Rise & shine

Whether at dawn or noon, start your day off right

Both morning people and night people generally find there are particular times of day when they are more productive than others.
Both morning people and night people generally find there are particular times of day when they are more productive than others.

You may be someone who can wake up with a stretch and a smile at the break of dawn and be ready to start your day. Or maybe you’re a person who hits snooze four or five times before rolling out of bed and drowning out the morning with caffeine and a big pair of sunglasses.

The world is divided into two kinds of people: early risers and night hawks. Have you ever wondered what it’s like on the other side?

Jackie Sevcik, ArtSci ’09, wakes up with the sunrise every morning. She said she loves the morning and working during the day because she can’t really function past 7 p.m.

“Even if I go to bed at 7 a.m., I wake up by 10 a.m. at the latest. … I just can’t sleep during the day.” Sevcik said she enjoys the morning enough to wake up early and can’t seem to understand why her housemates sleep in.

“By the time they wake up, I’ve gone to the gym, showered, ate lunch, gone to classes, had a second lunch and done most of the work I was planning to do for the day,” she said, laughing.

Rebecca Liu, ArtSci ’09, is also a morning person. She functions better in the morning because she’s happy, it’s bright outside and she feels as though she’s restarting everything.

“From the night I feel really dead. … In the morning, I’m recharged because it’s your second chance to improve on the day before,” Liu said.

“If I wake up at 11 [a.m.], I feel like I wasted three hours I could have been doing something productive.”

Liu said there’s excitement in knowing you can improve upon the previous day and getting up early allows you to take advantage of what the day has to offer.

One thing she particularly likes about the morning is the sun.

“Sunlight is really inviting.” Being exposed to sunlight is important in the morning, said Lee Fisher-Goodchild, co-ordinator of Health, Counselling and Disabilities Services.

“It triggers your brain to be more alert,” she said.

“In the summer, when it’s light really early all you have to do is throw open a window. In the winter you want to simulate the sun by turning on lights.”

While some like to jump-start their day with the sun, others may want to ease into the day with a more relaxed approach.

Fisher-Goodchild said you know you’re starting your day with enough sleep when you can wake up on your own.

“Even if you wake up with an alarm you want to feel refreshed,” she said.

Fisher-Goodchild said meditating is a relaxing activity that may appeal to some people in the morning.

“I’ve talked to a number of people who like to meditate. They swear that if they meditate in the morning their whole day is better,” she said, adding that meditation only takes five minutes.

“The long-term effect is managing stress effectively.”

Each person is different, Fisher-Goodchild said, so you should figure out what you want to achieve in the morning and set goals to be accomplished later in the day.

“All of us have preferred pace and routines and often life doesn’t let us live those very easily,” she said.

You aren’t necessarily stuck in one pattern for life, though.

Fisher-Goodchild said you can change your routine but you have to really want to.

“It’s probably not going to be easy in the beginning. … There is really good reason to be happy in the morning,” she said.

Waking up in a bad mood can influence your whole day.

“Sometimes that mood is going to colour other things in your day. Because you’re in a negative frame of mind you will approach other things in a negative sort of way.” The number-one thing you should do in the morning is eat breakfast. Fisher-Goodchild said breakfast literally means “to wake your fast.” Your brain needs glucose and the level of glucose in your blood stream is low after the night, she said.

“If you have something to eat early in the morning it really helps your brain to function well and increases your metabolism,” she said.

Alissa Warner, ArtSci ’10, said she isn’t a morning person at all.

“Seriously, I hate mornings and it takes me so long to get up,” she said.

“I am always really groggy when I have to get up. I am always so tired and I fall asleep in class.” To help ease her morning hatred, Warner tries to schedule her classes for later hours in the day.

“If I get enough sleep I can function. Example: today I woke up at 4 p.m.,” she said.

“If you wake up happy it takes a lot more to put a damper on your day.”

Warner said once she’s up, her routine is pretty straightforward.

“I have a coffee or a Full Throttle, depending on how much caffeine I need. I find that it takes me a few hours before I get up,” she said.

“Once I get hunger out of the way I am usually good.” Director of Health, Counselling and Disabilities Services Mike Condra said it’s okay if you’re not a morning person.

“Most of us have a diurnal rhythm to our day. … That means for most of us that we have particular times when we’re most productive and other times when we’re sluggish.” When Condra talks to people who don’t like mornings, he asks whether there are particular reasons why they’re sluggish at that time of day. Some indicators might include eating late at night, eating sweet things or exercising before bed. These practices make it harder to fall asleep and may cause you to wake up in the night. Condra also said drinking alcohol at night can be a reason.

Condra said those who aren’t morning people have a slower tempo at that time of day.

“They may need 30 minutes or more before they feel good,” he said.

“Those people can’t fake it, they’re not deliberately doing this. … They have a slow tempo and they’re sluggish.” If you’re not a morning person, don’t dismay: a good night’s sleep and a cup of coffee will help you tackle any day.

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