How To Become a Morning Person

by team nuut

Rise and shine with plant-based protein and some do-able lifestyle tweaks.

It's early and dark; it may even be raining. The alarm shrills and you reach over to switch it off – instead, you hit snooze. Bed is so cosy and the day can wait, you think. The night before was another late one. Five minutes later, the alarm reminds you to get up. You groan, hit snooze or throw the clock to the opposite side of the room. Pulling the doona over your head, you think about how beneficial a coffee servant would be right now, or another 3 hours of sleep.

Welcome to another day in the world of the night owl.

Sure, morning people can appear eerily chipper, but they have good reason to be; they’re reaping the health and lifestyle benefits the night owls are not. A 2012 study revealed rising early is associated with increased productivity, improved mental health and life satisfaction and a decreased risk of diabetes and obesity.

If you're a reluctant night owl and want to be a morning bird, don't despair; it is possible. Here's how.

Rise and Shine

When the sun sets, the decrease of light and cooler temperature signals the body to release melatonin, the hormone associated with sleep. Artificial light and heating, along with early evening workout sessions, 5 p.m. wines, heavy food and screen time, can trick the circadian rhythm (otherwise known as the body clock) into operating in daytime mode. So, instead of releasing melatonin, the body can release glucose, which keeps us alert and awake.

Becoming an early riser starts with slowing your body down early, which is best achieved with a relaxing night-time routine that teaches your body to fall asleep more easily and earlier. It includes:

• No caffeine from 12 pm onwards

• Avoiding afternoon and evening naps

• Swapping your wine for a non-alcoholic beverage

• Switching the gym for mediation

• Eliminating all screens before bed

To rise early, bedtime must move forward, too, so shift the time by 15 or 20 minutes earlier every night for several weeks. So if you're trying to go to bed two hours earlier — from midnight to 10 pm — head to bed at 11:45 pm the first night, 11:30 the second, 11:15 the third, 11 the fourth, and so on. When you're finally hitting the hay and deeply slumbering, stick to it!

Having trouble drifting off? Try a low dose of melatonin. It won’t make you fall asleep, but as melatonin levels rise in the evening, it puts you into a quiet wakefulness that encourages sleep.

Break Up With Your Snooze Button

Becoming a morning lark starts when you decide what time you'd like to wake up and get out of bed. Hitting snooze is all too tempting and common, so move your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up to turn it off.

The first job of the day is moving your body and catching some sunlight, which tells your brain it's time to be awake.

Studies have found morning light can also advance your circadian rhythm, which helps your body adjust to its new earlier schedule. If it's so early that the sun hasn't yet risen, try bright light therapy that mimics outdoor light for 30 minutes. One of the best on the market is the Carex Day-Light Classic Plus.

Eat a Good Breakfast

Benjamin Franklin once said "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise" -- and research backs him up with scientific data showing morning people may be healthier. By comparing "morning type" people with "evening type" people, researchers found that morning people ate more balanced foods overall and ate earlier in the day.

Protein might make your life easier if you struggle to eat in the mornings and don't feel like a big breakfast. Having a high-protein drink at breakfast made with vegan protein powder has been found to improve the release of satiety hormones, helping you feel fuller for longer. The calories will also jump-start your metabolism.

When you rise early, you have time for a wholesome and energising breakfast. Without it, your body lacks fuel until you are so hungry at lunchtime you eat for whatever you can reach; sometimes, the fattier and sugarier, the better!

As you sleep, your body is hard at work digesting yesterday's dinner. So, when you wake up, your body and brain are hungry and demanding fresh fuel. Breaking the fast is a crucial way to power up in the morning with benefits that last all day.

So, what constitutes a good breakfast? One that delivers protein, some slowly digested carbohydrates, fruit and/or vegetable. A nutritious wholemeal wrap with protein-rich eggs and avocado, a bowl of oats, berries, banana and seeds or kedgeree with a poached egg on top all hit the mark.

Plant-based protein powders like nuut give your body all the above in just one shake. We like to make a delicious breakfast smoothie to start the day combining nuut protein powder, berries, nutritious spinach and avocado for a dose of calcium, vitamin C, folate and fibre.

More Plants = Quality Sleep

Following a plant-based diet may help optimise sleep quality, with a study showing people whose diets were highest in foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes experienced considerably better quality than those with lower consumption of these foods.

Plant-based diets have also been linked with reduced body weight and lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers compared to an omnivorous diet (a diet that includes both plant foods and animal products).

Eat more plants easily by following a plant-based diet plan. nuut offers a range of nutritionist-approved meal plans that offer guidance on how to hit wellness goals, including better sleep, with delicious easy-to-make recipes.

Armed with our expert tips and know-how, you are ready to shake up your night and morning routine! Remember, no matter how successful you may be in rising earlier every day, the most crucial factor in improved health and well-being is consistently getting good quality and the proper quantity of sleep.

Good luck and sweet dreams.