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Ask HN: Looking for tips to be a “Morning Person”
26 points by shams93 on Mar 23, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments
Starting a new job where its a 9am start time, looking for tips for how to become a "morning person." I'm naturally more nocturnal but in this case its going to help me if I can shift to being a so called "morning person." Have you had to do this yourself before?

- Figure out how many hours of sleep you need, figure out how long it takes you to fall asleep (usually ~15 min), add those up, and work backwards from the time you need to wake up - this is when you should be in bed

- Sleep and wake up at the same time everyday, at least in the beginning

- Avoid eating a lot near your bedtime

- 300mcg (micrograms) of melatonin can help make sleeping earlier at a certain time easier - helps me reset if I get into a stretch of sleeping late

- Clear your head before bed; if you have stuff on your mind, you'll probably be thinking or worrying about it - write down what you need to do the next day

- Get one of those sleep tracking apps like Sleep Cycle to wake you up when it thinks you're in a lighter sleep phase

- Get a Wake-up Light alarm or rig some lights to turn on; light is key and is pretty effective

- Drink water when you wake up

I really appreciate the advice I just got my income tripled so I want to make a good showing and both get there early but also be effective and productive. I'm about to exit the early stage startup I've been at for work coding for hollywood/vr. I have a background originally in anthropology so I'm aware I'm entering a very different work culture, both getting there early and being productive early are really important in Hollywood.

I used to always wake up around 9:30am and now I have to be up at 6:45am everyday. Truthfully I was just sleep deprived for the first 2-3 weeks because I couldn't sleep before 10pm. Now I'm just so tired out.

I recommend not drinking caffeine after 12pm or so (depends on you of course) to ensure you can get a good night's rest. You will probably have no problems being productive as you should be excited the first week or two at work. Otherwise, grats on the new job and good luck!

A friend of mine successfully started a routine of waking up at 5am to go to the gym before work. His success was largely around setting an alarm to get ready for bed. He'd set an alarm to start getting ready for bed, and then another alarm when it was time to turn off the lights. The last 30 min or so before he went to bed was time to read -- no screens since he'd get distracted browsing websites and find it harder to fall asleep.

While he was starting off he kept the schedule fairly strictly, with weekends and meetups included. After he got into a routine he started getting a bit more lax, but I'm pretty sure he still has an alert on his phone some 2 years later after starting this habit.

I used to play basketball every morning at 5:30 AM. Did it for several years. I used similar methods to get my schedule to adjust as your friend. I never really shifted to a "morning person". The 500th day of 5:30 basketball was as hard to get up for as one of the first few.

Great tips, work for me as well


I used to wake up at 4am every day to go to the gym. The secret is that I wouldn't break my sleeping schedule on weekends.

If you're staying up late on weekends, you're never going to be a morning person - Mondays will always be brutal, and you'll start feeling normal around Thursday/Friday only to repeat the cycle.

Consistency is definitely the key. Your body clock is pretty good so long as you have a routine and stick to it. I've been both a morning person and a night owl.

When I worked 12 hour shifts 0600 'til 1800, I got up at 0400. I always woke at 0359.50, and turned off the alarm just before its first beep. That's how crazy accurate the internal clock is. I'd always sleep at the same time, IIRC 2100.

Now I work normal-ish office hours I get up at 0730, work from 0900-0930 to 1730-1800. I could work earlier or later, and this means I'm a bit more lax at sleeping. Case in point, replying here at 2240 when I should be thinking about sleeping.

I think you can adapt to any cycle you like so long as you have the willpower to define the sleep and wake times, and stick to them. It only takes a couple of weeks and then it's second nature.

Totally. I used to wake up at 6.30 5X a week to go to the gym before work. Then I had few weeks of vacation and found it terribly hard to get back into the routine afterwards.

For me I think the worst invention for discipline is a "snooze" button on an alarm. When it goes off, you must get up. While it's tempting to use, I always find that I feel like crap if I use it--you're not getting quality sleep in the extra 10 minutes before it goes off again, so you might as well be up and training your body to get up at that time, no matter how annoying that might be!

Oh it's terrible, I can just snooze forever. Tho I tried using all kinds of alarm clocks without snooze or with challenges - math, memory, puzzle, retype, NFC. None helped because I'd either do it in sleep or force close if it was sufficiently annoying. Now that I think about it, with the coming of spring I'm waking up earlier then ever - I should probably get a light based alarm clock. Or make one.

You can't fix being a morning person in the morning. So tips on morning routine, setting alarm clocks and jumping out of bed don't really work.

I had always considered myself very much an evening person but have managed to become a morning person in the last year or so.

It's important to recognise that the body has 2 natural alarm clocks - needing the bathroom and hunger.

Without these urges it's easy to keep sleeping. With them it's easy to get up and stay up.

Feeling alert in the morning comes from schedule and diet

First, over a few weekends catch up on any sleep debt. Reasonably early nights and sleep in until you've had your fill. No alarms and no early starts necessary.

Then over the course of a few weeks improve your water intake. At least 2L spread across the day. Try and eliminate caffeine and sugar especially after dinner.

Ensure you are not eating dinner too late, you will not be hungry for breakfast if you're still eating late into the night.

Over time you will start to feel more alert, less groggy and get to know how many hours is best for you.

At first it takes some trial and error but finding the right balance makes it easy.

I turned into a morning person in my mid 20's when I started hiking a lot. I wanted to do a lot of local hikes so I'd get up at 4:30 and drive hike for a few hours to be in work around 10ish.

The key is get up early every day.. yes even the weekends. In order to get up.. drink a lot of water before bed. This will force you not to hit the snooze button too long.

Have a goal to do in the morning also. Get outside, clean the house, or write some code. Don't just sit there and watch TV.

I'm at the point where I naturally wake up at 6am at the latest even if I don't set an alarm.

The best advice is go to bed early.

OP, please follow this advice. Getting to bed early and drinking a lot of water before going to bed are the key in forcing your self to wake up early.

If you're like me and have just accepted that at some level you'll never be a morning person, I suggest spending the first 40 mins doing something mindless (shower, browse fb etc), then a coffee. Works for me.

I think this is true to some extent. According to my parents, I've been a night person since I was a young child. I can structure my day and my sleep to get up early, and I can be somewhat productive early in the day, but I never hit my groove until later in the day.

I'm a nightowl, but I managed to get a bit earlier by doing this:

- getting up at that time every day

- no caffein after 5pm (or even earlier)

- reduce light after 10pm (lower room light, dim, invert (or using dark themes) or even tint monitors with the program flux)

- routines to fall asleep (watching something really booring, meditating while lying down, counting sheep or some other mind-scenario that you feel home in :) )

If you can scheudule it, you can also consider splitting your sleep in to 2 phases:

When I had to get up early for school, I slept at least 2h at a very fixed time in the evening (around 5pm). Here it helps to really be on time, if you have an appointment at that time you'll be super tired :/... Once you got really quick at falling asleep, you can try to have an espresso just before. Makes getting up 2h later so much easier.

Having kids really flipped the switch for me. Now I'm too tired to be a night owl - my best brain / work is always in the mornings.

1. Have kids. 2. Have them at school by 7:30am every morning for a decade. 3. Wake up at 5am on a Sunday and congratulate yourself for being a "morning person" by questioning your life choices.

Same here, but having kids can't be the answer...

Im the same with kids getting me up early - but I think the issue is motivation. If I dont get up early then I lose that time as I wont get it later. If you dont have that incentive then there is no need to be a morning person

Anyone can wake up early if they absolutely need to, the difference is, do they wake up perky and ready to go, or do they take an hour or two to get out of their groggy stage? The latter is me, I'm a nightowl, but if my schedule demands it, I can eventually get into a routine of waking up early. But I'll still always be groggy in the mornings, not sure I can change this.

I used to love staying up late, working late, sleeping in.

Getting up early is about getting on a schedule.

A few years ago my cat started waking me up at 4am, like exactly at 4 am +/- a few minutes. He would even keep on schedule when the time changed.

So I started staying up, starting work at 4am. After a while you just get in a routine and you function normally.

I would go to bed by 9 or 10pm and usually by Thursday/Friday I would be more tired than usual if I didn't go to bed early enough.

I also gave up soda around the same time and switched to green tea and the carbonated unsweetened drinks. Getting away from soda I felt better had more energy.

Recently we've been staying up late with friends and watching movies and I'm slipping back to staying up late/needing to sleep in so it's definitely about getting adjusted to a schedule and keeping on it.

A 9am start isn't bad so you could probably still stay up later on the weekends and still adjust back. But I seem to feel better sticking to the same schedule all the time.

> A few years ago my cat started waking me up at 4am, like exactly at 4 am +/- a few minutes. He would even keep on schedule when the time changed.

My grandmother's cat does the same thing (except 6am). She said that when the time changed a week or two ago, and the cat woke her up, she thought "you dummy, you don't know what time it is."

But she checked the clock anyway, and the cat was correct.

That doesn't even make any sense to me, and now you're confirming it...crazy!

> He would even keep on schedule when the time changed.

Your cat can tell time. He's planning your murder. Watch your back.

No he is talking about the new command line option

cat -t 0400

Lots of good advice in the other replies (no screens right before bedtime, create routines, etc) but one thing that I didn't see mentioned yet is that you may have to become more careful about your caffeine intake throughout the day - I have to wake up early due to kids and it's forced me to set a rule that Sunday-Thursday I don't have any coffee or tea after ~2pm (on weekends there's a little leeway and it's more like a 4pm cutoff). Your mileage may vary, but caffeine can interfere with your sleep patterns much more than you may realize -- certainly more than I realized a few years ago.

This is very valuable advise. Caffeine has a half life of 6 hours. It takes a long time to completely get rid off from body. It plays critical role is preventing quality sleep (even if you go to bed on time).

Following podcast on Caffeine by "How Stuff Works" explains the mechanics. Very enlightening.


Wow that's real interesting. I've always been sensitive to caffeine, and I can't drink any after noon otherwise I won't be able to sleep easily at night (around 10pm). I started drinking a cup of coffee every morning to increase my tolerance a little and it seems to be working.

This has worked for me too. I have quit caffeine completely (again!) and feel better for it. Definitely helps with the morning energy levels.

agree, my cutoff is midday regardless of when I wakeup

Wake up as early as you can - and get out of bed Go to sleep earlier (around 10~11pm) - that is the most important part to make it work

Start the day by exercising (will wake you up); and end the day reading (it helps you calm down)

Commit to do something with a friend or colleague who is usually up in the morning for e.g going for a run in the morning with a friend or with wife, whatever works. The beauty of commitment will provide all necessary motivation to sleep early and other logistics like that. So, commit to do something in the morning.

Yin yoga is a very slow stretching technique. If I can't sleep I Google "yin yoga for sleep" or "yoga for sleep" or some similar combination and do one of the 30 min vids. I find not only do I fall asleep quickly, but I need less sleep and wake up more refreshed and positive.

Early to bed. Early to rise.

I started getting up at around 5:00am -- and going to bed before 10pm.

I'll never be a morning person -- but I'm able to shift the time of my first morning meeting to virtual-late-morning.

Works for me.

I am an owl and I tried many things, but only one routine works for me - I take a cold shower first thing in the morning (6:00) and hit the gym.

Get in the habit of going to bed early.

the only other thing i'd add is to not open your browser or your email and if possible, leave something straightforward on your to-do list that you know you can do so long as you start typing. once your momentum is up you're away.

Go to bed by 10pm every day.

Coffee... lots of it...


What a horrible thing to say.

There was no appeal for sympathy, nor any disrespect for any other groups or individuals, and the question is the very embodiment of an acknowledgement by that person that it is time they made the effort to adopt the more normal sleep routine that you so aggressively insisted they should.

It was simply a polite request for suggestions from other people who have succeeded in adjusting their circadian rhythms from being more nocturnal to being an early riser.

Nothing in the question warranted anything like this vicious, cruel response.

I appologize to both the OP and to the HN community.

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