It’s dark outside, and the kids are finally in bed. The house is quiet, but your mind isn’t because you have things to do. This is when your best work happens because you’re a night owl and when else are all the important things going to get done? The thing is — being a night owl isn’t setting you up for health. You are damaging your health. It’s time to put the night owl to bed and work on becoming a morning person.

If you are a night person, you are going to become very sick. Why? Because you’re running on adrenaline and eventually it’s going to puke out. You need to rest at night. Try going to sleep at 10 p.m. and waking up at 6 a.m. then try going to bed at midnight and wake up at 8 a.m. Which one do you feel better and more rested waking up? It’s the exact same amount of sleep but you feel better if you go to bed at 10 a.m. The hours you get before midnight dramatically change your hormonal health because that’s the optimal time for hormone production.

Let’s talk about ways to put that night owl to bed and become an early bird. Let’s try to make it easy as possible. Afterall, it doesn’t pay to be up early if you’re grumpy about it. Here’s some tips for becoming a morning person.

7 Tips for Becoming a Morning Person

1) Go to Bed Earlier

Easier said than done? I get it, but your body needs a good amount of sleep and going to bed between 9 pm and 10 pm is the optimal time to get great sleep. There is no prize for draining your fuel tank and you will feel much better if you fill it up. Like we talked about earlier, you will feel more rested if you go to bed earlier even with the same amount of sleep. The best thing about it is it’s free and can do so much to improve your health.

2) Create Healthy Nighttime Rituals

As it gets closer to bedtime at our house, we start shutting things down and make sure we are practicing good sleep hygiene. That means no electronics, minimizing artificial lights and avoiding things that excite the nervous system. When you start regular nighttime rituals your body will start to know when its time to go to sleep. That might mean a warm Epsom salt bath, reading, or practicing inversions.

3) Don’t Stress About Sleep

So, now we know how important it is to get sleep and to get to bed early. Don’t stress about it though. Increasing your stress can cause an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone that will keep you up at night. So, don’t stress about your sleep just make good sleep habits and find ways to reduce your stress.

4) Let the Morning Light In

Natural light can help regulate your circadian rhythm so let the light in! It’s best to sleep in total darkness and wake up naturally with the morning sun. If there is a lot of unnatural light outside your window at night, then that is a different story. You will need to close the blinds. Consider investing in a light clock and make sure to get outside in the morning (and throughout the day) to expose your eyes to natural light.

5) Put your Priorities First

Put your priorities first all day and especially in the morning. I don’t recommend rigid morning schedules based on what you think you should do. Morning schedules are hard because life happens. If you always put your priorities first, you can adapt to what life throws at you while making sure you are making the most of your mornings. It’s a lot easier to jump out of bed to work on what’s important to you. So, plan on putting your priorities first every morning.

6) Exercise in the Morning

Exercise can start your morning right and is the best time to exercise as long as you are paying attention to where your hormones are at. It doesn’t take long to get the blood moving.  A little morning exercise can improve your mood, thanks to increased endorphins, and it can lead to better gut health.

7) Practice Consistency

Think you can’t be a morning person? You would be surprised how your body can adjust when you give it what it needs consistently. That means shutting down early and making sure you are getting plenty of sleep regularly. It also means fueling your body properly with healthy foods and keeping stress low.

Early Bird Gets Healthy

Give your body what it needs to get healthy and that includes healthy sleep! Your body will change but it won’t happen overnight. If you are finding that it is harder than it should be to get to sleep and stay asleep, it could be an indicator that your hormones need to be tested. Talk with a proficient practitioner to make sure your body is where it needs to be for sleep and healing.

Practicing good sleep habits is free and can make dramatic improvements to your health. So, work on becoming a morning person and put that night owl to bed!

Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn