Is it Possible to Become a Morning Person?

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/7/2012 6:00 AM   :  68 comments   :  21,939 Views

See More: news, sleep, changes,
"Night owl" is not a term anyone has ever used to describe me.  Even in my younger years, before kids made me more tired than I ever thought possible, I didn’t stay up late.  I can comfortably last until around 10 p.m., and then it’s time for bed.  But getting up early doesn’t bother me.  I like to get a lot of things done early in the day, including exercise.  So most days around 5:30 a.m., you’ll find me on the treadmill or in front of the T.V. doing an exercise video.
 
I know people who say that although they’ve tried hard to become a morning person, it never happens.  My mother-in-law, for instance, does her treadmill run around 8:30 every night- just as I’m winding down for the day.  What works for one person doesn’t always work for another.  But sleep experts say that with time and effort, it is possible to reset your biological clock and become that morning person you’ve always hoped to be.
 
Your biological clock controls your circadian rhythm, which controls your sleep-wake cycles.  It’s a little more complicated than just going to bed earlier and suddenly being able to wake up at 5 a.m., rested and alert.  Sleep experts suggest starting by getting up 20 minutes earlier each day until eventually you’re getting up at the desired time.  After a while, you’ll start getting tired a little earlier each night.  It’s also important to get moving as soon as the alarm goes off.  Don’t lay in bed hitting the snooze button.  Experts also say that light has a direct effect on our circadian rhythms.  That means you’ll want to turn the lights on when you wake up, and when you’re trying to fall asleep, keep the light to a minimum.  That means no T.V. or computer in bed. 
 
Making these changes and sticking with them consistently requires a lot of self-discipline.  It’s easy to fall back into old habits and routines.  "Besides computer screens, the biggest saboteur for an aspiring morning person is the weekend. Staying up later on Friday or sleeping in on Saturday sends the brain an entirely new set of scheduling priorities. By Monday, a 6 a.m. alarm will feel like 4 a.m."
 
Learn more about how to Wake Up Naturally to a More Energized Day, and how you can Learn to Love A.M. Exercise.
 
Are you a morning person?  If not, have you tried to become one?  What did you do, and did you find any success?


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Comments

  • 68
    I have always been a late night person and don't really function until 10-11am. As for changing circadian rhythms, that doesn't make sense to me. They are your body's natural equilibrium and if you work with them rather than against, you will be happier and more productive.

    I worked for decades where I had to be working by 7am...my morning routine was streamlined and seldom varied...I couldn't cope well otherwise....a midday nap helped to get through the business part of the day, but I finished my day by 1-2 am..

    I never was able to change my rhythms...and forgoing the naps just made me groggy

    Don't change what's not broken - 2/11/2012   9:59:57 AM
  • 67
    I work night shift, 11:30pm to 7:30am, 5 nights a week. The two nights I do get to sleep at night, I sleep really well, and wake up by 6am well rested. Night time sleep is much different than trying to switch to sleeping during the day time. For most people who work night shift, waking up rested is a rarity, no matter how much sleep is had during the day. - 2/10/2012   6:57:35 AM
  • SBNORMAL
    66
    I am a morning person even if I go to bed late. I use to get morning, then I started dragging and was late for years, but I am going back to my old ways. I want to be walking in the morning and burn calories. - 2/10/2012   1:26:52 AM
  • 65
    I'm pretty sure being in college has messed up my schedule... I go to bed around 2am and wake up at 11am. =) - 2/9/2012   11:40:15 PM
  • BLUESPARKLES
    64
    I agree, night owls shouldn't be the ones to change!! ;) In fact, I think it should be illegal for anyone to have to get up in the dark, it just isn't natural!!

    Seriously, I've always been a night person, always will be. Even though I have to get up now at 6:15 I can't fall asleep before 1am no matter what time I go to bed. If left to my "natural" rhythm I go to bed between 2-3 am and wake on my own between 8 and 8:30 and feel perfectly rested.

    Unfortunately, having to get up at 6:15 I am always exhausted and miserable, especially in the winter. It's a little easier to get out of bed during the summer since it is starting to get light outside, but I'm still miserably tired all the time. - 2/9/2012   11:06:58 PM
  • 63
    I'm definitely not a morning person. And thanks to my job, I have the option of coming in later so I can sleep in a little longer. Back in my previous jobs, I would have to wake up butt crack early in the morning, I hated it, but I was able to adjust. I truly believe that it takes self-discipline to be able to adjust and make these changes. - 2/9/2012   8:53:23 PM
  • SEPTLEFTY
    62
    Pretty interesting - 2/9/2012   8:15:12 PM
  • 61
    I was not a morning person but once I started my own gym I had to be up at 4 am. I've been doing this 5 years now and I do get up with ease now but when it comes to exercise I still get my best workout after 2pm : 0 - 2/9/2012   7:59:40 PM
  • GMAGEE
    60
    Have been thinking more on this topic since first reading and commenting on this blog. Really, why is it that in the vast animal kingdom, there are species that are nocturnal - but humans aren't allowed to be that way? Yes, I know, if there were no electricity - or fire, most of us would hit the sack fairly soon after the sun went down. Even so, I'll bet there were some cave men and women who weren't curled up and snoozing in their caves EVERY night. I think those of us who are naturally more energetic at night, as opposed to the morning, should just go with it. The 9-to-5 routine is really an artificial construct. - 2/9/2012   1:51:05 PM
  • 59
    I am not a morning person and I never have been one. I have made an attempt to do so and it's been tough, but I'm making progress. I workout at the gym at work on MWF, so I try to get up at 5:15 to have plenty of time to get to work, workout, and shower. I feel great when I do it, so all I need to do is keep it up! - 2/9/2012   9:46:09 AM
  • 58
    I call BS on being able to change. I have never been a morning person and I have had a day job now with the same hours for the past 7 years. I still have fuzzy head until 10am . I do get up and get to work but I still don't like it. The best job I ever had was 12 to 8pm that was perfect for me. I do all my workouts in the evening either right after work 5pm or from 7 to 9 pm.

    I think it has to do with your dream cycle. My husband wakes up early with no problem, most times before his alarm. He was quite vivid dreams and I have noticed he always dreaming starts early in his sleep cycle sometimes even an hour after he been asleep. (one time he ran out of the bedroom because he thought bees were chasing him :). I on the other hand are always deepest dream state in the morning. When my alarm goes off I have to use snooze because I am usually still stuck in the dream cycle. - 2/9/2012   9:20:10 AM
  • YELLOW_VOLKSTER
    57
    I used to be a night owl, but after doing an early morning newspaper route (we're talking 2 am!) every day for 15 years, I became a morning person. I am SO much more productive in the mornings; evenings are useless if I'm needing to get something done for the next day. I think you can change, but it took years, and I was up every single day at 2 am (instead of just the typical 5 days a week scenario), so that probably helped. It's no fun getting phone calls from irate customers if their newspaper was late that morning. That was motivation enough for me to get out of bed each morning! And I'm glad I converted to being an early bird! - 2/8/2012   9:43:18 PM
  • 56
    I am not a morning person. I tend to stay up late at night - but unfortunately, also have to get up early. I've been trying to get to bed earlier, but so far, without much success. I'm either on the computer or reading until around midnight. But even when I do go to bed earlier, I have to force myself to get up early in the morning. I've had to get up between 5:00 and 6:00 am for most of my life, and it's still not any easier! - 2/8/2012   9:26:26 PM
  • SILENTSGIRL
    55
    I'm not a morning person, and never had any desire to be one. I worked for 20 years in a job that required me to be up early and to sleep early, and all it meant was that I was exhausted all the time because my body clock would NOT keep those abnormal (for me) hours. I stay up until at least 1am and I sleep until at least 10, and that's how it's going to stay, with rare exceptions for special occasions. Work certainly wasn't reason enough to get me out of bed, but a day trip to someplace pleasant might be (provided I can nap in the passenger seat of the car). - 2/8/2012   8:10:31 PM
  • 54
    I can't tell you how much better I feel after reading most of the comments on this blog. I understand now why I have been feeling anxious and out of sorts. I have been trying again to change myself into a morning person. When I do that I am consumed all day worrying about getting to bed and waking up "on time." And I don't enjoy the beautiful day I have (after 10 or 11 o'clock am). I have tried (under a doctor's supervision and nagging) to get up earlier hoping that I would be sleepier earlier at night. That has never worked. Even when I was working and had to get up around 6:30am, I was very tired when I came home . But as the evening wore on I started feeling more energetic. I do have a tendency to oversleep so I am going to work on that. I'm going to try the really good suggestion of using music instead of the annoying beeping to get up. But I'm not setting it a minute before 10am. - 2/8/2012   4:53:58 PM
  • 53
    My husband tells me that I would be ideal for a 2nd shift job b/c no matter what time in the AM I wake up, I'm useless until the afternoon. I have tried and tried to get up earlier - currently, my alarm goes off at 5:30 am so I can (hopefully) get out of bed, shower, get the kids ready for daycare and get to work by 7:30. Most days, I have to skip the shower and take it at night instead. Even as a kid, I would sleep in til at least 8 am... sadly, my kids are morning people - rising at about 5:30-6:00 am, even on the weekends... :( - 2/8/2012   4:46:45 PM
  • 52
    So tired of the "early morning world" trying to change us nite owls! - 2/8/2012   1:59:48 PM
  • 51
    I am not a morning person, and never will be. I am retired now, but my entire working life, I started my mornings slowly and was most productive after lunch. After retiring, I still have to set my alarm for 7 a.m., so that I won't sleep until 10, and so I can get to sleep by midnight. My personal trainer has commented that I am noticeably stronger in afternoons than in mornings. I agree that this blog would have more credibility if written by a converted non-morning person. - 2/8/2012   1:02:39 PM
  • 50
    I guess that the phrase "Becoming the morning person that you've always dreamed of being" does not resonate with me at all. I realize the need to be ready to meet the world on their time, but my clock has always had a natural tendency to gravitate towards evenings and nights. I have tried a lot to live on an early schedule, but I always find myself heading back toward evenings. I love so many thing that happen in the evening. Both my social time and quiet time are part of evening.

    Mornings tend to be groggy, out of focus, trying to come-into-my-own times. While recognizing the necessity of meeting a morning oriented world on its terms, I doubt that I will ever really feel an affinity towards mornings. I have been up early enough to enjoy sunrises, but I really prefer sunsets. I find my creativity tends to wake up in the evening, and love the quiet solitude of the time when most people are in bed.

    I am learning to control my insomnia better, but going to bed has never been something I enjoy, and I have found that planning out my next day before I go to bed only sets me to worrying and aggravates my insomnia.

    I have established some morning routines that help me, but I wish people wouldn't act and talk like being oriented towards the evening hours is some kind of character flaw. - 2/8/2012   12:41:29 PM
  • 49
    I am a night owl. Even 3 years in the Army didn't get me to wake up easily in the morning. I worked nights for a couple of years, and from a sleep point of view, was perfect for me. Went to bed at 3 AM, woke up around 10AM, no alarm. Woke up refreshed and happy. Mornings have never agreed with me. - 2/8/2012   12:26:54 PM
  • BETHANYMP
    48
    Well, I am definitely not a morning person, but I will have to give this a try. It sure would make my life a little easier if I could get up earlier in the morning! - 2/8/2012   11:02:50 AM
  • 47
    Great advice for making the change. - 2/8/2012   9:14:56 AM
  • MKIRKLE
    46
    I am by nature a night owl but was forced into early hours for 15 years by my job. It was a struggle the entire time and I was never comfortable with it. Now that I am retired I have been able to be my true self again. I am enjoying it! - 2/8/2012   9:04:23 AM
  • 45
    I've always been a morning person, and I adore sun rises. Still, I chuckle when I read exhortations to "just get up earlier" to work out. I already get up at 4 for work, and by 5:30, I'm well along in my 1.75-hour morning commute. Not getting up any earlier. - 2/8/2012   9:00:48 AM
  • 44
    Love, love, love mornings. Mornings are "me" time - before anyone else is up, I'm just me. Not mommy, not honey, etc. I get up at 4:45, work out for an hour, shower, catch up on emails and SparkPeople, then finally turn my attention to packing lunches, putting b'fast on the table, etc. I leave for work at 7 so I can be home by the time kids get off the bus (usually), then it's time for afterschool, homework, dinner.... If I don't get up early, the workout never happens and I don't get "me" time, and I'm GROUCHY! I LOVE my schedule, but I can totally understand that others wouldn't. - 2/8/2012   7:22:05 AM
  • 43
    Hi, I have been a night owl all my life. Love it !! I do enjoy seeing the sunrise, sitting on my porch drinking a cup of coffee & listening to the birds & early morning sounds of nature & such. Most of the times I`ll stay up to greet it. I would rather do that then have to wake up, rush around & go to work, & if I have to work days I`m only good for two days tops then forget it, I`m miserable, short tempered, & definitely have less patience. Could be cause I`m running more on empty being deprived of sleep, cause, for the most part I just can get use to falling asleep that early in order to get up earlier. Usually all I end up doing is tossing & turning or waking up periodically, afraid I`m not going to hear the alarm.
    So I agree, what ever time I day or night that works for one might not work for another, so we should just let what ever works for the individual be. Isn`t that why we are all not born the same but have the beauty of Individuality.
    - 2/8/2012   12:36:44 AM
  • 42
    I am more productive when allowed to be a night owl, since this is my natural self. - 2/7/2012   11:38:02 PM
  • RUNESHADOW
    41
    I have always been a night owl, although when I worked day jobs I managed to keep lark hours. After my fiance passed away, I switched up to lark hours again (he'd driven a late-evening city bus route), in part to volunteer and fill the days of lost plans and goals and walk for miles and miles. He's been gone for over 7 years and I still struggle with early hours.

    I can be functional as a morning person, but it isn't pleasant for me. All these recent years, it just doesn't feel natural or comfortable to go to bed at 10 PM or to respond to an alarm clock at 6 AM. I believe we have inborn circadian rhythms, which can be reset, but at a price. It always cracks me up when natural morning people get so enthusiastic about night owls changing our routines. I agree with folks who say to find what works for you. Sure, experiment and see if morning exercise or whatever works for you, but if it doesn't, don't beat yourself up.

    I still miss doing our grocery shopping at 2 AM (having a blast and chatting with the skeleton crew) and catching the Friday midnight movie in a theater, happily going to bed at 4 and getting up at noon to do my yoga. - 2/7/2012   8:36:42 PM
  • 40
    I have pretty much always been a morning person. I detassled corn from the time I was 14 until I was 26. We would get out in the fields by 5:00am. I like doing my workout in the morning because in the evenings, after working with 3 and 4 year old all day long, I am beat and I just need to relax. It would be an adjustment for me if I did it any other way. - 2/7/2012   7:26:58 PM
  • TWALKER383
    39
    My husband just started night shift. I'm trying to balance making time for working out in the AM and spending time with hubby at night. So far I'm yawning through both! LOL - 2/7/2012   7:02:31 PM
  • 38
    As a teen and into the 20's I was a night owl and slept in late whenever I could. Not anymore! Now that I'm in my 40's I like to go to sleep early and wake up between 4:00am and 4:30 during the work week to fit in my exercising, and like it much better than my old sleep habits. You can change your sleep habits. - 2/7/2012   6:59:24 PM
  • 37
    A couple of months ago Psychology Today published an article indicating that 'night owls' tend to have higher IQ's and are more creative than early birds. Sometimes I wish I was an early riser. Mostly I wish the world would adapt to my circadian rhythm. It rocks! - 2/7/2012   6:48:31 PM
  • 36
    I've been getting up between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. to exercise for about 4 years now. Not once has it been easy - every day is a struggle. If I was going to turn into a "morning person" I would think it would have happened by now. - 2/7/2012   4:34:36 PM
  • JULIA1154
    35
    Why the continual emphasis on changing people? It's one thing if people want or need to change but why the assumption that most people want to? Why the emphasis on working out in the a.m.? I work out after work and LOVE it. What matters is that each person find what works for themselves and does it!! - 2/7/2012   3:53:28 PM
  • 34
    The same way you can get use to evening better; you can get use to the morning! same thing with food! love salty food? stay away for a while and then everything will taste too salty for you! - 2/7/2012   1:50:27 PM
  • 33
    I use to be a night owl but have changed my sleeping habits and am now an early riser. - 2/7/2012   1:13:54 PM
  • 32
    I became an early riser (i use this term as i dont consider myself a 'morning person'), about 4 yrs ago, when i knew that due to a parent teacher interview in the evening, i wouldnt have been able to do my usual evening workout. The day of the interview, it almost killed me, but i woke up at 5am to use my treadmill. After that day, i decided that if i could do it once i could do it on other days as well. Ever since that day, i have been working out in the mornings, and actually going into the gym at my work at 6am. It works greats for me, as it frees my evenings up, and i can go my entire day without having to talk myself into or out of exercising. - 2/7/2012   1:10:29 PM
  • 31
    I've been trying for over 3 years. I have 2 alarms and snooze on both, falling into REM sleep between snoozes!! What I truly need is a George Jetson bed that flips me out into my clothes first thing. - 2/7/2012   12:39:18 PM
  • PENNYPAT
    30
    I have to agree with TORKA1 my boss changed my job and the time I start working from 9-5 to 7am -330 and after 5 yrs I still drag myselve out of bed at 6 am and head to bed at 11pm not very tired. My mother was a morning person but she gave birth to a night owl( and southpaw and proud of it). We are each wired for differant times and we should not change what is natural to each person. Any time after 8pm and I can get way more house work done than a whole morning of working at it. - 2/7/2012   12:37:57 PM
  • 29
    I can tell you by experience that this is not always true. It's been almost 10 years since I have worked the Midnight to 8am shift. And I am still not a morning person. I have tried the above mentioned and it really does not work, for me. Maybe it does work for others though. Sorry to burst the experts bubbles. - 2/7/2012   12:23:26 PM
  • 28
    I am a college student, so naturally, mornings don't really come easy to me, but when I was traveling between the US and UK, my clock stayed on UK time so I was easily up by 7am (12pm UK time), but since starting school again I have been up later doing papers and homework, socializing in general. Though, I do miss getting up early because I felt like I could get so much done when I didn't feel like the day was half way gone already. I would love to be able to get up early enough to do some morning yoga, which really makes me feel ready for my day. - 2/7/2012   12:21:47 PM
  • 27
    I disagree that you can change. I made changes like this for quite awhile. A LONG period of time. I got up and worked out in the morning before going to work. I did this for months. Regardless of this, it was just as hard for me to get up every morning and it never did get any easier. I agree that I had more energy during the day when I woke up and worked out in the morning. I am neither a morning person nor a night owl. I am ready for bed at 10:00pm and I have a difficult time getting up before 7am. Light does help matters for me is I am light oriented but no matter how long I "attempted" to be more of a morning person, it never happened even after months of changing the routine. - 2/7/2012   12:20:49 PM
  • 26
    this article would be more credible written by a converted night owl rather than a smug morning person who's getting 10 hours of sleep a nihgt - 2/7/2012   11:40:48 AM
  • 25
    I attempt to get up early, but that snooze button always finds itself under my groggy hand...Working out in the morning sounds like it might help me out of this routine. - 2/7/2012   11:25:44 AM
  • 24
    If someone wants to become a morning person, great. More power to you. Me? I'm not a morning person, never have been, never will be. It just isn't who I am. - 2/7/2012   11:06:39 AM
  • 23
    It is my understanding that afternoon is the ideal time to workout - so what difference does it make if yu are a morning dove or night owl? Just figure out when things work best for you. - 2/7/2012   10:55:08 AM
  • 22
    I think the issue might be that there are tons of articles out there about how us "night owls" can change to be more like "normal" people (i.e. morning people) so our lives can become "better." But you hardly ever see any articles telling morning people how to become night owls. The implication is that being a morning person is somehow preferable to being a night owl. Surely even the most hard core morning person can understand how that might be a little irritating to us night owls who are happy with who we are?

    Personally, I see no reason to change, any more than I see a reason to change being left-handed or having hazel eyes. My whole family are by nature extreme night owls. Left to our own devices, we'd just be getting to bed along about the time those "morning people" were first getting up. There's something magical about the wee hours of the morning before the sun comes up, when everyone else is asleep and the world around you is peaceful and still.

    For myself, I'm up by around 6am on weekdays because of my job -- but despite doing it for 8 years now, it still hasn't turned me into a morning person. Which actually has its advantages -- for instance, I don't get that late afternoon energy slump that affects my morning person friends. By the afternoon most days, I'm just getting revved up, while they're sucking down "energy shots" trying to stay alert. On the other hand, they're great at getting things done first thing in the morning, while I need a little more time to get my motor running. Point is: there are advantages and disadvantages to being either a morning person or a night owl. Neither one is better or worse.

    If you're happy being a morning person, by all means get up as early as you like. If you're happy being a night owl, stay up and watch the sun rise before you go to bed. If you want to change (in either direction), then start getting up earlier or staying up later. Just please don't take it upon yourself to try to convert everyone else to match your choice. Vive la difference! - 2/7/2012   10:35:13 AM
  • 123ELAINE456
    21
    I have never fully been able to become a day time Gal. Have had problem most of my life with my inner clock all mess up. It has cause me untold problems trouble down thur the years. I have miss doctors, other things I would miss out on, because of sleeping at all differant hours during the day because I could not sleep at night. I am having trouble with my doctor wanting outpateint tests done and can't do until I get myself turn around long enough to get them done. So will try suggestions in article to see if they can help. Will have to wait and see what happens. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. - 2/7/2012   10:10:18 AM
  • 20
    Let's not be hard on the author. The point being made is that if you desire to become a morning person, there are ways to switch over to a different schedule. If you have no need to switch, then carry on. I enjoyed the post AND I'm an evening girl. - 2/7/2012   9:49:36 AM
  • GMAGEE
    19
    I'm with SHANNONPIXIE: why do people always insist that we nightowls change and not vice versa?

    My hubby has been after me for years (decades now!) to become a morning person like he is, but I remember tons of mornings that I dragged myself out of bed to go to work while he stayed nestled in the warm covers of our bed.

    With age, all our habits become more solidified. Now he really CAN'T sleep much beyond 5:30 in the morning and is asleep by 10 most nights, while I have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep before midnight even though I'm up by 8 every morning.

    Unfortunately, I have recently read that being a nightowl isn't so good for one's health (sigh), so I'm sticking to my 7:45-8 AM wake up time. That's my concession to being a morning person. - 2/7/2012   9:46:58 AM

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