GRETCHEN TRIES STUFF EPISODE 11: The one when I realized I'm not an early riser

How I Imagine my Morning going

5:35 A.m.—Wake up, Drink water, oil pull (every other weekday morning) & maybe read a bit, Turn on podcast & Stretch

5:50 A.m.—Grab first cup of morning coffee, clean dishes from coffee maker

6 A.m.— Do 10-15 minutes of core exersizes/ballet bar

6:15 A.m—Wash face, make bed, put on makeup (more coffee)

6:30 a.m.—Look through emails, work on blog/video editing (more coffee!)

7:45 a.m.–prep breakfast/lunch for work

8:25 a.m.–Head to the office

How it actually goes

5:35 a.m.— If an alarm goes off and you're too asleep to hear it, did it really ring?

5:45 a.m.—My second alarm hardly registers in my mind before auto-reflex turns it off (as do my my next 4 alarms)


7:45 a.m.—

This is pretty much how my mornings have looked like during the month of February. My original plan seemed so brilliant. I'd spend one month forcing myself out of bed before 6 am (no matter how hellish it felt) and then by the end of the month, I'd have adjusted to my new life as an early riser and be a productive, happy morning person! But my February Gretchen Tries Stuff challenge didn't exactly go as planned. In fact, for the exception of the very first and the very last two day of February, I didn't manage to get up before 7 a.m. at all. As someone who considers herself to have excessive will power—a super power that has allowed me to give up sugar, shopping (kind of) and alcohol (for a full 100 days)—this was a pretty big blow to my ego. How could I fail at something as easy as getting out of bed in the morning?

My mornings feel rushed almost every morning and I feel like it is setting the wrong intention for my day (starting my day literally running to catch the bus makes me feel behind on my day for pretty much the whole day). It's like that beginning scene from the movie Bad Moms. I'm always running late. My solution? Wake up earlier. Should be easy, right? Sure, it's an adjustment at first but then my body will be use to it and over time it'll get easier and easier, and I'll become the productive morning person I've always dreamed of being. But getting up early, it turns out, is incredibly difficult for me. So I did some research into why I might be struggling and tips for becoming an early riser.

There are a few common tips for getting up early that I try to always follow but one that always spells disaster for me: I do like to prep the night before. I get my coffee ready (with a timed auto start), I make a bottle os soda water, and make my lunch and prep my breakfast if I'm eating something that can be made the night before. I also try to make sure all my stuff for the next day are consolidated and anything important, like my work laptop, is already in my bag. The one thing I can not prepare for the night before? What to wear the next day. It's never worked well for me. What I think I should wear the next day in the evening usually doesn't fit with what I'm feeling when I wake up. And I'm not the type of person who can just "wear it anyway." Clothes that technically fit will suddenly morph in my head to uncomfortable, restrictive items that make me feel fat and like I'm suffocating. It causes panic attacks that end with me crying into the giant pile of clothing I now hate laying on my floor. I've been like this since junior high. So now, getting dressed is one of the very last things I do in the morning because I found it helps me prevent falling into this rabbit hole. (I don't know if I'll ever be able to fix this in myself, but getting dressed last minute helps me not have time to trigger it.) Most of the other tips I found do help me have smoother mornings, but don't ways help with the actually getting out of bed part. I've included some helpful videos on the subject for anyone else looking to get up earlier.

As the month of February wore on and I became more and more of failure in the waking up early department, my feelings towards it would waver from shame, to determination (sure you blew it last week but this week you can totally wake up early), to acceptance, to determination again. I'd say to myself, "Hey, maybe you just aren't a morning person and that's okay." But then I'd argue back, "But you do like mornings, and you do better work in the mornings and you're actually not that much of a night owl because staying up late makes you feel shitty in the morning and then you start your mornings all frustrated!" What's a girl to do?

Maybe I was struggling so much in my mornings because I wasn't following my very best night routine. So I've started trying to set better intentions in my evening. Here's what I've tried for this last week of February:

  • Eat dinner a little earlier.

  • Start drinking my large cup of tea right after dinner in the evening so I'm not trying to gulp it down in bed.

  • Dim the lights in my room while getting ready for bed.

  • Give my laptop a curfew.

  • Stretch/ 5 minute yoga/ roll out my legs from running.

  • Turn on my salt lamp and oil defuser earlier.

  • Be in bed with time to read before it's super late.

  • Mediation. (I use the Headspace sleep mediation routine)

It's helped. I actually got up around 6 a.m two days in a row (a new record in February) and even better, I managed to do most of my ideal morning routine after I got up! Am I a morning person now? Please! It took me almost a full month of failing to start finding something that worked two days in a row and it's way too soon to tell if I'll be able to stick with it. But I am optimistic that I'm turning a corner in my struggles to be an early riser. Maybe I'll redo my challenge to way up early every morning in March and see if this time I can find the resolve to actually stick with it. Wish me luck.