Why should I go to bed early?
They say that the early bird gets the worm, but let’s be honest here: many of us are not morning people. Personally, I’m a night owl. I’ve always struggled to wake up at the crack of dawn, and I still do. Having small kids, in my experience, forces you to become more of a morning person; you don’t really have a choice. But my youngest having just turned six, my girls aren’t babies anymore. They can pretty much fend for themselves in the morning, which means that I’m struggling to see the point in being a morning person. Why should I wake up early? People find lots of reasons to wake up early: more “me time”, time to get stuff done before the work or school day starts, time to meditate or go to the gym, or whatever makes you tick. But I’ve been learning there is also scientific research that shows some benefits to being an early riser. So, although some mornings I need to manufacture the bounce in my step, I’ve been trying to make the change.
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So if I go to bed early, what are the benefits?
The National Library of Medicine suggests that people who wake up early tend to go to bed earlier and enjoy longer, better quality sleep — and if you’ve read the article “How Can Lack of Sleep Affect Your Health”, you know that good sleep comes with plenty of benefits. But, if you missed it, here are a few of the important ones:
- improved mood
- better concentration
- healthier growth and immune system
- increased overall energy
On the flip side, a lack of quality sleep can:
- weaken your immune system, which means you might get sick more often
- raise your chance for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes
- create memory issues and confusion
People who get up earlier in the morning have the time to complete
more tasks, leaving them with less to do later in the day. Essentially,
getting up earlier gives you more hours in the day in which to get
things done! In addition, your alertness is usually higher in the
morning, and the world is quieter, creating an ideal environment for
work or other tasks.
Rough nights can show on your skin in fine lines, wrinkles, paleness, and swollen or droopy eyelids. Sleep deprivation can also contribute to acne. This is because your skin cells regenerate, or “turn over” in your sleep, working to repair UV damage. Earlier mornings allow you to practice a good skin care routine so your face is protected during the day, and having an earlier bedtime lets you take time to wash the day from your face and use nighttime products.
Some early risers choose to spend their extra time enjoying the peace
and quiet before others wake up. It is easier to have a morning routine
that includes alone time when you’re awake earlier! Maybe some mindful meditation or try a 20 minute yoga session. Check out this yoga session called the Morning Quickie taught by Elise Fabricant. Not to mention, leaving earlier in the day for work or school helps you avoid the
morning traffic and that extra stress.
Time to eat breakfast:
This one is pretty straight-forward; waking up before the last possible second gives you the time to nourish your body and eat an actual, wholesome, healthy breakfast. I don’t think I need to lecture you on the necessity of eating breakfast for enough energy, so instead I’ll say this: giving yourself the time to choose your meals with intention leads to healthier choices, which will, in turn, lead to less snacking throughout the day. Late risers, when compared to early risers, eat more calories daily and make poorer food choices (less veggies, more fast food).
Here’s something that I certainly didn’t know: early risers are less likely to develop mental illness such as depression or anxiety. They also tend to be more positive, optimistic, and satisfied with their lives.
If you’re interested in catching the proverbial worm — waking up earlier, I mean — here are some tips for making it happen. For real:
- Change your alarms gradually. A big change all at once can make it difficult to maintain a habit; so just move your alarm by 15 minutes earlier for a few days, until you get to where you want it.
- Go to sleep earlier. Do your best to change your bedtime to account for the sleep you’ll be missing in the morning, so you don’t fall into a routine that is causing sleep deprivation.
- Motivate yourself. Hey, look, I’m not above a bit of self-bribery! If I have to reward myself with a Starbucks to get me out of bed earlier, then that’s what I’m gonna do. You could also use your extra time to do something you love, like scrapbooking, or reading, or yoga.
- Get out of your bed and bedroom right away (guilty of this)– staying near your bed tempts you to crawl back in and fall asleep!
- Move your alarm away from your bed. Yeah, I’m suggesting tricking yourself into getting up (and it works)!
- Keep your sleep cycle consistent. Go to sleep and wake up around the same time every night. Try a Smartsleep and wake-up light which simulates sunrise and sunset and RelaxBreathe to Sleep
- Prioritize a healthier sleep. For more details on how, check out our other articles!
Go easy on yourself. It’s hard to make a change! Allow yourself some grace as you make a change like this one. Being too hard on yourself can cause you to lose motivation and stop getting up early altogether. Remember that you may not like getting up early every day, but it may be worth it if the benefits outweigh the costs. But at the end of the day, you need to do what is best for your body — and that might not look like joining the 5am club. Allow yourself to make the changes you can make.