I’ve always been a night owl. I’d much prefer staying up to work and scroll through my phone than to be an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type of gal.
And apparently, 30% of the population agrees with me. There’s just something about those dark, quiet hours that brings me my best ideas and a sense of calm that the hustle and bustle of the day doesn’t.
And hey, it’s not all bad; night owls are said to be more creative types.
But being a bit of a Goop-style wellness freak, I’ve always liked the thought of waking at dawn, going on a cheeky run, having breakfast and having a bit of chill time before work and feeling all smug in the process.
Like my dad says, getting up early helps set you up right for the day. The early bird catches the worm and all that.
But how to go from someone who burns the midnight oil to an early bird?
Say hello to the Swedish lifestyle practice, gökotta (try saying that three times fast), which promises to turn you into an ‘early morning cuckoo’ – that’s how it translates.
It’s practised in Sweden from Ascension Day (May 30) to midsummer (June 24) and is all about embracing getting up with the birds. Literally.
Like most Scandi lifestyle trends that have gone viral over the years, from hygge to friluftsliv, it’s all about maximising wellness, in tandem with nature.
Gökotta involves getting up at dawn to go outside and hear the birdsong. Sounds simple, right? And maybe even a bit pointless. But there’s science to back up the benefits of getting morning sunlight and enjoying nature.
According to a study, enjoying sunlight first thing can be effective against insomnia, PMS and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) due to a boost in serotonin.
Neuroscientist, Dr Andrew Huberman, agrees, saying that morning sunlight is the “most powerful stimulus for wakefulness throughout the day and helps to fall asleep at night.”
“But we live in the UK!”, I hear you scream “We don’t get any sun!!”. Well, Huberman says that you especially need to get outside on cloudy and overcast days. You just need to be outside for longer.
That could be a quick walk in the morning, on your lunch break and after work. It doesn’t have to be a huge change to your lifestyle.
Getting outside, regardless of the weather, is really important. “The light we get from being outside on a summer day can be a thousand times brighter than we’re ever likely to experience indoors,” explains melatonin researcher Russel J. Reiter of the University of Texas Health Science Centre.
“For this reason, it’s important that people who work indoors get outside periodically, and moreover that we all try to sleep in total darkness. This can have a major impact on melatonin rhythms and can result in improvements in mood, energy, and sleep quality,” he explains in a study report.
Many industry leaders love this morning hack and swear by it for helping them cope with their busy schedules. Bill Gates starts his day with meditation. Anna Wintour famously plays tennis every morning just before six. The practice has long been associated with productivity and #bossvibes.
And if that’s not enough to convince you, being in nature is also a boost for your mental health and can reduce stress.
Yale University shared how, as long as people feel safe where they are, nature can be a remedy for stress, lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety and increasing self-esteem.
Why not try getting up with the birds for the next week and seeing how you feel? You can keep a journal and reflect back on your mood before and after. And, almost as if it’s divine timing, there’s a heatwave coming up – so no excuses!