While Michelle Obama and Anna Wintour both wake up before 5 am to squeeze in their workout routines, Mark Wahlberg famously takes things to extremes and rises at 2.30 am to complete his brutal daily schedule. With some of the most successful people on the planet claiming that getting up early has played a part in their success, it’s easy for genetically predisposed night owls to feel slightly inadequate.
There are plenty of books, blogs and probably a handful of apps that will promise to take you from night owl to early bird with a few simple steps. However, before you start trying the back-breaking task of moulding your body clock to Michelle Obama’s take note of the results of a study by the University of California. After monitoring the sleep data of 2,422 people, Louis Ptacek, professor of neurology at the UCSF School of Medicine found that only one in 300 people can function on an very-early-to-bed, very-early-to-wake schedule and it is coded into their genes.
“While most people struggle with getting out of bed at 4 or 5 am., people with advanced sleep phase wake up naturally at this time, rested and ready to take on the day,” said the study’s senior author, Louis Ptacek, MD, professor of neurology at the UCSF School of Medicine. “These extreme early birds tend to function well in the daytime but may have trouble staying awake for social commitments in the evening.”
They’re also more prone to migraines and SAD, so it’s definitely not all roses for extremely early risers. So, rather than trying to change your natural sleeping pattern, a wiser move would be to align your bedtime and wake-up call to ensure you’re getting enough sleep.
How can you get your sleep routine on track? First and foremost, it’s important to stick to a routine – yes, even at the weekend. If you go to bed at 11 pm and wake up at 7 am during the week, don’t be tempted to slip in a lie-in on a Saturday. Keeping your bedroom cool, dark and screen-free are tips that you will have read over and over again, but it’s because they work.
For those who struggle to calm a whirling mind, try taking a warm bath with magnesium flakes about an hour before you want to sleep. Magnesium is an essential mineral and is key for helping us to relax, yet a lot of us are deficient. If you don’t have time to bathe, incorporate ashwagandha into your evening routine. The ancient herb is a renowned adaptogen and helps to ease anxiety – Wild Nutrition’s KSM-66 Ashwagandha Plus is particularly good.