Discouraging as it may seem for night owls, your ability to function in a 9-to-5 world, or even stay awake during morning meetings, may be predetermined by your biological clock.
“A person with a morning schedule is probably in a much better position to adapt to typical workplace demands,” says Dr. Gary Richardson, a sleep researcher. He believes that we’re all individually DNA-wired to prefer late night tinkering or early rising.
“In our day-working society, morning types do better,” concurs Dr. Timothy Monk, a human chronobiology researcher.
But the night types need not yawn their way through a lifetime of mid-morning conferences. Shifting our internal rhythms is possible — even for new college graduates, for whom, Richardson says, the transition from 3 a.m. bedtimes to 7 a.m. wake-up calls is rough. Start by clamming the laptop shut two hours before you tuck yourself in.
“The internal clock relies on light to figure out what time of day it is,” Richardson explains. “If you spend the hours between midnight and 2 a.m. in front of your laptop, that light is enough to push the clock a little later.”
Morning light is a powerful cue, so when the rooster crows, take a stroll. “As soon as you wake up, go for a walk in daylight,” Monk suggests.
Recognize that you can’t make the change overnight.
“You cannot move from being a night owl to a morning lark cold turkey,” Monk says. “Just move your bedtime five or ten minutes earlier every night.”