It may fascinate you to learn that your body clock occupies a physical, albeit small, space in your brain. Your body clock is essentially a bundle of nerve cells that rely on cues from the sun to raise your sleeping blood pressure and heart rate, as well as release hormones that awaken you in the morning.
The Circadian Rhythm and Chronotypes
The human circadian rhythm is made up of the physiological, biochemical and behavioral processes that take place during a 24-hour day. By and large, humans are genetically predisposed to be alert during the day and to sleep at night. Within this predisposition, however, there exists a range of daily rhythms. Your chronotype is the attribute that best defines your body clock and typically identifies you as either a morning person or a night owl. While most people are highly adaptable to the scheduling requirements of their daily life, some people truly function best early in the morning or late at night.
Getting Enough Sleep
The body clock of night owls can be distressing if they need to function during regular daytime hours. The first and simplest method to achieving harmony with your circadian rhythm is getting enough sleep. On evenings when you must get up early the next morning, avoid stimulating your mind with media, and instead opt for a warm bath or a relaxing book to ease your body and mind into an earlier sleep pattern.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening, and don't eat a late meal that your body will have to work all night to digest. You may still struggle to get out of bed in the morning, and you may need a cup of coffee to clear your head, but at least your body won't suffer from lack of sleep.
If your chronotype tendency is very extreme, consider choosing a career that allows you the option of working a night shift or an early morning shift. If this isn't possible, another option is to rank your daily tasks by their mental difficulty, and avoid doing more difficult tasks during your less optimal waking hours. For example, if you are a morning person, schedule your most rigorous mental activities for early in the day. If you are a night owl, save the most difficult tasks for later.
Seeing the Light
It is easy to forget that the sunlight is at the core of our circadian rhythms. If you are experiencing difficulty reconciling your daytime schedule with an extreme chronotype, in addition to getting enough sleep, you may also try making adjustments to the types and amount of artificial light you take in. A more primitive dawn to dusk schedule might allow your body to achieve harmony with its own circadian rhythm, and allow you to accomplish everything you need to accomplish during the day.
Many people don't give much consideration to their natural circadian rhythms. Finding a way to work with your body clock can make a great difference in your quality of work and in your overall quality of life.