NEW YORK — My older child has always been an early riser. He rarely snoozes past 6am and wakes up with enthusiasm. As a night owl, I often marvel at how I created this morning lark.
“Everybody’s ‘clock’ is set a little differently,” said Dr Leisha Cuddihy, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester’s Comprehensive Sleep Center.
Here are some expert tips that can help mornings feel more tolerable, and even productive.
LOCK IN YOUR WAKE TIME. To shift your sleep schedule, the trick is to set a consistent wake time, and stick to it every day, said Dr Rafael Pelayo, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in sleep medicine at Stanford Medicine.
It takes about a week for your body to adjust for every hour you move up your wake time, he added.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR NATURE. Even if you are an early riser, you may not wake up ready to start the day. “A lot of people, no matter what time they wake up, just need a minute,” Dr Cuddihy said.
Acknowledging that can help bring peace to the morning, she said. Find ways to protect quiet time: Sit in bed and take a few deep breaths.
Couple it with a strategy known to increase wakefulness, like soaking up some sunlight.
REWARD YOURSELF — IMMEDIATELY. People tend to change habits when doing so feels relatively easy and rewarding, said Dr Wendy Wood, a professor of psychology and business at the University of Southern California.
So if your goal is to wake up earlier — or to mitigate early morning grouchiness — it is essential to build in immediate rewards.
Consider what would feel good after you wake up. Maybe it’s a delicious breakfast or playing music you love.
TURN ROUTINES INTO MEANINGFUL RITUALS. “When you shift something from a routine into a ritual, it makes it more special,” said Dr Cassie Mogilner Holmes, author of “Happier Hour: How to Beat Distraction, Expand Your Time and Focus on What Matters Most.”
Focus on something you already do every day, like having a morning cup of coffee. Label it your “coffee ritual,” Dr Holmes said.
Notice, with wonder, what it feels like to go through each step. Use a special mug or enjoy a particularly delicious brew.
“All of a sudden, it puts you in a different frame of mind,” Dr Holmes said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.