If morning for you should be spelled with a "u"—as in mourning, that you're not still asleep, feeling half-dead as you drag yourself toward noon—you may be among the estimated 10 to 15 percent of the population who are genetic night owls, according to Matthew Edlund, M.D., director of the Center for Circadian Medicine in Sarasota and author of The Body Clock Advantage. Even so, he says, you can reprogram yourself to wake up raring to go. Most people who are sleepy in the a.m. just need, well, more sleep. Four tips to help you reprogram yourself...so you wake up raring to go!
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- Reset the Body Clock. A true night owl must reset her inner clock—the body's 24-hour cycle of activity known as circadian rhythm. The best approach is to start every day by taking a walk with a friend. "The trick is to combine socializing with sunlight and exercise," says Edlund, because each of these three factors is a blaring signal for your body to wake up—especially the light.
- Shed Some Light on It. If getting outside is impossible, consider purchasing a full spectrum light box with 5,000 to 10,000 lux (try sunbox.com or biobrite.com), and eat breakfast or read the newspaper in front of it; the light should shine on you indirectly for a half hour.
- Get in the Habit. Also, go to bed and get up at the same time every day. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to sleep in on weekends, says Edlund. If you're hesitant to give up your Friday night revelry, force yourself out of bed at your usual early hour—and promise yourself an afternoon nap.
- Be Drowsy. For those having trouble falling asleep, try this: Lower the temperature, then take a bath that's hot enough to make you sweat. When you get out, your body temperature will drop rapidly, and you'll likely start feeling very sleepy.