How to Become a Morning Person
Sizing Up My Zzz's
The first question Dr. Haward asks me is how much I sleep. "A lot! I turn in by midnight and get up around eight. Why is it so difficult to get out of bed every morning?" I complain. She tells me to track when I get into bed, fall asleep, and get up and if I wake during the night for two weeks. "This is the best way to objectively assess whether you have a sleep disorder or just need to change your habits," she explains.My Bedtime Story
The log is, well, eye-opening. Most nights my head hits the pillow closer to 2 a.m. Seriously? No wonder I'm a zombie in the mornings; the eight hours I thought I was snoozing just turned into six. "Many people think they're getting more or less than they actually are," Dr. Haward says. "Your sleep cycle is pushed back a few hours. It's delayed at night, which causes excessive sleepiness in the morning and during the day."
Another red flag is my weekend wake-up time -- a not-so-respectable 10 or 11 a.m. Sleeping two hours later on Saturday and Sunday throws off my internal clock during the week. "We all have a 24-hour clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle," Dr. Haward explains. It lives in your brain and enlists a team of hormone helpers to knock you out and wake you up. Cortisol is like your butt-kicking personal trainer who shows up in the morning -- or in my case, around noon -- to rev you up, while melatonin is a mellow meditation instructor who drops in at night -- er, 2 a.m.! -- to help you wind down. It's not news to me that I should get up at the same time every day, but I'm more likely to do it now that I know why I should.
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