A change now affecting us all is the onset of warmer desert temperatures which narrows the window of opportunity to enjoy outdoor exercise.

Our habits must alter in response to the seasons, and a productive habit we desert dwellers can take at this time is to alter sleep and wake schedules. Maybe getting up early is not your normal habit, but starting this new ritual during our sweltering summer months will profoundly increase your wellness potential. Big horn sheep and other desert animals alter daily living for survival based on temperature changes, and we should too.

A new morning ritual often must start with a clear evening ritual: possibly an alarm to tell you when to go to bed (set the cell phone for this reminder), or awareness that time spent doing wasteful things in the evening (i.e. flipping channels and surfing the web), extend the evening and take us away from our new purpose.

The following practices can help ensure success with your new morning routine:

Set sleep and wake times based on healthy facts. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. We must figure bedtime this way. In our society, we are influenced to think that sleeping is a luxury. Don’t succumb to believing that less sleep makes you more successful and more productive. Sleep does not equate to laziness (laziness is sleeping when you should be doing something else). Know the difference. While we sleep, human growth hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland, thus repairing muscles and bones. Shorting yourself of even one hour of sleep per night has cumulative negative effects.

Ease into it. Train yourself in small increments of time change working towards your goal. You cannot expect to adapt immediately to change in wake-up time.

Use tools. Set multiple alarm clocks and move them away from the bedside.

Create a pep talk. Go to bed with an internal message to “jump out of bed like a firefighter.”

Call in the recruits. Have a friend call you or set up an accountability partner. Meeting a wellness buddy is a sure way to be held to the time.

Take notes. Keep a journal by the bed and record how it feels waking up early, appreciating the desert sunrise. Rest assured, there will never be a journal entry that is anything other than appreciative. Read those personal notes before going to bed and upon waking and it will remind you how you want to feel.

It is essential to capitalize on summer mornings from now throughout September. Just as you train your body with exercise, train with this new constructive habit for the summer season. We all know that “the early bird gets the worm.” Truth is, he also gets the majestic beauty of our desert mornings and wings that will continue to soar through our hot summer months.

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