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Can you change being a night owl?

Many people consider themselves to be night owls, preferring to stay up late and sleep in rather than going to bed early and waking up early. While being a night owl can seem like an intrinsic part of your personality, there are steps you can take to shift your circadian rhythm and become more of a morning person. The key is being consistent with the changes and allowing your body time to adjust.

What makes someone a night owl?

A person’s chronotype refers to their natural inclination towards sleeping and waking at certain times. This biological preference is influenced by several factors:

  • Genetics – Genes regulating your circadian rhythm can make you prone to being a night owl.
  • Age – Young adults and teenagers have delayed sleep cycles, making them want to stay up later.
  • Gender – Women are more likely to be morning people while men tend to prefer late nights.
  • Environment – Exposure to light in the evenings can shift your body clock later.
  • Habits – Irregular sleep schedules or frequently staying up late can reinforce a night owl tendency.

While genetics play a role, your behaviors and environment also impact whether you feel more alert at night or in the morning.

Disadvantages of being a night owl

Although some night owls feel this schedule suits their personality and creativity, being a night owl can cause some disadvantages including:

  • Daytime sleepiness – Trying to function on too little sleep makes it hard to concentrate during daylight hours.
  • Difficulty waking up – Night owls struggle to wake up early due to their intrinsic biological clock.
  • Missing mornings – Getting a late start to the day can mean missing out on morning sunlight, exercise, family time, etc.
  • Social disruption – Being out of sync with conventional work schedules can isolate night owls.
  • Health issues – Studies link being a night owl with higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and mental health disorders compared to early risers.

While some flexibility in work and social schedules can help accommodate night owls, most obligations require being awake and alert in the mornings. So shifting to more of a morning person pattern may improve daytime performance and long-term health.

Tips to become more of a morning person

It takes consistency and dedication to change entrenched sleep habits. But it is possible to turn yourself into more of a morning person by:

Adjusting your light exposure

Since daylight resets your circadian rhythm, aim for natural light first thing in the morning. Open the blinds as soon as you wake up or go outside shortly after waking. Spending time outdoors in the morning and during the day can help align your clock. In the evening, dim the lights to avoid stimulating your brain too much before bed.

Resetting your wake-up time

Set your alarm for 15-30 minutes earlier each day until you reach your target wake-up time. Move your bedtime earlier by the same intervals to avoid sleep deprivation. Waking up early for workdays and weekends will regulate your schedule. Be strict about responding to your alarm in the morning – no snoozing.

Establishing a calming bedtime routine

Perform the same relaxed activities for an hour before bed each night like reading, meditating, or taking a bath. Avoid stimulating screens, large meals, and exercise close to bedtime. Keeping bed for sleep and intimacy will train your body to wind down at night.

Avoiding sleeping in

No matter how late you went to bed, get up at your set morning wake time, even on weekends and days off. This prevents drifting later on your days off. If you need to catch up on lost sleep, try a short afternoon nap.

Making mornings motivating

Have something to look forward to in the morning like exercising, walking the dog, reading the news, cooking a healthy breakfast, or working on a hobby. Doing activities you enjoy makes it easier to embrace the mornings.

Night Owl Behaviors Morning Person Behaviors
Going to bed after midnight Going to bed between 10-11 pm
Sleeping in late on weekends Waking up within an hour of weekday time on weekends
Hitting snooze on the alarm Waking up promptly to the first alarm
Feeling most alert at night Feeling most alert in the mornings
Working late into the night Getting up early to work
Skipping breakfast Making time for breakfast
Exercising in the evening Exercising in the morning

When to seek help

If you try these tips for several weeks and still struggle to shift your sleep schedule, consult a doctor or sleep specialist. A medical condition like sleep apnea or delayed sleep-wake phase disorder could be making it harder to change. A professional can determine if there is an underlying issue and tailor treatment recommendations like light therapy, melatonin supplements, or cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.


While we each have an intrinsic chronotype, you have more control over your sleep habits than you might think. With determination and consistency, it is possible to turn yourself into more of a morning person. The key is allowing your body time to gradually adjust to a new sleep schedule. Waking up early should become easier as it becomes your new normal. A morning-focused routine holds benefits like boosting your mood, productivity, and health. So don’t lose hope if you’re a night owl – try these tips and see if you can shift your body clock to be an early bird!