Happy Monday babes! I love starting the week off with a blog post and a little inspiration. Today’s post comes after my first full month of Ironman 70.3 training plan and I’m feeling GREAT….now. These last few weeks have been an adjustment period and there were so many days that I literally had to peel myself out of bed. Waking up early is hard to get used to, but with a little effort and dedication, it’s totally doable.
I, personally, have never been a early riser and my biological clock has a permanent snooze. So, anytime I need to be up before the sun rise, I have to make a huge effort. I’ve always been envious of those people who can naturally wake up at 5am. Heck, I’d settle for waking up at 6am or 7am too but not me, my body doesn’t even think about waking up before 8:30am naturally.
There have been periods in my life that I have found myself sleeping my day away and getting into that ever boring rut of waking up, going to work, coming home, going to bed, and NOTHING else in between. Those have also been some of the most lazy and depressing times for me. I find that when I’m up early and productive that I feel accomplished and I’m more energetic.
As summer comes to close for many of us we’re likely feeling the anticipation of early mornings again as the kids get ready to go back to school. Summer always makes for late mornings at our house and we definitely have to make time to get back on a “schedule”.
Whether you’re trying to get up early for school, hit the gym for a pre-sunrise sweat sesh or just get to work on time today, I’m sharing my tips on how to become a morning person, the athletes version! Of course, these tips can be applied to most anyone.
1) Create a Game Plan
Most of us know we’re going to have to get up early ahead of time. Especially if you’re like me and planned a training program several months in advance. Be sure to review your training plan/goals and compare that to your every day schedule. Do you need to get up two hours earlier everyday? Will you need to commute or make special arrangements like day care, car pools or a change in work schedules? Whatever it requires, be aware so that you can create a game plan for the coming weeks.
2) Give yourself time to get adjusted
If you’re used to going to sleep at midnight and your new schedule requires you now hit the hay at 8:30 pm, give yourself a couple of weeks to adjust. Perhaps, aim for 10 pm for a couple of weeks and then work your way to 8:30 pm. Give your body time to adjust to drastic changes.
3) Prep the Night Before
If you’re anything like me, you take forever to do everything! I have never been one of those people who can just pop out of bed and be ready five minutes later. However, I have found that I can be ready in less time if I prepare the night before. If you’re heading straight to the gym in the morning, go ahead and pack your gym bag and lay out your clothes. If you need to have something to eat before your workout, prep your meals so they are ready to grab and go. Here’s an example: I like to pack my swim bag and have everything in one place right next to bed so that I can just get up, half asleep, grab it and go. Don’t waste time digging through the laundry for clothes or trying to decide what you’re going to wear or eat. Do it the night before!
4) Relax and Wind Down
I often find that if I’ve had an exciting evening my mind is racing come bedtime, there is no way I can fall asleep. Sometimes I need to mentally prepare to actually go to sleep. To do this I drink hot herbal tea (chamomile) or I love to take a hot bath or shower just before bed time. This calms the nerves and gives me a few minutes to quiet my mind. You could also lay in bed reading your favorite book or magazine. Be careful if you’re reading from a phone, tablet or kindle! Electronic devices have a way of keeping us up and engaged when we should be winding down. Be sure to shut off electronic devices an hour to thirty minutes before bedtime to allow your body to wind down.
5) Get adequate and quality sleep.
It’s so important that you get quality sleep. There is no point in going to bed early if you’re not getting a good night’s rest. Decide on a reasonable bedtime that will give you about 8 hours of sleep before you need to be up to get ready. Turn off TVs, radios, or anything that could potentially keep you awake. Of course, if a little white noise from a fan helps you get to sleep, then by all means, do that.
6) Get on a schedule
Again, its hard for your body to adjust to change if there is constant change. Be sure to find consistency in your schedule, if possible. If 9 pm is your new bed time, go to bed at 9 pm every night and be sure to wake up around the same time every morning. This includes weekends! I know we all want those few extra hours of sleep on the weekends, but be sure you’re not waking up at 5am Monday through Friday and then sleeping all day on Saturday and Sunday. That’s is a sure fire way to confuse your body and reverse all your hard work.
7) Watch What You Intake Close to Bedtime
It’s makes it really hard to sleep if your in pain, have to go to the bathroom, or are all wired up. So, be sure to avoid caffeine, excessive water intake and problematic foods just before bed. Many studies suggest caffeine has negative effects on your sleep patterns. As a general rule, I avoid caffeine all together anytime after noon, but the general recommendation is about 4-6 hours before bedtime. Be sure to watch out for hidden sources of caffeine like chocolate, decaf coffee, protein bars, and caffeinated sodas. Also, if you suffer from heartburn be sure to avoid trigger foods right before bed and give yourself at least a couple of hours to digest foods. Lastly, slow down on the water intake about an hour and half before bed. While staying hydrated is very important, waking up to use the restroom three times a night will disrupt a good night’s rest
8) Set Alarms
Obviously, setting the alarm to wake up is vital for a new schedule, but did you know it can also help to set an alarm for bed time? Have you ever found yourself deep in a book only to realize it’s two hours past your bedtime? Or perhaps you lost track of time deep diving on YouTube? If you plan to be in bed by 9:30 pm and it takes you a few minutes to get ready, set an alarm for 9 pm. This will help remind you to turn off the TV, prep for the morning, and be sure you’re in bed on-time as planned.
9) Ditch the Snooze
I’m the world’s worst snoozer. I can sleep through any snooze for hours at time. I find that it’s easier for me to set the alarm, move it far away from the bed so that I have to get up to turn the alarm off which helps me avoid hitting the snooze button. There are mornings that I need a few extra minutes to wake up, but I’d rather be standing at the sink half asleep getting ready than laying in bed, ready to fall back asleep.
10) Stick to It
It takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit. This means you need to be very consistent in the beginning and stick to your schedule. Don’t give up if you sleep in here and there or hit the snooze button a time or two. Don’t beat yourself up. Do continue to strive to meet your new schedule. The longer you stick to it the easier it will be. Eventually you will get there and create a healthy habit of waking up early and getting things done!
Thanks so much for reading today!
Priscilla is Dallas/Ft. Worth based nutritionist and blogger.