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Thursday, 1st February

How To Ditch Your Inner Owl And Wake Up Your Early Bird

Work, socialising, exercise, me time. It would be great if we could fit more into our days to live a more balanced life. But we can’t all be morning types - up with the larks and pounding the pavements at 6.30am. Those of us that are naturally late risers prefer to burn the midnight oil and hit the snooze button like it’s going out of fashion. But is our sleep persona a matter of preference, or could a night owl actually learn to love an early start?

Most sources suggest that 10% of people are early birds, 10% are night owls, and the remaining 80% of us are inbetweeners. Morning people have a sunny disposition, are more proactive and have a lower risk of depression. On the other hand, night owls are more likely to suffer from insomnia, daytime fatigue and have an increased risk of depression.

This difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep can cause other health problems too. Loss of sleep interrupts the balance of insulin, which can lead to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. And ladies with late night habits are more likely to carry excess belly fat, have high blood sugar and unhealthy fat levels overall. All good reasons to start a new sleep routine straight away.

But it’s not quite as simple as that.

It’s all down to the science of sleep. Many people will find it difficult to alter their bed time and wake up time because their bodies won’t let them. Although age and lifestyle have some influence on when we sleep and wake, 50% of our sleep patterns are hard-wired into the genetic part of our circadian rhythms. And it’s these rhythms that decide whether you’re a morning or evening person. So basically, if you want to wake up earlier, you’re going to have to battle it out with your DNA.

Thankfully we have a few tricks up our sleeves that could help you.

Sleep like a pro

The best way to wake up early is to improve your quality of sleep. Taking 15ml of Benenox at bedtime will support your body as you sleep - and make sure you wake up feeling fully recharged. But your sleep environment has to be right too. Make sure it’s comfortable, the right temperature and tech free.

Set a sleep schedule

You need 7 to 8 hours of shut eye to be at your best, so if you want to wake at 6.30am, it’s lights out at 10.30pm. Start getting ready for bed by turning the TV and tech off at 9.30pm. Aim to be in bed for 10.00pm and read a book for half an hour to help you wind down.

Move your alarm clock

If you’re a serial snoozer, placing your alarm clock on the other side of the room will help you break the habit. If you need to get out of bed to turn it off, you’re more likely to stay up. And forget the dreaded beeps - choose a happy alarm tone or some soothing music to start your day.

Wake up to natural sunlight

If you need to draw the curtains to cut out street lights, make sure you open them as soon as your alarm goes off. Natural sunlight tells your brain that the day has begun by sending signals to your body to stop producing melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.

Time for a work out

Exercising first thing doesn’t just help you wake up; it also lowers your blood pressure, reduces stress and helps you sleep better at night. Plus, your willpower will be stronger in the morning so you can tick off your work out and leave your evening free for socialising.

Have a protein-rich breakfast

Skip the cereal and toast and go for eggs or yoghurt. Carbohydrates promote sleep, whereas proteins help you feel more awake and ready for the day.

Practice makes perfect

And finally, habits are hard to break because they’re etched into your neural patterns and memory. You’ll need to repeat your new sleep pattern before your mind and body will think it’s normal. Stick to it for 21 days (including weekends) and before you know it you’ll be saying hello to the new, early morning you.

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