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Are the early birds getting those worms while you zombie around in your PJs, with your tenth coffee? You may want to make some changes. Here's how.

"Morning people," research suggests, have an awful lot of advantages: they are happier, feel healthier, and are more proactive and more productive than their night-owl counter parts. The wide range of studies conducted into the benefits that come with being an early bird also suggest that morning people get higher grades, are more conscientious, and tend to be more optimistic and less stressed. Sayings like "the early bird catches the worm" and "early to bed, early to rise, makes a mean healthy, wealthy and wise" represented this common wisdom long before those studies were even conducted. 

All that sounds nice if you are already a morning person, but does it mean you're doomed if you are a night owl, like me? 

Well, it does to an extent: it's abudantly clear that the world at large is designed for people whose productivity peaks earlier in the day. Whether you're an employee, a student, a parent with kids who attend school or daycare, or a kid, society's daily rhythm will almost always require you to get up at what this night owl would call an un-Godly hour. While some of us night owls are lucky enough to have jobs that allow us to set our own daily routines or jobs that start later in the day, many aren't. 

So, can you force yourself to become a morning person? If so, how?

Is There Any Such Thing As A Reformed Night Owl?

Can you really, actually, change your natural circadian rhythm? As a busy, working mother of two, I have to get up much earlier than I'd like to to make sure my kids and I get everything I've planned for the day done, even though we homeschool and don't have to leave our nice warm beds quite as early as most people. 

During the summer holidays, when we're not doing any school, I revert to my natural rhythm right away. While more than half of all Americans say they are most productive between 5 am (!!!) and 12 pm, my mind really works best after about 9 pm. In the absence of obligations, I revert to my default. 

When I do get up early, I find myself walking around like a zombie most of the time for about a week. After that, it gets easier. Though it never becomes natural, I can adjust. Other night owls I spoke to had mixed results:
  • Cindy, stay at home mom: "On days when I'm very productive before noon, I feel much more accomplished by the time the evening rolls around. I'm not saying I'm there yet, but I try to get up an hour before the kids, do some stretches, make breakfast, have my coffee, and wake up properly. I'm quite happy to turn in early if I do this. Making sure I have that 'me' time to relax alone is really important to me."
  • Svetlana, nurse: "I prefer the night shift by far, which would make me an odd duck. If I have to get up at 5 am, I feel low on energy and have a headache no matter how much coffee I drink. It never, ever gets better."
  • Paul, IT consultant: "I'm alright as long as I use melatonin. I flip back immediately given the chance though."
  • Jen, architect: "I have to get up early as I have an hour-long commute to work but no, I never really get used to it."
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