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Night Owl to Early Bird: shifting your sleep

Are you a nocturnal who wants to break free from the clutches of late-night Netflix binges, one more chapter syndrome, and those midnight snack raids? Making a drastic schedule change can be intimidating but with a positive attitude and solid goals in mind, you may find it easier than you thought to awaken the early bird in you.

Start the snooze rebellion!

Becoming a “morning person” can mean more productivity and more time to yourself before your busy day starts. One of the first steps to take is to mentally prepare the night before and establish the new habits you’ll be practicing the next morning. It is generally recommended to set no more than two alarms to help you wake up. If you become dependent on multiple alarms, it simply prolongs the struggle to get out of bed and teaches your body that it’s ok to go back to sleep even for just a short time. Instead, when your alarm goes off, fight the urge to hit that snooze button, and get out of bed immediately.

Awaken with sun salutations

The early morning sun is your new best friend! If you've never been a morning person, chances are you haven't had much quality time with sunshine. After your alarm has gone off, try opening your curtains right away and letting the light flood your room. Embracing the sun with deep breathing and a few yoga stretches can help to give your body a gentle wake-up call.  

Sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythm and immediately increases your serotonin levels. Serotonin, in turn, is involved in the synthesis of melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall asleep naturally at night. The more serotonin you produce during the day, the easier it will be to drift off at bedtime.

Trading in your wings

Some individuals have a natural predisposition to be night owls. They tend to feel more alert and active in the evening and experience a sense of peace and solitude that they can’t achieve during the day. With fewer distractions and less noise, late hours can provide a tranquil environment for personal reflection, work, or creative activities.

Setting yourself up for success as a morning person means recognizing the reasons you love staying up late and finding a way to implement those into a healthier routine. Don’t give up on the things you love and be aware of any anxiety or “bed dread” that may affect your mental state before bed. Adjust your schedule so that you can begin your relaxing activities earlier in the evening and still have time to prepare your body to embrace rejuvenating sleep.

Slow and steady

Lifelong habits aren’t something you can change overnight (no pun intended!). Don’t attempt to shift your sleep schedule abruptly. Instead try these strategies:

  • Gradually adjust your bedtime and wake-up time by 15-30 minutes earlier each day
  • Establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Be mindful of what you eat and drink before bedtime. Spicy and acidic foods can cause discomfort, and both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle.
  • Try keeping a sleep diary to track your sleep patterns and identify any challenges. This can help you adjust your strategies as needed.

As you work hard to establish a new habit, remember to be patient with yourself and don't get discouraged if you have occasional setbacks.