Being a night owl or a morning lark may be in your genes, but genetic coding isn’t the only thing that determines your preference for early mornings or late nights. Gender and age also play a role in sleep and waking time preferences. Women and older people are more likely to be early risers (before 8 am) while younger people and men are more inclined to hit the hay after 11 pm and wake after 8 am. The good news is, that whatever your preference, with our tips you can tweak your routine to become a morning person.
The benefits of rising early
Morning people have been proven to be more agreeable, have higher levels of conscientiousness and are more persistent and happier than their night owl counterparts. Night owls, on the other hand, have shown a tendency to partake in bad habits as well as being worse procrastinators than larks.
Early on in our day, we have more willpower, find it easier to focus and there are fewer distractions. Getting up early gives you a head start and the chance to accomplish more and increase your productivity. If you’d like to reap the benefits of getting up earlier and shake your night owl tendencies, read on for some tips to make that switch.
Tips for becoming a morning person
All of us have an internal body clock known as circadian rhythms that trigger our need to sleep and wake. The greatest influencer of our circadian rhythms is light. If you want to change from a night owl to a lark, reduce exposure to sunlight and blue light later in the day and make sure you get a lot of sunlight in the mornings.
Blue light, like sunlight, triggers alertness in our brains by reducing the amount of melatonin released. If you work late shifts in front of a screen or can’t avoid fluorescent lighting, try switching your computer and phone to night mode or wearing blue light blocking glasses.
If you plan on getting up earlier, you’ll need to get to sleep earlier to avoid compromising your mental and physical health. As a night owl, this can be easier said than done. Rather than making a dramatic shift, put your bedtime back 15 minutes for a few nights and then a further 15 minutes for another few nights and so on, until your heading to bed before 10:30 each evening. This should give you enough time to get 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night and still rise early.
Create a bespoke bedtime routine that gets you in the mood for slumber. This will help prompt your circadian rhythms to adjust and can also produce some hormonal and chemical changes that help you sleep. A cool shower or bath, avoiding electronics, writing a ‘To Do’ list for the next day, eating certain foods and incorporating some gentle yoga stretches or meditation to trigger a relaxation response are all good ways to give your body the prompts it needs to relax and prepare for sleep.
Finally, stick with it. Changing our habits and predispositions takes consistency and commitment. Getting enough rest is important and rising early could prolong your life, so make small, manageable changes, and stay with your routine once you’re able to sleep earlier.