How to Love Getting Up Early (Or At Least Hate It A Little Less)
So, this is 500% not a blog post that I EVER thought I would write. The fact that this is a question that enough of you have asked to warrant a blog post is truly blowing my mind. Whoa.
It's also not something that I ever thought that humans would consider me to be an expert on. In fact, I think that if you were to search the team "sleepy girl" you would likely see that I've used it in almost every blog post. I love sleep. I could sleep forever. I am not (and never have been) one of those people that will can function on little sleep. I need at least 7 hours to feel functional, an those 7 hours only count if they're really good sleep. It's been really hot in Seattle this summer so I've had to bump up my sleep to 9 hours a night when I can.
When I'm not blogging I coach rowing and teach yoga. These activities have a few things in common. One, they are very spandex heavy. Somehow I have managed to weasel myself into not one but two activities that completely revolve around spandex. Spandex bras. Spandex pants. Spandex hats. Spandex life. Spandex is me. I am spandex.
The second thing that these both have in common is that they tend to attract enthusiasts. One does not simply just row. If you have a friend that rows I absolutely guarantee that they have told you about it. Multiple times. The same goes for yoga. Both of these activities are so weird and endurance-heavy and deeply intricate that you can spend your whole life studying one (or in my case, both) and still have only gotten to the tip of the iceberg. Not even the tip, really. Probably only a little tiny piece of the tip of the iceberg. They are activities that you can easily get lost in, and each newfound piece of knowledge is like a breadcrumb (donut crumb? too much of a stretch?) that leads you to more theoretical crumbs. All of a sudden you wake up in your nineties, all you own is Spandex, as you mumble rowing/yoga factoids to yourself and wonder how you got here. And then you die.
On that happy note, the third thing that my two loves have in common is that they are not, unfortunately, evening-heavy activities. Yoga tends to happen fairly early in the morning because yogis are dedicated and disciplined and there is always a large contingent that wants to practice at 6 AM before the sun rises so that they can align their chakras or some shit. Rowing typically happens in the morning, also, because that's when the water tends to be most flat. Typically drunk wake boarding bros aren't man-spreading the lake at 5:30 AM. I say typically because this did, for reasons I still don't understand, happen to me last week. Bro. It's 5:30 AM on a Thursday. Why are you guys drunk? Why are you wake boarding this early? When is the last time you slept? Where is your adult?
As such, I get up early as fuck most days. My big sleep in day is on Mondays when I teach yoga at 6 AM. The rest of the days, I start work at 5:30. AM. Five thirty in the morning. I know. I KNOW. But it's actually gotten to the point where it's no longer blindingly painful (hallelujah) and feels mostly normal. I keep getting questions on Instagram about how I do it (spoiler: lots of coffee), so I'm sharing what's worked for me below.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. I know this isn't exactly the sexy answer I'm sure that you were hoping for, but preparation is key for me to getting up at the asscrack of dawn. If I know that I'm going to get up early (and will probably be grumpy the next morning) I make sure that I've already prepped everything I could possibly need. I always lay out my out my outfit the night before and quadruple check to make sure that I have the necessities - socks, a brat, etc. I also pack my bag and put it immediately in front of my door so that I can't miss it. I have, no joke, blocked my way out of my house before with my bag to make sure that I didn't miss it. I cannot be trusted to make rational decisions before 5:30 AM. I make sure that I have hella snacks (forever hungry), water, my wallet, keys for work, and anything that I could ever need to make my days successful. Nothing is worse than getting to work and being locked out. NOTHING.
Always sleep with a white noise machine. I grew up on a tiny island in a house that was both in the woods and on the beach, so I'm used to sleeping in near to total silence. Despite all my years of city living between Spokane and Seattle, I just can't get used to urban sounds when I'm trying to fall asleep. The house that we live in is also relatively old and makes a lot of sound at night. Whenever I hear a sound I am immediately convinced that it's somebody coming to, I don't know, haunt us or something, so I can't sleep if I can hear any bumps or wood-floor sighs. Dan also wakes up at the smallest disturbance, so investing in a white noise machine has been ideal for both of us. This is the one we have and we both really love it. It has a tone of different sounds on it, but I only like actually sleeping with the white noise sound on. For some reason the other sounds are too distracting for me to fall asleep to, but I like them for background noise when I'm working. It also has multiple volume settings, so when one of us is snoring (raises hand) we just crank that shit up.
Vitamin B12 is life. B12 is an essential part of a healthy diet and something that every human needs to function. My favorite naturopath, Dr. Ayla Hopkins, quotes B12 as helping with energy, mood, memory, focus, and essentially everything that you could want to have a vibrant day. I've tried her vitamin shots and these drops. The shots are way more effective but don't always fit into my schedule, so I keep these drops on hand as a good backup. Full disclosure: they taste like diet cough syrup, but are worth it in a pinch and more reliable than some of the Vitamin B products you can find in your average grocery store.
Sunrise simulation alarm clock. Waking up with a sunrise simulator might feel a little bit easier because our bodies are naturally conditioned to wake up with the sunrise. These clocks can help keep your circadian rhythms healthy, because apparently you can get a circadian rhythm disorder- the newest thing for us to all collectively panic about on Instagram. I bought a sunrise simulator clock during the midst of last winter when I was really struggling to get out of bed. I really loved how the light on our clock slowly woke me up each morning, and I was usually fully awake before the alarm noises started to go off. The only thing that's hard about these clocks is that if you share a bedroom with a partner who gets up later than you the light will definitely wake them up too. If I know that the Dan-man and I are waking up at the same time, I will set it for us. If I'm getting up earlier than him I use the alarm on my phone instead. Outside of the summer months my schedule isn't quite so early-morning heavy and I wake up after Dan, so I use this bad boy a TON. It's delightful during the colder months in Seattle where the only color you see for weeks is grey and it seems like you might never see the sunshine or know true happiness ever again.
Don't eat super late. I am big late night snacker. Reading a good book and eating some cheese while snuggled up in bed is my JAM. That being said, when I eat right before bed I feel like absolute shit the next morning. It leaves me feeling super foggy and bloated and it makes it impossible to get anything done until 10 AM or later. Eating late at night also messes with your metabolism because, unless you are waiting until late the next day to eat, your body never really gets a break from digesting food. As much as I can I try not to eat more than 3 hours before bed. When I do that I sleep way better, feel a lot more energized the next day, and don't feel as bloated. It definitely is a hard habit to get used to (especially if you eat with loved ones) but I promise it's worth it.
No caffeine after 2 PM. This one is hard for me (#coffeeforever) but cutting caffeine out earlier in the day makes it easier for me to fall asleep and then need less caffeine the next day. I realized that if I had a citrus-y juice or put a few drops of mint essential oil in my water instead of coffee during my afternoon slump that I ended up feeling more awake and also less dehydrated later in the day. It only took my body about a week to adjust to this change and now I don't even think about it. You can DO IT!
Make a routine. The best way to make early-ass mornings not completely suck is to make a super solid routine. To be honest, I hate routines about as much as I hate early mornings, but having a set order to my actions both before bed and after waking up in the mornings has saved me. They to do things in the same progression each morning and your early wake-ups will start to seem a little more bearable. Promise.
Meditate your face off. I know, I know. I realize this sounds very yogi, but meditating before bed is so helpful for me. Dan goes to bed a lot earlier than me, so I usually try to fit my meditation in when he's asleep instead of during time that we can spend together. I keep my headphones on my nightstand and try to fit at least 3 minutes of meditation in bed every night. Some apps that I like for meditating are Zen Mixer, Headspace, and Insight Timer. Zen Mixer and Insight Timer both have a lot of filters so that you can pick an amount of time, voice style, theme, etc. There are a lot of meditations out on the intewebz that are targeted specifically for sleep, and they always knock me the fuck out.
Supplements before bed. A few years ago a wellness practitioner suggested that I take a probiotic every night before bed. I had complained about some gut and energy issues, and she told me that (from her perspective) taking a probiotic before bed was super helpful because you likely aren't eating in the middle of the night, so it gives the probiotic lots of time to do its business. Both Dan and I are completely obsessed with this wellness ritual, which is a rarity in our household. Both of us feel like it helps reduce bloating, we sleep better, and we feel better the next morning. Plus you will have the best morning poops of your life. In addition to probiotics, I also occasionally will take melatonin supplements before bed if I know I'm going to have a hard time sleeping. Especially when I have to work at 5:30 AM (plz everyone cry for me) I need as much sleep as I can get. These are the probiotics we take right now. We rotate through different melatonin brands but I'm partial to the gummies because I treat them as dessert. It's gotten to the point where I look forward to my nightly vitamins. Come at me.
No blue screens before bed! Blue light is great for you during the day because it makes you feel alert, energized, and attentive. This is also exactly why you don't want it at night- those are the last things you want to feel while you try to fall asleep. Light suppresses the secretion of your melatonin, so it also makes it super hard to sleep. Essentially, blue light = Satan. Harvard has some thoughts on this too. This is super problematic, because blue light comes from our phones/tablets/computers, which most of us tend to use at night. I like to read on my Kindle because it has an option to turn the blue light function. For me personally, reading on tablets is less likely to keep me up than watching a show. I can watch a show for hours but a good book (even some Harry Potter) can only keep me up for so long before I get sleepy. Try it. Report back. Tell me everything.
#TREATYOSELF in the morning. I learned pretty quickly that if I could entice myself with a treat (I am not above self bribery, people) that I could easily get my ass out of bed with enthusiasm. To do this, I make sure that I have the fixings for whatever smoothie/caffeinated beverage/breakfast that I'm currently obsessing over. Thinks like bulletproof matcha, Vega smoothies (my forever favorite protein powder), and some good old-fashioned scrambled eggs are my go-to. They are easy to make, energize me, and (most importantly) I love them so much that getting out of bed to eat them gets me JAZZED. If you need to treat yourself to your favorite coffee-shop treat to get up, no judgement. Just make sure that whatever you are eating first thing is generally healthy so that you can start off on a positive note.
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Ok kids, that's all I've got. These are the things that get me out of bed, make it easier to fall asleep, and have helped with my early mornings. If you have any other early mornings hacks PLZ drop them below for us all to use. I still need all the help I can get.
Wishing you lots of sleep and a strong coffee in the morning,
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