Becoming a Morning Person | How to Develop Better Sleep Habits



“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” – Benjamin Franklin

Are you a “morning person”? Want to become one?

I wasn’t always a morning person. In fact, when I began waking up before 5:00 a.m., I started to question its benefits.

But through research and experience, I became a morning person evangelist like Benjamin Franklin, Socrates, Jesus, and so many others.

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” – Mark 1:35

The early morning hours are the best time for quiet reflection and introspection. We’ve talked about getting more sleep in order to avoid burnout and have more self-discipline, but this week, we’ll actually go over the things that can help you accomplish this easier-said-than-done goal.

Benefits of Waking Up Early

Early to bed and early to rise correlates with:

  • Better grades, creativity, and longer attention spans
  • Higher incomes
  • Healthier bodies and minds
  • Enhanced productivity and energy
  • Increased happiness and satisfaction

It took me a long time to understand all of the benefits associated with waking up earlier, but once I made it a habit, boy was it worth it!

I felt a lot better both mentally and physically, and started getting more done in the morning than many people accomplish throughout their entire day. Every once in a while, someone will ask me how I do it. And I have to say, a lot of it is due to simply waking up earlier.

Hopefully, it won’t take you as long as it took me to become a morning person evangelist.

How to Become a Morning Person

A photo posted by Todd Phillips (@todphil) on

  1. Say, “I am a morning person” and believe it

You might be able to wake up earlier for a short amount of time by sheer force of will, but unless you change your underlying identity, it will be hard to make any long-term habit changes.

  1. Get emotionally engaged

Give yourself a clear reason to get up in the morning. When I first started waking up before 5 a.m., it was so I could work out and go mountaineering. What’s your goal?

  1. Go to bed at the same time every night

There are many health benefits associated with going to bed at the same time every night. To help you accomplish this goal, set a daily alarm to get ready for bed, don’t stray from the schedule on weekends, avoid caffeine in the evening and limit daytime use, get daily exercise, avoid screen time at night (use f.lux to get rid of computer blue light), and don’t smoke or drink, especially right before bed.

  1. Get up at the same time every morning

This will get much easier if you follow step 3. Try adjusting your sleep schedule in 15-30 minute increments and letting your body adjust to the new schedule for a 3-5 days before shaving off another 15-30 minutes. Drink a full glass of water as soon as you wake up and place your alarm far away from the bed so you have to physically get up to turn it off.

  1. Allow time for the habit to take hold.

It will take you around 15-30 days to develop this new habit, but stick with 30 days. If you can wake up and go to bed at a set time every day, your body clock (circadian rhythm) will adjust to the point where you probably won’t even need an alarm clock anymore.

Tips for Waking Up Earlier

  • Put your alarm across the room so you have to get up in order to turn off. There are also a lot of alarm clock apps that can help you wake up and stay up.
  • Hydrate before you do anything else. Make sure you have a large glass of water to gulp down as soon as you wake up. This will give you a big boost in energy and force your body to realize that sleep time is over.
  • When you wake up, don’t automatically check your social media like many people do. This will instantly put you in the wrong mindset. Make sure you have a clear focus in the morning. Try the 7-minute workout routine for a quick exercise to wake up and stimulate your body cells.
  • If you want something to do in the morning, make a to-do list or read the newspaper, a magazine, a book, or the Bible.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast. Don’t eat too much as this could put you right back to sleep. Try energy bars and breakfast smoothies.
  • Try journaling and spending time with the Bible in the morning (see: The Importance of Daily Bible Reading). The early hours should be all about you, not email or social media. This could mean journaling, reading, taking a walk, or spending time in prayer

St. Josemaria Escriva is known for coining the phrase the “heroic minute”:

“The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and … up. The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body. If, with God’s help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find oneself beaten at the first skirmish.” – St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way

Here’s your challenge:

Take the “heroic minute” challenge and get up as soon as your eyes open. Tomorrow, start going to bed 15-30 minutes earlier than you normally do and shave 15 minutes off your morning alarm clock. Stick to this schedule for a week to adjust to the new schedule. Next week, set your alarm clock back another 15 minutes until you can honestly call yourself a “morning person.”

Until we talk again, live passionately, give generously, and impact the world for God.

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Hey, this is Todd Phillips, your online pastor and high performance coach. And I want to talk today about becoming a morning person. I was just talking to some friends of mine the other day and one of the guys—we’re sitting there having a coffee—one guy says, “I’m not a morning person!”

And I cannot tell you how like completely incensed I got. This is a good buddy of mine—I go, seriously, like that’s a genetic flaw? Like you’re just not a morning person? He said, “Yeah, I just never have been.” And I’ve got to tell you, I hear this all of the time, and I’m a morning person now, but I used to not be. Let me tell you what’s interesting about this.

See if you’re not a morning person, let me just tell you what I found out through doing a lot of research on this and I really have done a lot of research because when I became a morning person it changed everything for me! Did you know that morning people tend to make more money, be more productive; morning people tend to be happier, more satisfied, and healthier.

Wow! Right? I mean, really! That’s what I read when I read the research. I see that morning people tend to be all those things, and so what I want to talk about today is this idea of being a morning person. I’ve been studying this, as silly as it might sound; I’ve been studying this for a couple of years and it all started when I was about to go on a mountain climb.

I do some mountaineering as a hobby. I was actually going on a mountain climb with some church members, at this church that at the time—this was 5 or 6 years ago. The only time that

I that I was going to be working out with—the only time we could work out was at five o’ clock in the morning, and at the time I was staying up till 12 or one o’clock at night and getting up at like 6:30 or 7, 7:30 to get to work by 8. So I was a night person and not a morning person.

And he just said look, “If I’m going to work you out, the only time we’re going to go workout is at 5am.” And so I was like, okay, so I realized that if I was going to really have a chance at making it to the top of this really difficult mountain climb that I needed Andrew, and I was going to work out with him at 5 o’clock. And so I changed my entire life to work around meeting him at 5 o’clock in the morning. And like always, in the first couple weeks it was challenging, but it was interesting.

I want to walk through what happened here. This whole story with me and Andrew working out was driven around the fact that I counted the cost — I was like, is it worth it for me to do this, and it started to get me to write down what it means, and how you can shift from being a night person to a morning person and experiencing what all these case studies are saying is that morning people are healthier, wealthier, and wise. So let me just talk about this.

Number 1: In order to be a morning person, we have to change our self-talk.

We have to quit saying things like, “I’m not a morning person.” As silly as that sounds, it’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. We just say that’s the way we are, and we can’t change. The bottom line is that studies show that our self-talk drives our reality. So if we say we’re not a morning person, we’ll adjust our behavior to fit our self-talk.

So first thing that we need to do if we really want to do this—because some of us do. I’ve talked to so many people who wish they could be a morning person. Well the first thing we need to do is just say, “I am a morning person!”

Self-talk is a real key issue. You know the Bible talks about this very often, about our thought life. We think of something long enough, it becomes a belief system, and that’s what dictates our actions. The Bible is very clear on this. So if we think on this long enough—I’m a morning person and begin to believe that we could be—it’s going to dictate our actions. So number one, we’ve got to change our self-talk.

Number 2: We’ve got to allow ourselves to emotionally engage in this.

Just thinking, I’ll be more productive, I’ll be happier, I’ll be healthier—I mean that is really what happens, and I can tell you I can attest to this from six years ago when I became a morning person. It was one of the most profound shifts in my life, and I know that may sound silly to you, but it’s so true! I have more energy every day. I sleep better at night; everything’s changed because I’ve become a morning person.

And so when I started doing this—when I say number two “Allow yourself to emotionally engage”—when I started this, it was “I want to reach the top of that mountain!” If I’m going to go on this mountain climb, I want to reach the peak, and the only way I can do that is to work out with Andrew, and the only way I can do that is to get up at 5 o’clock. And, so, when I looked at the wins, when I looked at the reality of what I was going to get from this, I emotionally engaged in it. So every time I got up, I thought of the summit of that mountain, and it got me up in the mornings!

I want you to understand we’ve got to let that win whatever that is for you, sink in.

Number 3, as difficult, as it sounds: Go to bed at the same time every night.

Structure it just like you do with the rest of your schedule. We’re forced to be at work from eight to five or whatever our hours are, but just going to bed at the same time every night. All the studies show that this is probably the biggest challenge for most people—changing their sleep habits—but it’s something that can be done! And so quite possibly, the single most important factor determining your success at becoming a morning person is to just decide on the time to go to bed whether that’s nine, or 10, or 11, and just simply doing that every night!

Number 4 is really along the same lines: Get up at the same time every morning.

You’re going need an alarm for this. Right? And most of us use alarms anyway because we get up and go to work, or go to school, whatever that is. But our body over time, science shows this, that our body will self-adjust over time. Our circadian rhythms, are internal clock, will adjust to that new time frame. It usually takes about 2 or 3 weeks, but if we go to bed at the same time and we get up at the same time every morning, at least Monday through Friday, our clock, our internal clock, will adjust to that and we’ll become morning people.

Finally, Number 5, and I just mentioned this: You’ve got to allow time for the habit to take hold.

Now, depending on what studies you read, it takes anywhere from 50 to 15 to 30 days to develop a habit. So what I always say to people is just plan for 30 days. Plan for 30 days. Set your clock. I’m going to go to bed at this time, I’m going to get up in the morning at this time, and just allow that system to be put in place, regardless of when you actually go to sleep at night. You start to go to bed; you prepare for bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. Making that decision to stay with something for 30 days will allow you to do this. And listen as crazy as it sounds, morning people are healthy, wealthy, and wise.

So, I hope you’ll think about this because everybody I’ve ever talked to that changed their system, their dynamic, to becoming morning people, have always said they’ve become morning person evangelists! And that’s kind of how I feel! I hope you’ll buy into this. Until we see each other again, live passionately, give generously, and impact this world for God.

[after video]

Hey, it’s Todd. Did you get something out the video you just watched? I really hope you did.

I mean, that’s my passionto give you something that can be applied rightly to your life, right now.

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I hope you’ll let me do that. I hope you’ll allow us to be on this journey together. See you soon!

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