How to enjoy a healthy day and night — whether you're an early bird or a night owl
US researchers have found “owls” who stay up late and “larks” who rise early have different chronotypes – when they tend to sleep.
Not sticking to your natural rhythm can lead to the phenomenon called “social jet lag”, according to the study in the Journal of Scientific Reports.
As a result there is no “one size fits all” health and fitness routine.
To show how you can live to your best whatever your natural body clock, here JENNY FRANCIS maps out a healthy day for an early bird and a night owl.
Early bird sleep
As a morning person, waking up should not be too difficult. Drink 500ml of water to start your day, rehydrating your body and getting your mind in gear.
Go for a run to take advantage of your natural higher energy. You burn up to 20 per cent more body fat if you exercise before lunch – and it is linked to increased brainpower.
Have breakfast. As your body is ready for action in the morning, this is when you should have your bigger meals. Make breakfast two eggs or avocado on wholemeal toast.
Use this time to complete chores. Be productive now and it will not hang over you for the rest of the day. Once at work, make a list of things you want to get done by lunchtime.
Tuck in to lunch. Include slow-release carbs – your energy is likely to wane in the afternoon so some wholemeal pasta with chicken will keep energy sustained longer.
Have a coffee. Your body and mind are most awake in the morning, so a caffeine hit is not needed at that time. Get it now but beware, later than 5pm could stop you sleeping.
Eat dinner soon after you get home and opt for fish and veg or a protein-rich salad. It will give you energy without overwhelming the digestive system before bed.
Get creative. It may not be your optimum time but research suggests you are your most creative in your "off hours" as mental fatigue can offer new ways of thinking.
You will not be productive at this hour, so don't try forcing yourself to be. Instead, write a to-do list for things you need to do the next day. This will help you sleep easy at 10pm.
Go to bed. This will give you your full eight hours to be able to get up at 6am and do it all again.
Night owl sleep
Wake up and DON'T hit snooze. Being wrenched from sleep spikes our blood pressure and heart rate – and hitting snooze inflicts this on yourself again.
Get curtains open. When you're late to bed and late to rise you tend to see far less sunlight than morning people, which can be bad news for your mood.
Shower with the radio on. Not only will this help you wake up, it will stimulate the mind and signal that the day is getting under way.
Eat breakfast. You may say: "I'm not hungry in the morning." But eating before you leave the house is key to waking up mind and metabolism. Just a banana is fine.
Now is the time for coffee. It helps keep blood vessels flexible, but don't have it as soon as you wake. You don't want it to replace the body's natural cortisol boost.
Eat lunch. As a night owl you will likely eat dinner later, so eating lunch later too will prevent you reaching for sugary snacks in the afternoon.
Work out. Going for a run is good sweaty cardio to help burn fat at the end of the day but research says lifting weights is the best use of an evening energy peak.
Eat dinner. It might be tempting to eat later as you have the whole evening ahead of you, but you need to leave time for your body to metabolise the food before bed.
Get ready for the next day. Prepare breakfast, lay out an outfit tomorrow and check your gym bag is packed. You know you won't do it in the morning.
Settle down to read that book or watch that series on Netflix. As a night owl you have energy in the evening but it's still important to give yourself time to unwind.
This is a good time to have sex – just as long as your partner is a night owl too. It can relieve tension and help you go to sleep faster.
Get ready for bed. Unlike early birds who switch off easily, you need to prepare for bed. Switch off screens and create a night routine before you go to sleep at 11:30pm.
Go to sleep. Head up now and you will get your full eight hours and be able to get up at 7:30am to do it all again tomorrow.
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