Does the early bird always catch the worm?

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The inevitable groan at our alarm seems like a rite of passage, and as winter is coming and with it, darker mornings and colder rooms, more and more of us will be struggling to get ourselves out of bed in the morning. This daily struggle isn’t due to an inherent laziness but just the way our genes work, with only 60% of us inheriting the morning chronotype, which allows them to have done an hour long run and made breakfast, before the rest of us have even pulled the covers off.

With the perception being that sleeping in is lazy, whilst early to bed is sensible, it’s not surprising that whilst interviewing several CEO’s The Guardian found all of them waking between 5 and 6 am. Despite this however, significant studies have found that those who rise later are just as productive, if not more so than their early bird counterparts. In fact, a 2010 trial conducted at North Tyneside School, in which they allowed pupils to arrive at school at 10 am as opposed to 9 am, found the percentage of students gaining 5 good GCSE’s rise from 34% to 50%.

As everybody runs upon a different schedule, later risers have expressed an irritation at the fact that they’re speed-emailing at 8 pm, only to turn up at work at 8 am to blankly stare at a computer screen. Companies are attempting to counteract this with flexible working, something we can all legally request after 26 weeks with a business. For those of us not so lucky, however, there are other ways to help you spend your working hours bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

As research has found sleepy workers to be more likely to both have a slower metabolism and subsequently use ‘bad substances’ to counteract tiredness, in caffeine, sugar and even alcohol, it’s important that you maintain a healthy breakfast routine. Swapping out the bagel for a protein heavy meal will increase dopamine levels, meaning you’re less likely to feel the 10 o’clock slump.

Of course, a better breakfast also means getting up earlier, and although you may feel this defeats the object, psychologist Patricia Adson, says allowing yourself time in the morning for a ‘treat’ will actually help you feel more awake during the day.

“Later notice how you feel about yourself, when you’ve given yourself the time to get a good start on the day.”

Whether you’re a nice and gently or tough love kind of person, there’s bound to be an alarm out there that will mean you’re less likely to press the snooze button. From ‘annoying’ alarms which force you to complete puzzles and math’s problems until you’ve proven you’re thoroughly awake, to sunrise alarms, which mimic the sun coming up and thus allow a more natural morning routine, it’s all about finding what works for you.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for sleepiness in the office, so if you’re still finding yourself holding your eyes open, why not jump ship to a company that embraces it. As Capital One Labs, PwC and Google all house ‘sleeping nooks’ in their workplaces.

“Several studies have shown that power napping significantly improves concentration. While it may seem strange now to take a nap at work, in the future it will be people who don’t take time out to relax who are seen as being irresponsible.” – Stefan Camenzind, CEO of Evolution Design