Here’s How Night Owls Can Survive In A 9-To-5 World

Coffee can only help so much.

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You’re a night person. But you also have a 9-to-5 job—the struggle is real. So, how can you avoid falling asleep at your desk the next day because you were up half the night binging on “Stranger Things”?

Well, first it helps to understand how you even became a night owl in the first place.

“The human clock is about 24 hours, thanks to Earth’s 24-hour light-dark cycle,” Katherine Sharkey, assistant professor of medicine at Brown University and associate director of the Sleep for Science Research Lab, said in an article on WebMD. “But some people have a slightly longer natural cycle, and some are slightly shorter.”

So, people with longer cycles tend to be night owls, whereas people with shorter cycles tend to be morning people.

The good news? Sharkey said people can reprogram themselves—with some discipline, of course. Try things like sticking to a schedule and not exposing yourself to bright lights (i.e., smartphones) before bed.

If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool night owl and you can’t change your work hours, here’s how you can change some of your routines to make the daily grind a bit more bearable.

1. Prep The Night Before

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Photo by lizzardo

My grandma always said, “Whatever you can do today, do today.” Translation: Don’t procrastinate.

I’m a bona fide night owl who’s had to work many 9-to-5 jobs. Sunday nights were my best friend. I’d make my meals for the week (usually a Crock-Pot dish that I could dole out to my lunch bag all week long), pick out my clothes for the week and hang them on a certain side of my closet, shower the night before and program my coffee maker for the morning (who can resist the scent of freshly brewed coffee?!). Waking up in the morning is never going to be delightful for a night owl, but if you’ve already prepped for the the day, it will be less painful.

2. Make A (Specific) To-Do List . . . The Day Before

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Photo by Courtney Dirks

An old boss of mine used to make his to-do list for the next day at the end of the current day. His rationale was that he wouldn’t have to do too much thinking right when he walked in the next morning. If you can ease into your today with a well organized to-do list, you won’t feel quite as overwhelmed when you get to the office.

3. Do More Difficult Projects Later In The Day

night owl photo
Photo by left-hand

When organizing and prioritizing your to-do list, be sure to take into consideration when you’re at your best (hint: if you’re a night person, perhaps, it’s not first thing in the morning. So, plan accordingly. Different tasks require different amounts of brain power, Alexandra Levit, a leadership consultant and author of “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College,” told LearnVest.

“Even scheduling difficult tasks during the late morning hours is better than early morning for night owls,” Robert Matchock, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Penn State Altoona, who researches circadian rhythms in physiology and behavior, said in the LearnVest article. “I recommend the late morning before lunch or the very late afternoon, since there can be a drop in alertness, body temperature and glucose levels after eating a large meal—what we call the postprandial dip—making the early afternoon tricky.”

4. Stock Up On Bananas

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Photo by Squash Valley Produce

Bananas are a great source of energy, especially during a mid-day slump. Not only do they contain electrolytes, which helps keep our cells healthy, but their potassium, vitamins and minerals help give us stamina. Instead of reaching for yet another cup of coffee, keep bananas on hand (and make sure they’re ripe—they have more positive benefits than the still-green ones).

5. Reduce Your Commute

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Photo by ImNotQuiteJack

While you can’t always control your commute time, and you may love all the audio books and podcasts you’re able to listen to en route, there’s more than one way to get to your workplace. So, try out different routes (and perhaps an app to help) and see which one works best. The time you save could be spent doing other things, like sleeping.

“I once rented an apartment next door to my office and woke up at 8:30 for a 9 a.m. start time,” said Levit. “A commute makes all the difference in terms of how early you actually have to get up.”

[h/t: Life Hacker]