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Science Explains Why Early Birds Have Better Mental Health Than Night Owls

Science Explains Why Early Birds Have Better Mental Health Than Night Owls

Good news early birds – scientists have discovered that you are likely to be happier than night owls. While 20% of us are night owls, 10% are larks, and most of us are somewhere in between the two. So if you are in that lucky 10%, you might just have the edge in terms of your mental health and well-being.

Larks know how to utilize the morning to kickstart a good day.

In this study by Christopher Randler,[1] early risers reported more positive feelings of well-being and more conscientiousness than night owls. They have also been found to procrastinate less. This could be attributed to their beginning as they mean to go on. As we all know, the first hour of the day can really set the mood for the whole day. If you are relaxed, you have a better chance of carrying on feeling that way throughout your day.

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Larks also have more chance to exercise in the morning, and this seems to play a key factor in lowering levels of stress, while night owls tend to do less exercise.

Night owls don’t intend to sleep late, they simply can’t sleep or have deeper issues.

Those who are night owls can have a challenge getting enough sleep. A German study[2] found differences in chronotype (whether you’re an average, late or early sleeper) can mean that night owls have differences in the ‘integrity of their white matter’ of their brains. But what does this mean? It, unfortunately, means that you are more vulnerable to experiencing depression, and tend to show some less healthy habits, like smoking and drinking.

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This could well be to deal with the difficulty of not getting enough sleep, as night owls tend to be sleep deprived. Not getting enough can make a huge impact on your life and your mood. If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter and then gone to work, you will know this all too well! Fortunately, it’s not all bad for night owls, as they have been shown to be the smarter and more creative of the two groups.

Having to wake up early anyway, night owls don’t sleep enough and get more stressful easily.

In our modern culture of always working harder and sacrificing our comfort for our goals, sleeping can seem less appealing to those who are driven. But when it comes to our work life, we are actually a lot more productive when we have had enough sleep, that’s at least 7/8 hours a night.

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Getting this balance can be more of a challenge for night owls, whose sleep pattern does not fit in well with the traditional ‘nine to five’ working schedule. This could be why owls often experience ‘social jet lag’, meaning that they have to get up early even when their body is not made for it. This could account for their lower levels of happiness and higher levels of stress; as the brain cannot function as well as those who are well rested. Social jet lag can leave night owls feeling out of the loop, and even socially isolated as they don’t fit the perceived norm.

Change your sleep pattern and your mood will change.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, it may be possible to change your sleep pattern by changing certain environmental factors.

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Prep the bedroom environment

  • Remove electronics from your bedroom – Get the TV and any electronic devices away from your bed, so your body and mind will get used to the fact that the bedroom is for sleep only.
  • Dim the lights – Light easily stimulates brain activities. When you dim the lights, it encourages melatonin (the sleep hormone) to be produced.[3]
  • Turn it down – Eliminate noise if possible. Or you can try some calming sounds like white noise, which actually blocks all the little sounds that could be distracting to your brain.[4]

Start a bedtime routine

  • Same time every night –  Maintain a regular sleep time, that’s how your internal clocks can get used to the resting time.
  • Warm shower – A short and moderately warm shower adjusts your body temperature and helps you relax.[5]
  • Sleep-boosting beverages – Cherry juice, chamomile tea, passionfruit tea, milk and water are the best drinks to boost your sleep.[6]

Relax your body with some stretching

You can do these simple stretches on your bed before you go to sleep:

Whichever your chronotype, we know for sure that getting a good nights sleep is the best way to make sure your brain is working well and you are at your best mentally and emotionally.

So now you have an excuse – to enjoy your rest and your bed as much as you enjoy work and play.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Daniel Owen van Dommelen

Coder, Director, Writer, Human

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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