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"For in dreams we enter a world that is entirely our own" - Albus Dumbledore.
It may be that you are chasing supervillains or relaxing on a tropical island when suddenly the alarm goes off. Frustrated, disturbed, and angry that your dream is broken, you hit snooze and try to go back to sleep to recapture some of the fantasy drama in peace.
Pretty soon, 6 AM becomes 10 AM, and you're still lying in bed while office emails flood your inbox. You get up groggily and make a promise that from tomorrow you will change your sleep cycle.
But the reality is that you are caught in a vicious spiral and find it challenging to become a morning person. To help you, our guide explains why some people can wake up early and how a night owl can become more productive during the day.
Getting up in the morning is easy for some people, but there's a large section of the populace whose day starts at noon.
They skip breakfast, work out in the evening, and stay awake through the night working or binge-watching the latest TV shows. But is this sort of life sustainable and, most importantly, healthy? Also, are morning people more productive and better off than night owls?
We all fall asleep based on our circadian rhythm, an internal body clock regulating our energy levels. In other words, this 24-hour clock provides signals to your body according to the movement of the sun.
It's like your body has an alarm clock; hence you feel energetic when there is natural light and sleepy if it's dark. However, the sleep schedule of every person varies, called a chronotype - the official lingo for a morning person or night owl.
A morning person has an earlier chronotype, which is why they have an earlier wake-up and sleep time. Often termed early birds, such people feel their best during the day compared to night owls with a late chronotype. A night person has a different sleep pattern, feeling more productive, motivated, and energetic at night.
Your chronotype finds expression in several ways, especially at a physiological level and through the activity of the central nervous system. But what's interesting, despite the different sleeping patterns, is that in the morning people, the brain pathways are most active during the day for peak performance. This is the opposite in night owls, so productivity may not take a hit.
If you think about it, some people deliver the same or even better results when working at night. Then, why should you take the trouble of waking up early?
Although no chronotype is better than the other, people with a nighttime routine might be disadvantaged. We live in a world where all important activities from school to the office are scheduled during the day.
This is when a night person is still sleepy, experiencing lower physical and cognitive performance. In some cases, people whose internal clock keeps them awake at night are at greater risk of depression, as the lack of rest during the daytime increases stress and affects mental health.
Many researchers have even suggested that people with a late chronotype are in a perpetual state of jet lag. Given their natural sleep cycles are different from societal norms, the demand to go to bed early can have serious consequences, including -
A person's chronotype is mostly genetic, but it's influenced by age, activity, and environment over the years. Researchers have observed that night owls could bring forward their sleep cycles by almost 2 hours in many instances.
You can follow these techniques for 3 weeks to develop good sleep hygiene.
By implementing these changes, you can get better sleep and improve your sleeping pattern without affecting your total hours of sleep.
Moreover, such people reportedly experienced less stress and anxiety than earlier. In fact, they even performed better during the day, and their productivity increased with no more groggy feelings.
But it's important to note that the chronotype may shift naturally due to gender, age, and physical changes. Surprisingly, women are more likely to follow a consistent sleep schedule and be morning people till their 20s. But after their 40s, women were likely to become night owls.
Similarly, pregnancy induces a change in chronotype in women in their 2nd or 3rd trimester, the same as in people recovering from strokes.
You can refer to the following points to set a proper bedtime routine and become an early bird without any sleep medicine.
When changing your habits from a night person to a morning person, it's important to shift your habits gradually. The most important thing when choosing a new sleep and wake-up time is ensuring that you don't compromise on the number of hours of sleep.
You should get at least seven hours of sleep every day. The easy way to think of this is like your bank balance - adding even a few hundred dollars at the end of every month to avoid debt is essential.
Similarly, you should not be in a sleep debt that will affect your health and productivity. The main problem night owls face when setting an early wake-up goal is they fail to fall asleep early.
A simple solution is to count back once you know how many hours you must sleep at night and when to wake up. As a result, you can plan the rest of the day accordingly.
There are two ways to tackle the issue of early rising. You can either jump out of bed and start the day, knowing that despite feeling tired in the transition phase, you will get accustomed after a few weeks.
Another option is to take it easy initially and make subtle changes to limit exhaustion. You can reduce your sleep and wake time by 30 minutes to see how your body responds. Once you settle into this new circadian rhythm, bring forward the sleep cycle by 30 minutes again.
Continue doing this till you can wake up like a morning person.
Sleep experts recommend that to experience the morning hours, what's more important than a new routine is a change in mindset. Many people opine that the correct way to start the day is by letting go of the night before, overcoming the grogginess of the mind and body, and trying to feel free for a fresher, brighter, and clearer start to the day.
Moreover, when they sleep earlier to become an early riser, it feels like a chore initially. While the circadian rhythm phase shifts slowly, you must have a positive dialogue with yourself.
Instead of telling yourself that you're not a morning person, tell yourself that you're becoming a morning person. Making this small change will help you deal with the alarm clock going off early in the morning.
It can be especially tempting to hit the snooze button when the alarm goes off in the morning, but having self-control is vital to becoming a morning person. At this point, we should tell you about sleep inertia, which is the groggy feeling people have when they wake up.
On average, giving yourself 90 minutes after waking up before starting any task would be best. This is particularly important for night owls starting a new sleep routine to shake off the early morning grogginess.
To beat sleep inertia, exercise and get natural light in the morning.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is returning to their old schedule on the weekends. Night owls risk sleeping in on weekends, affecting their circadian rhythm and resulting in social jet lag.
Instead, you must go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, creating a consistent bedtime sleep schedule. Even if you fail to keep to the sleep schedule on one weekend, it won't be easy to maintain a proper routine from Monday.
This eliminates all the progress you have made in the previous weeks. But with a proper pattern, you can get adequate sleep daily, helping you perform better.
To become a morning person and still get enough sleep, an evening person must wind down earlier than before. This means avoiding bright lights and maintaining an evening routine to keep up with your new schedule.
One of the tricks of becoming a morning person is gradually going to sleep 15 minutes earlier. This will allow the body and mind to adjust to the new circadian rhythms and wake up earlier.
Artificial light, like blue light, is one of the greatest evils preventing you from developing an early chronotype. To become a morning person, you must feel sleepy at the right time, so like an early bird, make sure to dim your lights an hour before bedtime. This will help release melatonin, responsible for some much-needed shut-eye.
Most importantly, avoid screen time, even if it's a relaxing TV show, and keep the room temperature between 65 and 69 degrees Fahrenheit to fall asleep quicker.
When a night owl has trouble sleeping, the natural tendency is to browse social media or watch TV. But to start waking up on time, a better alternative would be to read a book. Reading is a relaxing and quiet activity that often lulls you to sleep if you are reading in an inclined position.
However, you should note that bedtime reading must not be too strenuous or suspenseful to fall asleep earlier.
Instead of taking sleep medicine, prospective early risers should use their alarm clock to develop a new morning routine and stick to an earlier wake-up time. It might take some time to determine what type of alarm will help you wake up, so try all sorts, including a blaring and loud or gradual alarm.
Another simple trick morning people use is keeping the alarm clock far away, so they must get out of bed to shut it. This prevents them from hitting snooze while still in bed.
For proper sleep hygiene, don't drink alcohol or eat heavy meals close to bedtime to prevent disturbing your circadian rhythm. Once your internal clock goes for a toss, waking up early the next morning becomes harder.
We recommend having no more than 2 drinks 3-4 hours before bedtime and limiting calorie intake to 600 calories by only consuming small meals.
These are some techniques to help people fall asleep faster, but there are other simple methods you should know about. For instance, if you have blackout curtains in your room, keep the blinds apart slightly for natural light to enter during the day.
Individuals must get at least 5 hours of natural light daily to stay healthy and feel energetic at wake times. Moreover, engage in light movements after waking up, especially moderate workouts, to engage the body and mind and overcome the morning grogginess.
So, wake up early while others sleep and get a head start on the day!