business

By Lisa Smalls

They say the early bird gets the worm. Turns out, that just might be true.

Research shows that morning people are more likely to be successful than others. But the benefits early-risers experience go far beyond success.

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 weight they’ve lost off longer than those who rose later in the day.

Before you curse yourself for craving that extra hour of sleep when your alarm goes off, there is science behind why you tend to rise when you do.

Being a morning person means you wake up with ease and are more alert for the first half of the day.

Whether or not you easily rise at the sound of the rooster’s crow hinges on your circadian rhythm, aka the body’s internal clock that regulates your sleep wake schedule. As it turns out, our circadian rhythms are partially genetic. Meaning people are wired to be creative, productive, energized, and sleepy at different times of the day.

While there is no punishment for wanting to sleep until 10 a.m., here’s why success is linked with the people who are up at the crack of dawn:

To be an early bird, is to be proactive

According to Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, morning people are more proactive than evening types.

To be proactive means to create or control a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened. Proactive 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. In addition, morning people are less likely to procrastinate.

Not that snoozing is a bad thing, but one 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 in the day, even after considering total work hours and overall job performance. While you don’t have to disclose you woke up in a fury, threw on the first clothes you saw, and rushed out the door, it might be worth clocking in thirty minutes earlier every now and then.

How to become a morning person

Although you circadian rhythm is somewhat determined by genetics, there are some healthy habits you can establish that are associated with “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

Since the invention of artificial light, our brains need to be signaled it’s time for bed. The blue-light emitted from our technology and other fluorescent lights around the house keep our brain stimulated, when it should be shutting down.

About an hour before going to sleep, dim the lights, stash the screens and, begin signaling to your brain it’s time for bed. Remember, habits are formed out of routine. That means keep it consistent, even on the weekends.

3. Adjust your bedtime gradually

Speaking of bed times, if you can’t fathom getting in bed earlier than midnight, you won’t magically fall asleep at 8:30 p.m. the first night you try to adjust your sleep schedule. Rather, move your bedtime up 15 minutes each night until you reach your desired bed time.

4. Avoid taking long naps

Power naps are harmless most of the time. However, long naps during the day definitely make it harder to fall asleep at night. Unless you’re extremely exhausted, try to nix the naps in favor of a longer and deeper nighttime rest.

5. Skip the late-afternoon caffeine fix

Caffeine can stay in your system for a very long time. It takes most people five or six hours just 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. And though half the caffeine is gone, it could make it hard for you to fall and stay asleep. Avoid caffeine after 3 p.m. if you’re after an early bedtime.

Lisa Smalls is a small business owner from Raleigh, NC with a passion for writing. When she isn’t working in her shop, you can find her in yoga class or making a killer cup of coffee.

Business stock photo by Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock