If the long weekend has taught us anything, it’s that sleeping in is a glorious, glorious activity. Early mornings have their place, certainly – energy-boosting workouts, world-domination in the form of a week’s worth of lunch prep, and a stunning silence to your usually busy neighbourhood that’s way more satisfying than a rushed morning coffee that you guzzle racing out the front door.
Some of us just don’t have that “morning” thing down, and it’s less to do with laziness, and more to do with our makeup. A study performed by consumer genetics company 23andMe on almost 90,000 people found a link between those who identified as “morning people” and those with genes specifically related to certain circadian rhythms, suggesting that a predisposition to early rising is more about your genetics than your personal productivity.
“[This study] suggests that a predisposition to early rising is more about your genetics than your personal productivity.”
But if you fall into the night owl (or even the “struggling to stay awake in general”) category, you can still be successful in the waking hours of your day. Here are a few ways you can beat morning people to the punch with your own brand of productivity.
Commit to your own schedule
So you hate working before 10am? Don’t. But once your energy levels kick in and you’re ready to work, you have to commit.
You can’t have it both ways: i.e. sleeping in and doing little work. If you’re ready to fire on all cylinders at 9am, make certain you’re at your desk for that very moment.
Work to your strengths
“I go to bed when my ideas are exhausted, not when I am,” explains Ross Andrew Paquette, CEO and founder of sales and marketing platform Maropost. “The early morning is overdone. If your best ideas come at night, work at night.”
If your brain isn’t fully alert in the mornings, try to tackle autopilot-type tasks during that time, until you’re ready to completely wake: check emails, undertake top-level research, or simple, methodical number crunching and the like. Creative tasks should be tackled a little later on, when you’ve got the headspace to take them on properly.
Don’t be tempted to oversleep
Just because you’re not an early riser doesn’t mean you have a free pass to sleep through your life. Oversleeping (more than the optimal average of seven to eight hours) has its own health disadvantages, but it also wreaks havoc with your own rhythms. Whatever your sleeping schedule, make it regular and repetitive to give your body a chance to properly recover.
Schedule your nights just the same
So, you’re making the commitment to your schedule – but don’t forget to schedule your night time activity too. Most morning people have a forced cut-off for their early goings on (a full-time hustle, a group of small humans to get out the door and so on), and so they know they’ve only got a slice of a day to get things done. If you’re planning on working into the evening, do the same for yourself. While some people can run on less sleep than others, it’s not recommended.
“Famous people, like Thomas Edison, took naps, or were very sleepy during the day,” quips senior scientist of the Henry Ford Sleep Disorders and Research Centre Dr Christopher Drake. “And imagine how much more brilliant and productive they would have been if they’d gotten more sleep.”