Does it really pay to be a morning person?
Everyone is born with a specific, unique chronotype (the biological trait that helps determine our wake time preference), and it’s mostly determined by genetic factors. (The science behind the chronotype started way back in 1939 by researchers at the University of Chicago).
There does seem to be some health benefits to being an early riser, with the most prevalent being related to insomnia, obesity, and depression. In fact, one UK study published in 2016 did find that people up before 7 am are happier, thinner, sleep better, and are less likely to be depressed.
So even if we aren’t a morning person, can we train our body to wake up earlier? There are masses of information and techniques out there from medicine to meditation to sheer willpower. Here are some simple tips to get you started:
- Implement change in small steps. Changing your routine just 15 minutes at a time may not seem like much, but is easy to sustain because it’s such a small change.
- Control your environment … bedrooms are for sleeping! Get off your screen about an hour before bed, and block out all forms of light to create a quiet, dark, calming environment.
- Break up with your snooze button! Going back to bed can actually send you into a deeper sleep cycle, making it harder to get up when your alarm does go off. That’s why when people hit snooze and go back to sleep for 5-15 minutes, they wake up thinking the time went by fast.
Does being a morning person affect our workouts?
Being a morning person or a night owl can help you determine when it’s best to workout. Depending on your body type you might work out best during certain times of the day. If you’re a morning person, then you might workout best between 6am – 10am. If you’re a night owl, then maybe you should workout at lunch or after work. It will help calm your mind and allow you to fall asleep quicker. Choosing the time of day to work out based on your body-type can also help you figure out what type of exercise or sport to play.
I was NEVER a morning person and during college, I used to take my pillow to morning swim practice. But after 4 pm, I was able to swim much faster and always had a lot more energy. ~ Coach Rippetoe
As a Swim and Strength Coach, Coach Rippetoe had to become a morning person for those that prefer to workout during the morning. To become a morning person, he taught himself to wake up without using an alarm clock and never do anything strenuous until after 10 am. For Coach Rippetoe, early morning hours are for thinking and observing and planning the day. He’s learned over a lifetime that while his brain is moving, his body isn’t quite ready. Regardless of whether or not you are a lark or a night owl, it’s healthier for you to work out when your body is ready and able to do so. Take the time to learn your body and what works for you.
Molly is a member of our creative team, mom of four water-loving babies, and a fierce advocate for CPR training and really early swim instruction.