Habit 1: Rise Early from The “Habits for Well-Being” Series
We’ve all heard the phrase, “the early bird gets the worm.” But why is that? Is there something in the morning air that gives early risers an advantage over their night owl counterparts? It turns out, there is. Studies have shown that rising early can have a positive effect on mental and physical health as well as productivity.
I hear you night owls rolling your eyes! “Great, another piece of content on getting up early as if the 22 million search results on the topic wasnt enough!” I get it. It’s been overplayed and often sold as some sort of “silver bullet.”
There are no silver bullets. Starting your day off early has many benefits, including improved focus, lower stress levels, and better physical fitness. But before embarking on a new morning routine, it is important to understand the science behind Circadian Rhythms–the internal body clock that signals when our bodies should rest and be active. This biological rhythm follows an approximately 24-hour cycle and can be influenced by different external cues such as light and temperature. Understanding this rhythm is key to positively impacting your health and well-being.
So here is one more piece, most likely at the bottom of those 22 million search results, on rising early (because there are numerous benefits) but more importantly on simply ensuring you get enough quality sleep.
Circadian Rhythms: Keeping the Beat of Well-Being
We often hear about the importance of getting enough sleep, but what if I told you that your well-being is also dependent on something else: your circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are our body’s internal clocks that dictate when we should be awake and when we should be asleep. They are affected by the amount of light, temperature, and other environmental factors. When our circadian rhythms are in balance, we feel energized and alert during the day, and relaxed and ready for sleep at night. But when they become out of sync—whether due to stress or a change in routine—we can experience serious physical and mental health consequences. Let’s explore how to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm for optimal well-being.
Everyone’s biological clock is slightly different, so it’s essential to recognize the hours your body best responds to get the most restful sleep possible. The first step is understanding what a healthy circadian rhythm looks like for you. If your rhythm or work schedule precludes an early bedtime and early rise, you should, at a minimum, ensure your routine is providing 7-8 hours of quality sleep. Once you’ve identified your ideal bedtime and wake time (allowing for 7-8 hours of quality sleep), try to stick with it even on days off or weekends. This will help keep your body on track.
If your schedule is eating into that 7-8 hours of sleep you need to revisit your priorities. You are very likely headed to a complete burn out. For those twenty-somethings out there letting FOMO or YOLO drive your schedule – you may not feel it right now but that lack of sleep is causing damage to your mind and body everyday that you will start feeling the impacts of in your thirties, forties and beyond.
The next step is avoiding behaviors that disrupt our natural rhythms such as eating late at night or napping throughout the day—both of which can leave us feeling drained and sluggish the following day. Eating too late interferes with digestion while taking naps during daylight hours keeps us from winding down at night when we need it most. Instead, try limiting meals after 7:00 PM (or at least 2 – 3 hours before bedtime) and allowing yourself regular breaks throughout the day without going full-on snooze mode during them!
Finally, make sure that you’re getting enough sunlight each day (at least 30 minutes) as this helps regulate our bodies’ natural production of melatonin—the hormone responsible for promoting sound sleep cycles. This can be a pretty big ask in the winter months especially here in Ohio. I currently use a sun lamp to help in this area because that big yellow ball in the sky is tough to find here from December thru March.
Additionally, avoid using electronic devices like phones or TV screens within an hour of bedtime as their blue light can interfere with melatonin levels and disrupt our resting periods even further!
Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Rising Early
I am betting most of the night owls have already checked out and closed out this post. If you are still there, hang on a little longer. You don’t necessarily need to completely change your routine but take a few of these benefits to heart (literally, it can help your heart health).
- Mental focus and productivity
- Waking up before everyone else gives you time alone with no distractions or interruptions—think of it as “me time” where you can get yourself ready for a long day ahead without having to worry about other people’s demands or agendas getting in your way.
- By waking up earlier, you enjoy more productive hours in the day, allowing you more time to complete tasks and focus on important goals. Additionally, energy levels are higher in the morning so taking advantage of this peak performance time can benefit task completion and achieve a greater sense of accomplishment for the day.
- Stress reduction/management
- Research has found that people who rise earlier have lower levels of cortisol—the hormone associated with stress—in the morning when compared to those who wake up later in the day. Having extra time in the morning to plan out your day, meditate, or just enjoy some peace and quiet will give you a sense of control over your day. Additionally, exercising or even taking a walk in the morning can help to reduce stress levels by releasing feel-good hormones like endorphins and serotonin.
- Improved physical fitness
- Early risers also tend to be more physically active than their night owl counterparts. One study found that people who rose earlier had higher rates of exercise than those who slept in later, making them more likely to meet health guidelines for physical activity. This isn’t just good news for your body; it’s great news for your brain too! Exercise has been shown to boost memory, improve moods, and increase creativity—all important elements when it comes to work performance and productivity.
The early morning can be a perfect time to relax and enjoy your favorite hobby or start the day with a new activity. Taking the time for yourself to focus on what you enjoy doing instead of everything you “have” to do can set you up for greater concentration and motivation later in the day. Additionally, starting the day by engaging in something different or challenging can give you a sense of accomplishment and energize you for whatever is coming next.
Establishing an Effective Early Rising Routine
Establishing an effective early rising routine can be challenging, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Set a specific time to wake up and stick to it – choose a time that works for you and aim to wake up at the same time every day.
- Start small – don’t try to jump to a 5 am start of your day if you currently don’t wake up until 7 or 8. Wake up 30 minutes earlier ensuring that you are going to bed early enough to get that 7-8 hours of quality sleep.
- Take it one step at a time – experiment with different routines and find out what works best for you.
- Make sure your bedroom is comfortable – think about how you can make your bedroom more conducive to getting restful sleep such as making sure it’s dark and cool enough, or investing in some blackout curtains or an eye mask if needed.
- Be consistent – try to keep up your new habits for at least 30 days to give them a chance to become part of your daily routine.
- Allow yourself enough time in the morning – plan out activities or tasks so that you give yourself enough time each morning to do the things that mean a lot to you without rushing through them.
- Celebrate small successes – reward yourself when you reach milestones or complete tasks, even if they seem small or insignificant. This will help you stay motivated and on track.
Wrapping it up
Rising early may not be everyone’s cup of tea but its benefits are clear – better mental and physical health as well as increased productivity throughout your workday! Whether you’re looking to establish healthier routines or become more productive at work, introducing an earlier bedtime routine could be just what you need! So take a page from our feathered friends – try rising a little bit earlier each morning – and see how much better off you’ll be! With consistency and discipline, waking up with the sun could become second nature – leading ultimately towards greater overall well-being!
The point isn’t necessarily about the time of day, although most of our natural circadian rhythms follow the pattern of dawn to dusk. It is more about getting quality sleep and starting your day early enough to use that newly generated energy to complete the most important habits to your well-being and passion. It is all about getting a headstart on your day regardless of what time your day starts.
Sweet Dreams and Good Morning!