I thought I’d always be a night owl. I imagined people were born either night people or morning people, and that’s just the way it was.
When I was in college, I regularly pulled all-nighters, and it wasn’t a big deal. I preferred it. I thrived on working through the silence and darkness, knowing that as the world slept, I was still awake and alive.
After college, I continued to live my life long into the wee hours. When other people yawned, I was just getting started. I had a membership to a 24-hour gym, and sometimes I’d work out at 3 a.m., having not gone to bed yet and not tired enough to sleep.
Then I had a baby.
But he wasn’t just any baby. He was a child who woke up at 5:45 a.m., as consistently as if I had set him like a clock. He was — GASP! — a morning person.
I tried blackout curtains, thinking that the morning desert sunshine was the problem. It wasn’t.
I tried messing with his bedtime. (Although I was reluctant to mess with it too much. He was going to bed easily and sleeping well, so why change anything?) No matter what time he went down, he stubbornly woke up between 5:45 and 6 a.m.
It was clear the thing that had to change was me. I had responsibilities as a mother that I couldn’t meet as a night owl — that is, a sleep-deprived zombie mom. A mombie. I had to start waking up early and not dragging through the day.
So I became an early riser, something I didn’t even know could happen.
But it is. I’m here to tell you with confidence that it’s possible to make yourself over into a morning person. I’ve done it. And now I’m one of those disgustingly happy people who shows up early for breakfast. I haven’t even hit a snooze button in more than two years. (Then again, my child is my alarm clock. But still.)
In fact, I often find myself waking before my son gets up, so I can still enjoy the silence and darkness of the night — only now I’m on the other end of it. I read, I respond to emails, I do some writing. It’s a quiet space that I’ve carved out for myself, and I have to admit it’s the very best part of my day.
For me, becoming a morning person was a matter of trial and error. I forced myself into bed earlier. I stopped taking naps. I tried various herbs and supplements that I am not qualified to tell you about. I also started drinking insane amounts of caffeine in the mornings. One time I made instant coffee by mixing coffee with instant coffee instead of water, which I do not recommend unless you enjoy heart palpitations.
What I really could have used is this article, “Is it possible to become a morning person?”, created by Mattress Advisor. (While you’re at their site, don’t miss their amazing sleep guide for parents. It’s pretty exhaustive, from how to establish a healthy bedtime routine for your child to sleep problems that arise with age.)
Among the morning-person makeover advice: Establish a bedtime routine for yourself, minimize nighttime commitments, and wake up to natural light. They even include motivation for rising and shining.
It’s something I wish I would have had back when I was snorting espresso. (Don’t do that.)
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