They say the most successful people are morning people. As it turns out, there is a science to proving it.
According to Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, morning people are more proactive than evening types.
By definition, to be proactive means to create or control a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened. Dynamic people anticipate issues rather than being blindsided by them—a particularly beneficial trait in business.
In the morning your mind is more rested, making you more motivated and less distracted. Also, morning people are less likely to procrastinate.
In 2014, a study conducted by the Journal of Applied Psychology found that supervisors perceive workers who clock in later as less conscientious than those who start earlier, even after considering total work hours and overall job performance. Looks like the old saying, “the early bird gets the worm,” rings true, even today.
What Does It Mean to Be a Morning Person?
Being a morning person means you wake up with ease and are more alert for the first half of the day. Whether you are a morning person or not hinges on your body’s circadian rhythm.
When it comes to circadian rhythms, people typically fall into one of four categories called chronotypes. Your chronotype is a genetically prescribed biological rhythm that regulates your sleep and wake times and other daily functions that rely on the ebb and flow of hormones, enzymes, and circulatory activity for their timing. Your chronotype determines the optimal times for you to work, be creative, socialize, eat, drink – pretty much every event that fills your day.
Morning people fall into two of the four chronotypes: bears and lions.
Bears Make up About Half of the Population
As the largest chronotype group, a bear’s bio-rhythm dictates the modern societal schedule, and their chronobiology follows the movement of the sun. Bears wake up easily near sunrise, ready to start the day and begin to power-down as the sunsets.
Lions Make up a Smaller Portion of the Population (About 15-20%)
They tend to be early morning people, optimistic and “cheery” in the morning – you know, the kind of people that make the rest of us look bad. Lions make fitness a priority and like to get things done by creating a plan and sticking to it. They often land leadership positions because they are the go-getters who motivate others. They are ready for bed early at night because of their high activity early in the day.
Not sure if you are a morning person yet? You might be if:
- You tend to wake up before your alarm
- You are not groggy in the first hour of being awake
- You feel most productive in the morning
- You get out of bed with ease each day
- You feel tired in the evening
- You feel like you’ve wasted your whole day if you sleep past 10 a.m.
Benefits of Becoming a Morning Person
Being a morning person comes with more benefits than just a tendency for being successful.
Some studies suggest that being a morning person may make you happier. Subjects deemed “morning people” in one study were linked with higher self-reported happiness. Although the study did not conclude waking up early causes happiness, there was a positive correlation between the two factors.
Other research has found that early birds tend to have a lower BMI. Additionally, people who rise with the sun have also been proven to keep the weight they’ve lost off longer than those who rose later in the day.
How to Become a Morning Person
Like I said, your sleep-wake schedule falls in line with your circadian rhythm—the internal biological clock that determines whether we feel sleepy or awake. This organic schedule (aka chronotype) comes from genetic behaviors.
So, while it is possible to create habits typically associated with “being a morning person,” your chronotype is the scientific reason you may be more inclined to be a night owl.
Nevertheless, here are a few tips for becoming a morning person:
1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep Consistently
If you suffer from disturbed sleep on a regular basis, whether you go to bed at 9:30 p.m. or 1 a.m., take a look at your sleep hygiene from a holistic point of view. Are you sleeping on a mattress causing you pain? Are there light and noise disturbances keeping you awake? Assess your environment and make sure it is conducive for a good night’s sleep.
2. Make a Wind-Down Routine and Stick to It
Our brains don’t automatically shut-off when the clock strikes twelve. They need prepping for sleep. Just as we discipline ourselves regarding diet and exercise, we should also have bedtime discipline. About an hour before going to sleep, dim the lights, stash the screens and, begin signalling it’s time for bed.
3. Adjust Your Bedtime Gradually
Speaking of bedtimes, if you typically hit the hay after midnight, you won’t magically fall asleep at 8:30 p.m. the first night you try to adjust your sleep schedule. Instead, move your bedtime up 15 minutes each night until you reach your desired bedtime.
4. Avoid Taking Long Naps
Short naps tend to be harmless for most, but long naps during the day make it harder to fall asleep at night. Unless you’re exhausted, try to nix the naps in favor of a longer and deeper nighttime rest.
5. Skip the Late-Afternoon Caffeine Fix
Caffeine has a half-life of around 5-6 hours, meaning that it takes most people five or six hours to work half of the stimulant through their system. So, if you drink 100 milligrams of caffeine at 5 p.m., 50 milligrams could remain in your body at 10 p.m. Though half the caffeine is gone, it could still act as a stimulant, making it hard for you to fall asleep (and stay asleep). Avoid caffeine after 3 p.m. or so if you’re after an early, uninterrupted rest.