Some people read on their commute to work, some people read at night. Others read on their lunch break or they have a book in every room and grab a few moments here or there. My favorite time to read is in the morning. With a cup of coffee, the house quiet around me, and the rest of my family sleeping, I take an hour or so a few times a week to tackle my TBR list.
I don’t naturally wake up at 5am every day with a book in my hand, though. Becoming a morning reading person took commitment and some preparation. The idea of intentionally setting myself up for early morning reading success came from a radio show I listen to on Minnesota Public Radio. In the show, Neuroscientist Matthew Walker explained some of his own habits for ensuring he had the best sleep possible. Walker has also written a book on the topic (which I highly recommend), Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. After mulling on Dr. Walker’s suggestions, I put together a plan to capitalize on my morning wakefulness. Here are a few things that make all the difference in my morning reading routine:
Wake Up The Same Time Each Day
The main reason my morning reading has been successful is my dedication to getting out of bed around the same time each day. Embracing my personal circadian rhythm and starting my day at 5am consistently gets my mind on the right track. Thus, even on Monday or when the sun has yet to rise, I haul myself out of bed and get reading.
Choose a Book That Holds Your Attention
This one seems simple, but it’s one of the most critical pieces for making the whole process enjoyable: choose your morning reading book wisely. Some books just don’t work for this time of day; they are better for your lunch hour or reading aloud with your partner. I usually have morning-only books I read slowly over the course of a few weeks. My morning books always involve intrigue, forcing me out of my slumber and downstairs to my reading chair to find out whodunit.
Change Up The Format
In the morning, I very often read paperbacks, which isn’t something that I typically do at any other point in my day. I’m terrified of being stuck somewhere without a book that I enjoy, and thus, my e-reader is the best bet for me when I leave the house. So paperbacks have been relegated to my morning reading pile. Also, I frequently listen to audiobooks at this time of day. An audiobook allows me to listen while I workout so I don’t get lulled back into a sleepy state. One book format or another may work better for you at this time of day. Try a few formats out and capitalize on your personal preferences.
Don’t Even Go There
It’s oh-so-tempting to wake up early and check your social media accounts right away. Don’t do it. If you want to read in the morning with any consistency, one thing that will routinely push you off that track is spending your earliest morning minutes lost in your newsfeed. I’ve sadly whittled away a morning or two, so now I turn off my phone alarm each morning and I don’t look at my phone again until I’ve had an hour of alone time with my book.
Do The Prep Work
My preparation for my early morning reading starts the night before. Each night before I got to bed I program my coffee pot. I also set out my books and anything else I’ll need for my morning reading (workout clothes, coloring book/pencils, yoga mat, etc.) the night before so I’m not stumbling around in the dark. I don’t wait until 5am to choose my morning book, as indecision at that hour would slow me down significantly. So, if I need something new to read, it’s chosen the previous evening.
Sacrifice For Good Sleep
After listening to Walker, I cut out all caffeine after lunch each day, and I give myself a non-negotiable 7–8 hours of sleep each night. Very honestly, the lack of caffeine coupled with my day, my toddler, work, etc. is enough to put me to bed by 9pm anyway.
Note: Only 40% of people are “morning larks,” aka those who do their very best work right around the time the sun rises. If you take a while to get going in the morning, fighting your natural inclination probably isn’t wise.
Anyone up for the challenge of becoming a morning reading person? Tell me what tips and tricks work for you in the early morning hours!