Early risers are often thought of as energetic problem-solvers leading businesses, organizations, or sometimes even nations. Ever wondered how a morning person can get so much done in only 24 hours? Waking up early gives you a head start on your day.
Night owls may disagree. They may argue that it’s possible to get extra work done at the end of the day. While this may be true for some, the vast majority of us are conditioned to be most productive during the early hours of the day.
The Science Behind Morning Wakefulness and Nighttime Sleepiness
Our bodies are designed to produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin after dark. The sleep-wake cycle in our body is regulated by our circadian rhythms, our body’s internal clock, which works with the light and darkness around us. When our retina perceives light, it signals the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (our body’s biological master clock) to suppress melatonin production, causing wakefulness. We are naturally attuned to being more responsive and alert during morning hours and sluggish and sleepy at night.
9 Benefits to Getting Up Early
Before you get into the habit of waking up early, you should know the benefits that come along with it. If you are already an early riser, you know what the mornings bring, apart from the beautiful sunrise. However, for those who are not early risers, here’s a list of the many advantages.
Enhanced Organizing Skills
Your early morning hours tend to be the most productive time of day because you get uninterrupted time to yourself. You can accomplish any task faster when you don’t face distractions.
You can use this peaceful and quiet time to plan your day ahead, allocating a certain time frame for each of your tasks. Mentally working out your day before you start it enhances your organizing skills, promoting productivity.
Eat Healthy Foods
Waking up early gives you time to make a healthy breakfast. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, smoothies, salads, and fruit bowls only require a few minutes to prepare. Early risers have this time to prepare a simple and healthy breakfast for themselves and their family. If you wake up late, chances are you’ll be late for everything else, creating a domino effect. When you’re running late, you’ll oftentimes pick up an easy-to-eat breakfast like a doughnut or muffin, or skip breakfast altogether.
Breakfast is an important meal, giving you the energy to start the day. Skipping this meal makes your body crave energy and you end up eating something high in sugar or fat to instantly satiate yourself.
Exercising in the morning is considered best because it gives you an adrenaline boost. Adrenaline enhances alertness, helping you overcome the sleepy feeling. Moreover, if you’re in a morning exercise schedule there are fewer chances of missing it due to some other important task eating into its time. For example, if you exercise in the evening there are higher chances of missing it due to extra hours at work, a get-together with friends, or sheer exhaustion.
Beat Peak Traffic Commute
If you wake up early, you can leave your home early, beating peak traffic hours. You don’t waste time being stuck in traffic while commuting to work or dropping the kids off. You’ll also be on time for all your other appointments throughout the day.
Waking up early gives you the leisure to plan your day ahead. You aren’t rushing through your day in a haze with a cluttered mind. Planning ahead eliminates the stress that comes with rushing to get things done. Moreover, when you wake up early, you have more time for some stress-busting leisure activities, helping you start your day with a calm and composed mind. You are better equipped to prioritize and solve problems, the key to remaining stress-free throughout the day.
Enjoy Quality Sleep
Early risers tend to fall asleep faster. You don’t have to count sheep to sleep. When you wake up early, your body feels tired early, leading to quality sleep as soon as you go to bed. You get accustomed to the natural circadian rhythm, making you early to bed and early to rise.
Longer waking hours lead to sufficient accumulation of adenosine. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that causes sleepiness by inhibiting neuron activity. Waking up earlier leads to faster accumulation of adenosine, making you feel sleepy in the evening hours. Going to bed early improves your chances of completing all four stages of sleep through the four to six sleep cycles, making you feel well-rested and rejuvenated the next morning.
Early birds have better sleep quality than night owls because they have higher chances of completing all stages of the required sleep cycles. They wake up with more energy than night owls, who usually don’t get enough time to complete all sleep stages.
Completing sleep stages and cycles improves both physical and mental well-being. Growth hormones, causing tissue repair and regeneration, are released during the deeper stages of sleep.
When you wake up early, you reap the benefits of many good habits, leading to an energetic, well-rested, stress-free, punctual, and healthy you. You get a sense of order in life, making you feel happier. In fact, according to a 2012 study, healthy adults who woke up early had a more positive state of mind than night owls.
Getting up early may also improve your chances of scoring higher than others in academics. In a Texas University study, students who woke up early in the morning got better results than those who stayed up late. On average, the early birds got a full point higher in their GPA (grade point average) than the night owls.
Sleep Needs By Age
On average, a healthy adult usually needs 7 hours of sleep to feel well-rested, but your body’s sleep needs change with age. Here’s a breakdown of age-wise sleep needs.
|0 to 3 months||14 to 17 hours|
|4 to 11 months||12 to 15 hours|
|1 to 2 years||11 to 14 hours|
|3 to 5 years||10 to 13 hours|
|6 to 13 years||9 to 11 hours|
|14 to 17 years||8 to 10 hours|
|18 to 64 years||7 to 9 hours|
|65 years+||7 to 8 hours|
How to Wake Up Early
Now you know why “early to bed and early to rise can make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” With this knowledge, you may be drawn by the idea of making your day more productive.
It may take you anywhere between 30 to 60 days to get accustomed to the habit of waking up early. Once you get used to your new sleep schedule, you won’t even need an alarm to wake you up.
Here we’ll share tips and discuss some steps to help you foster the good habit of waking up early, without compromising sleep.
Set realistic expectations and don’t start with an unnatural hour while waking up early. It’s best to push the time gradually. For example, if you are used to waking up at 7 am, start by setting the alarm for 6:45 am. Once your body gets adjusted to this change, you can push it further by another 15 minutes. Going step by step will help your body better adapt to the change. When you wake up 15 minutes earlier than your usual time, you won’t resent the idea and give it up altogether feeling sleep-deprived.
Keep the Alarm Clock Away From the Bed
Keeping the alarm clock away from the bed decreases your chances of hitting the snooze button. Instead of keeping the clock on your bedside table, you can keep it on a shelf or a table on the other side of the room. When the alarm rings, you’ll have to walk up to it to turn it off. Taking those few steps to your alarm may help you shake yourself out of slumber.
Get Out of the Bedroom As Soon As You Wake Up
Your brain is conditioned to feel sleepy in the bedroom. Stepping out of the bedroom as soon as you wake up discourages you from going back to sleep again. Many night owls, while trying to become early risers, give in to the temptation of going back to bed when they spend time in the bedroom.
Having a motivation to get up will help you wake up early. For example, you may want to wake up early to go to the gym, or to spend some time gardening. Whatever the motivation, try to keep something associated with it right in front of you. For example, you may keep your gym clothes or gardening gloves in a place where you can see them as soon as you get out of bed.
While training yourself to wake up early, you can incentivize the system. You can treat yourself to your favorite flavor of coffee or with extra time in the shower. Do something that you don’t usually do to make yourself feel special about your achievement of waking up early. Rewarding yourself helps you continue the practice diligently.
Follow Proper Sleep Hygiene
Develop a bedtime routine that tells your body it’s time to sleep. For example, take a hot shower, read your favorite book, or reminisce about the positives in your day. All of these help you unwind and prepare your body to sleep. Taking a warm water shower physiologically prepares your body for sleep. The warm water raises your body temperature and then as you step out of the shower, it drops immediately. When you sleep, your body experiences a drop in temperature, so a warm bath facilitates this process of sleep.
Stay Away From Blue Lights
Blue lights from the television or your electronic devices can suppress melatonin production. Insufficient or delayed production of this sleep-inducing hormone may negatively affect your sleep quality. To be consistent about waking up early, you need to sleep early.
Staying away from blue lights at least an hour before bedtime helps you achieve the goal of sleeping early. This practice also prevents you from scrolling through your phone, tablet, or binge-watching your favorite series. All these activities may further stimulate your brain, delaying sleep.
Be Kind to Yourself
If you feel under the weather or exhausted, be easy on yourself and don’t force yourself to wake up too early. This flexibility will prevent you from resenting the idea of waking up early.
Eliminate Excuses for Sleeping In
When you’re in the process of training yourself to wake up early, you may feel like sleeping in on a rainy or cold day. Try to avoid giving in to such excuses, because once you give in, it’ll be difficult to break out of the habit and you’ll have to retrain yourself all over again.
Eat a Light Dinner
Heavy and spicy meals may make you feel drowsy temporarily, but they take longer to digest, impacting sleep.
If the food doesn’t get digested well before you lie down, it may cause acid reflux and heartburns. Moreover, the extra calories get accumulated as fat in your body. It’s best to eat less than 500 calories for dinner. A light meal including lean meat or fish and some veggies should be enough to keep you full, preventing midnight snacking.
Eating tryptophan-rich food such as salmon, chicken, eggs, spinach, and nuts may promote sleep. The hormone melatonin is derived from this amino acid, tryptophan.
What is the circadian rhythm?
The circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process of your body regulating the sleep-wake cycle in a 24-hour period. Natural light has a direct influence on the circadian rhythm. This influence makes us feel awake during morning hours and sleepy at night. People who travel across time zones feel jetlagged because their circadian rhythm takes time to adapt.
How long does it take to train yourself to wake up early?
You may need anywhere from 30 to 60 days to train yourself to wake up early. It depends on how strongly you are motivated. If you’ve started working on something that you’re really passionate about, it won’t take you long to get used to this routine.
At what age should you start training yourself to wake up early?
Your training begins when you start going to school because you have to wake up early to get there on time. The idea is to continue with this good habit even on weekends. If you don’t disturb your bedtime pattern drastically (by more than one or two hours), your body gets accustomed to waking up early for good.
What happens if you don’t wake up early?
If you don’t wake up early, you don’t get to enjoy your precious me-time. This can lead to grabbing an unhealthy breakfast on-the-go or even arriving to work late, ultimately causing a chaotic beginning to the day. Constantly waking up late and rushing can have long-term disadvantages such as depression, obesity, and stress.
To keep all these cons at bay, it’s best to wake up early and dedicate some time to yourself for your own benefit. When you develop the good habit of waking up early, you also end up going to bed early, preventing yourself from wasting time on devices at bedtime.
Waking up early helps you develop better habits and improves your day-to-day productivity. You just need to tap the potential of this good habit, which leads to many advantages in both your personal and professional life.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.