Whether it's school, work meetings, or family needs, most schedules require lots of activity in the morning. However, being active in the morning is not for everyone. There are people who are so-called night owls. Unlike the early birds, night owls are more active at night. But if your schedule demands you to be an early bird, there are ways to alter your sleep and wake-up cycle to optimize your day.
What are sleep-wake cycles?
The circadian rhythm dictates our energy levels throughout the day and our sleep-wake cycle. While most people tend to sleep when it is dark, there are some who are awake at night, this is what we call our “chronotype”, the official term for a night or morning person. The Early birds or morning people have an early chronotype which means they are at their best in the morning while night owls have a late chronotype.
Regardless of the chronotype, neither chronotypes are bad. They are just different from each other. However, night owls have a disadvantage since almost all important schedules are in the morning. Waking up early and doing tasks in the morning will disturb their cycle which affects their mood and performance, and later might impose a risk to their health.
How to become a morning person?
If being a night owl does not affect your routine, there is no need to change it. Though your chronotype is largely determined by genetics, your energy cycle can be molded by your sleep and wake cycles. Here are ways to become a morning person.
1. Set a new bedtime goal.
Adjust your sleeping time 30 minutes earlier than your normal sleeping time. Then push it back for another 30 minutes until you finally hit your bedtime goal. It’s important to adjust your sleep time gradually to make sure that you are still getting enough sleep.
2. Develop a Bedtime Routine.
Falling asleep is not always easy, especially if you’re trying to override a lifelong habit of nighttime activity. But developing a bedtime routine will help send a signal to your brain that it is time to sleep. At least an hour before you sleep, dim the lights and turn off your devices such as smartphones, tablets, and e-books. These devices, trick your mind that it is still daytime. Fill your bedtime routine with calming activities like meditation, reading a book, journaling, or listening to light music.
3. Use Light Strategically.
Light has a strong effect on our circadian rhythm. When night owls are exposed to natural light, their body clock shifts early. Bask in the sun for at least 10 minutes as soon as you wake up. If it’s not possible, use a bright lamp instead.
4. Shift Mealtimes Earlier.
Night owls tend to have dinners late. It works for them since they are going to sleep late. However, if you’re trying to become a morning person, eating dinner early will help adjust your cycle. Finish dinner at least 3 hours before lights out this will help your body digest all the food you take. You can’t fully rest if your digestive system is working overtime.
5. Move your Body.
For a night owl, exercising in the morning can be a punishment. However, starting a habit of exercising or even jogging in the morning can help give the boost needed to jump-start the day.
6. Drink Caffeine at the Right Time.
Coffee is a must for people who wants to stay awake. However, studies show that caffeine can stay in the body for up to 10 hours with an average half-life of 5 hours. This means that if you drink coffee at 5 pm, half of the caffeine will remain in your body at 10 pm which will make it harder to fall asleep. Try limiting your coffee in the morning and lessening the caffeine intake to less than 400 milligrams daily.
7. Stay on a Consistent Sleep Schedule.
There are days that are tempting to sleep in late, such as on Sunday morning. But try to keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible. Studies say that sleeping in on weekends disrupts your circadian rhythm so it is best to set a regular time to sleep and wake up, even on weekends.
8. Consider the upsides.
Think of the reasons why you would like to become a morning person. Is it because you want to spend more time with the family? To be more productive in your morning work? Thinking about the reasons why you want to become a morning person will help keep you motivated in changing your chronotype.
If you’re a natural night owl, becoming a morning person can feel impossible. But with the right tools and motivation, you can be one. Just remember that you need to follow a consistent routine in order to become one.