Can one become a morning person? Have you successfully done it?
July 7, 2016 8:49 AM   Subscribe

In my latest attempt to improve my life, I have decided to give something a try that I thought impossible before: To become a morning person.

Now this is easier said than done. First two days were a complete failure. I snoozed the alarm, turned it off, went back to sleep. I've tried this before with no success. When I'm more determined, I do manage to wake up and get up early, but it never happens "naturally" I have to fight with myself every morning.

The internet is full of advice and articles about X steps to become a morning person, but often reading them makes me feel like it's not really written by someone who has ACTUALLYY done it. - that is, transformed themselves from a late night owl to a morning riser.

I turn to you dear friends for advice. Have you done it? How?
posted by LarryMan to Health & Fitness (37 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Go to bed early and stay there until you fall asleep
posted by Kwadeng at 8:51 AM on July 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

posted by brainmouse at 8:54 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Can one become a morning person?

Yes, though you'll probably fail a lot, and that's part of the process. It doesn't happen in two days—there's so much that has to sort of be reset about your body chemistry etc. I think not getting frustrated about whether or not you tried hard enough whenever you "fail"—and considering that "failure" means something other than "perfect execution"—will probably help. You have to do it unnaturally for a long time before you'll do it naturally.
posted by listen, lady at 8:54 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

The usual advice worked for me:
Go to bed earlier.
Make your bedroom darker.
Put your alarm clock far enough away that you have to get up to hit the snooze button.
Set multiple alarms (I've set my phone to go off literally each minute for an entire hour -- you can't turn that shit off without being awake).
As soon as you get up, make your bed. That puts a line between "sleep" and "awake" that's harder to get back across, plus you've actually accomplished something at the beginning of the day.
But most of all: Reserve your bedroom for sleeping only (no reading before bed, definitely no TV in the bedroom) ((okay, sex is allowed)).
posted by Etrigan at 8:54 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have successfully become a morning person!

How I did it:

- Got a job where I have to be in early, and at the same time every day.

- Get a good amount of sleep most nights. Every once in a while something will happen where I can't get to bed at my usual time, but I don't do that thing where I know I'm tired and it's bedtime but I just need to take one last pass through the internet or play one more level of this game or whatever. If I'm tired, I go to bed. If I'm not tired but I know I need to be in bed by 11:30 in order to get enough sleep, I go to bed anyway.

- Don't sleep in on weekends. In my experience this happened naturally as I got up and went to bed at the same time every day. Having things I usually do on weekend mornings, which I like to do and aren't chores, is also a help.

- Don't drink too much. Anything more than two glasses of wine and I'm going to need my alarm clock again.

After a few months of this routine, my 7:15 morning alarm stopped feeling like a punishment. Six months in, I tend to get up naturally around 6:30. I don't try to do anything productive with that time, but it feels good to wake up without an alarm and to have a little time to myself in the morning.
posted by Sara C. at 8:58 AM on July 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've done it!

I went from hating mornings and sleeping as late as possible, noon at least when I could to now getting up no later than 8 for any reason.

I did it to try to ease up on migraines, it worked but it has also had a positive effect on tons of other aspects of my life.

Go to bed earlier but regardless of that GET OUT OF BED when the alarm goes, no snooze no nothing, no touching the alarm until you are verticle, at least that is what worked for me.

Man living in a big city is easier when you get to each store on the weekend before everyone else, lowers general stress for sure.

Sorry if this is gushy but I am just so freaking happy with the change, reduced migraines by at least half as well.
posted by Cosine at 8:58 AM on July 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

One thing that worked very well for me was to stop eating an hour or two before the sun went down and keep the bacon supply fully stocked. It's easy to wake up if you're ravenous. Get a coffeemaker on a timer and set it to go off fifteen minutes before you want to be out of bed. If you get up earlier, you have time in the morning just for you to do fun things. Like bacon.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:01 AM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Maybe not what you're looking for specifically, but you might first determine whether or not you have sleep apnea. If you aren't getting good sleep, any effort to wake up earlier will be frustrating no matter what you try. Getting a CPAP worked for me. Now I get up before my alarm most days, after a lifetime of sleeping as late as possible.

Something else that helped me was to acquire a dependent that needs to be walked (dog) or fed (dog and child) or driven to school (child). This may be more of a lifestyle change than you are willing to make at this point, however.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:06 AM on July 7, 2016

I don't think it's quite possible to become a morning person if you're naturally not one; chronotypes are chronotypes. However, you can get up earlier more consistently, and apply sleep hygiene and chronotherapy principles to make being awake at the "wrong" time less painful and more habitual.

After a lifetime of having issues with this, and trying everything under the sun, I am getting up earlier, more or less consistently, kind of automatically, these days. This is very recent and unexpected. Someone else here - I think it was frumiousb? - once mentioned that this happened to them once they hit a certain age. I think that's why it's happening to me. Maybe it's hormonal, who knows. I am not, however, falling asleep at the same time, consistently (see sleep hygiene & the previously linked to above). So I'm mostly sleep deprived, and my circadian rhythms (optimal wakefulness/energy) are not (yet) fully in sync with the time I'm actually awake. Answer = rigidly applied sleep hygiene. (Though my favourite answer, in the previously, is "moving to the tropics")
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:07 AM on July 7, 2016 [6 favorites]

I've said this in other threads, so here it is again: Yes, I am a natural night owl and have transitioned to being someone who gets up at the same time every weekday and is not very good at sleeping late on weekends.

I did this (YMMV) by getting out of bed every morning when the alarm went off. No snooze, ever. Alarm goes, feet hit the floor. Don't care if I only got 4 hours of sleep: I have to get up now. I just kept doing this and doing this until I just do this. I do try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

There's no one hack. You're not going to magic-bullet yourself into Being a Morning Person. But you can get up every day when the alarm goes off. It will take work and you will not like it.
posted by rtha at 9:11 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

How I did it: join a university rowing crew whose practices start at 6 am. You'll be tired for the first couple of mornings, but soon you'll be tired enough in the evenings to go to bed early. That was close to 20 years ago, and my natural wake up has been 5 am ever since.
posted by Kurichina at 9:12 AM on July 7, 2016

Practice waking up.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:17 AM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've had success via two tactics:
  • Having something that I absolutely must do early enough that I have to get up early (in my case, teaching at 9am, meaning I have to be there by 8 and leave earlier, and I absolutely cannot be late. But for a lot of people I guess this factor is just ordinary workdays). If I just "want" to get up at X hour but don't have a really compelling reason to do it, I have a lot more trouble.
  • Dating someone who goes to bed quite early (relative to my default schedule).

posted by advil at 9:24 AM on July 7, 2016

I've become a morning person. The two tricks are 1) you need to go to sleep early enough that getting up early is healthy. 2) you need to set some arbitrary "rules." 3) You need to reward/self-positively-reinforce yourself for getting up.

I've become a runner. I fail at running in the heat, and I need to get to work at a certain time; which means that I need to get up between 05:30-06:00 if I want to run that day. As I'm going to sleep, I repeat to myself, "I'll wake up quickly with my alarm so I can run! I must be sitting up before I can turn my alarm off."

As I sleep with my wife who most emphatically is not getting up early, I have a vibrating watch alarm. Before I had a pebble, now I have a garmin. The Garmin has a less powerful vibration, and it doesn't have a snooze option (I had set a 2 minute snooze on my pebble - perfect for annoying you to getting up). Because of this, I 1) set a safety second alarm 5 minutes after the first one. And 2) I tell myself that I won't disable my alarm until I'm physically sitting up with my feet on the floor. I haven't needed the second alarm for 3+ weeks (I've owned the garmin for ~6).

When I had the pebble, the rule was I would not disable the snooze alarm until it went off while I was standing up / going about my routine. So yeah, my body got good at hitting the snooze; I'd sometimes become aware as late as 12 minutes (6 snoozes!) after my alarm, but my sleepy body still kept hitting snooze because that was what it was "allowed" to do.

The first week or two, it was really rough to break the habit of actually sitting up before turning off my alarm, but I kept repeating this to myself. Further, everytime I followed my rules I told myself, "Thanks for getting up early!" and smile. Yeah, I feel cheezy doing it, but the self reinforcement definitely works. I then stand up and tell myself, "Now we get to go run!"

Obviously, you'll replace running with whatever it is that you want to do. Unless you can set a snooze alarm for 1-2 minutes I'd strongly advise not using snooze as an option.

The part where the self-imposed rules come in, is they remove the choice where your sleepy, late-getting-up self will always choose to go back to sleep. So when you're alarm is going off, you don't question what you're going to do. You sit up, you put your feet on the ground and turn that alarm off. Then you get up and start your routine. Your rational side only has so much strength to choose "wisely." But when you have rules/routines, it's not a choice, it's just what you do. There isn't a choice of "snooze again, or get up now?" because it's always get up now. Then you thank yourself (silently), and smile (physically).
posted by nobeagle at 9:25 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

I had to attend a 6 am meeting at work, every day. After doing this for years, I am now an early riser. Even on the weekends, most of the time.
posted by Fig at 9:26 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

You need some outside incentive whether that is work, working out, or a screaming child, to force you to become a morning person.

For the year I lived in California yet traded NYSE equities, I left my house at 4:00AM to get to work. I can tell you that prior to that, the only time I saw 4:00AM was coming in, not going out. But, it worked. For years after that, I would take a 5:40AM train into NYC.

I can tell you that for me, the change was possible, but the fight to maintain it is also an ongoing issue. It is like any addiction, I take it one day at a time. While I am a morning person, I will always be a recovering night owl.
posted by AugustWest at 9:36 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

As many have said, this starts by getting up early. Going to bed early comes a few days later. And it helps to have somewhere to go, even just a cafe or the school computer lab.
posted by salvia at 9:58 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

I have. In high school, and during my first job after college, I had to get up around 6 am and I hated it. For years and years, I never got used to it. I used to joke that I became an academic for the sole reason that I wanted to be able to sleep in on the regular - and it worked. For about a decade, I rarely had a reason to get up before 8, and I would regularly sleep in until past nine even on the weekdays.

Then I got a dog. I am now a morning person. The process hasn't been easy - the damn dog gets up regularly at 5:30 or so and it's the worst. I'm still not used to that. BUT on the days she lets me "sleep in" until 7, it feels like a marvelous luxury to me, and I love having the mornings open - it's now my favorite time of day. I hope once things settle, she'll regularly get up at seven, and I'll happily get up with her.

I think the key is twofold: a.) you can't just rely on your own motivation. Or, I mean, you can, but recognize that you're setting yourself an extremely difficult task. That sleepy morning self is always going to want to hit the snooze button. External motivators - jobs, dogs, other commitments - are how 99% of people end up as morning people. Getting a dog is extreme, but if you can find some framework that will make you get out of bed, it will do a lot more than setting ten thousand alarms. Maybe you can find a partner in crime and agree to meet each other every day for breakfast at 7 am?

b.) is more straightforward. You can't skip the weekends. I'd say it took less than a month for me to feel wide awake and happy to face the world at 7 am, but missing even one day in that early stretch will drastically set you back.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 10:00 AM on July 7, 2016

Coming in here with a similar story to others. I did it, by doing it for years and years. I used to be the sort of person who could easily sleep until 10AM or later. Getting up 5 days/week at ~6:15AM for many years has shifted me to a point where I'm now usually up by 7 even on weekends when I don't set an alarm.

I'm not sure I can say it's made me a morning person, as I still don't like getting up at 6:15, but it is orders of magnitude less painful than when I started. Also: I try to go to sleep early enough that I wake up naturally before my alarm goes off. Waking up naturally and turning off your alarm before it even goes off is so much more pleasant than being woken by the alarm. But I was only able to do that at all after a few years, and even now I only manage to do that about 1/3 of the time.

Also, if even the usual "put your alarm clock far enough from your bed that you have to get out of bed to turn it off/snooze it" advice isn't enough (I would still snooze a half-dozen times, even having to get out of bed to do so), I recommend the I Can't Wake Up app, which forces you to complete a number of tasks before you can turn off the alarm. (That's for Android; it doesn't seem to be available for iOS but I imagine similar iOS apps exist.) It made a huge difference for me.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:04 AM on July 7, 2016

I tried for 10 years (and ultimately failed due to unavoidable circumstances which will hopefully not relate to you) and the only thing that came close to giving me success was working out to such exhaustion every day that going to sleep "early" was possible. Without this bone deep physical exhaustion, getting in to bed at 10pm and waiting to fall asleep would always always end with me lying awake, furious, at 3am, forced to take an ambien, even if I'd woken up at 7 that morning. If your health and available time permits, you can try a vigorous and exhausting workout every evening after work.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:16 AM on July 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

Are you sure that forcing that change on yourself against your nature will improve your life?

If you'll start to go to bed earlier, will you be able to see people in your life, or they also go to sleep early?

For the getting early part: try the Wakie app? At the alarm time yor phone will ring and someone from random place in the world would call you to wake you up and wish you a good morning! Usually these people are super nice and fun. (You also can call someone to help them to get up, that's how it works. )
posted by Oli D. at 10:17 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

nth-ing coming up with a reason to wake up. nth-ing make it stick, even on days where you wouldn't normally need to wake up early. It will suck for a number of days. Like every good habit, you need to fake it before you make it. Eventually your body will adjust and it will feel natural to go to sleep ~8 hours before $EARLY.

Once you're there, it's gravy. You'll find any number of ways to fill your newfound time in a rewarding way--even if it is just to squander it. That's what I usually do anyway, and I wouldn't trade for the world having an hour to bimble about before the day really starts. I'm a much nicer person for it.
posted by Fezboy! at 11:20 AM on July 7, 2016

Well this is a really hard suggestion but does work very well. Have something you really want to do in the morning. NOT should, not that would be a good idea or good for you but something you really really want to do. Tricky to arrange but when it happens I find my eyes open about a minute before the alarm, ready to get going. Don't lie to yourself though, you're subconscious knows :-)
posted by sammyo at 12:12 PM on July 7, 2016

Two things have worked for me:

1) Needing to get up, for work, and

2) Having a rabbit that made a ton of noise in the mornings when it wanted food

Definitely getting up earlier preceded going to bed early for me. If I tried the "lie in bed until you fall asleep" thing before I got used to early mornings, it was always a huge, unproductive waste of time.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:26 PM on July 7, 2016

I think this is like a 20/60/20 thing or something. 20% of people are naturally morning people and can't ever sleep in late, 60% of people can eventually do either with some routine and prodding, and 20% of people are naturally night owls. We've had fpps on this, and the night-owl-shaming is absolutely real.

For the past 6 months, and for a month before that a different temp job i've had to be at work at 8am. m-f, exact same schedule that never changes.

It's made utterly no difference, and i can never fall asleep before at the very earliest like 12am. It doesn't matter if i'm dog tired and go lay in bed after doing some chill activity in a dark room. None of the nonsense about no screens, whatever. I can be listening to soothing music with my eyes closed at a low volume after taking a nice hot shower after a bike ride or walk bla bla bla.

I mean, ymmv, but i see a couple other similar responses in here. I've been falling asleep around 12-1 since i was seriously 10 or 11 years old, and until maybe last december i would regularly stay up until 3-5am if i felt like it and get up at noon with no alarm.

You know what has changed though? I really do wake up without an alarm around 7:30-8:30 even if i stayed up later because i don't work the next day, and falling back asleep sucks.

I suspect i'm either headed towards some dumb health crisis, or to eventually find a job where i can at least sleep in until like 9-10am on workdays... Because yea, no level of schooling and no early job i've ever had were ever able to make me to switch to an earlier sleep pattern. It's just not happening.

Never have i ever stopped feeling like death at 7am when my alarm goes off. And never have i gotten over that mid-day tired slump that results. The only solution is not getting up that early. Even a couple hours more makes such a huge difference, but it never changes.
posted by emptythought at 12:39 PM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Get a kitten. Instant alarm clock.
posted by lunastellasol at 12:56 PM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

My advice, which I've given in other similar threads, is to use a combination of discipline and pharmaceuticals. Hear me out:

In terms of discipline, the main thing is to stick rigidly to a schedule, where you go to bed and get out of bed at the same times every day, with as few exceptions as humanly possible. Also, make sure you budget for more than 8 hours in bed because even if you leap out of bed as soon as your alarm clock goes off you're probably not going sleepy-bye as soon as your head hits the pillow, so you need to at least allow yourself time to fall asleep while still getting those eight hours. If you have to rearrange or restrict your evening activities to accommodate this, then that's what you have to do. Once you've been on the wagon for six months or so you can relax a little bit and maybe sleep in an hour or two on a Saturday morning or stay up late every once in a while and just be tired the next day, but for the first several months at least you need to be very consistent.

The other half of it is the pharmaceuticals. I take a benadryl about half an hour before I need to be asleep, and have a caffeine pill and a bottle of water waiting on my bedside table for when it's time to get up. The benadryl makes it easier to fall asleep early, and the caffeine pill takes the place of what used to be my morning cup of coffee. They're equally important, because no matter how many times I do it my brain is never convinced that 9 PM is a good time to start shutting down, and if I withhold that caffeine until I'm already dressed and having breakfast it makes the beginning part of my daily routine pure hell.

I know caffeine pills get a bad rap, but used in a disciplined and careful way (I don't take them during the day—I rely on beverage-based delivery systems instead) I find them invaluable. When my alarm goes off, the very first thing I do is pop that pill and get myself vertical before I can start talking myself out of it. Then I hit the shower (which is a great wake-up in itself) and by the time I'm doing my final rinse-off it's starting to kick in and I am good to go. If I wait until breakfast then I have to endure a much longer period of fumbling around with a head full of fuzz, which makes my morning vastly less pleasant and also slows me down by several minutes. Also, if I take that caffeine pill and then don't get out of bed immediately, twenty minutes later it's kicking in and I just no longer want to be in bed.

In fact, during the adjustment period I would suggest setting a secondary alarm for twenty minutes before you actually have to be out of bed, and just taking your pill at that time and then laying there in a semi-conscious trance until you all of a sudden feel the urge to get moving. It's like magic, and as long as you're disciplined and avoid the temptation to ramp up your caffeine intake (remember, I take my pill instead of my morning coffee, not in addition to it—drink decaf if you really want the ritual) it'll keep working. It works better for the first week or so to be sure, but that's when you need it most and the effect remains quite satisfactory even after your body has compensated as much as it's going to.

Also, an extra piece of advice: create some commitment you need to get to by a certain time. My motivator was taking a job that starts at 8 AM sharp five days a week.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:58 PM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

A lot of the advice above is geared around an external focus: set a lot of alarms to pry yourself out of bed until you acclimate, and once you're up force yourself to keep moving, give yourself a deadline like getting to work or catching a train to make sure you don't slip. That's about acclimating to a new routine, and you can keep doing that until you genuinely don't mind it, but it will always be an efficiency game, you'll constantly be lying in bed thinking "okay, if I know I'm going to wear shirt x, and I don't have to shave, I can be out the door in 21 minutes, so that's another 9 minutes I can stay in bed". That's not morning person behavior, that's customary routine behavior.

People who are genuinely morning people tend to take at least an hour and a half to get out of the house in the morning, because mornings are so awesome you can't waste them on work. You get up and check the weather, take a shower, make some coffee, play with the cat who's really happy you're out of bed, tend to some stuff with the mail that you blew off last night because you were sleepy, text your mom, read a couple of blog essays, pack your lunch and decide what's for dinner (because lord knows you'll be too tired to deal with it tonight) and head out of the house to start the day. My point is, if you don't allow yourself to do enjoyable things in the mornings, you'll never like the mornings, and if you don't like the mornings, it'll be a battle to get out of bed.

That said, I'm struggling right now because I have a casual chill morning routine that I rely on to get things done around the house (clean dishes, pack my lunch, pay bills) and then my evening routine took a hit and I've been out too late and not getting to bed early enough, and my alarm time drifted later. So what I really need to do is dash out the door in the morning, but instead I'm not getting started with work until super-late and I'm in a bad cycle. So maybe don't listen to my advice. But I do feel good in the mornings, and I enjoy harnessing that energy if I can, which makes the long morning routine hard to give up when there's a time crunch.
posted by aimedwander at 2:22 PM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Miracle Morning is a little handwavy but has some solid advice in this regards.
posted by pyro979 at 2:32 PM on July 7, 2016

What worked for me was stabilizing my blood sugar by modifying my diet. I know that sounds weird, but once my blood sugar was stable, I started having a small protein based snack before bed, i.e. Siggi, cheese stick, hard boiled egg. That made it easier to sleep through the night, and I woke up hungry in the morning. This was after years of not eating breakfast.

I've tried a lot of things to be a morning person, but what ultimately worked was getting my blood sugar stable.
posted by 26.2 at 2:41 PM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I used to sleep late at any chance I got. However when I moved in with my now wife I started getting up earlier so I could eat breakfast with her before she left for work(I work from home). Years later I now rarely sleep later then our weekday wakeup time of about 6am. Now this isn't to say that I don't have trouble getting up sometimes but generally I'm usually awake on the weekends by 7-8am at the latest without an alarm. Repetition and discipline is key. Getting to bed early is also key. But the body eventually gets used to a schedule. The challenge is going through with the repetition of rising after the alarm. Good luck.
posted by ljs30 at 2:53 PM on July 7, 2016

Yeah, I did this.

A) I got healthier. Before that, I couldn't cope with getting up early because I simply was not well. (Blood sugar was a factor.)
B) For a long time, I took co-q-10 in the morning and melatonin at night. Like, a few years.
C) I worked on "sleep hygiene" mostly in the form of making sure where I slept was super clean, free of mold and dust etc.

I do not currently own an alarm clock. Most mornings, I wake up and get going between 6 am and 7:30 am. My underlying condition is incurable, so I still sometimes have days when I just cannot wake up and get up early, but they are now infrequent instead of the norm for me.

I will second that real morning people Do Things before work. My dad would pace the driveway at 5:30 am if his newspaper was not there. My transition to morning person was helped enormously by weird circumstances that added in extra morning time before my job most days. Filling my morning time with things I actually want to do has really helped make this a desirable lifestyle change and not just something I imagine Responsible People are just supposed to do.
posted by Michele in California at 3:32 PM on July 7, 2016

Going against the grain here, but I don't think everyone can actually change to "being a morning person". I mean with varying amounts of force, motivation, and drugs you can get up and function in the morning regularly, but that's not the same as being a morning person. I'm not sure which one you're interested in, faking it or being it though.

I've spent almost a decade and a half in the "8/9-5" world, and have tried almost everything mentioned above (as far as I can tell only missing the co-q-10 and a pet rabbit) but much like poffin boffin I just can't fucking go to sleep early unless I am almost traumatically tired (or take a sleeping pill). Most recently I spent two plus months of getting up around 5am (pushed up from my previous 6am wake up time), but my "ready for sleep" time would not adjust.

I mean I can get up and get through my day, but when I get up before 7am (not sure why, and it doesn't make sense, but it seems to be a magic number for me) I feel physically shitty, I am not mentally at full capacity, life is just a lot more of a struggle, and I am much less likely to enjoy life.

Morning sleep is just deeper and better for me (though I hardly ever sleep past 7 because of the darned early bird biased world) and the more I cut into that window the worse I feel, and my body always always seems to dump all it's extra energy in around 8pm, so even when worn to the bone, it's hard for me to get to sleep before 11pm.

I mean go for it, try it out, maybe it'll be wonderful. But if you try for months or years and you still feel shitty, and you have the flexibility, maybe see if you can find a way to accommodate your body's schedule. I'm just now realizing how set this is for me and trying to figure out how to work around/with it rather than constantly fighting it (and loosing).
posted by pennypiper at 6:35 PM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm repeating a bunch of stuff, but what's worked for me:

Giving up caffeine, mostly. I still drink green tea first thing in the morning, but I can skip it without any withdrawal. Not dying for coffee in the morning made getting up much easier.

Limiting or eliminating alcohol.

Waking up early whether I've had enough sleep or not.

Exercising hard in the morning whether I've had enough sleep or not. (I suspect, as poffin boffin said, that exercising hard at any point in the day would have had the same effect, but the whole point for me of getting up early was to start going to the gym before work, so that's what I did.)

The first few days of each of those habits sucked. It got easier. I used to find 9am an early wake-up and would often sleep until 11am. For the last six months or so, I get up between 4:30 and 5am every weekday (with an alarm) and between 6:30am and 7:30am on the weekends (without an alarm). Truthfully, though, I also suspect that getting older has helped. Being in bed at 9pm feels like a luxury rather than a hardship most nights now!
posted by lazuli at 8:30 PM on July 7, 2016

It's definitely possible to habituate your body to sleeping and getting up earlier. The things I did are pretty standard I think - no caffeine after noon, stick to a fixed bedtime and getting up time, no hard exercise or screens late at night, no big and/or late meal, deep breathing at bedtime, and have some incentive to get up earlier - for me, it's that the earlier I get to work, the earlier I can come home. It's only been a 1/2 hour shift for me, from between 7/7:30 to 6:30/7, but it has been noticeably easier to get up, even on the cold mornings we're currently experiencing.

However this:
Going against the grain here, but I don't think everyone can actually change to "being a morning person".
Is true, at least from my own experience. Yes, I can now get up earlier with less effort, but a) it's because I do everything described above, and b) it's more to do with the external factor of work, combined with habit. I don't think it's my body's natural rhythm. If I didn't have to work, I'd be going to bed at least 2 hours later, and sleeping till past 9.
posted by pianissimo at 6:27 AM on July 8, 2016

Travel progressively eastward, live in various countries for a few days to confuse your body about what timezone it's in, return home, and start a job with regular daytime hours immediately afterward. That's what worked for me.
posted by glass origami robot at 1:18 PM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

If circumstances require me to go against my delayed sleep phase syndrome I can do this successfully for lengthy periods of time--years even. But I do not transform into a morning person. I hate and resent every moment of having to go against my natural inclination to sleep from 6 am to 2 pm. Part of this is of course due to my messed up circadian rhythm, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that the thing I cherish about being a night owl is the exact same thing morning people cherish about being larks--the peace and quiet. Except I can have it for 8 - 10 hours instead of 90 minutes. And because I sleep like the dead I can snore right through grass and snow management activities, screeching children in the courtyard, phones ringing, etc.

Anyhow, when I had to get to classes and work by 8 or 9am I just practiced rigid sleep hygiene. No tv or radio in the bedroom. No screens for 90 minutes before bed. This includes backlit Kindles. Paper books had to suffice. I took melatonin every single day 90 minutes before bedtime, which was always, and I mean always, 10pm. No caffeine after 5pm. I used meditation/relaxation techniques to force myself to fall asleep. I got up at the same time every single day, weekends and vacations included. I always had my coffee ready to go, lunch in the fridge, clothes ironed and laid out, bag packed. Breakfast with fat and protein was required. The heat was set to increase about 30 minutes before waking in the cold months. Snooze buttons were verboten.

I mean, it worked. But the second I was able to just sleep whenever I went right back to my 6am to 2pm schedule. Because behaving like a morning person did not actually make me into one.
posted by xyzzy at 10:42 PM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

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