How To Become A Morning Person

Morning sunlight filtering through blinds, drawing lines on the wall

You may have seen some videos on famous people’s daily routine, such as Mark Wahlberg or Elon Musk, and been shocked to find what times they wake up each morning – with the extreme example of Mark Wahlberg waking up at 3:30 am every day – or with many other successful people such as Serena Williams, Elon Musk, or Barack Obama waking up around 5-7 am with their morning routines!

You may be thinking “No way I could do that” or wondering why these successful people centre their day every day around getting up early with a developed morning routine. Today, we will go through what all these people have found – how an early start to the day contributes to a more productive day – and how you can do it too!

Our inner clock, known as the circadian clock, directs when we’re most awake or sleepy, and keeps our entire body and neurological system in line for the day. 

Understanding this natural cycle isn’t just science—it’s key to making our mornings into a routine and, consequently, making our entire day better.

What are Circadian Clocks and Rhythms?

Think of your circadian clock as a tiny conductor in your brain, responding to things like light to set the pace for your body. 

Governed by the master clock in the brain – the suprachiasmatic nucleus – our circadian rhythms respond to external cues, primarily light, to regulate bodily functions. 

This schedules hormone secretion, body temperature, and cognitive performance, affecting how our brain works throughout the day. It’s a silent mechanism keeping our body in check, making sure we have what we need when we need it – however, there are ways to manipulate this, to get the most out of our days.

The sun rising in the morning over a foggy valley

Your Circadian Clock – Rewinding It To Embrace The Morning 

Labels like “morning person” or “night owl” aren’t just about what you like; they show how your internal clock ticks. 

Morning people have circadian clocks that are naturally shifted to peak earlier in the day. This alignment makes the early daylight hours their prime time, filled with heightened energy and cognitive prowess, as well as a crucial morning routine to start the day right.

In contrast, evening people, or owls, have circadian clocks that favour later peaks, making the twilight hours their zone of heightened alertness and productivity.

For morning people, the natural shift of their internal clocks allows them to embrace the dawn with vigour. In contrast, evening people find their peak performance occurring later in the day. 

This leads them to wake up in the morning with less energy, motivation, and willpower than a morning person – simply because their circadian clocks are naturally shifted towards the evening, delivering the things that keep us awake, alert, and focused, later on in the day.

The Guide to Becoming a Morning Person

Whether you are currently a morning person looking to optimise your start to the day, or an evening person looking to take on the mornings, let’s dive into simple steps, backed by science, that can make your mornings better. 

This journey promises to help everyone—early risers and night owls alike—embrace the potential of every sunrise. 

Join us as we explore the neuroscience-backed steps and morning rituals that hold the key to unlocking the full potential of your circadian rhythm, regardless of whether you naturally lean towards mornings or evenings. These practices promise to align your circadian clock with intentional habits, providing the groundwork for a positive and energised start to each day.

Getting Enough Sleep: The Foundation of a Productive Day

Quality sleep is a fundamental pillar of physical and mental well-being. Creating an optimal sleep environment involves maintaining a cool and dark room, as darkness promotes the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone. 

Overhead lights, except for dim red lights or firelight, should be avoided to support melatonin production. Furthermore, steering clear of caffeine 8-10 hours before sleep ensures that adenosine receptors are not disrupted, allowing for a proper build-up of tiredness, and a restful night.

  • Maintain a cool and dark sleep environment to enhance melatonin production.
  • Avoid overhead lights; opt for dim red lights or firelight to minimise disruptions.
  • Steer clear of caffeine 8-10 hours before bedtime to support restful sleep.
a person sleeping in bed, with sunlight coming through the blinds

Sunlight Exposure: Aligning with Nature’s Clock

We have evolved using nature to help set our brains into motion. Exposure to natural light in the morning is crucial for regulating circadian rhythms. 

Sunlight, rich in blue light, helps suppress melatonin production, signalling to your body that it’s time to wake up. This practice not only enhances alertness but also contributes to mood regulation and overall well-being. 

This exposure to sunlight signals to your brain that it’s time to ‘start’ your body’s internal clock for the day, and guarantees chemicals are released during the day at the correct times. Combining sunlight exposure with morning exercise amplifies these positive effects, creating a synergistic boost to your circadian clock.

  • Natural light exposure in the morning regulates circadian rhythms.
  • Blue light from sunlight suppresses melatonin, signalling wakefulness.
  • Combining sunlight exposure with morning exercise enhances circadian synchronisation.

Cold Exposure: Boosting Focus and Resilience

Cold exposure, whether through cold showers or ice baths, initiates a physiological response that goes beyond a mere wake-up call, it cools down your temperature, leading your body to respond by trying to warm you up further, giving you a boost to the morning.

The shock of cold water for 1-5 minutes in the morning, via a cold shower, or ideally, an ice bath, triggers the release of Epinephrine and Norepinephrine, hormones associated with heightened focus and energy. Simultaneously, the gradual and enduring increase in dopamine levels fosters improved mood and motivation. 

Engaging in this practice regularly not only prepares you for the day but also serves as a form of resilience training, bolstering mental fortitude and aiding in physical recovery.

  • Cold showers or ice baths release Epinephrine and Norepinephrine, improving focus.
  • Gradual increase in dopamine levels enhances mood and motivation.
  • Acts as resilience training, fortifying mental toughness and aiding physical recovery.

Morning Exercise: Aiding Dopamine Release

Physical activity in the morning is a potent catalyst for dopamine release, a neurotransmitter associated with motivation and pleasure. 

A brisk walk with a target heart rate of around 110 bpm is an excellent way to kickstart your metabolism and elevate dopamine levels. 

Combining this exercise with exposure to natural light further enhances the synchronisation of your circadian clock, contributing to increased alertness and overall well-being, and hitting two (early) birds with one stone!

  • Morning exercise, especially brisk walking, triggers dopamine release.
  • Targets a heart rate of around 110 bpm to kickstart metabolism and enhance alertness.
  • Synergizes with sunlight exposure for a holistic circadian boost.

Meditation and Reflection: Strengthening the Mind

Mindfulness practices such as meditation and reflection have been scientifically proven to induce positive changes in the brain. 

Regular meditation not only reduces stress and anxiety but also increases grey matter in areas related to self-awareness, empathy, and stress regulation. 

The strengthening of the prefrontal cortex through these practices improves executive functions, leading to enhanced focus, mood, and emotional resilience.

  • Meditation and reflection reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Increases grey matter in brain areas related to self-awareness and stress regulation.
  • Strengthens the prefrontal cortex, enhancing focus, mood, and emotional resilience.
A woman on a bench, on top of a hill, looking out over a sunrise

Setting Goals and Bullet Journaling: Structuring Your Day

Structuring your day through goal-setting and bullet journaling provides a roadmap for success. 

Clearly defining tasks and intentions helps prioritise activities, reducing decision fatigue and increasing overall efficiency. 

Morning affirmations, expressions of gratitude, and setting intentions contribute to a positive mindset, setting the tone for a productive and fulfilling day, allowing you to tick them off as the day goes by, providing physical and mental reinforcement, as well as allowing you to look back and reflect on your accomplishments.

  • Structured day through goal-setting and bullet journaling reduces decision fatigue.
  • Morning affirmations, expressions of gratitude, and setting intentions foster a positive mindset.
  • Provides a clear roadmap for success, improving overall efficiency.

Delaying Caffeine Intake: Sustained Energy and Focus

Delaying the intake of caffeine until 90-120 minutes after waking up maximises its effectiveness. Caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant, releases acetylcholine, improving alertness and mood. 

By inhibiting adenosine receptors, it prevents drowsiness. However, moderation is key, with an optimal caffeine intake ranging from 1-3 mg per kg of body weight. 

This approach not only sustains energy levels throughout the day but also has a reinforcing effect on other activities, making them more enjoyable and engaging.

  • Delay caffeine intake until 90-120 minutes after waking up for maximum effectiveness.
  • Optimal caffeine intake ranges from 1-3 mg per kg of body weight.
  • Reinforces the enjoyment of other activities, sustaining energy levels throughout the day.

Implement These Into Your Life To Supercharge Your Morning Routine

Embracing a morning-person lifestyle involves understanding and harnessing the power of your circadian clock. 

By integrating neuroscience-backed practices into your morning routine, you can optimise productivity, enhance focus, and cultivate a positive mindset. From prioritising quality sleep to delaying caffeine intake, these steps contribute to a holistic approach that aligns with the intricacies of the mind.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Prioritise quality sleep by optimising your sleep environment and avoiding caffeine before bedtime.
  2. Use sunlight exposure to align your circadian clock and enhance wakefulness.
  3. Embrace cold exposure and morning exercise to boost focus, energy, and overall well-being.
  4. Incorporate meditation and reflection to reduce stress and strengthen cognitive functions.
  5. Structure your day through goal-setting and bullet journaling for increased productivity.
  6. Delay caffeine intake to sustain energy levels and optimise its positive effects.
  7. Combine these steps to create a comprehensive morning routine that aligns with your neurobiology, setting the stage for a successful day ahead.

In this guide