For as long as I can remember, I’ve had the same New Year’s resolution: start waking up earlier. I’ve wanted to rise with the sun, make time for a morning meditation, get in my daily workout, take my dog on a walk, savor my cup of coffee, spend a few minutes jade rolling, and enjoy a balanced breakfast… all before heading into the office.
It sounds ambitious, but hey, every successful woman I admire seems to have a robust morning routine, so shouldn’t I?
Not unlike most resolutions, the outcome was always the same. I’d start out strong, then without fail, fall off the wagon within a few weeks, kicking myself for defaulting into my old ways (snooze button, did you miss me?) In 2019 however, I had an epiphany, and it resulted in me ditching that longing to be an early bird once and for all. Shaking that I-can’t-wake-up-in-the-morning guilt was an enormous weight off my shoulders… here’s what I realized.
photo by Dagny Piasecki
1. If you can sleep, sleep.
As I’ve gotten older, the topic of sleep has become more and more of a relevant one amongst my friends. The common consensus? Almost everyone I know seems to have sleep problems. Whether they’re a light sleeper who’s easily awoken, or a full blown insomniac, 27 percent of Americans have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep most nights. Being a great sleeper, I realized, is a gift! Something so many I know would kill for. I was one of the lucky ones, and instead of feeling guilty for sleeping deeply, I now choose to be grateful for a body that allows me rejuvenating slumber each night.
2. I was asked, “Why?”
A few years ago, my husband was making plans with a close friend to meet at the gym in the morning — around 5:30am. The friend, albeit feeling excited to have a workout buddy, asked Eric why he was interested in exercising so early. His wife had just had a baby, and for him, the morning was the only opportunity he had to exercise in the day. For Eric? And for me? Not so much. Our friend left us with some sage wisdom, “Man, if you don’t have to get up that early to work out, don’t do it.” We took those words to heart, and now that we plan to have a family of our own, I’m glad we chose sleep all those years ago.
photo by Nicole Ramsay
3. I asked myself what I had to gain.
When I took a step back and looked at allllll the things I wanted to incorporate into my mornings, I had to ask myself what each practice would do to increase my quality of life. Exercise is already a regular part of my life, just later in the day. My morning meals? Well, I actually feel pretty good about my eating habits. And meditation… do I just want to do that because everyone says I should? A bit of jade rolling certainly wouldn’t hurt, but who’s to say I can’t do it in the afternoon?
I suddenly realized that I’d actually already cultivated a lot of the good-for-you habits I wanted to make part of my mornings, but for some reason was fixated on creating “a morning routine” for myself just for the sake of having one. Once I could say to myself, “you’re good,” the pressure was instantly lifted.
4. Nothing is worth sacrificing your sleep.
Now, more than ever, science is proving to us the extent to which our health benefits from a great night’s sleep. Neuroscientist Matthew Walker argues in his book, Why We Sleep, that of all creatures in the animal kingdom, humans are the only ones to “deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no sound reason.” He writes, “There does not seem to be one major organ within the body, or process within the brain, that isn’t optimally enhanced by sleep (and detrimentally impaired when we don’t get enough). That we receive such a bounty of health benefits each night should not be surprising.”
The power of sleep is one of our bodies’ greatest skills, and is one that can even act as a fountain of youth. When we think of it in those terms, we might even find it to be a more worthwhile way to spend your mornings than a 5:30am spin class.