It can be frustrating for us night owls trying to be productive throughout the day when the world seems designed to benefit morning people. From childhood we’re forced to adhere to 9am school starts, and this carries over throughout the rest of our work and study lives. Even trying to get errands done before close of business can be difficult when you’re fresh off a study sesh that only kicked off at midnight. Thankfully, some of our staff here at Year13 often masquerade as Highly Successful People despite our sleep deficiencies, and we know a thing or two about studying when you’re not a morning person.
1. Try all those tricks to change your sleeping habits (and probably fail)
We’ve all pored over countless self-help articles that claim they can turn us into ultra-productive morning people – with a healthy dose of scepticism. Setting a morning routine, staying away from screens before bedtime, and putting your alarm on the other side of the room all sound like great ideas on paper, but if it were that easy to change your sleeping habits you wouldn’t be clutching your fourth coffee whilst reading this article in your 9am lecture, would you? That said, some internet advice can be useful in eliminating our worst habits (blue light before you sleep really is a killer) and it’s worth trying them to see if they work for you. If they do, congratulations; as for the rest of us, read on.
2. Accept that you’re not a morning person
Recent research has found that our internal clocks, and thus predisposition to be early or late risers, is embedded in our genes, meaning it can be difficult to change our behaviour. Some studies even suggest that it may not even be desirable to change this, as there are some cool traits associated with being a night owl, such as better memory, creativity, and raw sex appeal (okay I made up that last one). Moreover, changing your sleeping pattern drastically beyond your normal comfort level can lead to some health problems and drops in productivity, as well as no reported gains in life satisfaction that early birds like to brag about.
There comes a point when you need to just accept that you’re not going to be a morning person. This doesn’t mean you’re any less capable of doing well in school, but you need to act accordingly and work to your natural habits.
3. Don’t fall for the traps
The most common trap is telling yourself you’ll wake up early to finish an assignment or to get some study done, and the most common result is extreme self-loathing when you sleep right through your alarm. Don’t kid yourself – you’re in that situation ‘cause you didn’t get any work done in the day, so you’re definitely not going to get any done the next. Ride the wave and get as much work done before tucking in for the night for good.
Another trap is joining your mates for a cute ‘study date’ at the library. While this may help keep you accountable and you may even get peer pressured by your friends to get some work done, it often just fucks up your day; after getting home from hours of not getting any meaningful study done, you’ll feel too tired to hit the books again when your mind is actually alert. Be okay with saying no to your friends when their study and sleep habits don’t match yours.
4. Find your peak productive period
Pay attention to your body and observe when you feel most mentally sharp. It can be different for everyone, so don’t fret if yours is after dark. Set up your study days so that you’re doing the most of your work during this peak productive period, and you can spend the rest of the day doing more menial activities or having fun.
Some brilliant minds have revealed their unique (read: totally fucked) daily routines. While we don’t have the freedom to work completely to the schedule we want, we can see that success doesn’t always follow the same formula. Even if you’re not a morning person, you can be true to your own habits and tendencies, and still smash it out come exam time.