What defines a morning person?
If we can divide the world into two halves based on the time at which an individual is most alert and active, we would have two groups – the morning people and the night people.
A morning person is one who wakes up early in the morning without any difficulty, is alert, fresh and most active during the first half of the day.
They are also the most efficient and productive during this time of the day.
Most students who are morning people prefer to wake up early to study as they are able to learn and absorb more during this time.
A morning person is also called an early riser, a lark or an early bird.
How do I become a morning person?
If you feel active and completely energized when you wake up early in the morning, you are probably what people call an early lark.
But, if you press your alarm’s snooze button more often or feel too tired when you try to wake up early, you are definitely a night owl.
It has been found that people who are early risers are generally more hardworking, high achieving, have a more streamlined life, and are less likely to suffer from lifestyle conditions like stress and obesity.
However, if one is a night owl and wants to become a morning person, there are ways to do so.
Get enough sleep:
The primary reason late risers are unable to wake up early in the morning is that they retire to their beds late at night and haven’t had enough sleep by the time it is 6 or 8 am the next morning!
So, the first thing one must do to become a morning person is to get enough sleep and do so consistently every day.
One day at a time:
Once you have decided to change your body clock to become a morning person, don’t go all out and do it at once.
Begin slowly, one day at a time. Allow yourself to have that extra 15 minutes in bed past your alarm.
It takes 21 days to develop a new habit. Waking up early is a habit too! If you have decided to join the early larks, you must ensure you are consistently waking up early.
Once it becomes a habit, you won’t find it tedious at all.
Try to avoid the snooze button:
No matter when your alarm rings, getting that extra few minutes(or hours) in bed is always tempting.
However, if you want to become an early riser, avoid pressing the snooze button.
Snoozing an alarm is also bad for your health, because when your alarm goes off in the first place, the sudden external sound will trigger your cardiovascular system and snoozing the alarm will only insult your heart over and over again.
This may also make you feel tired for most part of the day.
Let there be light:
It is easier to sleep at night than in the morning.
Have you ever wondered why? Well, in the day time, there is a lot of light which prevents the formation of melatonin, a hormone responsible for making you sleep.
So, try to keep your window blinds or curtain open during the night so that the morning sun will wake you up automatically.
Have a hearty breakfast:
Most night owls stay up at night by drinking cups of coffee expecting it to keep them awake and alert throughout the night.
However, this really doesn’t work.
And the same thing applies to those who feel drinking coffee in the morning will help keep sleep away.
Instead, one must have a healthy breakfast, which includes nuts, fruits, and yogurt, provides instant energy and keeps the brain active.
Most people think it is too much to ask for –waking up early and then hitting the gym.
But, you will be surprised to know that hitting the gym early in the morning not only drives away your sleep but keeps you feeling energized, fresh, positive and productive throughout the day.
What does a night owl mean?
Night owl is a person who is awake during the late hours of the night, sometimes up till early hours of the morning.
Such individuals are most productive in the night and very active even when they go to sleep.
They have a habit of retiring to bed very late in the night and their sleep cycle is not like the early larks, who are early risers.
Night owls are best suited to jobs that require people to work in the night shifts.
Which is better? Being an early bird or a night owl?
Each person has his/her own body’s chronotype, a biological clock that dictates their body on when to sleep or when to wake up.
Based on this, there are two types of people– the early birds and the night owls.
Each person’s biological clock plays a significant role, but in today’s world, most of it is determined by one’s lifestyle.
But, which group is more healthy?
Based on research conducted in the USA, early risers had 12-27% lower risk of developing depression than regular people whereas night owls had a 6% higher risk of developing it.
Night owls also have an increased predisposition to developing hypertension and obesity as compared to their normal counterparts and the early risers.
So, it is better to be an early riser than a night owl in the long term.
When does your brain work the best?
All human beings have a hormone called melatonin that decides one’s body clock and sleep time.
During the day, when it is bright outside, the production of melatonin reduces and so we are most awake during mid-day and afternoons.
However, as the sun begins to set and it starts to get darker outside, our nerves perceive this and the production of melatonin increases, signaling our body that it needs to sleep.
A research was conducted to compare teenage brains with fully grown adult brains and the results explained why young brains do not work very early in the morning.
This happens because the teenage brains are about 2 hours behind the adult brains and tend to show most activity during the afternoon.
This has been sighted as one of the reasons that teenagers are night owls rather than early risers.
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Why are teenagers sleepy during morning classes?
Sleep deprivation in teenagers is increasingly becoming a concern among parents and school authorities.
Many blame this on the teenagers, calling them lazy.
But it isn’t really their fault. It is their biological clock.
Teenage brains work differently from babies and adults.
Their sleep patterns differ from these two groups.
Due to the biology of human development, the sleep mechanism in teenagers prevents their brains from naturally awakening before 8 am.
This conflicts with the school timings and therefore, students are often seen sleepy or groggy in their earlier classes.
Research attributes this to puberty.
When a mammal, including humans, hit puberty, their sleep timing gets delayed.
And due to this, the adolescent brain is unable to sleep before 10.45-11pm.
It is during this time that melatonin production increases in a teenage brain and continues until 8 am.
Since this is biological, teenagers can’t do much about it.
When they have to wake up for an early school day, they end up being sleep deprived.
Who lives longer - a night owl or an early bird?
If you are a morning lark, things seem way better for you than if you are a night owl.
Research suggests that night owls have a 10% risk of dying earlier than the early birds.
This has been attributed to the fact that due to their lifestyle and biological clock, the night owls tend to develop more health conditions:
- Twice the risk of developing psychological conditions like depression, stress, and anxiety.
- 30% increased risk of diabetes, 25% increased risk of neurological problems.
- 23% higher risk of gastrointestinal problems, and 22% increased risk of respiratory disorders.
Why is it difficult to wake up in the morning?
One of the primary causes is sleep inertia.
Sleep inertia is that irresistible urge or desire to go back to bed and get back that extra amount of sleep.
This phenomenon is mostly seen during abrupt awakenings, especially if one was in deep or slow-wave sleep when awakened.
Sleep inertia can also occur if reactivation of certain parts of the brain is slow after awakening.
The next common cause that makes it difficult to wake up in the morning is sleep deprivation.
It can occur as a result of sleeping disorders, sleep apnoea, delayed sleep-wake disorder, insomnia or due to unknown causes.
In all these cases, the brain hasn’t got its ideal share of sleep and therefore makes it difficult to wake up in the morning.
How do you fix your broken sleep cycle?
Each of us has our own biologic chronotype and sleep cycle.
But, our bodies adjust to change in timings, for example adjusting to a new time zone while traveling.
Other causes that can break your sleep cycle include – work, stress, poor health, hormones, etc.
A broken sleep cycle can affect your health and function adversely and it is imperative for you to fix it as soon as possible.
One can use the following methods to fix their broken sleep cycle:
Bright light reduces melatonin production(the hormone responsible to make you fall asleep) and dim light or darkness increases its production.
So, if you want to set your cycle back to normal, reduce or dim lights around your sleep time to help induce sleep.
Alter your mealtime:
Researchers have suggested that 16-hour fasting during traveling across time zones helps set the sleep cycle back on track.
So, if you want to reset your sleep cycle, have an early dinner and avoid any food until your next day’s breakfast.
Once your sleep cycle has been restored, you can stick to regular meal times and maintain a 12-hour gap between your dinner and breakfast.
Avoid sleep altogether:
Staying awake all night or all day, based on how you want to reset your sleep cycle, can help you get back on track.
For some people, a sudden change in their sleep time can be harmful. Such individuals must alter their sleep cycle little by little until it is completely back on track.
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Are night owls smarter?
According to research, night owls are smarter and more creative than the early larks.
Surprising, but true! Though people presume that night owls are lazy, they are actually more active than early risers during any given day.
Researchers at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Miami described that this difference is due to the nocturnal environment.
It encourages the development of a non-conventional spirit and their ability to find unique, alternative and original solutions.
Should high schools have a later start time?
Most schools across the globe start early.
But, this actually has led to more teenagers and adolescents becoming sleep deprived.
The adolescent brain functions differently from that of a baby or an adult.
Their sleep cycle runs late– from about 10.45 pm till 8 am the next morning.
This occurs due to the melatonin production which is delayed due to puberty.
When teenagers sleep late in the night and have to wake up early for school, they end up losing out on sleep that their body needs and are often sleepy in class.
Schools must research and understand more about teenager sleep times and alter their timings to ensure all students get a minimum of 8-10 hours of sleep (as recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine)
Is it better to study in the morning or at night?
There is no specific time that can be called as the ‘best time to study’.
It depends upon when an individual is most productive.
Kids are more productive and fresh in the morning after a good night’s sleep and nutritious breakfast.
They are able to learn new things or review older notes.
During the afternoon, their brain is able to make connections and make the information they have already learned more meaningful.
With each child being unique and having a unique learning style, they also have their own best time to study.
How do you wake up feeling refreshed?
The most natural and ideal way to wake up feeling refreshed is by getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep.
However, in today’s world, most people end up with much lesser amounts of sleep.
Avoid drinking alcohol in the night before you sleep as alcohol hampers sleep quality and you end up waking up tired and fatigued.
Wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends!
Having a consistent and dependable sleep routine ensures that you sleep and wake up at the same time every day and more chances that you will get your required amount of sleep.
Avoid hitting the snooze button.
Yes, the snooze button may get you that extra amount of sleep but it is not really that useful. Waking up at the committed time you set your alarm to will ensure you wake up fresh.
Have a healthy, nutritious breakfast that gives you energy and keeps you refreshed after you wake up.
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What should you eat to avoid sleepiness?
It is a very regular thing for people to have coffee in order to stay awake and avoid sleepiness.
However, coffee does more harm than good in this respect.
But, there are many caffeine-free foods that one can have to stay awake:
Green Tea: It helps you rehydrate(dehydration is one cause for sleepiness, especially during the afternoons) and also has antioxidants that help boost energy levels.
Chocolate: Chocolate is made from cocoa beans that are rich in caffeine(less than that found in coffee). Along with this, chocolate also contains flavonoids that keep the heart-healthy.
Fruits: Fruits are quick sources of energy and rich sources of fiber. Having a bowl of fresh fruits can spike your energy levels, burn fats and ward off fatigue.
Whole grains: Whole grains contain carbs that break down slowly and provide a sustained release of energy, keeping you energetic.
Does chocolate keep you awake?
Yes. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which contain caffeine.
Apart from caffeine, chocolate has other stimulants like theobromine that cause sleeplessness and keep you awake.
What foods keep you awake?
While some foods induce sleep, there are some that can keep you awake:
- Fried and Deeply Fried foods
- Black beans
- Over-indulging in dark chocolate
- Excessive candy
- Foods high in protein such as steak
- Carbonated soft drinks
A person suffering from insomnia must stay away from these foods.
Is it bad to sleep for 15 hours straight?
Most of us need 7-9 hours of sleep to wake up fresh the next morning.
But, there are some people, called as long sleepers, who for work or school reasons are unable to get the required amount of sleep during weekdays and end up sleeping for up to 12-15 hours over the weekends or holidays to make up for the lost sleep.
Long sleepers often complain that they never get enough sleep and this disorder begins early in childhood. It is a lifelong pattern of needing lots of sleep.
Can oversleeping make you tired?
Very little or too much sleep can make one feel tired, fatigued and lethargic.
This happens because any diversion from the body’s regular sleep cycle creates a perception of fatigue.
Xcode Life’s Traits and Personality Report can help you identify if you’re a morning lark or a late owl. Our Trait and Personality Report also covers worrier or warrior personality, leadership potential, creativity, and 25+ traits.