We don’t always have the luxury of choosing our work hours. (And many of us aren’t smart enough to choose a career based on what best fits our lifestyle). If you’re an early bird, there’s a chance you’ll be stuck in a job that requires late hours. If you’re a night owl, it’s possible you’ll be required to race to the office by 8 AM. That’s just how the world works.
But that’s not to say you can’t take measures to change your ways.
If your job requires you to be in the office at the crack of dawn, then you best be ready for it. Though research indicates that your internal clock determines whether you’re an early riser or naturally nocturnal, there are several proven ways you can counteract your genetic disposition.
If you’re having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, try these four tips to streamline the process of becoming a morning person:
Banish Light Before Bed
Are you among the 71 percent of Americans that sleep with their smartphone, scrolling through social media or playing one last game of Candy Crush before bed? Does it still surprise you that those intended five to ten minutes turn into 45? Research says it shouldn’t.
Studies show that the blue light emitted from mobile devices and laptops are linked to sleep disorders. Unlike natural light, when our eyes see electric light (specifically blue hues), they signal our brains to shut off sleep-promoting neurons and instead activate arousing neurons that keep us awake.
That’s why Apple created a solution. Night Shift, an upgrade the company is in the process of designing, will change the color balance of the light emitted from iPhones during the evening hours. Using GPS-based information, the app will automatically reduce the blue hues of light and replace them with red and orange hues as darkness falls. (Blue wavelengths are known to boost attention and reaction times, which is valuable during the daytime, but they also disrupt sleep at night.)
Shutting off your devices up to an hour before bed (or utilizing Apple’s new update when it releases) may allow you to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly, thereby making it easier to rise in the morning well-rested.
Invite Light When You Wake
The reason for banishing light before bed is the same one cited for inviting light in the morning. Because our brains are so sensitive to temperature and light, experts recommend that we greet the day with sunshine. Leaving your blinds open at night can help naturally awaken your body in the morning.
If sufficient natural light isn’t available, experts suggest a ‘wake up light’ as an alternative. Wake up lights produce dawn simulation that helps reset your circadian “clock”—the body’s natural time-keeping system controlled by a small nuclei in the middle of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN).
Don’t Press Snooze
For many, half the struggle is simply getting out of bed. They believe the extra nine minutes awarded by pressing snooze is just what they need… but best practices say otherwise. If you’re attempting to become a morning person, your first step may simply be getting out of bed on the first alarm.
To make this process faster and easier, use apps that track your sleep cycle. Apps like Sleep Time, SleepCycle, and SleepBot are designed to monitor your sleep stages and wake you up at the appropriate time—specifically during your lightest stage of sleep so you feel alert and ready to wake up.
Give Yourself Extra Time
Sleeping in an extra five to ten minutes always sounds better than it feels. Those lousy few minutes never prove to be enough time to make you feel more rested. Instead, it leaves you wishing you would have just gotten up and had more time to prepare for the day ahead.
Instead, give yourself an extra 15 to 30 minutes to slowly wake up without having to stumble over your feet and rush out the door. Use the time to make yourself a cup of coffee, watch the morning news, meditate, or prepare for the day ahead. Reward yourself. Trade that extra time in bed for a hot breakfast or a gourmet cup of coffee on the way to work. Giving your body extra time to wake up may eventually help you enjoy the early morning hours.
In the end, we may not be able to choose whether we’re hardwired as early birds or night owls, but we can take action to skew one way or the other. If you want to become a morning person, start by ditching mobile devices before bed, waking up to sunlight, eliminating snooze button habits, and allowing yourself extra time to start your day. You might be surprised by what the morning has to offer.