DIY

Take The BuzzFeed Morning Person Challenge

Stop snoozing and start living.

Posted on

Mornings, amirite?

BuzzFeed Life

Getting up early if your not naturally a morning person can be a literal rude awakening. But the BuzzFeed Morning Person Challenge is here to help!

To wake up earlier, there are three main steps: 1) Go to bed earlier, 2) sleep better, 3) and motivate yourself to overcome your natural morning habits and tendencies.

thinkstock

Whether you already have to wake up early and want to make it less painful or you want to have an extra hour or two all to yourself, we'll give you little tips and tricks to figure out what motivation you need to get great sleep and make mornings the best part of your day.

Each day we’ll introduce a new habit or task that will build on the one for the previous day.

The first week, you'll focus on crafting a relaxing evening routine to get you better prepared for a good night's sleep. The second week, you'll actually get up earlier and learn to make that extra time count so you stop hating mornings for good.

You get to decide how much earlier you want to get up. It will depend on what you want to get done in the morning and how much earlier you want to go to bed.

Oh, and you can sign up right here to receive daily email reminders to help you as you go through the challenge.



Day 1: Turn off all your screens one to two hours before bed.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

This might be the hardest task of all, but it's one that really does work to get you asleep and sleeping your best. There are two main reasons that powering down helps you sleep faster: It decreases your mental stimulation and also your visual stimulation.

Melatonin, the natural hormone produced by the pituitary gland that helps you sleep, is known as the "Dracula of hormones": It only comes out in the dark. So when you dim the lights and stop looking at backlit screens, your eyes and brain send a signal to your pineal gland to start producing melatonin.

It takes a while for this to work, so that’s why you need around an hour and a half of not looking at screens or bright lights to get the full effect.

If you can't stand to live without your devices lulling you to sleep, use a program like F.lux that reduces the blue light waves from your devices.

Day 2: Curb your caffeine intake.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

The foods you eat as well as the time that you eat them have a huge effect on the duration and quality of your sleep. To get the best sleep, stop eating or drinking things with caffeine at least eight hours before you want to go to bed.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, drinking alcohol or eating a big meal close to bedtime can also have adverse sleep effects. So that evening nightcap might not be the best idea. To be safe, eat your main evening meal, alcohol, and any fatty, spicy, or sugary foods at least a couple hours before you plan to lay down.

Day 3: Create an evening routine.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

Kids aren't the only ones who can benefit from a regular nighttime routine. And while you might not want a story and someone to tuck you in every night (although that actually sounds pretty awesome, tbh), any kind of regular and calming activity can signal to your body that it's time to slow down and prepare for sleeping.

Starting tonight, try doing some kind of regular activity every evening around the same time of night. Anything from a nightly cup of (decaf) tea to an evening bath or shower can get your mind and body relaxed. But don't forget: Your screens should all be off! So watching Netflix or checking Twitter before bed definitely doesn't count.

Day 4: Rethink your bedroom.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

Today, turn your bed and bedroom into the optimal sleep sanctuary. This can be as easy as drawing the blinds or curtains (or wearing an eye mask) every night to make it darker and adding an extra blanket to make sure you are cozy. Or, you can try any of these tricks to make your bed the ultimate nesting place. Just make sure that when you're ready for bed, your space is ready, too. That means tidying up the space, clearing clutter or laundry and anything else that is visually and physically distracting.

It's also important to use your bed for only two things: sleep and sex. Try to keep from using your bed to do work, eat, watch Netflix, or anything else that will confuse your brain as to what the space is really for.

Day 5: Prep everything you need for the next day in the evening.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

Whatever you need to make your morning super easy, whether it's packing lunch for you or your kids, packing your gym bag, or picking out your clothes for the next day, take time in the evening to get everything ready and laid out in a place you won't forget.

Want to really streamline your morning? Make your whole breakfast the night before.

Day 6: Clear your mind.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

One culprit of uneasy sleep is a busy or anxious brain. To keep your mind clear of nagging thoughts and tasks, try making two different to-do lists — one before you leave work with things you have to get to when you return in the a.m., and one before bed of notes to yourself, things to do the following day, and anything else you want to get off your mind and onto a reminder. The goal is to leave your work concerns at work and to get any anxious or nagging thoughts on paper so you don't think about them all night.

Evening meditation is another great relaxation technique. A few minutes of quiet reflection or journaling can be a great addition to your evening and/or your morning routine. For some basic instructions on how to start, go here.

Day 7: Go to bed earlier!

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

Congrats, you completed week one! Now it's time to actually set your alarm earlier. So set that clock back an hour or two and in the next week we'll focus on how to actually get yourself out of bed and active in the morning.

Tonight's task is the most important for this whole challenge: However much earlier you want to start waking up, that's how much earlier you should go to bed. If you don't want to wake up earlier, but just want to start enjoying mornings more, chances are you could still use more sleep. So tuck in at least a half hour earlier than you normally do.

Not just tonight: from now on. Get out those slippers and enjoy your shut-eye because you're about to become an honest to goodness Morning Person.

Day 1: Try a different alarm.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

To switch up your routine from the snoozefest you're used to, start fresh by changing your alarm.

If you use your phone's default alarm, try downloading a different app depending on your level of tiredness: There are alarms that make you play a game before they turn off, alarms that make you take 30 steps, alarms that you have to shake. If you're really snooze-happy, try this alarm clock that runs away from you.

Or, use a cheerful or energetic song as your alarm tone. Waking up to something more upbeat and less annoying than your usual beeping can help you feel more alert. Change the song every so often so you don't associate any one sound with being tired. (Beware: If you use your favorite song as your alarm for too long, you might start to hate it or talk yourself into staying in bed so you can listen to the whole thing.)

Day 2: Optimize your breakfast.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

When you wake up, your body is almost always dehydrated. Even before you have caffeine, start your day with a full glass of water. If it's warm out, have ice water, and if it's cold, try hot water with lemon.

Make time for a balanced and filling breakfast.

Adam Ellis / Via buzzfeed.com

Studies show that breakfast not only gives you energy in the morning, it also leads to better concentration and productivity throughout the day. Experiment to find whatever your body needs to feel full but also energized. Make sure to add plenty of protein for that all-day energy you'll need. If you tend to have lunch earlier in the day, have a light, protein-rich breakfast soon after you wake up. If you have lunch later in the day, have a bigger healthy meal in the morning so you don't feel that mid-morning hunger slump that often gets filled with snacks.

Day 3: Plan a morning reward for yourself.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

True morning people don't have time to snooze. Instead, try an inverted snooze: when your alarm goes off you should hit snooze but actually get out of bed. Then you get those nine minutes to do whatever you want before you actually get ready. It's like nine free minutes to do your favorite thing (besides sleeping). Of course, the sneaky part of this is that you can't do any actual snoozing.

If you have more time you can allocate for yourself, spend that time doing something you truly enjoy that you don't usually make time for during the day. Find your new favorite podcast and ONLY listen in the a.m. Read for pleasure. Make your favorite breakfast. Have morning sex. Indulge in whatever way makes you excited to be up and helps you associate morning time with treating yourself. Save your favorite activities for the morning so you can start making mornings your favorite.

Day 4: Make your bed as soon as you’re up.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

Having a cozy, unmade bed staring at you as you get ready in the morning is not great for feeling fully motivated and awake. So instead, start making your bed as soon as you're up.

Starting the day like this has lots of benefits: It makes it harder to get back in bed, it makes even a messy room look cleaner, and it starts the day on a productive note. In a commencement speech at the University of Texas, U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McRaven said if you want to change the world, you should start by making your bed.

"If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day," he said. "It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed."

Day 5: Get moving.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

There are tons and tons of studies about why morning is the ideal time for exercise: It wakes you up, helps you sleep better at night, helps your metabolism, and is a great way to feel accomplished first thing in the morning. If your schedule (or budget) won't allow for a full-length gym session or workout class, try a short at-home stretching or yoga routine using one of these free podcasts, or take a brisk morning walk. Anything that gets your body moving before you get too busy to make it a priority is an a.m. win.

Day 6: Make a morning date or appointment.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

Having someone else hold you accountable for waking up early is a great backup for actual motivation. Whether it's a breakfast date with a friend whom you don't get to see very much or an exercise class you pay for in advance, schedule something with another human that will ensure you don't bail and stay in bed.

Ideally, it should be something you actually WANT to wake up for (so, NOT a 7 a.m. dentist appointment). While you probably can't make an appointment every single morning, adding an early appointment to your schedule every so often will help you at least pretend to be a morning person until you get used to it.

Day 7: Stick to your new schedule...even on weekends.

Alice Mongkonglite / Thinkstock / BuzzFeed

Congratulations! You've made it almost a full two weeks into becoming a morning person! But there's a catch to keeping up this kind of schedule: You have to do it every day.

Sleeping in two out of seven days of the week is the physical equivalent of giving your body jet lag: It knocks you out of your routine and screws up your rhythm. This may seem like a kick in the head when you're already tired, BUT there are a ton of great things about being awake early even when you don't have to go to work: getting to brunch first! Shorter lines at the grocery store! Fewer people in the park! etc.