There are two kinds of people in this world: night owls and early birds. While they crossover some time during the middle of the day, shifting your body clock from one end of the day to the other can be a tough assignment. But there may even be good reasons for doing it, as burning the midnight oil can have some negative associations, while those who rise with the sun are often more successful in life. All adults need about 8 hours of sleep every day for good health, so sleeping is as important as diet and exercise. If you want to improve your waking hours you need to make good sleep a priority. So how can you make the switch?
Early to bed, early to rise
The first thing to take into account, believe it or not, is the old saying “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. Going to bed earlier is the key to being able to wake up earlier. While we do have a natural body clock that keeps track of sleeping and waking hours, known as circadian rhythm, that cycle can be easily disrupted. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle may be mostly to blame. And that includes copious amounts of coffee!
Blue light disco
The body’s sleep cycle is partially dictated by how much light we are exposed to during the day. Way back in our early development humans had no way of making artificial light, so when the sun came up, we woke up – and when it went down, we slept, more or less. Now we have the wonders of electric lights, which can shift our days in any direction. Not to mention the other potential sources of light we shine in our own faces whenever we’re awake, such as computer and TV screens, and even phones, all of which have been shown to disrupt sleeping patterns when viewed too late at night. The blue light from electronic screens is particularly bad.
So – reducing light at night helps make your body sleepy, but increasing light in the morning will also help reset your internal clock. You can get an alarm that simulates the rising sun by gradually increasing in brightness over a period of time, or a simple trick is to put your alarm clock away from the bed, so you are forced to get up in order to shut it down. There are even some that will run away from you as you try to catch them, forcing you to do a little physical activity to get your heart pumping.
Move your body, grumpy
Early morning exercise isn’t for everyone, but it can give you an instant hit of alertness. You can give it a red hot go in the shower, possibly even with a cold blast of water at the end to really get your attention focussed on the day. Then have a good breakfast that is nutritionally balanced to give you sustained energy throughout the morning and through to lunch. While it may sound obvious, the success in shifting your daily cycles comes from routine. While you may be able to get away with some minor shifts once your timing is fully established, don’t stray too far from your routine when you are making the initial shift, even on weekends, or you could lose the ground you’ve gained.
Sleep like a baby
So to recap, if you want to shift from late nights to early mornings:
- Make sleep a priority
- No late night lights (including screens)
- Wake up with the sun, or some other light source
- Early morning rituals (showering or exercise)
- Good nutritious breakfast
- Regular sleeping and waking times, all the time
Good quality sleep and a healthy routine are essential to good health. If you’re thinking of putting your health at the forefront, consider comparing private health insurance providers as part of a comprehensive approach to your overall wellbeing. It may change the way you think about your body, your future and all those bad habits you’ve been harbouring!