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Becoming a morning person could change your life. Our easy steps will help get you in on the action
ichelle Obama swears by it, Victoria Beckham raves about it, Anna Wintour has done it for yonks… What is it these power players share? A pre-6am wake-up time.
Let’s face it, most people love sleep more than Mary Berry adores baking cakes, so the idea of losing zzzs might make you baulk. But rising early can really have an impact – ‘larks’ are typically a healthier weight, happier and less likely to suffer from insomnia. So it seems that early birds catch more than the worm!
And that’s not all. A Harvard biologist discovered that those who get up with the sun are more proactive. ‘You’re beginning your day on the right foot – you’ve got more working and waking hours to get things done,’ agrees independent sleep expert and self-proclaimed early bird Dr Neil Stanley. Plus, motivation and willpower are found to be stronger in the morning, too.
‘The early hours are normally distraction-free, so they’re a good time to do a fitness class or prepare a healthy lunch, instead of panic-buying something unhealthy during your break,’ adds Dr Stanley.
Also, waking up with the birds usually guarantees you some quiet time before the rest of the world gets going (little humans notwithstanding). You can plan ahead, and those moments of calm may help set the pace for your entire day.
You’re beginning your day on the right foot – you’ve got more working and waking hours to get things done
Rising before cockcrow could also lead to more of those ‘eureka!’ moments. Research shows the imaginative part of the brain is most active immediately after sleep, while the analytical section (the editing and memory-retrieving parts) functions better as the day goes on.
So, if you need to come up with a big idea or are struggling with something that requires imagination, you might benefit from getting your creative juices flowing in the AM, and leaving more mundane tasks (answering emails, working out schedules) for the afternoon.
If the thought of waking before the binmen come has you retreating under the duvet in horror, we’ve got some easy ways to un-cage your inner early bird…
‘Don’t change your alarm clock too drastically at first,’ Dr Stanley advises. ‘Get up 15 minutes earlier for a couple of weeks. If you feel OK, you can then shave another quarter of an hour off your wake-up call, until you’ve found your perfect time. Then stick to it religiously. Yes, even at weekends – otherwise you’ll be back to square one on Monday morning.’
Studies show that waking up to light helps us feel more refreshed, alert and happier. So when there’s an early dawn (like there is now), try sleeping with your curtains open. But winter’s no excuse to ditch the daybreak wake-up call – you can cheat a sunrise with the light-emitting Lumie Bodyclock Go Boots.com only £74.95/7,495 points. Sneaky.
Your smartphone could help you get into the early-rising habit. One way is with the Better Me app*, which shares your snooze addiction with Facebook (hello, public shame!) by posting on your profile when you hit the ‘naughty button’. There’s also the Sleep Cycle app*, which uses motion sensors to determine the best time of the morning to get up so you feel fully rested.
‘Most people are groggy when they first get up, so the best time to see if you feel a difference with your new alarm call is 11am,’ says Dr Stanley. ‘You should still be alert and productive – and, if the routine suits you, you’ll have achieved lots already.’
A restful sleep is essential for an alert morning. Most experts agree that the ideal bedroom temperature is between 15°C and 19°C – anything over 23°C or below 12°C is likely to disrupt your slumber. Cooler temperature = deeper sleep, so check your room with the NSA Digital Hygrometer & Thermometer Boots.com only £15.85/1,585 points.
We love this wake-up smoothie from chef Nicola Graimes: ‘Mix together almond milk, cinnamon, peanut butter, raw cacao powder and a banana,’ she says. ‘Bananas slowly release energy, to keep you going all morning.’ They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid the body uses to help make serotonin, which modulates mood – here’s to a happier day! Mix and go with the Breville Blend-Active Family Sports Bottle Blender Boots.com only £34.99/3,499 points.
Eyes got more bags than the Kardashians on holiday? If puffy peepers are putting you off being a lark, give them a cooling treat, such as Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream (15ml; see in store or online for details). Its mix of peptides helps combat the visible effects of a busy life.
Words Charlotte Grant-West Photography Getty Images