16 Benefits of Waking Up Early, According to Science (+How to Wake Up Early and Not Feel Tired)

If you’re not a morning person, then you’re probably tempted to hit that snooze button. But there are so many scientifically backed health benefits to waking up early. It might just be worth it to get up as soon as the alarm clock rings.

There is a reason many of the world's most successful people are early-risers. 

You get to experience a whole different world - and here are 16 amazing benefits, according to science.

1. You have time to actually wake up

Sometimes it takes a cup of black coffee for you to function like a human being. But usually, you’ll naturally start feeling alive after a while.

There’s something called sleep inertia. It’s that period where you transition from sleep to full wakefulness. During this time, there is reduced alertness and lower performance.

According to studies, it can last from 2 to 4 hours. Many cognitive tasks were impaired in these hours:

  • Memory

  • Reaction speed

  • Ability to do math

  • Alertness

  • Attention

The exact causes of sleep inertia is still unknown. But it depends on some factors.

For example, the longer you’ve been sleeping, the less the sleep inertia. You’ll feel groggy if you wake up in the middle of your sleep cycle. That’s why some people recommend sleeping in 1.5 hour intervals. Your quality of sleep is important too, of course.

There are many dangers to sleep inertia. Which you can probably guess. When you have slow reaction speed and alertness, it can be dangerous to drive. You might also make sleepy, careless mistakes at work and school.

So if you can rise 2 hours earlier, you can be fully awake for school or work! Getting over sleep inertia also leads to many other benefits.

2. Set yourself up for better quality of sleep

How do you get better sleep? According to Mayo Clinic, the first on the list is to have a sleep schedule. And stick to it.

That could mean going to bed and waking up earlier. Getting up relatively at the same time on free days help too.

Japanese researchers also found that morning types have higher quality of sleep. Compared to others, they felt more satisfied when they woke up.

On the other hand, evening types are more likely to have sleep disorders. Even if they wake up late, their sleep duration is still shorter.

One study looked specifically at the sleep quality of 159 university students. Both a Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire and Sleep Quality Index were used. According to the index, more than 60% of the participants had poor quality sleep. And of that 60%, most were evening or night people.

It’s tempting to sleep in on weekends. But if we’re looking at the big picture, maybe it’s better to get your butt up a bit earlier. Having an irregular sleep schedule may harm you in the long run.

3. Early risers are more motivated . . .

Both morning larks and night owls have positive attributes. Night owls are more creative. But early risers are more productive.

While at Harvard University, biologist Christoph Randler conducted an experiment on proactivity.

The results generally showed that morning people are more proactive than night people. Those who get up around the same time on work and free days are also more proactive. This could be because they have time to get a head start on work.

What does that actually mean? In the study, early risers were more likely to agree that:

  • They spend time setting long term goals for themselves

  • They feel responsible for making it happen

  • They are confident

  • They are motivated

4. And better problem solvers . . .

Problem solving skills are needed in everyday life. It doesn’t matter what job or classes you have. The fundamental part in doing so is anticipating the problems. The four basic steps to solving problems:

  1. Define it

  2. Brainstorm alternatives and possible solutions

  3. Analyze, evaluate and select a solution

  4. Implement the solution

Christoph Randler’s findings showed that morning types are more likely to anticipate problems too. They also work hard to minimize them.

In addition, Randler found that how much time you spend sleeping isn’t the deciding factor. What matters is when you wake up.

You can try shifting your entire sleep cycle backward in order to wake up earlier. This way, you won’t be losing out on the Z’s. But you’ll also be benefiting from the early morning.

5. And more successful

This is probably because people who are eager to get things done utilize those morning hours to get a head start.

Of course, many hard workers power through the entire night. But whether you’re a morning or night person significantly affects your grades too.

A study had 272 German students and 132 parents fill out the Lark-Owl Chronotype Indicator questionnaire. The night owls had lower overall GPA, language GPA and math-science GPA. Lower grades and being night-oriented were also related in another study.

This could be because the school system is more suitable to morning people. But they do say that the early bird gets the worm. And many successful people cite rising early as a factor to their success.

Maybe it has something to do with their positive mindset!

6. Waking up early helps with mental health

This is probably mind-boggling for those who love sleep. Especially since dragging yourself out of bed can be so painful.

But once you get used to it, you can really rise and shine. That extra time in the morning does a lot to reduce stress.There’s no need to rush around. And this sets up your mood for the rest of the day.

It’s not just a happier extra 30 minutes each morning. In fact, studies have gone as far as to conclude that morning people have happier lives. According to one study, morning tendencies contribute to improved overall well-being.

Morningness is associated with a more stable personality. On the other hand, staying up late is related to depression. This can be due to why some people become night owls. Such as irregular schedules, procrastination and insomnia. Those who get up early usually have healthier routines.

The study also found that adults are more likely to be morning people than adolescents. And therefore happier. At puberty, teenagers’ biological clock shifts, pushing them to sleep later. It results in grouchy teens, who can’t make their bodies work with school schedules.

This night tendency fades as they mature. The sleep cycle becomes aligned with typical work schedules and life goes smoother.

7. You’re more likely to have good habits

Wow, science just keeps piling on the positive character traits for morning people. That’s not to say night folks are up to no good. But being an early riser just might be better for school and work.

A team of American researchers looked at the link between Morningness or Eveningness and substance use. Substances included alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes. Reproductive and bone health of the 262 adolescent participants was also recorded.

For those who hit puberty early or on time, being a night person meant they were more likely to use drugs. Late bloomers though, had no such association.

This may be due to the nature of the night life. What with all the parties and fun. But substance use by adolescents is a realistic problem. The positives of using drugs cannot cancel out the negative effects at all.

Physically, you can affect pain, sickness and diseases. Psychologically, your entire personality can do a 180 degree flip to the negative side. You’ll lose pleasure from previous interests and hobbies. And really, it’s like a black hole.

If waking up early (or encouraging adolescents you know to wake up early) can help avoid drug use, then why not?

8. Morning larks procrastinate less

Morning people are more proactive and ready to get to work. It’s not too surprising to learn that they procrastinate less too.

When asked by researchers from DePaul University, most procrastinators claimed that they’re more productive at night.

They were found to be more prone to behavioral procrastination (the flip side to that is decisional procrastination). Procrastinators may be “late starters.” This matches with the characteristics of night people too.

Of course, people might become late sleepers because they often pull all nighters to finish work. It’s unknown which is the cause and which is the effect.

However, another study found that night owl adolescents were more likely to procrastinate. And do worse academically.

Rather than working late into the night, try sleeping and rising earlier. Then take advantage of the early morning peace and increased alertness to finish your work. You might find yourself much more productive!

9. You might have a better personality overall

Well, we know how irritated people can get when they don’t sleep well. Early risers generally have less mood swings and are happier too.

But they also have traits that make them easier to get along with. In another study conducted by Christoph Randler, he used the Temperament Character Inventory (TCI).

Three hundred and forty-six German students participated. The morning oriented kids had higher scores for persistence and cooperation. The evening oriented students ranked higher for “novelty seeking.”

A related study looked at 1344 German adolescents. Here, the Portrait Values Questionnaire was used. Results showed that morning oriented kids were more likely to accept social values. They demonstrated more self-transcendence. That is the act of going beyond your limits because of love or discipline.

Night oriented kids, on the other hand, had higher self-enhancement. They prefered individual values more.

Of course, different types of personalities all have their goods and bads. But it’s definitely good to know the tendencies.

10. There’s time to eat breakfast

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” That’s what they all say. And it’s true. Everyone who’s been nagging about this is right.

You need some food in your system. At least enough to last you until lunchtime. In addition, breakfast helps with your cognitive abilities. Various research support the fact that breakfast helps with test grades and school attendance.

One study had children eat different breakfasts on 4 consecutive days: 2 types of cereal, a glucose drink and no breakfast. The results showed that breakfast reduced the decline of attention and memory throughout the morning.

When you have breakfast, you’ll be able to focus better! This is probably why schools always tell you to eat breakfast on important exam days.

The morning meal can also lead you to make better food choices during the day, according to a study published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. The obese children in the study frequently skipped breakfast. They also consumed less energy and nutrients, such as carbs, vitamin D and iron.

Surprisingly, breakfast eaters take in more calories but are less likely to be overweight or obese. Dieticians recommend “eating like a prince for breakfast and a pauper for dinner.”

Make sure you give yourself time to make a breakfast fit for royalty!

11. Morning exercises help more with losing weight

If you have time to exercise after breakfast, it’ll be easier to stay fit.

And if you go for a job before breakfast, you can burn more fat, according to Northumbria University. The researchers asked 12 males to run on the treadmill either before or after breakfast.

Those who exercised on an empty stomach burned around 20% more fat than those who worked out after breakfast. Even with the physical activity, they still didn’t experience any increased appetite or calorie intake.

This means you burn more fat and don’t gain it back. Pair that with the weight benefits of breakfast and you’re good to go!

Plus, the only excuse you have for not exercising is that you didn’t wake up early enough. These morning sessions are less likely to be cancelled. Even if they are, you can reschedule it for later in the day.

Having a regular workout is crucial for getting into a healthy lifestyle. Take advantage of the early morning peace. Go out for a jog or try some yoga to get ready for the day.

12. Hitting snooze can make things worse

Five more minutes.

Five more minutes.

Just five more minutes, I swear.

If you’re not naturally a morning person, that snooze button can be so tempting. But it’s countereffective. It can actually make your sleepiness worse. Deep down, you know that those extra five minutes don’t do anything. Other than possibly making you late.

When you hit the button and go back to catching Z’s, you create fragmented sleep. It disrupts your sleep cycle. More often than not, it’s totally unrefreshing.

As a result of lower sleep quality, you can suffer from decreased memory. In addition, sleep fragmentation negatively affects health. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study on its effects.

Fifteen healthy male participants were included in this study. Their energy expenditure, physical activity and sleep were recorded for 48 hours.

Findings included higher rates of exhaustion and daytime sleepiness for those with fragmented sleep. Fat oxidation also decreased. This can lead to becoming overweight or obese. The researchers concluded that fragmented sleep may cause you to miss out on the most important parts of the sleep cycle.

Some experts hypothesize that it can aggravate mental illnesses too.

Other benefits to waking up early

There are also some benefits not yet explored by scientists. But if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

13. You can enjoy peace and quiet

Many night owls gush about the peacefulness of night. But early morning offers that benefit too, and more.

There’s something amazing with watching the sunrise after waking up (different than when you see it after an all-nighter). There aren’t any honking cars or screaming children either. If you have a roommate, you can enjoy the monopoly to the bathroom!

And it’s much less stressful if you’re not rushing all over the place to get ready.

14. Less congested traffic

You can slow everything down and still leave your home at the usual time. But if you want to get a headstart on work, try leaving earlier!

You can get a lot done before your coworkers start straggling in. Plus, you can avoid the peak rush hour. There will be much less annoying traffic jams at the earlier hour.

That’s one less thing that will get on your nerves!

15. Benefit spiritually

If you are religious, you may find it easier to pray and read holy literature during the early morning peace.

It’s easier to withdraw from the noise and distractions. There’s no need to scroll through your social media feed. Your friends probably aren’t up yet anyway. And instead, focus yourself entirely into your prayers.

If you’re not religious, you can still do some introspective thinking. This is extremely helpful for self-care and self-improvement.

16. Experience freedom

This goes hand in hand with “more time, less stress.” There are only 24 hours in a day. But it can feel like more if you get a head start.

When you perceive yourself as having more time, it takes off the pressure. You don’t have to squeeze everything in anymore. You have freedom to do more of what you want. At a comfortable pace you set for yourself.

Instead of grabbing onto the coattails of dreamland, force yourself out of bed. Get over the sleep inertia and start your day!

Of course, that’s easier said than done. How can you wake up early and not feel so dead tired?

1. Rise and shine, baby

Get into the right mindset!

Throw away the baggage. Think of all the benefits of rising early and why you’re doing it.

Don’t rationalize and let your tired brain talk you out of it. Don’t start scrolling through Instagram and liking those “I hate Monday morning” posts.

Instead, force yourself to be happy. Did you know faking a smile can actually trick your brain into feeling happier? So hit that alarm (instead of the snooze).

2. The night before

If you want to wake up earlier, you have to sleep earlier too. Otherwise, you’ll probably crash and burn.

It will be hard at first. Especially if you’re used to the late hours.

The usual tips:

  • Dim the lights beforehand

The most natural signal for bedtime is darkness. Try dimming the lights an hour or so before bed.

  • Turn off the lights

We all love to sit in bed and scroll through social media. All light interferes with our sleep. But blue light emitted by the laptops, tablets and phones is the most disruptive.

What else can you do to get yourself ready for bed?

  • Get romantic

While you’re dimming the lights, consider a candlelit dinner. Turn on relaxing classical music. It makes for great background music while you’re finishing your work. It can also help lull you to sleep.

You can also try aromatherapy. People who sniff lavender before bed reportedly experience longer sleep and feel better in the morning.

  • Lower the temperature

The best sleeping temperature is a bit lower than room temperature. Try 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

At the same time, keep your extremities warm. Wear socks to bed in the winter. This is helpful if you don’t want to leave your toasty bed in the morning too.

  • Unwind

Take a warm shower to wind down. Warm milk is also famous for being a great nighttime drink. If you want extra bonuses, add some chamomile and peppermint to the mix.

  • Pee before you sleep

Make sure your bladder is empty before you get into bed. Your kidney keeps moving even while you’re asleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night to use the toilet, it’ll cause fragmented sleep. And lower the quality of your sleep.

  • The bed is only for sleep (and rated M activities)

Humans are adaptable creatures. Your brain and body get used to things. That is good when you’re trying to get into habits like getting up early.

It’s a disadvantage if you want to sleep, but your body has associated the bed to work. People are always saying this. But it doesn’t hurt to hear it again:

Don’t work in bed. Don’t play on your phone in bed. Don’t read in bed.

In fact, if you find yourself tossing and turning, get up. Do everything you can to avoid linking the bed to anything other than sleep. Then it’ll be much easier to fall asleep as soon as you hit the sack.

  • Set a bedtime and alarm

One sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes. It’s best to time your sleep in that increment. You’ll feel much more refreshed if you wake up at start of the new cycle.

The sleep cycle includes REM and non-REM. You are in your deepest sleep during REM sleep. This is also when you dream. If you wake up then, you’ll be groggy and disoriented. That feeling can last the entire day!

Fun fact: You dream whenever you sleep. But if you wake up during REM, you’re much more likely to remember them. This could be why a “dreamless” sleep is more refreshing (because you wake up during non-REM)!

  • Choose an alarm

Your alarm isn’t only responsible for getting you up. It should make you want to get up.

If that means choosing an annoying song that forces you to turn it off, then so be it. Or choose a song that makes you pumped for the day!

And now you have everything set to . . .

on that smile.

3. Take it slow and steady

Don’t make things too hard for yourself though.

If you’re goal is to wake up 2 hours earlier than usual, get there gradually. Wake up 15 minutes earlier on the first day. Take 1 or 2 days to get used to that. Then set the alarm even earlier the next day. Of course, if that’s going too slowly, you can set your own pace.

But this will make the goal more feasible to attain. Sudden changes to your sleep schedule are hard to maintain. If you make it too painful, it’s just more excuses to give up on the challenge. (Unless that’s your ulterior motive . . .)

The gradual method works for setting any habit in general. In this case, just push your alarm earlier each day and you’re set.

4. Put the alarm far away

This is the tip that everyone recommends. No surprise there, since it really works. Once you get out of bed, you’re more likely to stay out.

There are some people that say they’ll walk back to their bed and sleep again. If that’s you and you live alone, try putting multiple alarms all over.

If you live with someone else, remind yourself that you don’t want a pissed off roommate! That alone may be enough motivation (or threat).

5. Get out of dreamland

As soon as you shut off the alarm, get out of the bedroom. Out of sight, out of mind is how the saying goes. If you’re feeling really dead, splash yourself in the face with cold water.

Also, change out of your PJ’s. It’s more comfortable to stay in your sweats, but it won’t help you shake the grogginess. Unless, of course, you’re going for a morning run.

6. Turn on the lights

Whatever makes it harder to fall asleep at night is helpful in the morning. Draw back the blinds and let natural sunlight stream in.

The sun raises your serotonin levels. That is the “happy” neurotransmitter. Along with dopamine, it’s responsible for maintaining mood balance. A deficiency in serotonin is associated with depression.

If you’re up before the sun, turn on the lights. The brightness will trick your brain into thinking it’s later in the day. It’ll wake you up. And you will be less inclined to fall back asleep.

7. Get hydrated

Your body is seriously dehydrated when you first wake up. In order to refresh yourself, kick off your day with a glass of warm water.

There are many drinks that health gurus swear by. You can research and try things such as lemon water and apple cider vinegar.

And of course, if you need that cup of joe, go for it. But try not to drink coffee every morning. There are some benefits from the caffeine, but the reliance isn’t healthy. Caffeine is a drug after all, and you can get addicted. And experience serious withdrawal effects.

You can also drink some morning tea or milk.

8. Go for a jog

As mentioned in the benefits section, you get more out of exercising on an empty stomach. Going out for a jog can help build momentum too. You’ll be much less tempted to fall back into bed.

Various research support the benefits exercising has for waking up. In fact, it’s more efficient in waking you up than caffeine!

Before you begin exercising, you can also get the coffee or tea started (if you still need that caffeine). This way, you can have the wakeup drink you need all ready to go.

To get the most refreshed, you obviously should head for the shower after working out. Try to use cool water, even in the winter. Because if you step into a much colder room after, the drop in temperature will slow your metabolism. (Warm showers are great for getting ready for sleep. Not so much for the opposite.)

9. Make it stress free

There’s nothing worse than being frazzled before the day even begins. Most morning people are less stressed though, as aforementioned. You can make it work too!

Take advantage of the extra time by taking things slowly. Put on your favorite playlist and fill your morning with positive vibes.

Set up a morning routine, but don’t make it painful. Add what you love into it! Dance a little, read a book, watch the sunrise. You’ll be surprised at how bright your entire day can become.

Not only is this refreshing and motivating. It can also make you excited for waking up early. And getting on with the day.

10. Meditate

Maybe you think meditation is overrated or a hoax. But give it a try! You might find it extremely beneficial.

The University of Washington found that those who practice mindful meditation are more concentrated. They make less task changes and are less distracted. It also helps you focus under stress.

And why meditate in the morning? Both the world and your mind is quiet when you wake up. Meditators say it’s nourishing for your mind, body and soul. It frees you from your monkey mind and overthinking.

Just like everything else on this list, it gets your ready for the day. So take 10 minutes out of your morning for mindful meditation.

It’s supposed to be refreshing. But don’t get too relaxed. Otherwise, you might want to crawl straight back into bed.

11. Make breakfast

There are so many health benefits to eating breakfast. Of course you have to find time to make it!

According to aforementioned studies, your typical whole grain cereal is the best. But if you need more healthy and fast recipes, check out this link.

Make sure you stay away from sugar and grease if you can help it. Instead, include:

  • Whole grains

  • Non-fat dairies

  • Greek yogurt

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Lean meats

12. Plan your day

You can plan out your day while eating breakfast. List out what you need to get done and how. Now, this is definitely something you can’t do if you wake up too late.

Planning things out helps you manage everything and get rid of stress. Not only that, it also gets your brain working. You’ll feel less tired. And also be more productive.

How to maintain the habit

So you’ve successfully gotten up early the first day. Congrats!

But how do you keep the steam rolling?

1. Mental power

You can try all the apps you want, but your mind is the most powerful.

See each day as a “chain link.” Refuse to let yourself break the chain. If you get past the first week, the rest will come easily.

And as mentioned before, your attitude is crucial! Get into the right mindset and it can make the biggest difference. If you find yourself complaining, replace it with a positive thought. You’ll feel much less tired!

2. Keep track of your accomplishments

Put a calendar up on the wall. And add a tick to every day you keep up the morning routine. Maybe it sounds a little childish. But actually seeing your streak does a lot to boost your sense of accomplishment.

You can also keep a list of everything you complete in the morning. See how productive you’ve been, or how much you’ve enjoyed the extra time.

It’s one of the biggest motivators to keep going. It gives you confidence that you can take on any other challenges. Plus you can lay off on the stress if you’ve accomplished some major things even before the morning commute.

3. Tell trusted people about your plan

You don’t have to be alone in this! Try to recruit a group to take the challenge together. You can all hold each other accountable. And if you’re competitive enough, you won’t want to lose.

If no one else wants to enjoy morning lark benefits, still tell your close friends and family. They can still hold you accountable. They might even offer tips and support.

Avoid telling the entire world though. They might unintentionally discourage you or make things more difficult.

4. Get rid of the excuses

Why is it so hard to drag yourself out of bed?

In the winter, the common excuse is that it’s too cold. And the bed is so warm and toasty and nice and . . .

Well, if that’s the case, leave warm clothing and slippers right by your bed. This way, you can wrap yourself up as soon as you leave your nest of blankets.

If you’re too tired to make coffee first thing in the morning, program your coffee maker to do half the work.

Whatever the excuse is, find a solution to it. No excuse to it!

5. Practice makes perfect

Have you heard of the Pavlov’s Dogs? Ivan Pavlov was a physiologist who conditioned dogs to salivate at the ring of the bell.

At first, he rang a bell before feeding the dogs. Gradually, the dogs associated the bell with food and started expecting to get fed. In the end, they salivated whenever they heard the ring, even if they received no food after.

Try conditioning yourself if you can’t break up with the snooze button. When you have free time, set up your bedroom as if it’s time to wake up. Set an alarm for a few minutes from now and put it across the room.

When the alarm goes off, stand up, walk and turn it off.

Alarm, stand, walk, off. Alarm, stand, walk, off. Rinse and repeat.

Practice this a couple of times and put it to the test. It’ll feel much more natural to get up without touching the snooze.

Not everyone is suitable for waking up early. Maybe you suffer from insomnia, work the night shift, or is just a genuine night person.

If you truly find it too painful, try an even more gradual version of easing into it. If even that fails, maybe you really aren’t for mornings!

But definitely give it a try. You never know how the early mornings can change your life for the better.

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