Ask An Adult: How Can I Become A Morning Person When I’m Not One?

Tips that don't involve meditation or going to bed at 7.30pm. Because we're human beings, OK? Illustration by Sara Andreasson


by Stevie Martin |

The days when I don’t get out of bed ten minutes before my train leaves, before doing my make-up and hair on said train, are the rare days. The days to be treasured. Even when I’ve gone to bed at 8pm, I still scream ‘FUCK IT’ while swinging my legs onto the floor, right through to brushing my teeth and getting dressed (I have a shower last thing at night because there’s nothing more horrifying than standing under water in the morning and no, I’m not justifying myself to you).

I don’t think this is Beyoncé’s morning routine. Or the routine kept by any kickass Woman In Business who has already done yoga and made wheatgrass cereal by the time I fly into the office with my skirt in my pants and crows flying out of my hair.

But I really believe that in order to get shit done, you’ve got to at least be able to get out of bed and make toast without screaming ‘FUCK IT’.

In order to figure out how to revolutionise the horrific start to most of my days, I didn’t want to ask an adult: I wanted to ask loads of adults. Loads of adults who do this every single morning – from students to life coach extraordinaire Deborah Porton, who won’t tell me to meditate/buy a natural lamp alarm clock, because I’ll just fall asleep again and I’m not a moth.

So here you have it: a collection of tips from actual people who revolutionised their mornings like the bosses they are – or will be, considering they’ve revolutionised their mornings and are therefore more likely to climb the career ladder at lightning speed:

**Download an app, goddammit **

What’s the point of a smartphone if all you do is stay up half-reading long-read articles about the history of the vitamin tablet on it? Get an app that gets you out of bed – like Alarmy, that forces you to get up and take a photo of something in your flat.

‘My friend was notoriously late for lectures and constantly complained about how hard she found it to physically get out of bed in the morning,’ says Katie, a journo in London. ‘She’d tried putting her phone in a shoe on the other side of the room thinking this would make her get up but once she’d turned the alarm off, but she’d crawl right into bed again.

‘Then she found the Alarmy, and despite it being INCREDIBLY annoying, it actually worked. Her preset photo was her fridge down the hallway so when the alarm went off she begrudgingly would make her way to the fridge to take the same photo again. Having made all that effort, there was no point in getting back to bed again. The only bad side was her complaining about the bloody thing for a good hour after it woke her, but at least she was awake,’ she says.

Downloading this app immediately.

Be clever with your alarm

Don’t just set it then expect to spring out of bed, because that’s not going to happen unless you’re a fully fledged MP (morning person – maybe that wasn’t the best acronym).

‘You sleep in 90 minute cycles of deep and awake, so I set my alarm 90 minutes before I get up, so when your actual alarm goes off for when you really need to get up, it’s a lot easier,' says Gina, who works in London. And is possibly a genius.

Another genius is Hannah, at uni in Aberdeen, who bucks the whole lazy student trend: ‘I set an alarm 10 minutes before I actually need to get up, and then my actual alarm. Then you get a little bit of warning and it isn’t as hideous as hearing a loud noise and having to leap out of bed.’

Set some sort of reward system in place

Some people don’t believe in rewards, but those people are dead inside. Everyone likes a present – whether it’s from a mystery admirer or you’ve bought it yourself – and you’d be surprised how much you’ll be willing to change if it means you’ll get a prize at the end of it.

‘I’m a big believer in small goals and small rewards,’ says Deborah. ‘Promise yourself something, whether it’s food, gifts, time, perhaps the reward will be this weekend and you have to get to work on time every day to get the reward. Perhaps the reward is one morning of lying in and being late!’

That last one is absolute genius.

Sleep better

Thankfully, nobody said, ‘I go to sleep at 8.30pm every night’ because all the people I asked were, y’know, fun and normal. One thing that sleep guru Sophie (she isn’t actually a sleep guru, but a regular human who just happens to kick most mornings in the tits) told me was to not look at your phone before you go to bed. Or any screens. I know: hard, right?

‘I never watch TV or films in bed because it keeps my mind racing for longer than I’d like and is too distracting, so I stick on a audio book or very slow-paced podcast to lull me into sleep, and make sure they only last half an hour or so,’ she says.

‘I also only listen on my phone because the light automatically goes off when it’s over and I put my phone on automatic sleeper mode from 9pm until 6am so I’m not woken up by emails or anyone trying to message me to tell me how terrific I am/how much they want to sleep with me.’

Thing is, she says it’s made a ‘palpable’ difference to how groggy she feels in the morning, and while I won’t give up my current 10pm-midnight *House *binges – because I always like to keep up to date with very current TV shows – this might be something to try a couple of nights a week, then three, then four.

Before you know it you’ll be throwing your phone into the river and going dancing in the moonlight, you hippie.

Do something amusing

I used to have a habit of doing wild-dancing the moment I woke up in an attempt to laugh myself out of bed, but after getting a boyfriend, this sort of fell by the wayside because it was distracting and a bit odd. Turns out I’m crap at laughing myself out of bed, but pretty good at laughing people into it (reference to my sexual wiles).

Anyway, Lucy, a psychology student who knows her shit, advises you ‘put on a YouTube clip of laughing yoga and start the day off with a laugh’, which I firmly believe in. Other suggestions could be: record something funny and set it as your alarm – ‘HELLO FUTURE STEVIE, PAST STEVIE WANTS YOU TO GET UP’ – but this only works if your name is Stevie, unfortunately), yell things until you laugh at how stupid you are, listen to the Team America soundtrack or go to the mirror and do a facial impression of a walnut.

Look, I don’t know what makes you laugh, so I’m just using my own examples. And I once went into hysterics for half an hour because I pointed at a mango I was eating while alone in my flat and said ‘Classic Mang’, so I’m not a great barometer for humour.

Shock yourself awake using water

This is gross, but seems to work if you’re an adrenalin junkie with a thirst for danger. ‘I drink a cold glass of water immediately,’ says one morning person I spoke to.

‘I splash cold water on my face as soon as I get out of bed and slap my cheeks,’ says another, who is potentially a masochist (she’s not, she’s just good at waking herself up).

If you’re going to do this, though, you might as well just have a cold shower and good luck to you if that’s the sort of thing you can withstand at 7am in the depths of winter. Or any season.

Ease yourself awake using water

For those who like to live life in the comfortable lane, without any cold water administered to their skin pre-9am (or ever), there’s loads more things you can do with water that doesn’t involve freezing temperatures.

‘I drink a pint of lemon water in the morning to wake up. Wakes you right up. Life changing mate,’ says Christina, who is a medical student and therefore a doctor of mornings.

Rebecca, our very own editor at The Debrief, drinks a glass of room temperature water by her bedside when she wakes up and she always has done hair upon entering the office. Unless she just has very good hair. Either way, it’s a good tip.

**Have another reason to get out of bed other than work **

‘You need a reason to get up in the morning,’ says Deborah Porton. ‘Whether it’s the person you want to be to the outside world, or simply that you bought some really good coffee yesterday – you need to find the thing that motivates you.

‘What if every day there was something to look forward to? Wearing your new shoes, a meeting with a new client, a shower with a lovely shower gel, the book you’re going to read on the train or whatever. Maybe if you go to sleep thinking about what you’re looking forward to tomorrow you’ll fancy getting out of bed more,’ she says.

If anyone needs a specific example, I’m going to go with food. If you’ve got an amazing, quick breakfast lined up, then my lord, are you going to be able to get up more quickly. For Nina, who absolutely despises mornings, the only thing that gets her up resides in her fridge (or cupboard, depending on what you eat for breakfast):

‘I am a big breakfast fan so I get myself excited about the first thing I will eat and drink once I’m up,’ she says. ‘I make sure I always have my fave breakfast food, like nice granola and honey, for example. If I know I don’t have milk, forget about it.’

Well, that wasn’t too painful, was it? While I’m probably doomed to a fair few bad mornings regardless of what I do (it’s in my DNA, OK), I’m going to aim to try these techniques three times a week and I’ll soon be the boss of the world.

Or, at the very least, be able to arrive at work without my skirt tucked into my pants.

**If you liked this, you might also be interested in... **

The Best Apps For Sleep Deprived Phone Addicts

Sleeping? LOL. Here’s What You’re Actually Using Your Bed For

Science Says Charging Your iPhone In Your Bedroom Makes You Fat – And It’s Not As Mental As It Seems

Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM

Illustration by Sara Andreasson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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