There are telltale signs if you’re not a morning person: Your snooze button is worn, you literally drag yourself out of bed, and you can’t have a conversation until that first cup of coffee.
You’d love to be a morning person, but it’s damn hard. But is it actually possible to become a morning person?
According to New York City-based psychologist Paulette Sherman, research has shown your genetics can influence whether you’re an early-riser or a night-owl.
“Scientists recently discovered more than 300 places in the genome that influence sleeping habits and that people’s brains react differently to external light depending on their genetic code,” she says.
The research also found morning people could be more left-brained, while night people are more right-brained.
Besides genetics somewhat dictating your preferred hours, there is room to change.
“Some researchers say 47 percent of your chronotype—when you’re more genetically inclined to sleep—is inherited, so I guess the rest you can work with,” Sherman says.
The best way to start is by utilizing one of the key drivers of your circadian rhythm: sunlight.
“If you want to advance your sleep-wake schedule, this is best achieved by exposing yourself to light in the morning hours right after waking up. Light is the single best way to entrain a circadian rhythm,” says Nate Watson, MD, a scientific advisor for SleepScore Labs and professor of neurology at the University of Washington. “This could be outside or inside—the brighter the better. Although even the most overcast day still provides enough light to entrain these rhythms.”
You can prepare your brain for an early wakeup by ensuring you get an incredible night’s sleep. One trick for night-owls, Dr. Watson suggests, is melatonin.
“In the evenings, taking melatonin for a few weeks—just 1 mg about three hours before your intended bedtime—can advance a circadian rhythm and make you more of a morning person,” Dr. Watson says. “This could help make ‘evening-type’ people into more of a ‘morning-type,’ but achieving success to become a morning person may be a bit more of a challenge for these individuals.”
You can also cut down on caffeine by lunchtime, and limit screen time on your phone at least an hour before you call it a night, to help with your sleep and rhythm.
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