Waking Up Early May Be Able To Benefit You In 6 Ways (As Much As We Hate To Admit It)

For those who are lucky enough to get to choose when they wake up each day, having the chance to sleep late in the morning, take your time getting ready, and ease into everything at your own pace is considered a privilege. Others who must set an alarm may feel like they have to wake up too early against their will, for responsibilities like school, work, or their family obligations. This can be especially tricky if they feel more awake at night. 

There's good news if you have a tendency to be an early bird: You may be onto a lifestyle that will benefit you in many ways. If you are a night owl, and consider yourself most awake in the evening hours, the benefits of getting started early are so incredible that you may want to consider changing your lifestyle a bit. 

Besides the logical benefits of getting up early to take advantage of more hours in the day, there are also many biological and behavioral upsides to being a morning person that you can't deny, from an improvement in brain function to mental health benefits. If you are interested in improving your health, you may just want to start welcoming the dawn each morning.

Improve your brain function

If you are considering adding "morning person" to your CV, you may notice that with your new appreciation for early rising, you might actually start thinking more clearly and making better decisions throughout your day. According to Education World, waking early in the morning improves critical thinking skills and helps with cognition. In a 2010 study published on Harvard Business Review, morning people were found to be more goal-focused, making them more likely to be successful, in general, than their late-sleeping counterparts.

Sleeping late can correlate with sleeping poorly, and poor sleep can add to many issues with memory and mood regulation, per Healthline. If you find that your brain is a bit foggy and your memory is slipping, a simple adjustment may be all you need. Your brain is happier and makes more accurate decisions when you sleep well and wake up early. By shifting the wake-up time of a late sleeper by two hours earlier, you will likely find improvement in memory, brain function, and critical thinking. 

Regulate your circadian rhythm

No matter what our technological lives make us believe, we are natural beings who are more easily connected to the world around us than to our devices. We still possess instincts that lead us to behaviors that are good for us, and to that end, our bodies actually wake best with the first light of the sun. 

Your circadian rhythm is an internal cycle that often responds to light and dark. If you can choose your wake-up time, it will benefit your circadian rhythm to rise and shine at dawn, as this is in synch with your body's natural clock. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences explains that circadian rhythms can affect everything from hormone release to digestion. 

When you align your waking and sleeping routine with natural light and darkness, you feel more awake and refreshed each day, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Being exposed to sunlight in the morning can actually lead to an improved sleep later that night, so sleeping late and missing that benefit works against what is natural for humans to function at their best.

Boost your productivity at work

If you adjust your waking schedule to an early time, you may just boost your productivity at work. As Career Addict explains, early rising will lead to a number of logical benefits that may help your career over the long-term, including an easier commute into the office, and even finding time to tick off tasks before the working day actually begins, whether it's paperwork or sorting out emails.

Early risers are generally less rushed in the morning, which means they have more time to set goals for the day ahead, plus a more peaceful environment in which to get a head start on meeting those goals (assuming you are the only one in your household waking in the early morning). By giving yourself extra time in the day, you may surprise yourself with how much you can accomplish.

Particularly when you have stressful events at work, such as a presentation or meeting, giving yourself ample time to prepare provides a sense of peace that may help you to survive the more testing moments in your work week.

Get your workout in

While it may be hard to think about movement early in the morning, early risers generally find it easier to make time for fitness in their day. There are lots of powerful benefits associated with exercising in the morning, including being able to enjoy the mental benefits of exercise for the rest of the day, and setting a healthier mindset early on, per Piedmont. This may help you to make healthier choices as you get through your day.

Morning workouts, as opposed to evening workouts, may also help you to improve your sleep quality overall, especially if you're exercising outside and getting a chance to expose yourself to sunlight.

Working out in the morning may also mean that you have more time for a quality workout rather than one in the evening, when you're exhausted from the day's events. Additionally, if you leave exercise until the end of the day, there is more chance that something will come up to stop you from getting that workout in. 

A good trick to keep your motivated is to lay out your workout clothes and shoes near your bed so that you have no excuses. 

Boost your mental health

Waking up early in the morning has long been suggested to improve your mental health. 2021 research from Harvard Health Publishing found that even just waking up one hour earlier can lead to a lower risk of depression.

There is a correlation between those who wake up early and positive mental health traits, including optimism and overall satisfaction with life, per PharmEasy. Waking up early also tends to lead to reduced stress, because people naturally feel more in control and on top of challenges when they give themselves more time to prepare. 

In most cases, early risers go to bed at an appropriate time and wake up at the same time each day. This structured sleep routine is one of the main factors that leads to a regulated circadian rhythm and better sleep quality overall (via Headspace). And as Sleep Foundation points out, poor sleep can worsen a range of mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. 

Have more free time

It's true that waking earlier benefits your body, mind, and career, but early risers tend to also have more free time, which can boost their happiness. According to Psychology Today, between two and five hours a day of time to yourself can increase a person's overall happiness. 

Waking up early means that you'll have more time to work out, if that's one of your priorities, or that you can get a head start on work tasks, but really, you can use the time for whatever is important to you. By not being rushed in the morning, you might find time for self-care routine practices such as journaling and meditation. Or if someone in your household also wakes up early, you might choose to spend that time with them. 

If nothing else, having extra time in the morning gives you a chance to check in with yourself and reflect on any problems that are bothering you or any unmet needs that you've been ignoring.