You have heard people describe themselves as early-birds or night owls. This classification refers to our chronotype – a person’s natural inclination with regard to the times of day when they prefer to sleep or when they are most alert or energetic. There is also a third group of people; the intermediates. These people fall on neither end of the spectrum. They can without much difficulty get up an hour or two earlier than usual, and also go to bed an hour or two later than usual. I would consider myself to be an early bird meaning that, I have no problem getting out of bed in the mornings. In fact, I may wake up at times that others would consider an “ungodly hour” and would feel very well rested. I struggle with staying awake in the evenings and would often jokingly blame it on old age. Night owls are those people who have no issues with staying up late but require a lot of effort and will-power to get out of bed at the break of dawn.

Our Internal Clock

The body’s clocks are partly driven by internal factors, including numerous genes and the proteins they produce. Melatonin is one of such hormones that plays a major role in setting our circadian rhythm. However, to a certain extent our circadian rhythm is also affected by environment and our behaviour. Being in a well-lit room at midnight will suppress your melatonin levels and cause you to be more awake. In the same way, studying in a dusky, badly lit room at noon will have you yawning and tired. With this information, it is safe to say that we can alter our natural predispositions if we trick our bodies.

What is the Importance of waking up earlier?

Peace and quiet

Waking up in the early hours is not everyone’s cup of tea. Hence most people would rather sleep a little longer. In the early hours, it is still very quiet. You have less distractions; and can get work done with minimal interruptions. If you intend to drive somewhere, there is also less traffic. You experience more peace in the early hours of the morning.

Reduces Sleep Inertia

Sleep inertia is a physiological state of impaired cognitive and sensory-motor function; that is present immediately after you wake up from sleep. It may also be referred to as sleep-drunkenness. You know that feeling when you wake up and still feel very groggy. This leads to a lot of accidents as we do not give our body enough time to be fully awake. Research shows that the continued exposure to light for about 45 minutes or longer reduces this state.

Healthier living

Waking up earlier means more time to schedule in some workout; if that is your thing. You also have time for some breakfast and you are more likely to watch what you eat the rest of the day encouraging good weight management and a healthier state.

Better habits

Waking up early would require you to sleep a little earlier. You are less likely to stay up late drinking and using other substances. “Eveningness” is linked to more use of substances such as marijuana, cigarattes and an increase of unwanted pregnancies in adolescent girls. Staying up late also goes hand in hand with eating; making you more likely to snack on unhealthy foods.

Improved productivity

Waking up earlier gives you time to get more done. You have time for a quick breakfast before actually stepping out the door. Breakfast helps with your cognitive abilities. You are able to focus better. This is also a reason why schools advice kids to eat breakfast on important exam days.

Better mental health

The first hour of your day sets the tone for how the rest of the day will go. If you start out stressed and hurrying out the door, you are more likely to spend the rest of your day, panicked and stressed leading to an overall negative reaction. Waking up earlier allows you to start the day on a positive note; having no need to rush and leaving you in a better mood.

Develop your spirituality

For those who are religious or spiritual, the morning may be a good time to read your Bible and other holy books, pray or to meditate. It is peaceful and more quiet and therefore a good time for spiritual practices.

Waking up early or becoming a morning person may be hard at first. But with baby steps, perhaps waking up 15 minutes earlier to start with – you can start improving your quality of life. So what is your sleeping habit like?

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