For the first 20 years of my life, I loved sleeping in — and to be honest, I still enjoy it every now and then. However, it’s no secret that many high-performers wake up early so that they can get a head start over everyone else.
I quickly realized that, as an entrepreneur, I was leaving a lot of performance potential on the table when I’d start my workday later than I could, and when I’d let my mornings go unstructured.
Even though I’m not a part of the 5 AM club, I’ve become more of a morning person over the years and I actually start my days in a productive, motivated and energized way — the complete opposite of how I used to start them years ago.
In this article, I’ll share the 7 simple hacks that transformed me from a morning-hater to someone who actually enjoys his mornings.
Morning Hack #1: Put Your Alarm In A Different Room
A while ago, I moved into a new apartment. The first few weeks, I dropped one of my most important morning hacks (new environments have the tendency to change your behavior):
Putting my alarm in a different room, far away from my bed.
For many days in a row, I slipped into my old behavior of snoozing and sleeping in until an unacceptable time. Needless to say, my productivity and performance suffered from it. Fortunately, I realized that it was because I didn’t put my alarm far away from my bed.
Normally, I put my alarm in a different room so that I have to get out of bed in order to put it off. And when I’m already up and in a different room, there’s no way I’m going back to bed. In other words, this little hack is my fail-safe method to prevent myself from snoozing and sleeping in — and it will help you do the same.
Instead of putting your alarm next to your bed, put it somewhere where you physically have to go out of your bed and walk for a bit in order to put the alarm off. This will prevent you from going back to bed as you’re already up and moving. As soon as I implemented this simple hack again, I had hardly any trouble waking up early anymore.
If you use something like a wake-up light as an alarm (just like I do), I recommend you set a second alarm on a different device (such as your phone or a classic alarm) which you place in a different room. This way, you combine the best of both worlds.
Morning Hack #2: Immediately Drink 2 Glasses of Water
After being without water for about 8 hours, your body is dehydrated and you absolutely need to fuel it with water as soon as possible. Because of this dehydration, most people start their days feeling tired, foggy and unmotivated.
When you’re dehydrated, the performance of your body and brain decrease dramatically. The brain consists of 75% of water, so it’s no wonder that we start to experience immediate effects when we don’t drink enough water. I always ask people who feel sluggish, unfocused and low on energy if they drank enough water and the answer is almost always no.
In short, drinking enough water makes sure the energy production of the brain is functioning well. On the other hand, not drinking enough leads to lower energy production, leaving you to feel foggy and fatigued – causing unpleasurable mornings and heavily decreased productivity levels.
So, right after waking up, drink 2 solid glasses of water to kickstart your energy production and make you feel more awake and energized.
Morning Hack #3: Move With Your Body
Another energizing morning hack is to move with your body for about 2–5 minutes. Whether it’s jumping, push-ups, kettlebell swings (my personal favorite), yoga or doing a few sprints, it doesn’t really matter.
The important thing is that you do something that elevates your heart rate so that your body starts to produce cortisol (which helps you to wake up) and your blood flow increases (which helps to transfer energy throughout the body).
Personally, the difference in my ‘awakeness level’ is like day and night after doing 25 kettlebell swings. I no longer feel sluggish and foggy. Instead, I feel energized, awake and ready to tackle the day, and it merely takes me a minute to do.
Morning Hack #4: Do 1 Round of Intense Wim Hof Breathing
This morning hack may seem a bit unfamiliar, but it truly works wonders for feeling more awake and energized.
According to recent findings in the bio-hacking field, the way you breathe has a strong influence on your health, energy and mental state of mind. It turns out that, by using only your breath, you can influence anything from your immune system to your creativity and your energy levels.
But for now, let’s just focus on how your breath can help you feel more energized and awake so that you can actually enjoy your mornings.
By breathing deeply through the belly, you inhale a lot more oxygen compared to what you normally do when you breathe on autopilot (in fact, the way most people breathe on autopilot is one of the leading causes of low energy and diseases).
In a nutshell, more oxygen equals more energy. And when you have more energy, you’ll feel much more awake.
If you want to experience the energy-generating benefits of breathwork right away, you can try the following exercise (which is from the Wim Hof Method), which I do on a regular basis to instantly get into a peak state:
For 10–30 seconds, inhale and exhale strongly through your mouth, without any pauses in between the breaths. It’s important to breathe through your belly instead of through your chest.
Important: you will probably start to feel light-headed, which is completely normal. Always make sure you do this exercise in a safe environment and never do it while driving or while swimming.
Notice how you feel. You might even feel tingling sensations in your body, and you probably feel a bit more lightheaded. But overall, you feel energized. You’ve flooded your body with oxygen, and that means that you have generated a ton of energy. If you’re like me, you feel hyped and ready to tackle whatever is in your way.
So far, I’ve never experienced that I didn’t feel motivated or energized to go out and crush it after doing this breathing exercise. Try it for yourself!
Morning Hack #5: Don’t Look At Your Smartphone For The First 20+ Minutes
One of the worst morning habits that most people have adopted nowadays is that they immediately check their phone upon waking up. The problem with this habit is that doing so immediately puts you in a reactive and distracted state of mind. All the messages, emails and notifications that you’ve received during the night immediately pull for your attention.
Instead of proactively deciding what you are going to do with your morning, you’re forced to reactively act on the things other people have thrown your way. This immediately puts you in a (mild) state of stress, distraction and overwhelm from the getgo.
That’s not really an empowering start of the day, is it?
Instead, it’s much better to leave your smartphone untouched for at least the first 20 minutes (preferably longer) until you’ve proactively decided to engage in more empowering habits such as meditation, planning your day and setting goals & priorities.
If you use your smartphone as an alarm, put it on flight mode the night before. This way, you won’t see any of the notifications from social media, email or instant messaging.
Morning Hack #6: Do Something You Enjoy
If you hate everything you need to do in the morning, you won’t look forward to waking up and it’s hard to really enjoy your mornings. Instead, include an activity in your morning that you actually enjoy and that you look forward to doing. This will make waking up earlier a lot easier and you’ll find yourself becoming more and more of a morning person.
Personally, I really enjoy my 15-minute morning reading session combined with a delicious cup of coffee. It’s truly my moment while it also contributes to my personal growth (which is one of my most important values). Merely because of the anticipation of this enjoyable moment I wake up with more ease and I actually enjoy the morning.
Morning Hack #7: Get A Good Night’s Sleep
One of the most obvious, yet most neglected ways to become more of a morning person is to actually get a solid night’s sleep. And this doesn’t just mean that you sleep enough hours (although that’s important too), but you should also get high-quality, deep sleep.
When you actually get a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel much more energized and awake in the morning. No longer do you have to feel like you’ve been hit by a truck right after waking up. Furthermore, it helps you to be more productive and focused throughout the day.
Here are some tips to get a good night’s sleep:
- Cool down your room
- Avoid blue-light emitting screens 1–2 hours before going to bed (phone, tv or computer) or get blue-light blocking glasses
- Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only — not for TV or other forms of entertainment
- Journal before bed to get rid of distracting thoughts
- Go easy on sugar and caffeine during your day (especially after 17:00)
- Sleep at least 7 hours
If you’re interested in learning how to upgrade your sleep quality, I recommend you read the book ‘Sleep Smarter’ by Shawn Stevenson and check out my article about 8 scientifically proven ways to to improve your sleep quality.
Now Do It
Change only comes from taking action. Therefore, try out at least 3 of these hacks and see how it makes your mornings easier, more enjoyable, and more productive.
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab