x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

A night-owl talks of the benefits of waking up early

Observing life: Ever since I decided to become a 'morning person' the world has changed for me.

I sit in the café sipping tea while surveying the languid traffic outside.

It is 7am on a Saturday and the street is virtually empty, save for a few dog-walkers. On other occasions there would be a weary cab driver stopping the car for a 15-minute power-nap.

"Would you like to order now or are you waiting for someone?" the waitress asks. I decide to order, as it's rare for someone to join me for breakfast.

No, this is not the sad tale of an Abu Dhabi loner but the side effects of being a morning person.

Despite all the studies and autobiographies of famous people stating the benefits of being an early riser, it continues to be met with a collective yawn.

Last year when informing friends that I was ditching my night-time persona for a new life in the AM, it was met with a cynical snort.

They gave me a week before I returned to the evening fold. I could understand their cynicism because for a majority of my life, I have been the quintessential night-owl.

I embraced that culture of having lunch at five, dinner at 10 and even becoming hooked on some of the weird television programmes that are broadcast at such a time. These shows ranged from forgotten 1970s police procedurals such as Hunter and Ironside to horrible C-grade sitcoms.

However, after years of working in a zombie-like state till midday, I decided to take the plunge and start my day at dawn.

Ironically it was the words of a security consultant, in a workshop about reporting from conflict zones, that proved to be the most helpful.

"The body operates to a rhythm," he said. "Hence you can achieve whatever action you want by training your body to do so."

He used an example of sleeping to a particular CD when going to bed. He guaranteed that a few days later my body would instantly recognise the music and accelerate its path to drowsiness.

Naturally, I decided an Enya compilation was better suited to this experiment than Slayer, and by the end of the week I sailed away to an early sleep.

Waking up in the morning was like seeing the light in more ways than one.

I felt more energised. The air seemed cleaner and the feeling of having a few more hours up my sleeve was akin to cheating on a test without the guilt.

Also, waking up early has offered me unique experiences, the most memorable being going on dawn strolls through whatever cities I visit and having a fresh breakfast.

Such serenity is worth having these meals alone - and having Enya on repeat every now and then.