As a newish female entrepreneur, I’ve been reading countless studies that highlight the most successful people are “morning” people. They swear that waking up before 5am yields the best results and if you’re not in that club, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Getting up at this hour for me, is torture... but it wasn’t always like that. When I was traveling for work, it wasn’t crazy to see me up at 4:45a for a quick workout before heading to the airport. Before that, I used to lead countless bootcamps with early morning start times, cranking cardio tunes, and a thunder in my voice for people to pick up their feet. So, I’ll ask the question -- can I make myself more of a “morning person” (again)?
The truth is some of us bounce out of bed in the morning and others roll over with a groan at the first morning light spilling through the blinds. The idea of early birds and night owls is not exactly an urban myth. Everyone has a body clock timetable, aka “chronotype”, that is the control center for their natural wake, hunger, productivity, playtime, and sleep cycles.
A small portion of the population is easily primed to get the ball rolling as soon as sunrise, aka “morning larks”. Almost a quarter are more energized around sunset, aka “night owls”. The rest of the general flock will fly somewhere in-between the two.
Here’s some quick stats:
- “Morning Larks” do better in school because they are ready to roll when the bell rings; however, studies show that starting school just an hour later would improve majority of teens performance by 10%!
- “Morning Larks” live longer because their cortisol levels peak naturally in rhythm with early morning wake-up times without triggering an anxiety cascade of cortisol and adrenaline.
- On average, “Morning Larks” earnings are 5% more versus "night owls" because they thrive in the standard 9a-5p hustle with quicker response times first thing (ie before a “Night Owl” can even get their inbox open).
Forcing yourself to be a morning person isn’t the answer.
Scientists think that a “night owl” has a shorter life expectancy due to the strain of trying to fit a societal 9a-5p work life. Thankfully, with the recent pandemic, the option of more flexible work hours is becoming widely accepted and the income divide is dwindling. An option is to look at careers that are more conducive to being a “night owl” – hospitality, entertainment, medical night shifts are all successful options (that sometimes even have higher pay because of the atypical hours).
You can’t change your “chronotype”, but you can work with it to get the most out of your day. “Night owls” that are forced to wake up earlier do best with a 20 or 30-minute nap mid-day, right after lunch when the mid-afternoon “fog” hits. Success comes from consistency. The early bird may catch the worm, but the night owl closes the deal.