According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, yet a CDC study found that 40 million workers get fewer than six hours of sleep per night. Research has shown that a lack of sleep may be associated with decreased productivity, an inability to remember information, an increased risk of accidents, diabetes, heart problems and weight gain. Setting a routine sleep schedule may be the answer to assuring an appropriate amount of sleep is reached on a regular basis.
In addition to aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, numerous studies have shown the benefit of getting up early. Here are just a few:
1. Becoming an early riser will make you more successful. It’s plain and simple. A 2008 study out of Texas University concluded that those students identifying themselves as morning people earned a full point higher on their GPAs than those who identified themselves as night owls. Who knew waking up early could be the difference between a 4.0 and a 3.0?
2. Studies have shown that morning people are actually happier than night owls. We aren’t just referring to being happier for those 15 minutes in the morning, but rather they are happier with life overall. Night owl tendencies tend to fade as people age, and the study says this switch to a morning-focused schedule could be why older adults are happier than younger ones. The study involved two populations: the first was made up of 435 adults ages 17 to 38, and the second of 297 older adults, ages 59 to 79. Both groups answered questions about their emotional state, how healthy they feel and their preferred “time of day.”
“We found that older adults reported greater positive emotion than younger adults, and older adults were more likely to be morning-type people than younger adults,” Biss said. “The ‘morningness’ was associated with greater happiness emotions in both age groups.”
3. Morning people are often in better shape than night owls.
The reasoning behind this is simple. Waking up early allows people extra time to exercise before the family is awake or before their official work day begins. For this reason, many successful businesspeople wake up early. This morning exercise helps to boost mood and provides energy for the rest of the day.
So, now that you know the benefits to getting up early, how do you go about doing it? First, don’t make drastic changes. If you’ve been waking up at 7:00 every morning for your entire adult life, don’t start off your new early riser schedule by getting up at 4:30AM. Start small. If you have a goal of waking up at 5AM, slowly work to it by waking up just 15 minutes earlier than you usually do. Stick to this schedule for a few days until your body adjusts and then cut back another 15 minutes. Continue with the cycle until you’re waking up at 5AM. It might take longer than you want, but you’re more likely to stick with the new routine by easing into it gradually.
Another big change is to go to bed earlier. If you try to get up earlier while staying up late, you’ll find yourself giving up the newest habit of being an early riser. Eventually, you’ll have to start the whole process over.
Some other suggestions:
Put your alarm clock across the room from your bed. If it’s right next to your bed, you’ll shut it off or hit snooze. If it’s across the room, you have to get up out of bed to shut it off. By then, you’re up. Now you just have to stay up.
Go out of the bedroom as soon as you shut off the alarm. Don’t allow yourself to go back to bed no matter how tired you feel.
Have a routine. Don’t make getting back in bed an option. Have an activity planned (reading the paper, exercise, meditate, drink a cup of coffee) so that you are moving toward a plane event as opposed to wandering around the house wondering what to do next.
Make waking up early a reward. Yes, it might seem at first that you’re forcing yourself to do something hard, but if you make it pleasurable, soon you will look forward to waking up early. A good reward is to make a hot cup of coffee or tea and read a book. Other rewards might be watching the sunrise, or meditating. Find something that’s pleasurable for you, and allow yourself to do it as part of your morning routine.
Take advantage of all that extra time. Don’t wake up an hour or two early and waste that extra time. Get a jump start on your day!
Exercise. There are other times to exercise besides the early morning, of course, but I’ve found that while exercising right after work is also very enjoyable, it’s also liable to be canceled because of other things that come up. Morning exercise is virtually never canceled.
Productivity. Mornings are the most productive time of day especially since there are fewer distractions, Then, when evening rolls around, you have less work that you need to do, and can spend it doing something else you enjoy.
Goal time. Got goals? Well, you should. And there’s no better time to review them and plan for them and do your goal tasks than first thing. You should have one goal that you want to accomplish this week. And every morning, you should decide what one thing you can do today to move yourself further towards that goal. And then, if possible, do that first thing in the morning.