Are mornings difficult for you? Are you a night owl (and tired mama) whose kids wake up bright-eyed long before you’re ready to admit it's morning again?
I've put together the ultimate guide to creating your perfect morning routine and you can read it right here. It's a morning routine guide for moms who want happier mornings not just for themselves, but also, for their families.
Ready? Let's get started…
Lifelong Night Owl Tales of Woe
On the one hand, morning 'larks' prefer getting up and going to bed early, and are at their peak performance early in the day. On the other hand, night 'owls' like sleeping in and staying up late, and don’t perform well until afternoon or evening. - Psychology Today
A night owl is someone who not only prefers to be up later at night, but functions better later in the day or evening, and does not do so well early in the morning. Sleeping in works better for them.
A typical preferred schedule for a night owl might be going to sleep around 2 or 3 in the morning and waking up around 11 a.m. or noon. Is that similar to the schedule you would choose, if you could?
For night owls, going to bed at what seems like the right time, often leaves them lying awake, wishing they could fall asleep.
And then they frequently glance at the clock, still awake, and recalculate how much sleep they’ll get if they fall asleep soon. But they don’t fall asleep soon, because they can't.
I am all too familiar with this struggle.
I was born just before midnight, and I suspect I have struggled to go to sleep on time ever since. I remember lots of childhood nights, lying awake well past the time I went to bed, bored, and wishing I could be in the family room, watching TV with my parents. I could hear the faint sounds of whatever they were watching, and those sounds called to me.
My mother seemed surprised and annoyed each time she came to check on me, and found with my eyes open, still wide awake. She didn’t know what to do to fix it, and neither did I.
I know I did not get enough sleep during my childhood. Did you?
Children who are wide awake at bedtime and sleepy the next morning, often grow up to be adults who struggle to conform to the cultural norms of going to bed at a reasonable hour, and then getting up in time to go to work, or begin the day with their own wide-awake children.
Has that been your experience? It certainly was mine.
When my work days began at 8:30 or 9:00, I struggled nearly every day to make it work. I’d fall asleep right after David Letterman said, “wake the kids and call the neighbors.”
And the next morning would find me struggling to wake up, feeling like I was moving through molasses as I tried to get ready as quickly as possible so I wouldn’t be late. Eventually, I was eating in the car, and putting on my makeup, during the half hour drive to work just to try to give myself a better chance of getting there a minute before I’d be late.
Once my son became my personal alarm clock, the struggle continued, just in a different way. He was bright-eyed and bushy tailed, eager to hang out with his mommy, and I could barely open my eyes.
What is the solution for those of us who struggle with an early-morning wake-up call? Many night owls try to become a morning person.
Become a Morning Person?
There is lots of advice out there about how to become a morning person, but is that really possible? You can wake up earlier, start your day earlier, and decide to go to bed earlier at night, but can you become a morning person?
Based on what the experts say, I think not.
Most people can’t simply switch wake up and bed times, because their bodies won’t allow them to. Our circadian rhythm is controlled by a tiny area in our brains, the suprachiasmatic nucleus. -Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Centre, incoming president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. -BBC
But it is possible to get to the point where you are waking up in the morning, naturally, without an alarm, at your ideal wake-up time.
Your Ideal Wake-Up Time
Do you know what your ideal wake-up time is? Though it is less likely to be an exact time on the dot than a general range of time, it provides for the amount of time you need each morning.
That sounds simple, but for those who struggle with getting up on time, or with getting ready as quickly as we need to in order to be ready for our obligations, it may not be simple at all.
And I’m not saying that your ideal morning time is your preferred wake-up time. But it is the time that would make your morning life, and your mom life, run the most smoothly.
What’s your ideal? It may be affected by the time you go to bed, because functioning your best, on any given morning, is likely to depend on sleeping enough and sleeping well the night before.
Do you struggle to get to bed or to sleep on time? That would push your ideal wake-up time forward in a flexible schedule. But if it’s not as flexible, then we need to get you a better night's sleep.
Your Best Night's Sleep
For night owls, what constitutes getting to bed or to sleep on time may be different than it is for morning larks, those who love mornings. And if you don’t work outside the home, getting up early enough to go to work on time is not an issue.
Plus, there’s no universally agreed upon best time for going to bed and falling asleep. But whatever late turns out to be, for you, it will deny you the sleep you need.
What is Your Ideal Bedtime?
Experts suggest that we need 7 to 9 hours of sleep in order to function optimally and be at our most healthy. So, in order to find your ideal sleep time, you need to know when your ideal wake-up time is.
If it takes you a while to “yawn and stretch and try to come to life,” (Dolly Parton, Nine to Five theme song) then your wake-up time probably needs to happen before your kids get going in the morning. How long does it take you to wake up properly and be ready to roll?
And what time do your children wake up? If it takes you an hour or two to be functional, then you’ll need to get up an hour or two before your children do, and be asleep 7 to 9 hours before then. That hour is your ideal bedtime.
It may take some experimenting to find those numbers. And you may need more time in the morning than you think.
Does it need to work out perfectly? Perfection may not be possible.
I find that I need to be awake and out of bed at least 3 hours before my son wakes up – probably because I am also an introvert – and now that he’s a teenager, and we start our homeschool day later in the morning, that works out well.
But when he was younger, I couldn’t make that work, and had to settle for 2 hours when I really needed three.
So aim for the best combination of sleep time and waking up, and then make the very best of whatever way it shakes out in practice.
And once you have your ideal bedtime and wake-up times in mind, the problem becomes getting yourself to sleep at that time, if you’re a night owl. What’s the best way to get to sleep at that time?
Well, you may have heard or read that getting to sleep on time will become much easier if you back away from your devices an hour or more before you want to go to sleep.
Ninety percent of people in the U.S. admit to using a technological device during the hour before turning in, and children often use electronic media to help them relax at night. If you’re among these nighttime technology-users, you may not realize the extent to which this can make it harder to settle down to sleep. But it can. The truth is, using electronic devices before bedtime can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating in ways that can adversely affect your sleep. -National Sleep Foundation
I found this to be true in my own life. I had just moved, and had to wait a week before my cable appointment. Plus, no one came at the scheduled time, which added another 2 weeks of being without my favorite TV shows!
But here’s what happened that surprised me.
I found that without having the TV on all night, it was easy to go to bed a couple of hours earlier than I normally did. And not only that, I would go to bed, thinking I’d probably read for an hour or so, and find myself getting sleepy in 20 minutes or less.
It was so easy. I got more sleep, and woke up earlier than I had been getting up before the move. So, to be honest, I felt ambivalent about finally getting everything set up with cable.
Would I be able to stick to my new schedule once those late night shows were available? I knew the answer was probably going to be no, and I was right.
TV can be irresistibly tempting. But it also, apparently, throws off your sleep biology and will make it harder to go to sleep at the time you have chosen.
Unless you are able to talk yourself into turning it off ahead of time.
But once you’ve turned off the TV, stepped away from the computer, and put your phone aside, what do you do then?
Do you like to read? Or listen to music? Have another hobby, like knitting?
This is where creating an ideal evening routine comes in.
How to Create an Ideal Evening Routine