How to make your mornings work for you

When it comes to getting up early to spend time with the Lord, you can either change your day to suit your rhythm or change your rhythm to match the demands of your day. For most, their day is immovable, so here are my tips for how to make your mornings work for you.

Recognize the first 5 minutes are hardest

Sure, it might be 10 minutes. The point is that if you accept that the first 5 or 10 minutes will be the hardest, you can prepare yourself to face those minutes. I recommend that you have a series of tasks that you plan to do in that time. It could be any of the following:

  • Get dressed
  • Have a shower
  • Brush your teeth
  • Put on some coffee

You might also want to do some of the other things below. Regardless of what you do, prepare yourself for how you’ll feel for the first 5 minutes and use the time to do simple but useful tasks, and you’ll find managing your morning is a little easier. Once that short period has passed, you’ll be ready to use the morning time you set aside to spend well with the Lord.

Plan your morning the previous night

You might have noticed that the previous point started with a mindset of preparation. Preparation is key. If you want to successfully get up early, you’ll need to plan for it, which includes thinking about all the things that will get in the way.[shareable]Whatever you can think of that will keep you from getting up early, plan to beat it and you will[/shareable]

Can’t sleep? Prepare yourself for that problem as best you can. Eliminate screens an hour before bed. If you use a computer or mobile device install a blue-light filter (such as Flux for Mac or PC, or Twilight on Android or the “Night Shift” feature on your iPhone.

Need coffee in the morning? Get a coffee machine with a timer, so it is ready for you when you wake up. At least make sure everything you need is easily accessible. Put your clothes next to the shower, so you don’t have to think about it in the morning. Place your alarm on the other side of the room, so you have to get up to turn it off (though, be mindful of your spouse). Have some water handy (more on that in a moment). Whatever you can think of that will keep you from getting up early, plan to beat it and you will.

Get enough sleep

One reason we struggle to get up early is that we need more sleep than we get. Don’t shortchange your sleep. You probably know how much sleep you need, so begin to adjust your bedtime to get enough time for the sleep you need.

If you get enough sleep, you’ll be more alert and refreshed in the morning, and you’ll find those first 5 minutes even easier!

Use your sleep-wake cycle

Did you know that you sleep in a sleep-wake cycle that is around 90 minutes? In fact, where you wake up in your sleep-wake cycle is more important than how long you sleep for. What this means is that if you fall to sleep at 10 pm and wake at 5 am, you’ll probably feel tired when you awake. But if you sleep from 10 pm and wake around 4 am, you’ll feel refreshed when you awake since you’ve slept in an interval of 90 minutes (90 minutes x 6 = 6 hours or 10 pm to 4 am) and woke up at the end of a cycle. What would you with that time?[shareable]Where you wake up in your sleep-wake cycle is more important than how long you sleep for[/shareable]

Plan your sleep in 90-minute blocks so that you wake at the end of one of these sleep-wake cycles and you’ll find you feel refreshed, and much easier to establish a consistent quiet time.

If you weren’t aware, it is possible to get an alarm clock app for your phone that monitors your sleep cycles (breathing, movement, etc.) and wake you at the right time. I have had good experiences with sleeptime.

Don’t sleep in, get up (put the alarm across the room)

If you can’t bring yourself to sleep in a 90-minute cycle but you’re determined to get up, put your alarm across the other side of the room and turn up the volume. If you don’t sleep alone, this may not be wise. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Regardless of whether you do this or not, the principle is that if you want to get up early, make getting up the first thing you determine to do. Don’t hit snooze, just get up.

You’re better off without your alarm clock (use your sleep-wake cycle), but if you must, this way will get you up.

Hydrate first

Your body uses the water you drink at a predictable rate. If you wake up after 6-8 hours and you haven’t had anything to drink, you’re probably dehydrated. Make a point of hydrating first thing in the morning, and you’ll give your body a metabolic boost that will help you get started for the day. It also helps your brain start functioning, since your brain is 75% water, and is less efficient when it dries out.[shareable]Make a point of hydrating first thing in the morning, and you’ll give your body a metabolic boost[/shareable]

Exercise

Exercise can be another great way to kick start your body for the day. Have some exercise clothes by the bed so that when you wake up, you can put them on and go for a walk, run or to the gym. When you come back, you’ll easily be able to concentrate and focus in your quiet time.

Allow 20-30 days to establish a routine

Sometimes you’ll see people claim that your sleep routine is biologically determined and you can change it. Not all genes are determinative. We are human beings made in the image of God with the ability to make choices. So while we may have preferences, even biological ones, we are not enslaved to our biology. Therefore, we can change many of our preferences and habits so that we can take advantage of mornings and make mornings work for us.[shareable]We are human beings made in the image of God with the ability to make choices.[/shareable]

It doesn’t happen overnight. Allow for about a month for your changes to become more natural. Don’t give up, remember why you are doing it.

Conclusion

The purpose of getting up early in the morning is not so that we can join the throng of people who want to be productive (though that is a benefit). The purpose is to ensure that we spend the best part of our day with the Lord, and have a productive quiet time. If you’re struggling with consistent quiet times, use these tips to make your mornings work for you.

[reminder]What prevents you from getting up early?[/reminder]