Some people hate waking up before noon, while others need to be up and at 'em at the crack of dawn. If you're someone who likes to sleep in, however, you may want to think again. Getting up early can improve your health in a number of ways, so even if it's painful to think of setting your alarm at 6 a.m. daily, an early morning can benefit you in different ways.
"Waking up early in humans is more consistent with our own biological sleep-wake cycle," says Alcibiades J. Rodriguez, MD, assistant professor, Department of Neurology, NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center, over email. "Sunlight is the most potent stimulant that gives energy and improves your mood. It makes sense to have class, work, meetings and conferences in the morning, when you are more alert."
Waking up early may not be the direct cause of improved health, but it helps people adapt healthier habits, which can help improve their life overall. "What I have found over and over again is that early risers are the kinds of people who make healthier choices," says Jeff Sanders, author of The 5 AM Miracle, over email. "They are more likely to exercise in the morning, eat a healthy breakfast, and make time for reading, yoga, prayer, meditation, or other healthy and fulfilling habits."
If you're looking for a good reason to start getting up earlier, consider these six health benefits of waking up early.
1. You're More Likely To Work Out
According to Women's Health, a study presented the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC found that early risers are less likely to skip a workout. "As I have seen with myself, my clients, and many other early risers, if you don't exercise in the morning, you are significantly less likely to exercise at all," says Sanders. "So forming an early morning exercise routine is incredibly beneficial for increased energy, strength...and so much more."
2. You Eat A Better Breakfast
"If you've ever woken up late, you know what it's like to grab a donut on the way out the door instead of preparing a healthy breakfast," says Sanders. "Early risers tend to give themselves enough time to properly prepare a breakfast that provides great nutrition and lasting energy." One study from Northwestern University found that people who stay up late and sleep in eat twice as much fast food half as many fruits and vegetables than people with earlier sleep times.
3. Your Mood Improves
A study published in the journal Emotion found that people who wake up earlier report being happier than those who are night owls. Although the reason for this is not clear, researchers suspect it's because society operates an a 8-to-5 schedule, putting an emphasis on the morning.
4. You Become More Proactive
Turns out, the early bird really does get the worm. Studies from the Harvard Business Review found that morning people set more goals and feel more in charge of making things happen. They also tend to get better grades and do better at their jobs.
5. You Are More Alert
If you wake up in the morning right before work or school, you likely experience sleep inertia, the feeling of grogginess when transitioning from sleep to wake in the morning. Waking up abruptly can harm your mental functions such as productivity and memory, so giving yourself some time to adjust to being awake before heading to school or the office can help improve your performance.
6. You Have A More Consistent Sleep Schedule
"Successful early risers have a clear early bed time and a consistent early morning wake up call, which provides them all the quality rest they need," says Sanders. "If nothing else, focusing on waking up early with consistent and high-quality sleep patterns could dramatically improve your health all by itself."
Although everyone functions best at different hours, most people function optimally when their sleep is synced with natural circadian rhythms, so give early mornings a shot to see you how you feel — perhaps you'll be faced with a pleasant surprise.
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