Why Can't I Get Going in the Morning?

Picture this: The alarm goes off before the sun comes up. You drag yourself out of bed and reach for the nearest shot of espresso. Forget thinking about work; right now, you can hardly think about where you left your shoes. Sure, you'd love mornings -- if they didn't start so early in the day!

Sound familiar? If you're not a morning person, you're not alone. Use these tips to wake up feeling more alert -- and hit your day in full stride.

At Bedtime

1. Skip the caffeine the night before -- along with red wine and chocolate.

The same caffeine that props you up first thing in the morning can wreak havoc on your ability to fall asleep at night. Studies show that this is doubly true when the caffeine is delivered via coffee.

Coffee, chocolate, and red wine all have similar irritating effects on the intestinal lining, which scientists say can disturb your sleep patterns. If you consume them late in the day, chances are that you'll wake up more than usual and sleep only lightly in between -- or worse, you won't sleep at all. Confine your intake to before the lunch hour for best results.

2. Create a calming bedtime routine.

A thirty-minute bedtime routine designed to calm your mind can help you sleep better, wake up more energized, and work more efficiently the next day. Start by making your to-do list for the next day, and leave it in a place you can access easily. Writing down your to-do list gets the tasks out of your head, clearing your mind. Then, practice a quiet, stress-relieving activity for thirty minutes before you sleep. Make this your "screen-free" time. Science shows that the blue light from phones, televisions and computer screens makes it harder for our brains to rest.

3. Sleep consistently.

Getting sufficient sleep every night matters. But what matters more, according to some researchers, is getting that sleep consistently.

Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, or as close to these times as you can. Once your body gets used to a consistent sleep schedule, it will take full advantage of the time to get its rest, allowing you to sleep more deeply and wake up more alert.

In the Morning

4. Get up right away.

When the alarm goes off, the urge to hit the snooze can be overwhelming. Fight it. Instead, get out of bed immediately and take a few deep breaths.

When you roll out of bed as soon as you wake up, you shorten the time between that first awake "jolt" and maximum alertness. You also add a few more minutes of wakefulness to your day, which work in your favor -- whether you tie on your running shoes or simply enjoy a more leisurely shower.

5. Reach for the water, not the espresso.

Before you pour your morning cup of coffee, grab a glass of water. Drinking a glass of water on an empty stomach helps awaken your metabolism and restore water your body loses naturally during the night, which can help you wake up faster and feel more alert.

6. Schedule exercise for the morning hours.

Daily exercise will help you think faster, sleep better and live longer. When you schedule it for your morning, it will also give you the energy "kick start" you need to thrive for the rest of the day. Many professionals in high-powered careers -- including lawyers, doctors and CEOs -- go for a morning run before they do anything else.

Implement just one or two of these suggestions, and you're sure to get off to a better start each day.