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The 4 Steps To Becoming A Morning Person

Being a medical student means having to be up earlier than you were probably used to before, and on top of that, a job in the medical field anyway means you'll be awake and working when the rest of the world is still sound asleep.

I've always been right down the middle of being an early bird and a night owl - I'll wake up early if I need to and I'll also be able to be up till the wee hours of the morning granted I had enough sleep the night before. But coming to uni made me more of a night owl than an early bird, and this past semester I had to start training myself to wake up early again (and stay awake on top of that!).

I have 4 practical tips for you to help you also become a morning person if you find it hard to get up in the morning. They're all things I do myself and started getting back into doing once the new semester started back in February, and now we're on lockdown, I thought some other students would find it useful - or just anyone really! I have a similar post about healthy and productive morning habits to start your day and I think this post and that one go hand in hand, so check it out after this one!

Side note: I wrote this just before the whole world went into a frenzy, so some things have had to be tweaked and some bits completely omitted.

And yes, it really is that simple. Post over!

Seriously,  sleeping early is the best way to make sure you're asleep for a good amount of time, and ready to take the day on come morning. 7 to 8 hours is recommended, so no matter what time I sleep at night, if there's no class in the morning (we're doing online classes for now, so our would-be regular schedule is a bit jumbled) I set my alarm to make sure I get at least 7 hours. I'm definitely taking advantage of the online classes in this way because it means I can sleep early and wake up early without feeling like a zombie all day.

There's also something to be said about the quality of sleep too. Nancy wrote a great blog post about ways to sleep better, and it's one I recommend everyone to read because she gives amazing tips like working out and aromatherapy. Final point on sleep: there's no such thing as "making up for lost sleep". You can't sleep more the next day to make up for the 4 hours you slept last night, which is why it's important to consistently keep a good sleep schedule and not fall into a sleep deficit.

This is a great hack I've been using since secondary school and I contribute 50% of my "morning person-ness" to it! I always set my alarm half an hour before the time I actually need to be up. When the alarm rings, I switch it off and spend some time laying there waking up. I use this time to think about what I need to do that morning, try to recall any dreams, and check the weather - the bright light from my phone helps in waking me up! By the time all that's done, it's time to get up and get my morning routine underway. I'm not one of those amazing people who can turn off my alarm and hop out of bed ready to take on the day, so if I have to use a hack like this early in the morning, then I definitely will!

We all know that quote "Know your why", and if you're going to be waking up early in the morning, having that motivation for waking up is gonna be what's actually going to get you out of your bed and it can literally be anything. Over the years, my motivation has been: going to get something really tasty for breakfast (yes, it counts), wanting to go on a run, wanting to see the sunrise, getting a head start on blog post writing, and now it's getting a head start on studying or if I just bought a new tea I'm excited to drink, that alone is motivation enough to get my bum out of bed! So, make sure you have a reason for getting up early and you're good to go!

I'm a big advocate of reducing decision fatigue and it's best to get on top of it early in the morning. But what is decision fatigue? Let's say you're up and now have to think about what to wear and then scour through your belongings for what to pack in your bag for the day. Are you gonna eat breakfast? Now you need to think about what to eat, then think about either buying lunch today or taking something from home with you. All of these things will tire out your "decision muscle" and later on in the day, you'll be making poor choices because you're all "decision-ed" out from everything you had to do earlier in the day. And I am by no means perfect - in my life, it manifests as me deciding to spend a whole lot longer on social media when I should be doing something else with my time instead, or not thinking properly about what to eat so I go with the unhealthy option instead.

To combat decision fatigue, make sure everything is prepped the night before - your clothes are laid out, breakfast is meal-pepped, desk is clean,  - whatever can be prepared the night before should be so you can just focus on getting ready to go in the morning. Now that we're all on lockdown, I have to make sure I leave my desk clean the night before, and that I have my to-list ready and waiting for me to get stuck in - check out this post on how I use time blocking to make sure I know what I'm doing as soon as I wake up!

So that's what I've been doing since September when med school started and my broken sleep schedule from summer needed a gentle nudge in the right direction. Once we go back to a normal class schedule, I'll be trying to wake up at 4am because a few classmates say waking up that early changed their whole lives, and I'd like to get more studying done when it's still quiet and peaceful.

What was your favourite tip?

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