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Not a morning person? Sleep coach explains how to become one 

how to become a morning person

For many, the idea of becoming a “morning person” seems like an unattainable dream. However, with the right strategies and an understanding of your body’s natural rhythms, you can transform your mornings and start each day feeling refreshed and energised. 

Speaking with Vitabiotics, sleep expert Dave Gibson shares how to optimise your sleep, align your routine with your chronotype, and develop a morning ritual that sets you up for success.

Why you might be able to blame your parents for your night owl habits!  

According to Gibson, our sleep preferences, or chronotypes, are largely determined by genetics and can be classified into three main categories: morning larks, night owls, and those in between. 

Gibson explains, “Chronotype is the technical name for our genetically inherited sleep preference. We often classify this as a morning lark or a night owl. 

Morning Larks feel sleepy earlier in the evening and prefer to go to bed and wake up early. They are commonly most alert and productive in the morning, too. Night Owls, however, are naturally inclined to stay up later and tend to be more active and productive in the evening.

About half of us, however, fall somewhere in the middle of being a lark or owl needing to go to sleep between 10pm and midnight. There are lots of free online tests to help you work out your sleep preference. One of the best is from Dr Michael Breuss.” 

Your mattress might be TOO comfortable

Your mattress can impact your morning grogginess. “If you have a super comfortable mattress and feel sound asleep when your alarm wakes you, it could be that you are waking from a deep stage of sleep,” cautions Gibson. 

“As a consequence, this would lead to something called sleep inertia. This is when you feel disorientated and even confused for the first half an hour after you wake and well before your body would have naturally woken you had you not set the alarm.

“A comfortable mattress could contribute to you having a better and deeper night’s sleep. However, the key issue here is that you are being woken before you would have done so had you not set an alarm. The way to ensure you have the best possible sleep is when the body naturally wakes you without having to use an alarm.” 

Strategic napping is best for workers with long or unconventional hours 

Strategic napping can help those with unconventional hours. Gibson advises, “One way of ensuring you have enough sleep if you are working long and irregular hours is to learn to nap ahead to literally ‘put some sleep in the bank’.

This will help you avoid sleep deprivation if you are working later than usual and losing some of your normal hours of sleepTypically, napping in the siesta period is the optimum time for this.” 

Naps of around 15-20 minutes will help boost your energy and focus levels too.” In fact, napping for around 20 minutes is optimum and has the least impact on your circadian rhythm.4

Avoid napping too close to your bedtime as it reduces your need for sleep and makes it more difficult to nod off at your planned sleep time.” 

What to do if your partner prefers to sleep in

Sleep divorce is becoming more prevalent. It is a practice in which partners sleep in different rooms rather than sharing a bed at night to help each partner get a better night’s sleep. 

Whilst some hail its purported results, some researchers have suggested that sleeping next to each other actually enhances REM sleep, releasing the cuddle hormone, Oxytocin.5

Having a partner who prefers to sleep in can disrupt your morning plans. However, Gibson offers a solution to minimise disruptions while still maintaining an early riser routine. 

“In order to help you wake up early without disturbing your partner, there are a few techniques and strategies to consider

I would start by thinking about what could disturb your sleeping partner. The first thing here could be the sound of your alarm. You could buy a quiet dawn simulator or, even better, try to learn to wake up without an alarm. 

Getting out of bed is the next thing to consider as a disruptor. If you are sharing a bed, it’s very likely you would disturb a sleeping partner when trying to get up in the morning Having a mattress which limits the ‘motion impact’ of one person moving in bed and disrupting the other person’s sleep is a great option. 

“Also, aim to prepare as much as you can for the morning ahead before you go to sleep. Set out your clothes and create a designated wake-up area outside of the bedroom where you can do your morning routine.” 

How to train yourself to become a morning person 

Consistency is key when adapting to an earlier sleep schedule. Gibson recommends, 

1. “In order to ease your body clock to an earlier bed and wake time, it’s best to move your sleep earlier in easy-to-manage 10 to 15-minute increments. Here, you would go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier each night and wake up 10-15 minutes earlier in the morning, too.

2. “You should continue this strategy through weekends, too. Throughout, always keep to the same relaxing sleep routine as it signals to the body and brain that it’s time to wind down to sleep.  Once you have achieved your new time, try to keep to this as close to seven days a week as possible. Consistency is king with regards to getting a great night’s sleep.” 

3. “Getting exposure to sunlight as early as possible in the morning can also help you move your body clock forward. Similarly, avoiding light exposure at night, especially the blue light from tech and your mobile phone, is essential, too. This absence of light encourages the release of melatonin, your sleep hormone. 

4. “Remember to make sure the bedroom is cool and dark, too, ideally between 50 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit or 15.5 and 19.5 degrees Celsius. This helps to facilitate our natural drop in core body temperature, which is needed to help us get to sleep and stay asleep.

5. “Also, make sure you have clear boundaries around your caffeine intake. Ideally, you should stop having beverages and drinks containing caffeine after lunchtime as it can interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep.” 

He also advises following a Mediterranean diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats and proteins to ensure sustained energy levels.

6. “Good foods for boosting energy and nutrients are nuts and seeds. If you find yourself waking in the night, you can add a small handful just before you sleep.” 

What to do if you’ve tried to change your routine but still feel groggy in the morning. 

For those still battling morning grogginess, an intentional routine can work wonders. Gibson suggests, “It’s important to get bright light as soon as possible in the morning to help you wake and become alert, so as soon as you wake, open the curtains and blindsThis tells the brain that it’s morning, wakes you up and strengthens your body clock.

“After this, have something to drink, like lemon and hot water, to rehydrate yourself and kick-start your metabolism.

Avoid going on your tech or checking your phone and instead start every day with a short meditation and visualisation of having a great and relaxing 24 hours whilst achieving your goals and tasks for the day.

Then do some gentle stretches to help your body wake up and ease into the day. Finally, eat a nutritious breakfast with a balance of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates to ensure you can sustain your energy throughout the morning.” 

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