Everyone’s got slightly different sleeping and waking cycles: That’s what makes you an early bird or a night owl. These differences can often be uncomfortable in a world of standardized schedules—especially for those of us who feel more alert at night than in the early morning hours.
Here are 5 ways to make the most of your morning, whether you feel most vibrant at 6 a.m. or 11 p.m.:
- Respect Your Body’s Rhythms: Are you a night owl in a family of early birds? Or do you nod off while everyone is still laughing around the dinner table? Your body’s rhythms regulate when you experience peak energy. Your circadian rhythm is the way your body functions over a 24-hour period, and this rhythm will vary from person to person. Although we all respond to the presence of light and dark, our bodies process hormones differently—and these hormonal processes affect how and when we are awake or asleep.
- Get the Sleep You Need: Regardless of when you feel most awake, many of your body’s organs recharge during the critical period between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Try a new routine for a week that allows you to be in bed by 11 p.m., and notice the difference in your productivity in the morning-time!
- Maximize Your Prime Hours: Pay attention to when you feel most alert, and carve out time for yourself during these hours. If you tend to be most productive late at night, don’t deny yourself the luxury of working when you’re at your sharpest. Just make sure you start to wind down at least an hour before you want to be in bed.
- Minimize Light Exposure Before Sleep: Remember that light exposure doesn’t just come from light bulbs! Limiting the amount of time spend staring at bright television, computer, and mobile device screens the hour before bed will cue your brain that its time for sleep, and help you get the rest you need to wake up feeling refreshed.
- Eat Right, Hydrate & Exercise For Your Body: Although it’s always a good idea to stay hydrated and active, remember that your body has different needs than everyone else’s—the right diet for your friend may not be the right diet for you. Learn the times of day that are right for you to eat and exercise, and how different foods make you feel. The high fiber cereal that fuels your partner might bog you down and make you tired. It’s all a matter of personalizing your health!
Although you may be more inclined to activity in the morning or evening, you can help regulate extremes by balancing your hormones and body clock through diet, exercise, and minimal light exposure before sleep. And remember: The more you learn about your body and mind, the greater power you have to make positive change!