Early risers are often held in high regard by society. The adage “the early bird catches the worm” is a good illustration of this. Trying to conform to social expectations, many of us seek out information on how to change our habits and wake up earlier.
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The truth is that some people aren’t built to perform at their peak levels first thing in the morning. There are those who are considered “night owls” because they thrive in the evening. Waking up early may have the reverse effect on you if your body is more accustomed to sleeping in.
If you set your alarm at 5 a.m., you’re not only going to get less sleep than you need, but you’re also going to feel more sleepy than usual. If you want to maximize your productivity, it is wise to familiarize yourself with your circadian rhythm, the natural rise and fall of your energy levels during the day.
However, we understand that early morning alarms may be necessary due to work or personal obligations. Follow the tips below to rediscover your appreciation for the dawn hours.
What Makes You a Morning Person?
Night owls have less control over their sleep schedules and perpetually struggle to rise before noon.
People that get up before the sun are usually pumped and ready to go before the sun has even fully risen. Night owls, on the other hand, relish their extra shuteye and may require more than one shove from the alarm clock before they’re ready to face the day. But why are there such disparities?
Chronotypes can help with this kind of analysis. Those who have an early chronotype are commonly referred to as “morning folks.” Your “chronotype” describes your innate propensity to sleep and wake at specific periods of the day. The length of a typical workday in today’s culture is 24 hours. However, if your internal clock is shorter than 24 hours, you are an early chronotype and will prefer to sleep in and rise before the sun.
If you are one of those who finds it hard to fall asleep before midnight, you may have a little longer biological time than the average person. This means that, medically speaking, morning people have it simpler than night owls to get up and ready for the day.
We divide people into two groups for conversation convenience: early risers and night owls. As many as 351 genetic variants have been connected to morningness alone, yet chronotypes are quantified on a continuous scale in the scientific community.
Genes, age, and light exposure all play a role in establishing your chronotype. To find out your chronotype, take this poll from the Center for Environmental Therapeutics; for more on chronotypes, continue reading.
People can be divided into two groups, “early birds” and “night owls,” with the majority falling somewhere in the between. People with advanced sleep phase disorder tend to go to bed and wake up at unusually early hours (between 6 and 9 p.m.) (2 a.m. to 5 a.m.).
Meanwhile, those who are chronically up late may be suffering from a condition called delayed sleep phase disorder. When the body’s clock is off by more than two hours, something is wrong. Those who find it especially difficult to alter their routines at night may want to seek the advice of a sleep specialist in addition to trying the methods we outline below.
It’s important to note that chronotypes aren’t the sole variable. Your body’s internal clock is based on three factors:
- Circadian rhythm (the body’s internal clock) and sleep homeostasis (the process by which sleep pressure, or the demand to sleep, builds up while awake) work together to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. For additional information on this dual-system connection, please refer to the Two Laws of Sleep presented in our Sleep
- Guide. In simple terms, your circadian rhythm is the internal body clock that regulates your sleeping and waking hours.
- Light is the primary trigger for your circadian clock. You may experience a change if you are feeling sleepy.
- The sleep hormone melatonin is secreted by the body in response to darkness and suppressed under bright light (which is why light matters so much). For the same reason, the exact moment at which each of us first feels drowsy in the evening varies widely.
Benefits of becoming a morning person
First off, there’s nothing wrong with embracing your inner night owl; in fact, studies have shown that it can have positive effects on your health and well-being. However, you might decide to switch things up if you start a new job, go through a major life change, have a new significant other, or simply decide you want to make better use of your mornings.
Being a morning person can give you an edge over a night owl in terms of concentration, responsiveness, sociability, and conscientiousness if you’re the type of person who performs best between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Twenty minutes of exposure to sunlight between 8 a.m. and noon, according to a 2014 study, was associated with a significantly lower body mass index than the same amount of light exposure later in the day. “if a person does not get sufficient light at the appropriate time of day, it could de-synchronize your internal body clock,” says Phyllis C. Zee, M.D. of Northwestern University. This is known to affect metabolism, which can result in weight gain. Therefore, a morning stroll is an excellent starting point if you wish to enhance your health in various ways.
Why Are Some People Morning People and Not Others?
Sleep and waking times, and by extension, our overall levels of energy, are regulated by something called the circadian rhythm. The 24-hour cycle of the circadian rhythm often follows the sun’s movements throughout the day. Although the timing of feelings like alertness and drowsiness may vary slightly from person to person, most people are awake during the day and sleepy at night. Your chronotype, which describes how much you tend to be a morning person or a night owl, is the technical term for this phenomenon.
People who want to start their day early are a chronotype known as “early birds.” They are most productive and energized first thing in the morning, so that’s when you’ll most likely find them. Conversely, those who are night owls are classified as late chronotype. They thrive on the quiet of night and get their best ideas when everyone else is asleep. The chronotypes are discrete categories, yet most people fall somewhere in the middle of the continuum.
The way you want to feel physiologically and mentally can be linked back to your individual preferences. People who are “morning people” tend to have more excitable brain circuits first thing in the morning, allowing them to use their full physical potential right as the day begins. For those who prefer to sleep late, the opposite is true.
Neither chronotype is inherently better than the other; rather, they are simply different. However, night owls have serious drawbacks. The majority of individuals, including night owls, are sleeping while the day’s most important work is scheduled, which means that early risers may have a disadvantage. Research has found that people who prefer to be awake late at night are more likely to suffer from clinical depression.
Some research has linked having a late chronotype to perpetual jet lag. Real implications for night owls include an increased risk of health problems, mental troubles, and poor performance at work and school.
Can You Change Your Chronotype?
While your genetic make-up is the primary determinant in determining your chronotype, other factors including your age, environment, and level of physical activity can have an effect. According to research, persons who naturally go to bed late might advance their sleep schedule by as much as two hours by making some minor alterations to their daily routine. The following were the three-weekly guidelines offered to those with late chronotypes:
- Don’t be afraid to put in a few extra hours first thing in the morning and again before bed.
- Don’t slack off on your sleep schedule on the weekends or holidays.
- In the morning, soak up as much natural light as you can, and later on, limit your exposure to artificial light.
- Practice eating breakfast shortly after waking up, sticking to a set luncheon, and avoiding eating late at night.
- In order to get the most out of your workout, sleep in till at least 4 p.m., and ditch the coffee, try shifting your workout to the morning.
The night owls in the study were able to advance their internal clocks by making these behavioral changes alone, without sacrificing the total amount of sleep they had each night. They were also less depressed and stressed out. The night owls performed better in morning tests of their reaction times and grip strength than they had in earlier morning tests.
Your chronotype may shift as a result of your gender, age, or other physical characteristics. Earlier in life, women were shown to be more inclined than men to rise and shine, but after the age of 45, the gender gap closed and women became more likely than men to stay up late. A woman’s chronotype shifts to an earlier time zone throughout the first two trimesters of pregnancy. The onset of a stroke can potentially alter your chronotype.
Tips for Becoming a Morning Person
Individuals may change their sleeping schedules for a number of different factors. Whether you need to adjust to a new work or school schedule, help out family members, or simply want to start your day earlier, you may find that following tips help you become more of a morning person.
Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene
The first step in rescheduling your sleep schedule is to develop healthy routines for going to sleep and waking up. Some of the habits that make up what’s called “sleep hygiene” that are meant to enhance one’s rest are:
- Regular and sustained exercise.
- In particular, staying away from these stimulants in the time right before night is recommended.
- Avoiding bedtime in the late afternoon and evening.
- Finding restful activities to do right before bed can help.
Maintaining a dark, calm, and cool sleeping environment is an important part of excellent sleep hygiene. A few simple changes, like installing blackout drapes, upgrading to plusher sheets, and clearing the bedroom of excess furniture, could make a big difference.
Develop a Nighttime Routine
Establishing a routine for getting ready for bed will signal to your brain that it is about time to shut down for the night. You give yourself a powerful cue for behavior when you stick to the same routine every night before bed.
To improve your nocturnal sleep, try incorporating these soothing routines into your evening routine. Taking a bath, reading a book, writing in a notebook, listening to relaxing music, stretching, and meditating are all great ways to unwind.
At least one hour before bedtime, disconnect your phone, TV, and e-reader. In order to stay awake for extended periods of time, these devices work by stimulating the brain and tricking the eyes into thinking it is daytime. When there is too much light in the evening, it can be more challenging to wake up early.
Stay on a Consistent Sleep Schedule
If you want to achieve the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night and feel refreshed when you wake up, experts recommend adhering to the same bedtime every night. It’s crucial to set and stick to regular bedtime and waketime in order to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.
Gradually Shift Your Bedtime Earlier
When you’ve established a regular sleep schedule, you can move up your bedtime by 15 minutes at a time. Meanwhile, forward your alarm clocks by 15 minutes. Make this adjustment gradually, waiting at least several days between each step.
Develop a Morning Routine
Including positive, energizing activities in your daily routine may be all it takes to get you out of bed and going. That can entail bringing Fido out for a stroll in the park as you sip your brew of choice.
It could be tempting to sleep through your alarm, but you shouldn’t. Hitting the snooze button can throw off your body’s internal clock since it causes you to start getting ready to wake up about two to three hours before your normal wake-up time. Regular sleepers may not need an alarm if they obtain the recommended amount each night.
Scientific research indicates that using an alarm with a more pleasant sound will help you overcome sleep inertia and wake up feeling refreshed. You might also use light as a gentle alarm clock by leaving the curtains open or by using a dawn simulator.
Scientific studies have shown a correlation between regular exercise and improved sleep. Night owls can potentially advance their sleep patterns by 30 minutes with the help of exercise, regardless of whether it is done in the morning or the evening.
Use Light Strategically
Light’s stimulating effects have far-reaching implications for the body’s circadian rhythm. Individuals who are already prone to staying up late may feel its effects more strongly, according to the research. Once exposed to solely natural light, a night owl’s internal body clock will advance by 20 minutes. Exposure to bright light first thing in the morning is one of the best ways to alter your chronotype and become more of a morning person. If you can’t go outside, spend some time near a window or get a light therapy lamp to simulate the impact.
Shift Mealtimes Earlier
How you feel hungry throughout the day is connected to your circadian rhythm, which in turn is affected by when you eat.
Many people who are more awake at night also like to eat later in the day. Retraining your body to function on a new schedule can be aided by eating at a time that is more in line with that of a morning person. However, if you eat at the same time every night, your digestive system can be working even when you’d prefer be asleep. Because of this, getting used to your new routine will be more challenging. It may also disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which could have metabolic repercussions if it’s not in sync with your eating schedule.
Be Careful With Coffee
Research shows that consuming caffeine up to six hours before bedtime disrupts sleep and makes it harder to fall asleep. Get your last cup of coffee in at least six hours before night. Caffeine intake should not exceed 400 milligrams per day.
Those who struggle to get up early in the morning may be relieved to hear that more and more businesses are providing flexible scheduling alternatives. If you continue to feel very sleepy, it’s best to see a doctor. Your sleep issues may have more fundamental reasons, such as a sleep disorder or health problem. Seeing a doctor might help you identify the root of your sleeplessness and initiate treatment.