We all know somebody who seems to be working to a different clock to us.
For some people, dragging themselves up in the morning can seem like an almost impossible task, while others seem to bound out of bed with unfathomable energy.
You may find that you are creative and motivated late into the evenings or that your energy begins to flag any time after 8pm.
What makes a morning person?
Research shows we are actually genetically predisposed to be either a morning or an evening person. According to chronobiology (the study of time in living things), cells in everything from plants to people work on their own internal ‘clock’.
Around 40% of us work best when staying awake later and sleeping in. Unfortunately, this can mean early starts for the 9-5 workday can feel like a rude awakening for many.
Whether you are a morning or an evening person, there are a few steps you can take to make the most of your natural schedule and adjust your body-clock to the working day.
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- Get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of 7-9 hours of sleep for most adults. However, teenagers may need up to 11 hours, whilst for those over the age of 65 it could be as little as just 5 hours a night.
- Choose cardio over coffee. There are numerous mental and physical benefits to exercise, but starting early could boost your energy even more effectively than caffeine. For morning people, this means making the most of your early energy. For evening people, on the other hand, exercise provides a kick-start for the day ahead.
- Plan your productivity. We all have those annoying errands and admin tasks that seem to be forever put off until later. If you work best early in the day, use this motivation to get them out of the way first thing. Leaving them until later when you are likely to be less productive won’t do you any favours. For later workers, set aside an hour of time in the afternoon when you can blast through these tasks more quickly. Trying to drag yourself through them early in the morning will only waste time.
- Bin the alarm clock. Particularly if you’re not a morning person, the abrupt awakening of a traditional alarm can trigger a release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Instead, try using an app which plays gentle bird-song or perhaps invest in a daylight lamp, which wakes you up gradually by mimicking the natural morning sunlight.
- Be understanding of others. It may be frustrating if your work colleague doesn’t seem as motivated as you are in an early meeting, but remember that they have their own body-clock too. A late-night cinema trip may be just your cup of tea, but your morning friend could be asleep by the opening credits. Instead, try organizing activities which help both of you stay in the best routine and remember that not everybody works the same way you do.
- Pay attention to how you feel. Everything from our body temperature to the menstrual cycle can also influence how productive we are. Listening to your body can help you make the most of your time and learn when you are more likely to do different tasks to the best of your ability.
- Stay in a routine. Eat, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Even if you are one of the 5% of people who can function effectively on less than 5 hours sleep, leave time to unwind and put down any electronic devices before bed. It is important to plan your daily routine around what works most effectively for you.
Words by Bethan Rose Jenkins.
Photos by Seth Macey, alan KO and Nathan Dumlao