Last Updated Mar 25, 2010 11:27 AM EDT
Experience indicates it's difficult but sleep researchers assure night owls it is possible. "I do think there are people for whom genetically this is going to be much harder," says Dr. Gary Richardson, of the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders Center in Detroit, "but nobody for whom it's impossible." Thus encouraged, how can you go about resetting your body clock?
Lifehack is offering support in numbers this week with a five-day challenge to become an early riser along with a series of posts to help the nocturnal see the morning light, including tips to help get you out of bed:
- Choose to get up before you go to sleep -- You're not very good at making decisions when you've just woken up. You were in the middle of a dream in which [insert celebrity crush of choice here] is serving you breakfast in bed only to be rudely awakened by the harsh tones of your alarm clock. This is not the time to be making decisions about whether or not you should stay in bed! If you want to be a consistently early riser, try making your decision to rise at a specific time before you go to sleep the night before.
- Have a plan for your extra time -- Let's say you've actually made it out of bed two hours before you normally would. Now what? If you don't have something planned to do with your extra time, you risk falling for the temptation of a "morning nap" that wipes out all the work you put into getting up. What to do? Before you go to bed, make a quick note of what you'd like to get done during your extra hours the following day.
- Make rising early a social activity -- Sure, you could choose to read blogs for two hours every morning. But wouldn't it be great to join an early breakfast club, running group, or play chess in the park at 5am? The more people you get involved in making your new habit a daily part of your life, the easier it'll be to succeed.
- Don't use an alarm that makes you angry -- I spent years trying to wake up before my alarm went off so I wouldn't have to hear it. Then I started using a cellphone as my alarm clock and quickly realized that different ring tones irritated me less but worked just as well to wake me up. The lesson learned? Experiment a bit and see what works best for you.
- Get your blood flowing right after waking -- It doesn't take much to get your blood flowing and chase the sleep from your head. Just pick something you don't mind doing and go through the motions until your heart rate is up. Jumping rope, push-ups, crunches, or a few minutes of yoga are typically enough to do the trick. (Just don't do anything your doctor hasn't approved.)