Morning People Rule

early or late riserAnd what to do if you are NOT a morning person

Morning people have the advantage. It’s more than motivation, it’s happiness they get.

Have you figured out at what time of day you are at your best?

A few years ago, I delved deep into time, consuming close to 100 books on the subject of our daily rhythms. The field of study that approaches it from a biological perspective has a name: “Chronobiology.”  It studies how time, and cycles in particular, affect all living systems.

It is this research that has led me to recommend first thing in the morning for the daily 5 minute exercises in my new program “More in 5 Minutes”. (Find out more here)

But I was most interested in the work of Eviatar Zerubavel, who used the phrase: ‘Sociology of time’ to describe his work in examining human behavior routines. His book, “Hidden Rhythms”, he explores how the Clock affects our lives.

Before its invention, sun rise and sunset formed the limits around and beyond which we set our activities.  We couldn’t tweak time. Now we can simply turn a light on or off and snag ourselves a more time for an activity – using the clock to define our own time limits.

That kind of manipulation aside, we cannot actually buy more time. We each get the exact same amount of time each day. There is no getting around the definite limit of 24 hours, 1440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds in the day.

How we use that time differs. There are larks, night owls and most of us are in-betweeners. Research does show that while adolescents are more likely to light up in the evening, as we age, the amount of time we sleep shortens and we also tend to get up earlier.

While some people cannot change their internal clock, their circadian rhythm, that determines when they go to sleep and when they wake, most can. As in-betweeners, they are able to choose how late they stay up and how early they rise.

Here’s why that matters:

Early risers tend to be happier, more successful (measured by grades and other assessments), more conscientious, and have a lower risk for depression and being overweight.

The vast majority of us live our days to a schedule. This offer us two very different things:

  • Predictability through orderliness and structure
  • Restrictions and restraints and the loss of spontaneity

However, without a common time frame, we would find it hard to get together in groups, meetings, and celebrations.

Studies have shown that:

  • 9 am till noon is generally the time people are most alert. This is a good time for tackling complex things like planning and writing and anything involving analytical thinking.
  • Our blood pressure tends to level off and our circulation increases between noon and 2 pm. Our verbal reasoning increases, making this a good time for meetings and tackling social issues.
  • Most people slow down between 2 pm and 6 pm. In the afternoon our mental alertness and concentration slip. Our body temperature increases and we experience a peak our cardiovascular and muscle strength, so this is a good time for exercise and physical labor.

Planning your day around your own physiology will help you refine your best times for specific activities.

Routine that is ritualized is considered to be one of the most powerful tools for both productivity and happiness.

Perhaps its because a it offers both predictability (loosely translates into a sense of order and control) and the opportunity to choose to defy that and be spontaneous.

A routine offers us an anchor – a small point of regularity – in our world. Giving us a sense of being grounded and “on track”.

A 5 minute routine is 5 minutes well-spent. The value of the time given to the activity grows with frequency – you only have to think about the value of practice has for performance.

But there is another reason, the familiarity one gains from doing something frequently affords a momentum effect and the results are often cumulative.

Ritualizing an activity directs attention to the activity, ensuring mindfulness.

Check out my NEW 5 minutes a day program


Author: Sue Hines

  1. MeredithMeredith08-22-2014

    This is interesting! I think I’m a night owl by nature, but having young kids makes that a recipe for disaster and sleep deprivation. I’ve had to become more of a morning person, and I find that I really am most productive in the morning (as long as it’s not too early!). I may try exercising in the afternoon, now, thanks to this information.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines08-22-2014

      You raise an interesting point about rising kids, or taking on any task that conflicts with your natural body clock. It might be worth shifting your exercise later in the day to see if that changes things. Try it now and then to start, rather than doing a dramatic shift. Gradually increase the number of days you move the exercise.

  2. BolaBola08-22-2014

    Hi Sue. I’m an in-between person, although I feel more alert towards late morning. Having said this, my best decisions are made early in the morning. Interesting insight and thanks forr sharing.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines08-22-2014

      Its great to be aware, Bola. Thanks for responding.

  3. Susan CooperSusan Cooper08-21-2014

    Hi Sue…I’m definitely a morning person and a firm believer in the expression “The early bird gets the worm.” If I’m under the weather a bit and happen to sleep in a bit until even 10, I feel like most of the day has been wasted. The most productive hours are those morning hours. Get up and greet the day! 🙂

  4. How interesting! I have always been a morning person…I generally am up by 5:00 am and my most productive time is in the morning. And I love to watch the sun rise…it’s a like a brand new painting every day:) And I also work-out in the morning, but save meditation for the evening. I should have realized that people study these things:)

    • Sue HinesSue Hines08-21-2014

      It doesn’t surprise me to discover you are a morning person, Jacquie. You always present a positive face!

  5. maxwell iveymaxwell ivey08-20-2014

    HI Sue; I’m impressed that anyone has done so much reading on the subject of time and how we use it. I was the early riser when younger but find myself more of a night owl now. i have been having trouble with energy and motivation lately, so I’m planning on trying your suggestion. take care, max

    • Sue HinesSue Hines08-21-2014

      Hi Max, Glad to spark some interest for you. One thing on changing your time habits… the research says to do it gently, meaning move it over a course of several days or weeks. Start with the sleep time, not the waking time is the other key suggestion the experts make. Getting to bed a few minutes eariler than usual for a few days should start shifting your wake time. Good luck and let us know how it works for you!

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