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From night owl to early bird


There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to daily routine. Waking up early isn’t always easy for everybody, and it isn’t always more beneficial for our health, but sometimes it becomes necessary to change your habits and trade your love of midnight for the early morning sunrise.

You might have noticed that you feel more alert or tired at similar times every day. This is due to your circadian rhythm or body clock which regulates behaviour, cells and body processes. Not everybody’s circadian rhythm is exactly the same. That’s why you may feel tired or alert at different times of the day compared to other people

If you’re looking to turn from a night owl to an early bird, you will need to adjust your internal body clock and change your current habits. Although daunting, it’s by no means impossible…

Set your alarm

The thought of getting up early can be painful. The problem is that if you’re staying up late, it’s because you are not tired. This is the first habit in your existing routine to break.

You need to retrain your brain so you feel tired earlier and to do that, you’ll need to wake up earlier. Getting up a couple of hours earlier is tough to start with, but after doing it for a few days you’ll soon feel tired earlier than you used to.

It is important to keep your routine regular. That means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even at the weekend. Although it’s tempting to have a late-night or a lie in when you don’t have to get up, it will only make waking up on Monday morning even harder.

Ease in gently

You don’t have to jump right in and start setting your alarm super early (unless you need to get up for work). Instead, you could start by moving your alarm 15 or 30 minutes earlier every morning over the course of the first week and gradually increase this time over a few weeks until you reach your target time.

Adapt your evening schedule

If your routine allows, try moving your evening schedule earlier to accommodate your new body clock. For example, if you usually hit the gym or socialize in the evening, try moving it an hour earlier. Doing so, will enable you to still fit in your usual activities before going to bed at your new earlier time.

Can your circadian rhythm affect your health?

Some research suggests that night owls may be at a greater risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes compared to early risers. According to research, people who go to bed later tend to eat unhealthy diets and consume more alcohol, sugar and caffeine than those who go to bed and rise early. Night owls also tend to skip meals like breakfast and incorporate fewer grains, rye, fruits and vegetables into their diet.

Are there benefits to being a night owl?

But being a night owl isn’t all bad. Studies show that people who rise late and sleep later are more likely to:

  • Have a higher IQ (but early risers may have a greater chance of success)
  • Perform better in strength sports
  • Be more creative
  • Stay mentally alert for longer

Let’s recap:

If you want to become an early bird, adopting regular sleep patterns will help your circadian rhythm to operate at it’s best. But ultimately, there’s no such thing as an “optimal body clock”; the key is regularity. The worst time to train is not at all, so pick a workout time that you know you can commit to consistently