Some radio personalities have decided they can’t reach their potential because the great gigs are for morning shows and “I’m not a morning person”. Even morning shows I work with regularly lament how difficult it is to get up and get going early in the morning. But science proves that’s just a state of mind. In fact, nearly everyone can train themselves to function at the highest level and become a morning person.
Here’s the key finding: The human brain is physically bigger when we wake up in the morning, compared to falling asleep. The brain is most hydrated after a period of rest, and the best performing brain is a well-hydrated brain.
So if that’s true, why is it so hard to get going at the crack of dawn?
How to Become a Morning Person
One way to be an early riser is to simply start earlier. Folks working “normal” hours usually establish a routine before the workday begins. They find time for breakfast, entertainment updates, exercise, meditation, and an extra cup of coffee.
But morning radio talent tends to sleep as long as they dare, rush to the station, and immediately try to perform. That’s not healthy. Successful early risers tend to follow a schedule similar to someone working a 9 to 5 job. They go through the same routine as normal people. They just do it at different times.
Maybe You Just Aren’t A Morning Person (But That’s Probably Not The Case)
Still, some folks really are wired to function better at night, making it very difficult to be a morning person. Personality psychologists define the difference between early-to-rise or late-to-bed tendencies as “morningness” and “eveningness.” These two poles point to individual preferences or chronotypes.
A chronotype is how an individual tends to organize their life based on underlying rhythms built by biology (nature) and life circumstances (nurture). Some might be an early riser and others a night owl. But most are somewhere in between.
It’s true that morningness and eveningness are distinct concepts that affect personalities. And there are distinct characteristics that apply to each type. Conscientiousness is strongly linked to morning types, while openness is connected to those who function better at night.
However, only rarely do people fall squarely into either camp. About 80% are between the extremes. They can lean toward either time of day, depending on motivation, required tasks, and energy level.
In other words, 8 out of 10 can train themselves to be morning people.
By the way, it’s normal to become more of a morning person with age. The study found that eveningness tendencies are more likely for those in their twenties, while morningness is common for those in their fifties.
Cracking The Morning Code
While various studies show different results, one thing is clear. Each person has an internal clock that sends alarms throughout the day. These alarms affect mood, attitude and impact how we behave. The alarms go off at different times for everyone.
But most can reprogram their clock and adjust the alarms by adjusting habits. One recommended technique is to mimic traits of a morning person, by tapping into conscientiousness. Unearth a sense of duty toward important goals. By focusing on the responsibility of working toward personal goals will inspire motivation that results in reprogramming that internal clock.
- Wake up an hour earlier to work out instead of doing it after the show. That might feel torturous on the surface, but focusing on dedication to health to feel energized at work might be the only adjustment needed to become a morning person.
- Have breakfast and catch up on what is happening in the world. Make time to wake up and start the day as a normal person would.
- Keep a consistent schedule. A 2009 study found that folks with small (not large) differences between workdays and free days were more proactive. So going to bed and getting up at about the same time every day is more productive than adjusting schedules for off days. Morning personalities keeping a vastly different schedule on weekends and holidays can prevent the body from making needed adjustments.
- Establish a new rule for everyone on the show to arrive 30 minutes earlier. This is an important time for making connections and getting ready to perform.
Be At Your Best
This is tricky because happiness is a loaded concept, but researchers Biss and Hasher report that morning people typically have higher levels of positive feelings and well-being than those who score lower on morningness. They also found better performance is a direct result of happiness.
To be at your best, work on being happy! It’s also going to sound better on the air because most listeners tune in to be put into a good mood.
Many morning personalities feel they never catch up because they’re out of synch with the rest of the world’s schedules. Little can be done about the hours – we can’t choose hours a morning show is on the air – or opt into a flex schedule. And it really won’t work to time-shift a successful morning show. But we can reorganize hours to channel the inner morning person.
Why is there so much admiration for morning people? It’s not because they can wake up early with a smile. Maybe it has to do with brightening the day of everyone else who struggles to get going in the morning and hasn’t discovered some of these schedule tricks.
Maybe you are part of the 20% that is just an evening person and will never adapt to a morning schedule. But 80% of us can adjust to make it work.