I’m sure many of us believe that we are either morning people or a night owl. The truth is most of us are in the middle. So, if you are interested in becoming one of those morning people it is quite possible. Your circadian rhythm is a kind of internal clock that influences your daily schedule. It tells us when to wake and sleep. Much of it is genetic but you can train yourself to wake earlier.
Waking early does increase productivity. More than half of Americans say they feel most productive between 5am and noon. Early risers tend to be happier, and more goal oriented also. Of course, any change will take effort and time but is well worth it.
Start to set your wake-up time earlier by just half an hour. If you usually rise at 8 you cannot just start getting up at 5 in one day. Each week set your alarm 30 minutes earlier and give yourself 5-7 days to get used to it.
Of course, waking up early doesn’t do much good if you just stumble around in a haze. Exercising releases endorphins that can really get you going. Exercising in the morning gives you better sleep at night also. You sleep longer and deeper when you exercise in the morning, more than any other time of day. Have a small breakfast with protein as the main component, along with some fiber.
Your bedroom environment is important too. Bedrooms should be neat, clutter free and as cool as possible (64-68 degrees). If you have annoying outside light, use black out curtains or shades. Too noisy? Use foam earplugs or a sound machine. There are apps that have thousands of different sounds, from thunderstorms and rain (My Favorite), to soft music. Use a pleasant alarm sound rather than a loud obnoxious one. With our smartphones now the choices are endless. It is just as important to have an alarm to sleep also. I have two notifications. One hour before bed to start the bedtime ritual. No more devices and blue light.
Practicing yoga or meditation sets you up for peaceful sleep. Many people find journaling gets out those nagging thoughts that often keep us up. Make a list of tasks for the next day and get thoughts of tomorrow’s challenges out so restful sleep can commence.
Get as much natural light during the day as possible. Studies have shown workers with limited light exposure in the workplace have poorer overall sleep quality than those with daily light. Natural light is good as opposed to the blue light that emits from our devices, and that includes television. That is why the one hour ban before bed for devices is so important.
Keep to your wake and sleep schedule on days off as much as you can. Staying up past midnight and sleeping till noon on days off can ruin all the work you have done during the work week.
Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago