The Real Reason You're Not A Morning Person

Night owls, rejoice: The reason you struggle to wake up in the morning might be a genetic trait, not a result of your preference for watching late-night talk shows. A study conducted at the University of Leicester and published in Frontiers in Neurology found that there are nearly 80 genes in fruit flies associated with "morningness" and "eveningness," better known as the difference between whether you're a night owl or a morning lark. 

Another study published in Cell found that in addition to those genetic differences, night owls may have a mutation in the gene that sets their circadian rhythms, the CRY1 gene. This mutation makes some night owls suffer from what researchers liken to "permanent jet lag," potentially causing roughly two hours of sleep delay at night. Lead researcher Alina Patke explained in a press release that this puts night owls at a disadvantage, especially since most companies operate with normal nine-to-five business hours and are closed when night owls are the most alert. "Carriers of the mutation have longer days than the planet gives them, so they are essentially playing catch-up for their entire lives," she added.

How to make yourself a morning person

Of course, even if your genetics shift you towards being a night owl rather than a lark, you may not have the option of sleeping in. Most jobs and family demands start earlier than a night owl would prefer. However, it is possible to shift your schedule to better mesh with the rest of your life if you're not getting enough sleep. It may not be as easy for you as it is for a morning person, but there are a few ways to make waking up easier. 

Start by assessing your current morning routines and rituals. Your problem might be less related to genetics and more related to the fact that every day starts with a stressful alarm noise followed by a scroll of work emails and Instagrams rather than a pleasant wake-up routine. Researchers have found that waking up to blue-enriched LED light can help avoid morning drowsiness, while another study from RMIT University showed that a melodic alarm rather than a blaring siren can increase alertness. Or perhaps you're always rushed in the morning and it's a struggle to get out the door, so you dread getting out of bed as a result. Use your night owl tendencies to prep better the night before so that you're set up for success when the alarm does beep (via HuffPost).