Just like every other creature on earth, we humans have an internal body clock which determines our 24-hour rhythms. Clinically called a chronotype, and often referred to as our circadian rhythm, each of us possess a different natural rhythm to our sleeping patterns.
Rising early to make the most of the coming day is often touted as the one thing many successful people have in common. Oprah, Richard Branson, Michelle Obama and Apple's Tim Cook are all reported early risers. And for good reason: those who are up well before the hum of the day descends upon are often reported to be more productive, are likely to have more willpower at this time, and are better able to plan their day.
It can be difficult to fight your own DNA (though not impossible). If you're willing to embrace a few new habits, you've got a good chance of winning the battle. Here are a few tips to get you started on your journey to morning glory:
1. Power down
Light exposure is one of the key factors that can shift your circadian rhythms. Research has shown that the blue light emitted by electronics like laptops and mobile phones can disturb sleep. If you're trying to alter your sleeping patterns and you're constantly glued to your phone, tv or computer screen, you're going to struggle to nod off. Instead of flicking through Instagram before bed, try powering down at least an hour before your intended bed time.
2. Prep before bed
Now you've got an extra electronic free hour, use that time to get everything you'll need for the next day together. You could pack your breakfast and lunch, or your gym bag. Shortening your morning to-do list might make it easier for you to jump out of bed.
3. Get in the groove
If you're aiming to get up earlier, you'll need to get to bed earlier. Start by shifting your bedtime forward by 15 minutes at a time. This will help gradually clue your body into what's going on. Adjustments any larger than this are likely to have you rebounding between early and late bedtimes rather than creating a habit you're more likely to stick to.
4. Active AMs
A 2011 study found that early morning exercise can help reduce blood pressure and improve your sleep. If you're looking to shed some fat, fasting and exercising (i.e. when you haven't had breakfast yet) could be better for you, as opposed to exercising on a full stomach. Just make sure you stay hydrated and eat a good breakfast afterwards. Also consider committing to exercising with a friend - it's much harder to cancel on someone other than yourself!
5. Be mindful
How you start the morning will set the tone for the rest of your day, so it's a great time to take one, two, ten minutes - whatever you can spare - to settle your mind with a moment of mindful meditation. Research has shown that regularly taking the time in the morning to centre your thoughts and be present in the moment can help you better deal with stress throughout your day.
If you'd like to get started, there are some great apps available to guide you through, and help you create positive meditation habits.