Science Says Waking Up Earlier Can Change Your Life
How to become a morning person—and why you should start waking up earlier in the first place.
It's happened to you: You're lying in your bed, yawning, when you open your Instagram feed. Mid-scroll, the remorse hits you: a photo your girlfriend posted from the spin class you were going to go to. If only you were able to stay away from the snooze button and pry yourself out from underneath that super-cozy comforter. No morning endorphins for you.
Turns out, there are real reasons to wake up early, beyond that 7:00 a.m. spinning selfie. Self-professed morning people have reported feeling happier and healthier than night owls, according to a study published in the journal Emotion.
Plus, gobs of super-successful CEOs for prominent companies have reported catching the worm on the early side, too. Just ask Tamara Hill-Norton, founder and creative director of Sweaty Betty. By 8:15 a.m. she's already made her favorite smoothie packed with spinach, frozen berries, chia seeds, and avocado, showered, and is out the door on her favorite 5-mile cycle route along the river toward her office. "Getting up early makes me feel like I'm ready to tackle the day," she says.
Then there's Eric Posner, cofounder of NYC-based spin studio Swerve Fitness. By 9 a.m. most days, he's not only made a smoothie and snuck in a morning sweat, but also showered, cooked breakfast, and written in two journals. "I am noticeably happier, sharper, and more focused on the things I want to do and accomplish," he says.
Before you think this only applies to the fitness elite, there's reason to believe your body (yes, yours) is actually meant to function in the morning. Our biological clocks prompt us to move in the morning, getting in that quality daylight in order to stave off medical conditions like vitamin D deficiency, seasonal affective disorder, obesity, and more. And while some people are mega successful at night, that's not the case for most. "Humans are diurnal beings," says Mike Varshavski, D.O., practicing family medicine at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ. "That means we are most tired at 2 a.m. and 2 p.m."
You can thank your natural circadian biological clock, or the body system that regulates the timing of periods of tiredness and alertness throughout the day, for this. The good news? If you've snagged yourself some solid sleep, the circadian dips are much less intense, which is why you don't see most adults crashing at their desk come midafternoon. (Psst...Have you tried the best foods for deep sleep?)
Problem is, modern life can throw off your internal clock. "Things like night shifts, social media, noisy neighbors, demanding bosses, and late-night TV often keep you awake, not your natural rhythm," says Varshavski. That said, if you're sleeping well and still tend to function better at night, there's no need to wake up early if you don't want to, Varshavski told us at a recent Kala Sleep event.
But we're here to say that you might actually want to. Those who wake up by 7:00 am have a lower chance of being stressed, depressed, and obese, according to a University of London study. One study from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found that people who enjoyed being outside in the morning had lower BMIs than those who stepped outdoors later in the day (even in the winter!). Plus, how many times have you skipped an evening workout because something else came up? Working late. Hitting up a spontaneous happy hour. Feeling totally drained after that meeting with your boss. There are simply fewer things that stand in your way in the morning. Except for that damn snooze button, that is.
Want to be a morning person but can't hang (yet)? You're not alone. "I still struggle with it, but I never regret waking up early," says Posner. "It takes time to get into the routine, but once you're there, you're golden, because you know how much better you'll feel all day." Posner's advice of establishing a routine and furthermore, some consistency, is something Varshavski can get on board with. "Creating a stable rhythm is the most important step," says Varshavski. "A common mistake is trying to 'catch up' on sleep during the weekend. If you don't follow a pattern to your sleep habits your body cannot adapt properly, and it will be detrimental to your morning routine." Go to bed-and wake up!-at the same time every night this week and see how awesome it feels. Go ahead and set that alarm.