Don’t worry if you’re not a morning person – you can turn yourself into one in just three weeks.
So-called “night owls” can turn themselves into “morning larks”, according to a new study.
Typically, morning people – or “morning larks” – are understood as those who prefer getting up earlier in the morning and sleeping earlier at night, whereas night owls like lying in and staying up later.
Previous research has suggested you are genetically predisposed to become one or the other, with not much you can do to change your natural state.
But the latest research, conducted by scientists at Birmingham and Surrey Universities, and Monash University in Australia, has contradicted this popular wisdom.
Some 22 “night owls”, whose average bedtime was 2:30am and wake-up was 10:15am, took part in the experiment – which found tweaking participants’ sleeping patterns helped them to develop “morning person” characteristics.
How to become a morning person
Researchers asked participants to make the following changes to their lifestyles:
Waking up 2-3 hours earlier than usual and getting outdoor light in the morning
Keeping wake-up and bedtimes the same on both work days and days off
Eating breakfast as soon as possible after waking
Eating lunch at the same time every day
Not eating dinner after 7pm
Those taking part in the study reported greater alertness during the morning when “night owls” normally report high tiredness.
Participants’ cognitive performance ( measured by reaction time) and physical performance (measured by grip strength) was higher in the morning than before the study.
What’s more, their peak performance shifted from evening to afternoon – particularly handy for those working a 9 to 5 schedule.
They also reported better mental well-being, with less stress and depression.
Dr. Elise Facer Childs, of Monash University’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, said the study finds could help night owls thrive in a society which works to work/school schedules.
““By acknowledging these differences and providing tools to improve outcomes we can go a long way in a society that is under constant pressure to achieve optimal productivity and performance,” she said.