It’s practically a daily occurrence: Your alarm sounds much too early, and you convince yourself seven times that you can remain in bed for just five more minutes. Even though you didn’t do anything more than watch Netflix last night, mornings like this are becoming all too familiar—and they’re affecting your morning productivity negatively.
Waking up doesn’t have to be a chore. With the help of sleep wellness consultant Nancy Rothstein, we’ve compiled 12 tips to make mornings easier. Get out of bed and show your to-do list who’s boss!
[Related: 5 Hidden Benefits of Sleep]
THE NIGHT BEFORE
- Set (and follow!) a consistent bedtime.
According to Rothstein, the primary step to simplifying your mornings is following a set bedtime every night. You likely already know how much sleep your body needs in order to function properly during daytime hours, so determine what time you want to wake up and count backward from there. There will be nights when you deviate from this schedule, but it’s the overall consistency that makes a difference.
[Related: 5 Apps That Will Help You Go (and Stay) Asleep]
- Tune out tech at least one hour before bed.
It’s hard to fathom not using any electronic devices for an hour every night when our lives are so engrossed in technology. However, it’s totally doable and worth losing some screen time – even if you have increased the amount of tech-free minutes gradually. According to Rothstein, the light emitted from screens make it much more difficult to fall asleep at your usual bedtime.
- Drink mindfully.
Too much wine before bedtime will help you fall asleep right away, but it will also screw up your sleep cycle all night. Rothstein recommends against drinking close to your bedtime as it only creates sleeper issues and makes you feel more drowsy the next day.
- Prepare your body for bed with a pre-sleep routine.
If you want to fall asleep fast, it’s sleep hygiene 101 to establish a pre-sleep routine and cut out blue light from screens at least an hour before bed. Make time for what relaxes you most in that hour: take a hot shower, do some gentle yoga poses, or cozy up in bed with a good book. Once you’ve found a ritual you enjoy, try your best to follow it every night. This will train your body that it’s time for sleep when nighttime falls and make falling asleep easier.
- Get a real alarm clock (aka anything that’s not your iPhone) and give it home far away from your bed.
Although it may be tempting to use your phone as an alarm clock, societal norms have established that this is not the best idea. According to sleep expert Rothstein, checking notifications before bedtime can damage your sleeping habits due to the bright light emitted from most smartphone screens. A regular alarm clock is a better option because it won’t disrupt your circadian rhythm and you can find one for relatively cheap.
- Don’t look at your clock if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Waking up in the middle of the night is inevitable, and it’s tough to not want to look at the time when you do. But according to Rothstein, there are a few reasons why checking the clock is harmful: The bright lights will make it difficult to fall back asleep, you’ll worry about how many hours of sleep you have left, and if your phone is nearby, any notifications can cause additional anxiety. Trying to fall back asleep when you’ve woken up before your alarm is better than trying to pass the time awake.
IN THE MORNING
- Set (and follow!) a consistent wake-up time.
Prioritize getting a good night’s sleep by setting (and sticking to) a regular bedtime. In the same way, developing a consistent wake-up time will help you avoid burning the midnight oil or struggling through bleary-eyed mornings. If one of your goals is to start working out in the morning before heading into the office? According to Rothstein, ease into the new wake-up time by setting the alarm back 15 minutes each week until you’re used to it. This way, the transition will be smoother and you won’t have to deprive yourself of sleep.
- Avoid technology for 10 to 15 minutes after waking up.
This morning tip is similar to Rothstein’s no-tech-before-bed rule: In the first 10 to 15 minutes after you’ve woken up, try not to use any technology. According to Rothstein, it’s important that you take some time for yourself before connecting with anyone else. And if you’re struggling with what to do during those few minutes, look at tips 9–12 for some easy (and energizing!) ideas.
- Open the curtains and let in some natural light.
Rothstein says that nothing is quite as invigorating in the morning as some good ol’ sunshine. So, open your curtains, pull up those shades, and soak some in. Exposing yourself to natural light right after you wake up sets your body up to be energized for the day ahead.
- Get up and stretch.
Because starting your day by stretching or doing some yoga helps you focus on relaxing and deep breathing, Rothstein says it’s a great way to ease into the motion of the day. Plus, it only takes a few moments to get out of bed and do some simple stretches or yoga poses. Focusing on your giant to-do list first thing in the morning can wait! (Your literal right foot will thank you.)
- Make your bed.
Making your bed in the morning might not be something you give a second thought to, but it’s actually a great way to wake yourself up and set the tone for a productive day, according to Rothstein. When you make your bed, you’re starting your day by accomplishing a task—and making a clear division between day and night. An unmade bed can tempt you back into bed before the day has even begun, but a made bed will motivate you to move on with your day Plus, who doesn’t love coming home to find their beds beautifully made at the end of long days?
- Set goals for the day.
Before you start your day, Rothstein suggests sitting on the edge of your bed and setting three goals for yourself. They can be small, but they should energize and challenge you a little bit. Having these set goals will give your day purpose and make waking up easier.
[Related: 7 Easy Ways to Become a Morning Person]