Yes, You Can Be A Morning Person—3 Early Birds Show You How

UPDATE: Chilly mornings can make it even harder to crawl out of bed. Luckily, we asked three in-the-know early risers to share their secrets for beating the snooze button. This story was originally published on November 1, 2012.
Daylight savings time has ended, which means your body's internal clock has probably felt a little off-kilter lately. And while "falling backward" isn't necessarily as disruptive as "springing forward," it can be really hard to drag yourself out of bed when it's still dark — and cold — out.
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But, believe it or not, there are plenty of people who make rising before dawn a daily routine. In fact, they're waking up while the night-owl types are staggering home — all to help the rest of us mid-morning risers get our days started.
We talked to three of Washington's coolest early birds — the women who bring us our first news of the day, coach us through early-morning workouts, and provide us with the crucial caffeine we need to get our hearts started (and, natch, manage to look polished and peppy while doing it). Ahead, some surefire advice for conquering your "just five more minutes" addiction and finally becoming a morning person — or at least someone who doesn't cringe at a 6 a.m. wake-up call.
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Who she is: Eun Yang, morning news anchor for NBC4
What time do you wake up, and what time to get to work?
"I have a recurring nightmare that many early risers have. You know the one. That’s why I set three alarms. The first one goes off at 2:20 a.m. (Most people gasp here.) And I'd better be up to turn off the last one before it goes off. I'm at work by 3:30 and on the air by 4:28. (This is a good argument for living close to work.) Getting up at that hour is really tough. Going to bed early may be tougher."
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What time do you go to bed in order to get up that early?
"I have three young kids, and dinner, homework, soccer practice, and bedtime to contend with. I never get enough sleep. I aim for six hours. I usually get four or five."
How long did it take you to acclimate to getting up before most other people are awake? Do the later sunrises of winter make it harder, or are you just used to it at this point?
"I don't think you ever get used it. Can anyone truly acclimate to these crazy hours? It’s just not natural to get up in the middle of the night and start your day. In the summer, it’s hard to go to bed early when the sun is still shining. And in the winter, it's painful to get out of bed when you’re warm and cozy under the covers."
Tell us a little about your morning routine. How long does it typically take you to get ready to go?
"I wish I had an entourage to make me camera-ready in the early mornings, but I do it all myself. I've become pretty adept at styling my own hair. Although some days, it doesn't look like it. It takes me about 45 minutes to get out the door, depending on whether my little girl wakes up or I programmed my coffee maker correctly. I do my makeup at the station. And it is critical for time management and my sanity to pick out what I'm going to wear the night before."
What are your essentials for getting your day started? Are there certain hair or makeup products you rely on to look great in the morning?
"I need to splash cold water on my face several times every morning. This is essential. It says to me, 'Don't even think about crawling back into bed.' It also reduces puffiness."
How do you get your own news before the show?
"I check my phone at some point in the morning while I'm getting ready at home. I look for pressing emails and news alerts. I may be inclined to read an article on my phone while I'm drying my hair — I'm a multi-tasking master. Maybe I'll check Twitter. You get some odd and interesting posts at that hour. I listen to all-news radio on my short trip to work. Then I'm back online at my desk. I like to read the newspaper, too."
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Overall, what are the best and worst parts of being an early riser?
"The worst part about being an early riser is the constant tiredness. But as my work day starts before most people, my work day ends before most people, too. It’s a great feeling to know when the weather is beautiful, I'll have most of the afternoon to spend time outside with my kids. And no traffic, of course."
Photo: Courtesy of Eun Yang
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Who she is: Lenora Yerkes, manager at Kafe Bohem
What time do you wake up, and what time do you get to work? When are you in bed in order to get up that early?
"My alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m.. I usually hit the snooze button once or twice, unless I wasn’t really asleep. I leave the house at 5:20 and I’m at work at 5:30. But states of mind like 'asleep' and 'awake' are subjective. When am I awake? What does it mean to be awake? What is 'asleep'? What are the different kinds of sleep? These are the things I think about when I’m deep in a sleep deficiency. When you always sleep enough, you don’t wonder about what kind of consciousness 'awake' is. I don’t like thinking such pretentious thoughts, so I try to be good — in bed by 8 p.m., lights out at 9."
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How long did it take you to acclimate to getting up before most other people are awake?
"It did not take long to acclimate at all. I really like my job, so I was excited to get up for enough mornings in a row that it stopped seeming weird. It’s been hard to get used to getting to bed early — not seeing my friends, turning down invitations, or not getting them until the morning. Like, 'Damn! You guys had an all-night roof party without me?' I’m an old lady now. I read a book in my jammies and then fall asleep."
Do the later sunrises of winter make it harder, or are you just used to it at this point?
"The changing daylight matters. But I like being alone with the city at night, and early morning is basically nighttime. It’s a great way to check yourself."
Tell us a little about your morning routine. How long does it typically take you to get ready to go?
"Twenty minutes. I can’t afford the time to shower in the morning anymore, so I bathe in the evening and relax for a second. In the morning, I dress, brush my teeth, apply mascara, feed the cat, and get out. I don’t eat or drink anything, but I do smoke a cigarette on the way to work."
What are your essentials for getting your day started? Are there certain hair or makeup products you rely on to look great in the morning?
"I recently read some mascara reviews and they really affirmed my brand loyalty to Maybelline Great Lash, even though it’s a drugstore brand — I don’t care. Other than that, on days I feel especially shitty, I’ll use one of a few CB I Hate Perfume scents I’ve had forever. A good perfume is better than basically any other cosmetic."
Do you make yourself coffee when you get to work?
"I found that hydration is more important than caffeine, which is maybe weird because I work in coffee, but there you are. So, I drink a big glass of water first thing, and once we’ve opened the shop and we’re ready to serve our guests, I’ll have a cup of coffee."
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Are customers more likely to be perky or grumpy in the early morning hours?
"I wouldn’t call anyone perky at that hour…but they’re happy that we’re open, and we’re happy that they’re here. [Editor's note: Kafe Bohem opens at 6 a.m.] We appreciate that someone else is up to bear witness to our being up, and also assist in the morning coffee ritual. It’s an affectionate, but formal relationship. We have some early-morning regulars, too, to whom I just cannot express enough thanks. It really makes it worthwhile to see the same faces in the morning."
Overall, what are the best and worst parts of being an early riser?
"On the one hard, I feel productive and grown-up. On the other hand, I can’t stay out past 8 p.m., which makes me a pretty bad date."
Photo: Courtesy of Lenora Yerkes
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Who she is: LeeAnne Pena, instructor at Barre3 Georgetown
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What time do you wake up, and what time do you have to be at work?
"I wake up at 5 a.m. (okay, 5:15 with snooze) and get to work by 6 a.m."
What time are you in bed in order to wake up that early?
"I try to go to bed by 10 p.m., but that doesn’t always happen."
How long did it take you to acclimate to getting up before most other people are awake?
"I have always been a morning person, I guess. I was raised on a farm and was never allowed to sleep in unless I was sick!"
Do the later sunrises of winter make it harder to get up, or are you just used to it at this point?
"They definitely do — I hate driving in to work in the dark. But fun, fast music in the morning helps me wake up."
Tell us a little about your morning routine. How long does it typically take you to get ready to go?
"It takes me about 30 minutes to get ready. I usually pick out my clothes beforehand and always shower before bed, so that saves me time. I get ready, make tea, pack my lunch, and I’m out the door!"
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What are your essentials for getting your day started? Are there certain hair or makeup products you rely on to look great in the morning?
"I always, always put mascara on. I never leave the house without it. I use Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes — it’s the best formula I have ever found. I also use One 'n’ Only argan oil in my hair to fight the frizz, and the wonderful smell helps wake me up."
Are there special benefits to taking an early-morning Barre3 class beyond just fitting it into a tight schedule?
"Barre3 is amazing to take early in the day, because not only do you work hard, but you feel taller and stronger to take on the day. Why wouldn’t you want to start the day with health and encouragement?"
If you weren't teaching morning classes, when would you work out?
"Even if I didn’t teach them, I would be at the early classes. I love starting my day with a workout, especially one where you get one-on-one instructor attention and a great community atmosphere."
Overall, what are the best and worst things about being an early riser?
"Best thing is you have the whole day left! You can go straight home or wherever you want after work, because you already worked out. Worst is that you have to go to bed early."
Photo: Courtesy of LeeAnne Pena
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