nyminutenow times square early_01

Times Square, one very early morning. The longer you stay in New York, the more likely you end up avoiding this area. But if you happen to be walking around when it’s practically deserted, indeed you see a beautiful cityscape.

This week marks the end of my stint teaching the Monday 7 am class at Sonic Yoga. I’ve taught this early-morning Vinyasa yoga class shy of one year, and now I am moving to the Thursday evening time slot.

I am not a morning person by nature: If and when left to my own devices, I would go to bed between the hours of 2 and 4 am and then wake up at 10 am, or maybe even sleep in until noon.

However, years of working in corporate New York, and now yoga, have changed my circadian rhythm of sorts.

By the way, I’ve just looked up “circadian rhythm” (to make sure I was accurately referencing the term) and I stumbled upon the following from the National Sleep Foundation:

“Changes to this circadian rhythm occur during adolescence, when most teens experience a sleep phase delay. This shift in teens’ circadian rhythm causes them to naturally feel alert later at night, making it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11:00 pm. Since most teens have early school start times along with other commitments, this sleep phase delay can make it difficult to get the sleep teens need—an average of 9 1/4 hours, but at least 8 hours.”

(News Flash: I was NOT a lazy teen, after all!!!)

In recent years, I’ve managed to force myself to be up, out, and about early. At work, it makes a good impression and I’m actually able to get things done. In yoga, getting to the studio early ensures I am calm and composed by the time the students trickle in, versus dashing in all frazzled and stressed (which still happens occasionally when the MTA truly messes up).

A few years ago, while in between jobs, I actually did go back to my old (or natural) sleeping pattern. However, I noticed that I wasn’t making a lot of progress on my job search, so one day I decided to start getting up at 7 am and walking to the park. For the first few days, I could not stay awake after breakfast, so I went back to bed for mid-morning naps. But believe it or not, by the following month, I’d landed a job.

I’m not saying that one can’t be productive nor that it isn’t  worthwhile sleeping and awaking late. Things I’d worked on in the wee hours—when my mind is clear and I am laser-focused—have yielded beautiful results. Much of the back-end, nuts-and-bolts tinkering on this blog happens late at night on some weekends. In fact, I’ve scored a previous job from responding to a Facebook message at two in the morning, sent by a former coworker who lived in a different time zone, saying that her cousin just tweeted about a copywriting position and she thought I should holler back.

In my first Be Kind, Be True, Be You post, I’d mentioned prominent and successful people who happen to be night owls: President Obama, Mariah Carey…and I’m sure there are many, many others as there is plenty of research extolling the benefits of sleeping and rising late. Just check out the search results when you type in “famous night owls” on Google.

I believe the takeaway here is adjusting your body clock according to what improves your current quality of life. I say this in yoga class a lot: Leveling up sometimes means charging forward, but other times, it’s the dialing back that creates a springboard that propels you forward. Same with rising early or later—which one creates improvement in how you enjoy life?