Are you a night owl or an early bird? If you are an early bird, you already know how delightful mornings can be. Being awake during the very first hours of the day can be so refreshing, painting the rest of the day in the most vivid colors. On the other hand, night owls have their reasons for staying up late as well, with night being the perfect time to chill.
People tend to sleep at different times throughout their day, depending on their preferences. This is also known as our chronotype: a range between what’s called morningness, or those who are most active and alert in the mornings, and eveningness, those who are most active and alert at night. Some studies have shown that both have advantages and disadvantages, and there’s no consistent scientific evidence showing that one is better than the other. Both night owls and early birds can be equally productive, while both can struggle with their sleep-wake routines. What’s best is to have a sleep pattern that’s good for you, but also sustainable within your daily life responsibilities, such as work, school, and others.
Our preferences and tendencies about our sleep routines might change from time to time. Maybe we end up setting our internal clock to an arbitrary schedule in order to accommodate the changes of the modern world. That’s okay and sometimes even necessary in order to adapt to a new sleep schedule, particularly if you’re a new parent or a night shift worker, let’s say. On the other hand, our body operates according to a circadian rhythm, which synchronizes our metabolic activities to the movement of the sun. For diurnal beings like us, who typically sleep during the night and are active throughout the daytime, the most efficient way for us to sleep is when it’s dark out, waking up with the sun. While no one practice is best for all, if you want to try setting your wake-up time to the sun, below are some benefits to that and how you can change your sleeping habits if you’re so inclined.
As mentioned above, waking up with the sun fits into our natural circadian rhythm. The results of one study revealed that there’s a positive correlation between those who wake up early and regular, better sleep, particularly for daytime workers. Being awake and alert early in the morning on a regular sleep-wake schedule can be related to longer sleep duration, less sleepiness during the day, and better sleep quality.
Staying up late has so much to offer as well from precious time alone, to playing video games, watching a movie, or getting some late-night chores done. But the struggle can be real the next morning after waking up late. It’s a vicious cycle: You stay up late, wake up late, and you’re wide awake in the middle of the night because of it.
When we oversleep, perhaps waking up around noon, the day’s already begun and we may have to jump right into the daily rush without feeling like we have time to notice anything in particular about the moment. Our day starts and moves on as we’re trying to make sense of what’s happening around us. By waking up early, we have more time to take stock of how we’re feeling and set intentions for the day ahead.
Being a morning person means that you include mornings in your life with intention, rather than having them be pit stops within the race of the day. Every moment of our lives is an important part of the road on this journey of life. Embrace the mornings, relishing the time to reconnect with yourself and your body.
Creating space for yourself first thing in the morning can help you be more proactive than reactive, your actions becoming more deliberate and intentional as you check in with yourself. You’ll stand tall and steady on your feet, taking a few deep breaths as you reflect on your emotions and your environment in peace. And you’ll more than likely spend the rest of the day with an increased sense of power and control, present in the moment as your most authentic self.
You get to take the lead in your own life, choosing and setting the tone of your day. It’s not always possible to do whatever we want and we often have responsibilities that we need to attend to, but we can choose how we navigate them, how we show up for ourselves. Especially during those busier days, we can set intentions with a healthy dose of self-compassion which we can also extend to others. We can choose to be kind, to prioritize ourselves and our needs just as we are aware of those of others. Just try to pause and reflect on how you feel and what today looks like in that small window of time you have in the morning and see how it impacts your day.
Our energy’s not infinite and it’s our responsibility to choose how and where we spend it. However it’s not always possible to direct our energy to the right places or align with our needs and priorities. The world isn’t perfect and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore amidst the chaos of life, our priorities and needs may sometimes be in conflict. It’s our job to protect and take care of our boundaries more than anything else. Whether you’re a parent, a caregiver, or an employer who’s responsible for others, you need to remember to take care of yourself. Waking up early is only one example of checking in with yourself before you start to share energy with others, focusing that well of strength on yourself and your inner peace first. If you work full time, study, or you’re a stay home parent, don’t let the work of the day steal your energy and joy.
Maybe you’re thinking you’re more productive and creative at night. That can definitely be true for some, but you’ll also need to consider if that’s really the case for you. If you’re waking up early for your job or your children and you’re exhausted most days, you might say that staying up late doesn’t really fit into your daily routine. Making peace with going to bed or waking up earlier might be a game changer for you. Who knows?
Maybe you prefer staying up late because it’s quieter and you get less distracted, which is completely understandable. Another option to consider is working on creating boundaries that allow you to carve out that time for yourself in the morning. In this way, you’ll be able to practice setting healthy boundaries for yourself and start your day well-rested and in touch with yourself.
Some of us end up staying up late because we have a hard time falling asleep. Maybe it’s because we’re overwhelmed by thoughts we manage to escape during the day or we can’t quiet our minds so we end up watching TV or falling asleep in front of a screen. Making peace with what keeps us up at night can help us fall more easily into a deep and restful sleep.
If it’s not falling asleep at night, maybe you have difficulty waking up in the morning. Some of us set several alarms and still can’t seem to pull ourselves up and out of bed, hitting snooze over and over again. It might feel as though this will go on forever, but there are ways you can change your sleep habits. It may take time but with a bit of patience, you can begin to include mornings in yoru day, relishing that extra time to set the tone for your day.
Working on your sleep quality is one of the first things you can do. If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, it becomes that much harder to wake up easily or well-rested the next morning. Maybe this means you try turning off your phone or lessening your screen time an hour before bed, or reading to get your mind ready for sleep, or even one of Meditopia’s wide range of sleep meditations tailored to you and your needs. Creating a soothing environment by doing things like dimming the lights and making sure your space is clean as you get closer to your bedtime can also help you relax and ease into sleep. You can also try to limit your caffeine intake so that your body and mind are calm before bed. You can set your own routine.
The rules are simple: do what makes you relaxed and sleepy and don’t do what keeps you awake. Try these things and you’ll likely see how it gets easier in time to wake up naturally as the quality of your sleep improves.
Turn your mornings into something that you’re excited about waking up to. It doesn’t need to be something huge, it can be anything from a nice outfit, to a delicious breakfast, to a good book, to your favorite person, to journaling, or a hobby that brightens your day. Waking up will be much easier knowing that you’ve got something to do that you’re looking forward to.
Morning meditation is an excellent choice to start your day in touch with yourself and more connected to the present moment. This practice can help us to find the motivation within ourselves to seize joy throughout our day. Morning mindfulness sharpens our minds, waking us up so that we can greet the day, accepting whatever it brings.
If you’re made your sleep-wake routine, try to stick to it, going to bed and waking up around the same time each day. If this is a newer practice for you, you can try waking up earlier than usual for a few days just to see what that feels like as you get started. As you adjust your routine, you may feel tired for those first few days, but as you find a consistent rhythm, you’ll be as fresh as a newly bloomed daisy in the mornings.
In the morning, you can try to include gentle stretches or a few minutes of any physical activity that gets your body moving. You don’t have to do a complete workout routine, this kind of movement is just to get your circulation flowing, waking your body up a bit. Movement can be even more effective than caffeine when it comes to waking up. It also helps to stretch or flex the sore or stiff parts of your body if you sleep in an uncomfortable position or if you worked out the day before. A short exercise can cause your body to secrete dopamine and serotonin, making you feel good. Who doesn’t want a positive and energetic start to a day?
Sometimes we procrastinate in the face of change or when we’re overwhelmed with responsibilities. We might just need that extra push to take that first step toward making small changes that can have a big impact. These little morning person life hacks may help you get motivated to try something new.
- Set one alarm and try not to hit snooze. Knowing you have another alarm going off in a few minutes makes it easier to fall back asleep. When you have that one shot, you’re more likely to get up with the first alarm.
- Put your alarm or phone a little bit further from your bed. That way, you’ll have to get up in order to silence it. Once you’re up, you’ve already done most of the work and you’re primed to start your day then and there.
- As soon as you wake up, try getting out of bed, even if it’s just to stand next to it. From there, you can decide whether you’re ready to begin your morning or if you’re going to snooze your alarm and go back to sleep. The more you stay in bed, the harder it is to actually get up. When you’re standing, it will be easier to stay awake and make a decision that will best suit you.
Believe that you have the strength and ability to become a morning person. Changing our routine is not easy and it’s difficult to give up something our mind and body are accustomed to as it requires time, dedication, and consistent effort.
If you want to become a morning person, first think about your motives: What makes you want to wake up early? You might even write them down and hang them on a wall where those reasons are visible every day. Then, when it gets harder to get yourself up out of bed, or you’re wanting to stay up late, you can remember those motives. Be patient and gentle toward yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hear your alarm and oversleep or if you get swept up in a good book and stay up late into the night. Your body needs time and understanding, so give yourself that.
There’s a morning person within you. They’ll be there, ready to awaken from their beauty sleep whenever you’re ready to make the change.