How to Overcome Morning Peevishness: Advice from an Antarctic Explorer

The “art of manliness morning” is a blog about the importance of self-improvement and personal development. This blog post offers advice on how to overcome morning peevishness.

Antarctica requires a very specific skill set. In order to survive in this wild, isolated place you have to be ready for anything and one thing is certain, the person who has the most energy will make it out alive. Join me on my journey of overcoming morning peevishness with some advice from an Antarctic explorer!

Roald Amundsen south expedition Antarctic adventure.

There are several lessons to be gained from Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott’s opposing approaches to leading their crews in the race to the South Pole. Amundsen’s success was due to his meticulous attention to detail and meticulous planning for every eventuality, including his men’s morale. He kept their enthusiasm up by setting a steady daily distance objective for them – a “20 Mile March.”

He also devised a plan to prevent “morning peevishness,” or the grumpiness and unwillingness to get out of bed after waking up. Since reading about the expedition, I’ve tried his little tip for overcoming this common ailment with success, and I wanted to share it with those who frequently wake up on the wrong side of the bed – especially since it’s so apropos with all the polar-Esque weather the country has been experiencing this winter. And honestly, all I want to do is spread the joy of the word “morning peevishness.”

Vintage man waxing wooden skis.

The Norwegian explorers holed up at a camp at the edge of the Great Ice Barrier during the winter months before Amundsen’s expedition was to begin, making preparations for their trek in the spring. Maintaining morale was critical for a tiny, isolated crew deprived of creature comforts and living on a desolate sheet of ice, and Amundsen realized that how the men began each day set the tone for the remainder of the day’s work. Imagine crawling out of your cozy, fluffy reindeer skin sleeping bag to face another day of toiling in a small workshop carved under the snow, while –70-degree winds scream across the bleak terrain outside. As Amundsen’s biographer puts it, “morning peevishness is a serious emotional danger” in such a circumstance.

Amundsen announced to the guys that he would be organizing a tournament in which they would have to predict the temperature of the outside air each morning. Prizes were given to those who came closest to getting it right, and the guy who made the most accurate predictions at the conclusion of the season was offered a telescope. The purpose of the drill, according to their astute commander, was to improve the men’s ability to judge temperature instinctively in case their thermometers failed on the next trip.

The true goal of the competition, according to Amundsen’s notebook, was to encourage the men to go outdoors as soon as they awoke:

“Everyone insists on coming outside to check the weather because of the rewards.” And it is for this reason that the awards have been set up. But no one was aware of it. This little morning outing in the outdoors is quite useful to me. Even if it’s just for a minute or two, it’s amazing how much that little period of time may assist to awaken a drowsy guy and restore emotional balance before [the day’s first] cup of delicious, warm coffee.


Even the most cheerful person on the planet has a touch of morning irritability, which must be eliminated as inconspicuously as possible.”

The morning peevishness may be nipped in the bud by stepping outdoors for a few minutes of cold, fresh air, according to Amundsen. I’ve tried it, and it does truly clear the cobwebs from your sleep and give you a boost of energy.

Of course, getting inspired to go outdoors on a frigid morning without Amundsen’s entire “let’s estimate the weather!” ruse is the difficulty for us. Although, and this may seem strange, attempting to predict the weather each morning sounds like a lot of fun; after a time, you’d probably become quite good at it, and who knows, maybe the talent might come in helpful one day.

If that’s not your thing, and pure discipline isn’t going to cut it, fetching the morning paper or taking your dog for a walk will surely help you get out the door.

What if you don’t live in a chilly climate, or if you have problems getting out of bed in the mornings even in the summer? You may always sprinkle cold water on your face, or even better, take a cold shower — both are certain to wake you up! Try a “energizing” face wash like Chiefs for Men to make such approaches even more stimulating. The eucalyptus aroma and icy menthol give the cold water wake-up call even more zing.

When you get out of bed tomorrow morning, try exposing yourself to a blast of chilly air. But, as Amundsen rightly notes, “if a morning peevish person discovers that you are putting yourself out to ease his load, he becomes doubly peevish.”



The “does anyone live in antarctica” is a question that many people ask. The answer to this question is yes, there are humans living in Antarctica.

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