Student Life

Find Your Inner Morning Person


Learn How to Be a Morning Person
By Liz McLaughlin, University of North Carolina

“I can never fall asleep before midnight.”

“Once I fall asleep, I find that I have to use multiple alarms to get me up.”

“I often pull all-nighters.”

“I avoid morning classes or morning commitments due to my difficulty waking up in the morning.”

Sound familiar?

Photo by Alan Cleaver

You could suffer from Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS). According to Dr.William Dement of the Standford University School of Medicine:

“DSPS is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder in which the individual’s internal body clock is delayed with respect to the typical sleep at night, rise in the morning pattern of most adults. Such people are sometimes called “night owls”, though for those with DSPS, their hours are not by choice.”

This effects 6-7% of the population and up to 17% of college students report qualifying symptoms according to a recent study.

So how can these night owls be converted into morning people?

The trick is to shift your circadian rhythm to one that allows you to sleep at night and wake up rested at a decent hour in the morning. Mark Rosekind, who specializes in adjusting biological clocks when it is imperative to do so, like when an Olympic athlete is going to compete overseas or when a team of astronauts are preparing for a middle-of-the-night launch, says that adjusting light is the key.

Follow these two simple rules:

1. AVOID BAD LIGHT AT NIGHT

2. GET BRIGHT LIGHT IN THE MORNING

In our digital world with iPods, laptops, TVs and spending the majority of our lives inside windowless rooms – our natural sleep cycles can easily get out of whack. You may have noticed if you have ever been camping that your sleep cycle is far more regular when dictated by the natural light of the sun.

You don’t have to sleep outside to acheive the same effect:

  • Avoiding artificial light at night is recommended, as digital screens produce a blue light spectrum that increases seritonin levels. If you can’t pull away from your laptop at night, a program called f.lux can be downloaded for free and adjusts the color of your screen to reduce the blue light composition. Turning down the brightness of the screen will also help, but it’s far more important to reduce the blue light. F.lux will slowly adjust my monitor color levels to a light red tint after sunset and then return to normal after sunrise.
  • Early morning light can help reset your circadian rhythm to start the countdown to night sooner. Open the curtains and welcome natural light. However, on overcast days or in the winter, you may need a helpful gadget. A sunrise alarm clock that simulates natural light can train you to wake up before your normal alarm goes off.
  • An iPhone app called SleepCycle can also help you to track your success. It monitors your sleep by tracking your tossing and turning and has a built in alarm clock that adjusts to wake you when you are in the lightest phase of sleep.

Take a look at an informative sleep deprivation website to learn more about techniques to regulate your sleep cycle and embrace the morning with new enthusiasm!

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About NEW STUDENT UNION

The New Student Union is an online magazine run by and for college students covering the issues we care about. Self-starters with great communication skills and a passion for writing should email info@newstudentunion.com to get involved. Official site will launch in late 2011.

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