“Are you a morning person?”
This question is so commonly asked, whether it’s by a coworker, a friend or even a first date. Most people either jump up at the sound of an alarm in the early A.M. and grab a cup of coffee, while others tap snooze multiple times and loathe the thought of leaving bed.
Everyone is different when it comes to their preference of being a night owl or a ray of sunshine in the early hours of the morning. But if you have always hated mornings, is it possible to change your tune?
Turns out, it is possible to become a “morning person”, and these people have certain routines that help them to be so chipper at dawn (hint: the common factor is sleep). Certified sleep science coach and managing editor at SleepFoundation.org, Bill Fish, says that the first step to becoming a morning person is to understand the chemistry in our brain.
“Each of us are equipped with an internal body clock known as our circadian rhythm. It tells us when to rest and when to be alert, but it craves consistency. Keeping a strict sleep schedule is key as to whether you want to be a morning person or a night owl,” said Fish.
Changing your chronotype
Adjusting your sleep schedule is how you can adjust your “chronotype”, which is your tendency of being a morning person versus a night owl. According to Healthline, gradually changing your bedtime to earlier (even if only by 20 minutes at first) will help you be able to wake up earlier and function.
Fish says that the number of hours you sleep will also determine how easy it is for you to wake up in the morning.
“Each adult should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep on a nightly basis. That two hour window varies based on body make up, physical exertion during the day, underlying health issues, etc. If you aren’t getting at least seven hours of sleep, your body will not be fully rested and it will be difficult to wake up in the morning,” he said.
Fish also recommends not consuming caffeine or alcohol near bedtime, as well as discontinuing looking at screens at least an hour before you go to bed.
Why is it so difficult?
But sometimes, people try to do these things, yet they can’t seem to fall asleep early. Why is it so difficult for people to be early risers?
“The vast majority of the time, issues arise because people keep an inconsistent schedule and they aren’t getting to bed early enough on a regular basis or their circadian rhythm is ‘out of whack,’” said Fish.
“Their mind and body aren’t sure when to rest and when to be alert.”
COVID-19’s affect on sleep
Getting enough sleep with the daily stresses of life was tough enough before, but throw a pandemic into the mix.
Suddenly, Fish said, people were having a difficult time with their sleep schedules. Once COVID-19 hit, the Sleep Foundation saw an influx of emails.
“Once people no longer had their strict work or school schedule, their sleep began to suffer and after a bit people’s bodies were beginning to rebel.
Moral of the story: get your rest
Getting enough sleep is crucial to being able to function.
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, this may be why it’s so difficult to function in the mornings. Lack of sleep can lead to slowed thinking, reduced attention span, mood changed and poor decision making.
“What people don’t always comprehend is that sleep is the third pillar of wellness going along with diet and exercise. Neglecting your sleep can cause significant health issues,” said Fish.
So get to bed early, create a soothing nighttime routine, and get at least seven hours of sleep. Who knows – these lifestyle changes may even make you a morning person.