Your chronotype describes your body’s natural circadian rhythm trends. Are you an early bird or more of a night owl? Although this predisposition to waking and sleeping at a certain hour is, in fact, partially genetic, you can change your body’s natural behavior with some easy tricks. Here’s a guide to becoming a morning person!
Gradually change your bedtime
If you suddenly try to go to bed three hours earlier, you’re going to toss and turn all night, but adjusting your bedtime by 20 to 30 minutes each night will help progressively change your sleep habits. The same goes for waking up. Gradually set your alarm earlier and earlier rather than skipping right to your ideal wake-up time.
Our circadian rhythms rely on light to set our bodily schedule. This is why daylight savings can affect us so much even though it is just a one-hour adjustment. Fortunately, you can use light to your advantage. Blue light signals dawn and waking, so put away screens an hour before bed and opt for amber-hued bulbs in your bedroom.
Get into a nighttime routine
We are creatures of habit, so setting up a steady nighttime routine can help our bodies adjust to a new schedule. Whether it’s journaling, reading, meditation, or something else, set up a timeline of events that lead you to sleep each night.
Make note of achievements
As you change your sleep schedule, are you noticing you have more energy throughout the day or are you loving the extra hours in the morning to read? Make note of these positive changes to keep yourself motivated.
Use small rewards
We discussed last week how powerful motivational rewards can be, so give yourself little rewards along the way. This can be something as simple as using your extra time in the morning to treat yourself to a nice cup of coffee down the street.
Think about “superordinate goals”
These are goals that behavioral researchers call our larger overarching goals. Think about the long term implications of your more rewarding schedule like your educational, professional, or health outcomes.
Think about exercise and eating
Our bodies’ rhythms are all intertwined, so habits like skipping breakfast, having caffeine late in the day, or having late dinners can wreak havoc on our sleep. In addition to regular healthy eating, incorporate regular exercise into your day to boost endorphins and make it easier to fall asleep.
Changing our bodies’ natural rhythms is no easy feat, especially if you have been a late riser for most of your life. Be patient with yourself and don’t expect to be running five am marathons in just a week. Follow these tips and you’ll find yourself transforming into a morning person in no time!
From the archive: This popular healthy living Optimist Daily story was originally published on December 8, 2020.