How to stay healthy when you are not a morning person

Have trouble staying alert in the a.m. hours? Feeling sluggish during the early part of the workday? Did you stay up too late last night because you had trouble falling asleep? If you are not a “morning person,” you’re not alone. But getting it in gear can be challenging when you consistently get insufficient slumber or if you can’t rise and shine efficiently.

When you have to wake up earlier than you prefer and struggle with this early schedule, there are things you can do to feel better, improve your energy levels, and maintain recommended health and wellness.

“To adapt to waking up earlier, focus on gradual adjustments and establish a consistent morning routine with activities like stretches and light exercise,” advises Carlie Gasia, a certified sleep science coach. “Begin your day with hydration and a balanced breakfast containing protein, carbs and healthy fats. Limit caffeine intake, prioritize natural light exposure and consider mindfulness or meditation to enhance wakefulness.”

Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night, recommends Dr. Joseph Daibes, an interventional cardiologist in New Jersey.

Consistency is key to staying healthy, whether you choose to rise at dawn, or a few hours later. Stock photos

“Establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time, even on weekends. I like to use a sleep tracker that can help monitor my schedule and get a solid routine going,” he says.

Dr. Michael Green, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Lake Arrowhead, California, recommends skipping coffee and drinking an 8-ounce glass of water as soon as you wake up.

“You need to get outside within your first hour to benefit from the sunlight’s effect on your body, too, if you can,” Green adds.

If you follow a later wake-up schedule than morning people, focus on maintaining well-being by, again, keeping to a consistent sleep schedule, with a minimum of seven to nine hours of slumber.

“For those non-sunrise enthusiasts, like anything, customization is key – and listening to your own body is the best bet,” Dr. Daibes continues. “With this schedule, invite natural light into your space when you roll out of bed so that you can signal to your body that it’s time to seize the day. Start your day with a glass of water to rehydrate your system and kick that sleepy feeling to the curb. Then, ensure that you have a well-balanced breakfast with combo of protein, whole grains, and a side of fruit.”

Instead of rushing matters to catch up with the morning crowd, ease into your day with a calm and deliberate approach.

“Stay fueled and ready with nutrient-packed snacks like nuts, yogurt and fresh fruit. Small, spread-out meals keep your body going. And water with some lemon can actually do more for you than coffee,” says Dr. Daibes.

If you suffer from inconsistent/erratic bedtimes and wake times due to a sleep disorder or night shift working, you may need to make some important changes.

“Maintaining well-being involves prioritizing sleep hygiene by striving for a consistent sleep schedule. Focus on balanced nutrition, mindful hydration, and moderate caffeine intake while avoiding heavy meals close to bedtime,” suggests Gasia. “Utilize natural light exposure during the day and engage in physical activity when you feel most alert. Be patient with yourself. If you struggle with a sleep disorder, consider cognitive behavioral therapy if necessary. Customized strategies and professional input are the key to managing health and wellness, despite irregular sleep patterns are sleep disorders.”

Remember to engage in movement and exercise, no matter what your sleep schedule is.

“Working out regularly helps regulate our sleep cycle, makes us tired when we are supposed to be, and balances our hormone levels for optimum wellness,” Dr. Green points out.

For better health, a recommended sleep schedule ideally involves going to bed between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. and waking up between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. Gasia says this window aligns with your body’s natural circadian rhythms and allows exposure to morning light, enhancing sleep quality and overall well-being.

“But regardless of when you go to sleep and wake up, consistency is key. Aim to maintain the same sleep schedule every day, which helps regulate your body’s internal clock,” adds Gasia.

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