This question originally appeared on Quora: How do I become a morning person? Answer by Andy Ooi, engineer, writer.
Imagine a caveman from five million years ago. Obviously, he lived in a cave (he’s not called a “caveman” for nothing) with his tribe.
During the day, he would go out and hunt animals and gather fruits with the other cave dudes. When the sun goes down, the dudes would come back to the cave. And they would start a fire and munch on the food.
The cave dudes and cave gals will then hang around the fire and tell cavemen jokes. The dark night swept the land as the fire dies down. All the cave dudes and cave gals suddenly felt a wave of grogginess permeating their body. Soon, all of them were snoring like a choral symphony.
Until the sun came up again.
What’s going on here?
Why did all the cave dudes and cave gals feel sleepy at the same time? Biochemistry.
As the sun goes down, our bodies start to produce melatonin to prepare us for sleep. In the past few million years, our human bodies started to learn this pattern:
Sun goes down = darkness = time to produce melatonin
As the melatonin get released into our body, we start yawning. We get dizzy and our eye lids become heavy. That’s how we fall asleep. But a dude named Thomas Edison invented the light bulb; our body needs that darkness to produce sleep hormones.
If you are having problems to sleep well and wake up early, here are five mini-habits to the rescue.
Five mini-habits that save your sleep, and wake you up early
1) “Dark sessions” 10-30 minutes before sleep
Turn off that phone, the TV, the computer AND all lights 10-30 minutes before your regular sleep time. Sit on your couch. Enjoy the darkness. You will feel very primal, like a caveman again.
I usually meditate during my “dark sessions” and it helps with my sleep, a lot.
2) Dark bedrooms
When you are on vacation, you usually get the best sleep. It’s not because you are at the beach, or because you have no stress, it’s because hotels use black-out curtains. Once you shut the curtains, you turn the room into a cave, just like the cave dudes from give million years ago. You sleep like a gladiator when it’s dark.
So get the blackout curtains. Also make sure there are no artificial lights in the bedroom.
3) Ban technology from the bedroom
Time to be honest: You play with Facebook and Whatsapp from your bed, don’t you? Well, I did that too. What happens a lot of the time is this: I would surf Facebook for “one last time.”
The next thing I know is this: It is 3 am, and I know all celebrity gossip on the planet, but I feel like a vampire. For a change today, ban that phone and iPad from the bedroom. Doing this will ensure you hit the pillow on time.
4) Move in the mornings
Exercising releases endorphins into your body, because it makes your muscles more resistant to pain. Our cavemen ancestors needed endorphins to help them run away from saber tooth tigers, woolly mammoths, and so on.
Endorphins also make us feel like super humans because the endorphins stay in our body AFTER they are released. I used to feel more tired than a hibernating sloth after work but, after exercising in the morning, I can beam through a day full of energy and focus.
Why the mornings? Because you need to make magic happen, hustle that business, and get superhuman results during the day, not at night.
5) Bring positivity to bed
Have you noticed that you wake up with the EXACT same thoughts you carry to bed? I used crawl into bed thinking: “Oh my god, I only have five hours to sleep. I am exhausted!” Once I woke up, I thought, “There you go. I am super tired!”
Stop thinking about the challenges of the next day. Think about how you can crush tomorrow like munching potato chips. If you do this today, I can guarantee you will wake up tomorrow on time, full of energy, and jumping out of bed.
You now know how to sleep better and transform into a morning person. Seriously, it’s that simple. Pick one habit at a time, and implement it today.