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“In the morning a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
“In the morning a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Are you a night owl or an early bird? If you’re the former, you probably — at least sometimes — envy the latter. They get the worm, after all. Early birds, or larks, are sometimes referred to as “A-people,” while the nocturnally-oriented among us are “B-people.” Scientists believe that your chronotype — whether you are an A or a B-person — is largely controlled by your circadian timing, which is genetically determined. Does that mean if you’re a night owl you’re stuck being one forever? Not necessarily.
Research using light therapy on night shift workers showed that 15-minute bright light pulses and outdoor afternoon light exposure resulted in improvements not only in night shift work but in “normal” night time sleeping patterns on weekends. If it can work in one direction, why not the other?
Though there may be some benefits to being a night owl, like more privacy and peace and quiet during waking hours, in our hectic modern society, it’s the morning people who have the upper hand. They tend to get more sleep for one thing.
Findings from a study at the University of Toronto show that morning people consider themselves to be both happier and healthier than night owls. The research also found that by age 60 most people are larks anyway. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever been to an early bird special.
Sleep expert Professor Colin Espie gives some practical advice on how to become a morning person. Improve your sleep by having a “wind-down” period before going to bed. Switch off all electronic devices and only exercise during the day. He also recommends not using the snooze button as it confuses our bodies on a physiological level.
Other experts are less strict about the ban on evening exercise, but don’t recommend it after 7pm. Additional ways to improve your sleep include being prepared for the next day so you won’t worry instead of sleeping; using a comfortable, firm and allergy-free mattress; avoiding large meals close to bedtime; and rising at the same time every morning — even if you stay up late the night before. Catch up on sleep with a short nap during the afternoon or by going to sleep earlier that night.
The final tip is to get some exposure to morning sun. Sleep near a window with eastern exposure or get a dog. Dogs love to go for walks in the morning even if you don’t.