I have to be honest: I am a morning person.
In college, I’d wake up and get to the library the moment it opened, because I knew the library would be empty and my mind would be sharper. That being said, in my post-college life I’ve found myself forced to wake up at 4 AM in order to get to work on time, an unfortunate by-product of working in finance while living on the west coast. While I prefer to work earlier in the morning, my idea of an ideal morning is waking up at 8 AM, maybe —not four hours prior. So despite the fact that I’m a morning person, shifting my schedule to wake up earlier forced me to discover important nighttime rituals that would allow me to wake up at the crack of dawn.
1. Give yourself something to look forward to.
Believe me, the only thing that gets me out of bed at 4 AM is being able to look forward to something that isn’t my imminent job. This can be something as simple as your workout (something else I love to plan the night before so I don’t come up with excuses to avoid it), a meal that you’re excited to dig into, or even a podcast you’ve been anticipating having the time to listen to. Before COVID, I looked forward to experiences like dinners with friends, book club, or volunteering. Now, I look forward to Zoom happy hours, virtual volunteering, and chatting with a friend over lunch or dinner. Even something as simple as a book or a new episode of a TV show can be enough to get you out of bed and ready for the day. I often try to plan this the night before so that the next morning, I remember it quickly. If I’m thinking about it before bed, it jumps to the forefront of my mind when I wake up.
2. Make breakfast in advance.
I always take a few minutes before I go to bed to make overnight oats for my breakfast the next morning. It’s so effortless to take my Tupperware out of the fridge in the morning and simply heat it up and add a few toppings, like sliced almonds or fresh fruit. My overnight oats recipe is simple: a cup of oatmeal, 1 ¾ cup of milk (I use almond milk), two tablespoons of chia seeds, and two tablespoons of peanut butter. In my pre-COVID life, I would make this oatmeal during my weekend meal-prep and transfer about half a cup of oatmeal into a smaller Tupperware container the night before, adding my toppings so I could throw the Tupperware into my work bag. Now, however, I simply halve this recipe the night before and add the toppings in the morning, based on my mood.
Even if you’re not an oats person, it can be helpful to plan your breakfast the night before. Check your fridge to see if you have enough eggs and veggies to make an omelet or whatever your breakfast of choice. In quarantine, I’ve taken to checking which ingredients I have the night before so I can plan my lunch, dinner, and snacks for the day ahead, too. This also allows me to add items to my next grocery list, which is inevitably easier to do at night, after a full day of eating, instead of in the morning when I may plan to have just a slice of banana bread but rather have five.
3. Plan your entire look — not just your outfit — the night before.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the advice to plan your outfit the night before. But I like to not only plan my outfit but also the makeup I want to pair with it, and even my shoes and jewelry. By planning every aspect of my look the night before, I’m able to get out the door — at least in pre-COVID times — much more quickly.
In our current state, I recommend consulting your work calendar the night before so you can be prepared with a more formal shirt if you have an important Zoom meeting. This way, you know whether or not you can get away with a sweatshirt and sweatpants for the day (my preferred Quarantine Outfit). That said, I have found that dressing up — wearing earrings, putting on lipstick, taking a few minutes to style my hair— makes me feel a lot better and much more prepared for the day. It’s not for everyone, but I recommend taking a few minutes to plan this out the night before, even if you are a morning person! You’re less likely to resort back to that comfy indoor pajamas outfit.
4. Develop a morning-friendly skincare routine.
I am not a skincare aficionado in the least, but I try. In the morning, though, it’s almost impossible for me to remember much more beyond splashing water on my face and adding a dash of sunscreen. At night, however, I take off my makeup, wash my face thoroughly, use a toner, and even use a chemical exfoliator once a week.
A big reason I prefer to spend time on my skincare routine at night is that products like a chemical exfoliator can make your skin extremely delicate. If you use one in the morning, you need to regularly apply sunscreen throughout the day. (Admittedly, this is something we should all do but realistically, do we?) Using a chemical exfoliator at night allows me to just sleep off the immediate after-effects without worrying about additional steps throughout the day. Additionally, a nighttime skincare routine is extremely relaxing. When I was struggling to push my bedtime earlier to accommodate my earlier alarm, I found that my skincare routine helped to signal to my brain that it was time to go to bed.
5. Prep your coffee or tea station.
For many, including myself, this is essential. If you’re a coffee drinker, nighttime is best to clean out the grounds from the morning, prepare your filter, and make sure your favorite mug is washed and within reach. I’m more of a tea person, but I try to do much of the same: set out my mug, pick the tea I want in the morning, and fill up my water boiler and make sure it’s plugged in so all I need to do in the morning is simply turn it on.
I hope these tips are useful and that everyone is staying safe and healthy indoors. If you haven’t already established a nighttime routine, it’s never too late to begin. And if you have, I hope this gives you a few ideas to change up your typical routine. When every day seems the same, it’s always nice to switch things up and—as I’ve said!—give yourself something to look forward to.
Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.
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