How to become a morning person? 3 secrets to join the 5AM club
Do you wake up feeling motivated and ready to take on the day right at sunrise? Or does inspiration strike you late at night and you find yourself speeding through your to-do list? Or are you somewhere in between? With the Daylights Savings Time switch coming up, learn how to get out of bed when it's cold and make most of your mornings.
Your body has an internal clock that is in alignment with the Earth’s rotation. A structure in your brain called the SCN (suprachiasmatic nucleus) is your body’s timekeeper, and it affects how you function between sleep and wakefulness . Your morningness or eveningness reflects the subtle changes in your body clock. Your body’s natural tendency to sleep and wake up is called your chronotype. Though there are genetic influences, your age, gender, lifestyle and environment factors like light, diet and physical activity also determine your best work-rest routine .
What made you a morning lark or a night owl?
GeneticsThere is a genetic element to the reason you feel naturally inclined to work later at night or early in the morning. Based on studies in the UK, USA and Europe, genetics can influence up to 50% of your chronotype . Though current studies state that there may be many different genes which can modestly influence your body clock, the overall influence is still under investigation.
Age and genderAnyone who has been around babies and young children can tell you that they are generally the first to wake up in the morning. As they grow older, this shifts towards an evening preference among teenagers and fluctuates back to morning among adults , as seen in a study of over 400,000 people, where only 9% of those between 37-73 years identified as predominantly night owls . Men generally tend to have a later chronotype than women, with 50% of women identifying as a morning person compared to 40% of men .
Environmental factorsPresence of light, ambient temperatures, social obligations, nutrition, exercise are some factors that you can modify to retrain your body clock and influence your chronotype. Continue reading to learn more.
What is your inner sleep animal?
Understanding what your natural chronotype is will help you work with your type for optimal results. It will also help you modify your type to achieve your early rising goals. There are 4 main types of chronotypes :
LionsThese are the true early risers, comprising 10-20% of the population. They wake up early and sleep early and are the most productive in the morning. If you are a lion, it's best to use your early focus time for the most important task of the day and to recharge with an afternoon nap.
BearsThese comprise 55% of the population. Bears follow the natural progression of the day, working in alignment with the sun. They are generally the most productive between 10am-2pm and it's advisable for them to schedule important tasks in the first half of the day. It is imperative for bears to get a good quality sleep at night to continue their established routine.
WolfsThese are the night owls and comprise 15-20% of the population. They work best at night, with lower activity in the morning. Since they generally need time to get attuned after waking up, it is best for wolves to schedule important tasks in the afternoon. They can benefit from ensuring that they have a good sleep routine in place so when they finally go to sleep later at night, they can maximize their sleep quality.
Dolphins10% of the population identifies as dolphins due to their struggles with getting adequate sleep. Since they are light sleepers, this can impact their work routine during the day. A few hours after waking up in the morning seems to be the best time for important tasks. Taking breaks during the day and eating right can help with maintaining energy for a long day.
How to be a morning person?
In an ideal world, you could work in alignment with your natural sleep animal. But the reality is, morning birds reap the best benefits owing to the structure of job/study commitments and the way this world works. If you are a wolf or dolphin, it is unlikely to switch your chronotype to the opposite side of the spectrum, owing to the influence of genetics, age, and gender. The good news is that you can still amend the modifiable factors of your environment to make your morning experience a happy and productive one. Focus on optimising your sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and daily routine to become a morning person.
Sleep well to rise well.
How to wake up easier? To wake up refreshed at 6am each morning, you need to provide your body with adequate rest the night before. The brain chemical involved in the sleep process is melatonin. Melatonin is produced from your happy brain chemical; serotonin and this process is light sensitive. During the absence of light, your eyes signal your brain cells to facilitate the conversion of serotonin to melatonin . Though protein rich foods like beef, cheese and tofu provide the building block of serotonin, a more efficient way to produce serotonin is intake of its direct building block, 5-HTP, available in supplemental form. The world’s smallest dense tablet of 100mg 5-HTP can naturally and safely increase serotonin levels. To make enough melatonin, you need to keep up your levels of serotonin, which makes 5-HTP a beneficial aid.
Another way to slide smoothly into the land of dreams is to establish a good sleep routine. The Sleep Foundation recommends the following  :
- Help your melatonin by limiting bright lights. You can use dim lights in the bedroom, avoid screens before bedtime and use blackout curtains for a sleep friendly environment.
- Your body prefers a cooler temperature to promote sleep. Keeping the bedroom thermostat between 18-21°C, taking a bath and changing into pyjamas with cooler fabrics can help achieve a cool sleep.
Exercise to boost the morning shift.
Exercising in the morning provides more benefits than evening exercise. This is another reason to become a morning person. Those that enrolled in a 12-week moderate exercise program compared morning vs evening exercise effects. It was found that morning exercise promoted a better sleep quality and appropriate bedtime . Another group of evening types who shifted their morning exercise routine by 30 mins earlier each day, found they were sleepy 1-2 hours before bedtime . This could possibly help the wolf or dolphin types who want to regulate sleep routine. Furthermore, if your mornings are busier, exercise at any time of the day is beneficial.
Eating for an optimised morning routine.
To become a morning person, it would be wise to investigate the eating habits of morning birds. Multiple studies show that those with a morning chronotype had a regular eating pattern and healthier diet than night owls . Almost 60% of evening people skipped breakfast . Morning larks eat their breakfast, avoid meal skipping and have a higher intake of whole grain, fruits, and vegetables as seen across many studies . Those who worked late into the night had a higher stimulant consumption of coffee, sugary drinks, and energy drinks. Night owls also had more food intake during the evening and late at night, this was also accompanied by watching TV while eating 
To eat like a morning person :
- Eat breakfast regularly.
- Have appropriately scheduled meals and eat on time.
- Eat mindfully and focus on your meals.
- Increase intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Limit intake of coffee, sugary drinks later in the day.
- Have lighter meals at the end of the day.
Understanding your sleep chronotypes can help you optimise your work-life balance and lead to a healthier life. Additionally, if you are looking to become a morning person, adjusting your current routine can make it possible. Enhancing your sleep routine, dietary intake and physical activity levels can work wonders in making your mornings a happy and productive time.
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