If you’re an athlete, odds are you’re going to have an early morning practice. I’m talking rise-before-dawn, break-a-sweat-before-most-people’s-alarms, early morning. A 6 am practice means being on the court by 5:50 am, which means being at the gym by 5:40 am, leaving the house at 5:20 am, and getting up at 5 am.
To make it even worse, waking up slowly isn’t an option. By the time you hit the field, court, or diamond, you have to be alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic during practice so that you are coachable, perform well and make the team and yourself better. But that’s not easy to do when running on less sleep than your body is used to. So how can you be successful at your next 6 am practice?
Streamline for Sleep
These tips are all about cutting down the time it takes for you to get ready in the morning so that you can sleep just a little bit longer. The more streamlined your morning routine is, the quicker you’ll be able to get out the door.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can impact your mood and your ability to focus in class and leave you more prone to injury or illness and even affect recovery times and your ability to manage weight. This is why it’s super important to figure out the best routine for you and then stick to it as much as possible.
Prep the Night Before
This small step goes a long way. There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning and realizing that your jersey isn’t clean or you can’t find your shoes. The night before an early practice, set out your practice gear (everything from the underwear to the jersey), pack your workout bag, your school bag, and even prep breakfast. Do everything possible to make your morning more efficient.
A little effort the night before goes a long way to ensure that you get out the door quickly and without any mishaps the following day.
Get Enough ZZZ’s
Young adults should be getting around 8-9 hours of sleep. But late-night games, early practices, work, and homework can cut into your hours of rest. This is why it is essential to go to bed early when you have morning practice coming up.
This is a hard step to follow. You’re busy. On top of school and classes, you want to keep up with friends. You stay up scrolling on your phone. Or you are cramming for a test. Suddenly it’s late, and you know you’re not going to get enough sleep.
Fix this by counting backward from when you need to wake up. If you need to be up at 5:30 am to get 8-9 hours of sleep, you need to be going to bed around 9 pm. Sometimes it can help to set the alarm, and when that goes off, it’s time to shut off the phone, say goodnight to your friends and get to sleep.
Lose the Snooze Button
The snooze button is one of your biggest enemies when it comes to waking up early. One of the best things you can do is get out of bed the second your alarm goes off. Pop up, turn on the lights and get going. This way, you won’t accidentally fall back asleep and miss practice or even have time to think about how awful it is to be waking up at 5:00 am.
If an abrupt alarm throws you out of whack for the rest of the morning, consider waking up with light. You can attach a timer to light in your room and have it programmed to turn on 15-30 minutes before you need to wake up. This simulates the rising sun and sends signals to your brain to help you wake up more comfortably.
Breakfast of Champions
Make sure to eat some breakfast. Studies suggest that consuming carbohydrates before a workout allows for improved and higher intensity workouts. Suppose you’re heading into a 2-3 hour practice. In that case, it can be very beneficial to have some food in your belly, as it provides energy and helps stave off sluggishness and lightheadedness.
It doesn’t even have to be a lot. A banana, some yogurt, a glass of juice, or a bowl of cereal will all provide enough to get you through practice. It would help if you planned to eat your breakfast first thing in the morning. This way, you can finish your meal at least an hour before practice starts, so you aren’t left feeling full and sluggish.
Do what you can to make the morning as enjoyable as possible. Set your alarm to be your favorite song. Have your favorite breakfast in the morning. Listen to your favorite podcast on the way to practice. Do what you can to create joy in your morning routine so that waking up early doesn’t seem as awful.
The Keys to Success
Every person has a morning routine that works for them. If you’re struggling with morning practice, try a couple of these tips out to see if they help. And remember, it will get easier. The more you have early practice, the more your body will adjust and adapt to the new schedule.