with my 3 kids. I feel tired all the time. I hear there is an app that monitors your sleep and then wakes you up within a 1/2 hour window based on your sleep cycle. I wonder if it work? The dream to be a morning person lives on. Maybe with these tips I can wake this dream up!

  • Pingback: Purposeful, Intentional, Productive « Specializing in the Impossible

  • Pingback: Links & Drinks: How to Help Your Writing Life | Her Silent Musings

  • http://toomanymeds.com/ Alex Barker

    Coffee is great in moderation! 
    In my research, I’ve found coffee over time decreases risk of coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, diabetes, prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. I promote moderate (2 cups a day) coffee drinking in younger patients at my clinic .
    It’s good to see some love on my favorite morning drink.

    • Jim Martin

      There are many of us who share your appreciation for your favorite morning drink!  Thanks Alex.

  • Casarael

    Before I sleep I remind myself of the special thing I will do 1st thing in the morning.  I look forward to rising at 5:00.

  • Skipper Hammond

    Being a morning person means having the best time of the day alone, free of social demands that start in late afternoon for most of us–like kids coming home from school, dinner to make, movies and TV to watch.

  • Allon

    We found that this can be accomplished in fewer steps. Just have a baby and you will instantly become a morning person. Just one step. Well 2 steps altogether, but still…

  • Justin

    It helps me to make sure I’m relaxed when I go to bed.  I try to get off all electronics 30 minutes before bedtime, and stop eating at least 2-3 hours before sleeping.  Meditation and prayer AT bedtime always helps me relax more.  I find this helps me sleep better and have more energy when I wake up.

  • Pingback: Good Reads Saturday – December 15, 2012 | the Vicki Arnold blog

  • Pingback: The Hardest Part is Doing My Part « S. Kim Henson's blog

  • Jack

    Outstanding advice. Just make sure your significant other also wants to be awake when you turn in all the lights! Michael, you’re so right about the advantages of rising early. Thanks!

  • Pingback: Saturday Share: December 15, 2012 | David Christian

  • King Tubbo

    I previously worked evening and overnight shifts, never getting to bed before 1:00 a.m. for 20+ years. It worked for me. I felt healthy and productive. Four years ago, I started working in a new field with a job that starts at 8:00 a.m. Getting up in the mornings has been very difficult, being cheery almost impossible.

    Recently, I got a promotion at work, am now heading up a couple of new projects, and realized how much I love my work. It behooves me to at least make an attempt to become more of a morning person (one of my resolutions for 2013), so this article is very timely for me.

  • Maryanstro

    I am an early-riser wannabe. My husband is up early everyday, but I’m usually too exhausted to join him. Here is my dilemma. I am an introverted processor and I need time to wind down & think b/f bed. However I have 4 kids ( 3 of them teens) who come home @ midnight, want to talk or need help with Algebra at 10 pm. Even when I finally crawl in bed after midnight, I may lay thinking & praying before & can get to sleep. I am a mom so of course I put my kids first. However, I am beginning to wonder. Am I doing them a disservice by accomodating their schedules and leaving myself no time for myself?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erin-Cook-Szczerba/564743125 Erin Cook Szczerba

       Mary,
      When I read the first 1/2 of your comment, I thought “she is making herself too available to her kids’ schedules!”. Setting a healthy boundary–letting them know the hours you’ll be available for chatting and homework help–will allow you to prioritize sleep and waking earlier and will allow them the opportunity to respect your needs and make changes in their own schedules. :)
      Erin

  • http://emilysirkel.com/ Emily Sirkel

    Excellent tips, and what a timely article! I just wrote about my ailing self-dicipline in a post on Wednesday (without having seen this post), specifically about how my normal “morning person” habits have hit a slump!

    I appreciate your perspective and suggestions – as always!

  • http://www.VictoryChristianCoaching.com/ Marianne Clements

    Michael,

    I’ve always been a morning person, but my husband was a night owl most of his life.  When we got married, it was hard for us to adjust to different sleeping habits.  Interestingly, he is now a morning person — sometimes he’s up earlier than me! 

    He didn’t do anything special except go to bed earlier.  If you go to bed at 9:00PM, it’s hard to sleep till noon.  FYI — we do not have a TV in our bedroom which I think is a major hindrance to sleep.  If you have other similar distractions like the internet that keeps you engaged, try disengaging earlier in the evening, so you have some time to wind down.

    Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Benjamin Franklin

    Have a Victorious Day!
    Marianne

  • Tim

    Matthew
    21:21So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I
    say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you
    will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you
    say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be
    done.  There is something to be said for a positive confession.  Never speak in a way to give credence to your doubts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erin-Cook-Szczerba/564743125 Erin Cook Szczerba

    I have been setting my alarm and falling back to sleep. So frustrating! Remembered receiving this post via email, came here to find it, and voila! #4 is what I needed to read. I’ll be plugging my phone in across the room tonight–and going to bed NOW. Thanks Michael!

  • Shereena

    The post was really motivating. I am in a new environment with new responsibilities, stuck not knowing how to start. Now got new ideas. I understood how important it to become a morning person in my life

  • http://twitter.com/DainDunston Dain Dunston

    Michael, 

    I pity those who miss the dawn. I woke up one morning in college and saw this orange light streaming in the window at 5:00 a.m. and … went right back to sleep. But I decided if it happened again the next morning I’d get up and go look. The next morning, it happened again and I dragged myself out of bed and headed out to a nearby hilltop to watch the sunrise and never stopped doing that. By the time the 8:30 a.m. French seminar got going, I was the only one awake and full of coffee. Madame Dupin was so impressed at my conversational ability.

    All through my career, getting an early start has always served me well. Deadlines are easier to meet when you’re up with the dawn.