Do you have a body that prefers staying up late at night BUT have a boss that requires you to get up early in the morning? Night Owl individuals have a tough time in a Morning Lark society. It can negatively affect their work performance – and their health and weight. Night Owl people tend to eat fewer meals, fewer fruits and vegetables – and weigh more than Morning Larks.
Night Owl to Morning Lark
Want to make the switch? Here are some ideas on how to get to sleep earlier and wake up in the early morning refreshed:
- Establish a regular bedtime routine. Too often we shut down our electronics just as we hop into bed and then wonder why we can’t fall asleep. The first step is to teach ourselves what we teach our kids – a routine that gets our body and mind ready for sleep. This includes dimming the lights, turning off the electronics, reading something calming, stretching/relaxing during the last hour of the evening.
- Make the bedroom completely dark. Darkness initiates the production of melatonin, the hormone which makes us sleepy. Light can pass through closed eyelids so the room must be completely dark – close the blinds, use black-out shades, no hall light or night light, or eye mask.
- Get 30 minutes of morning light. Each of us has a circadian rhythm that’s ABOUT 24 hours long. Not exactly. The average is 12 minutes more than that. Meaning that if you get tired at 11pm, the next night it won’t be until 11:12, then 11:24, etc. In order to get us back in synch with the outside world, we need to use light effectively. Morning light shortens our internal day, meaning that it will help us feel tired earlier in the evening.
- Start eating earlier in the day. People with night owl tendencies eat fewer meals with more of the calories in the evening. Start eating like Morning Larks, beginning with breakfast. Not hungry in the morning? Then stop eating earlier in the evening so you wake up hungrier. Not working? Then eat something just as soon as you can. For example, if you start feeling hungry at 10am, don’t wait until lunch…eat now!
- Move it! People who exercise report getting better quality sleep, as well as improved energy and mood. That all helps when you’re getting up earlier in the morning.
- Limit your caffeine. Caffeine is a drug – effective at increasing attention and focus. But because it’s a drug, it must be eliminated from the body. We measure how fast or slow this drug leaves our body using a term called “half-life”. The half-life is the time it takes for HALF of what you currently have in your blood stream to be eliminated. So, if you have a venti cup of coffee at 6am (400mg), you’ll have about 200mg remaining at 10am. Then 100mg at 2pm, 50mg at 6pm, and 25mg at 10pm. That’s probably not enough to keep you awake. BUT what if you had continued to drink caffeine throughout the day? In other words, it isn’t just about what time of the day you stop drinking caffeine that affects sleep, you also have to consider how much you’re drinking during the day.
Find out more about sleep, caffeine, and basically how to have more energy in my latest book, REBOOT.