They say the early bird catches the worm. Gross.
Worms are hardly an incentive for humans to get up early, unless you’re heading out to fish and hoping for some free bait. Still, waking up early does have some perks.
Contemplating setting your alarm for an eye-scorchingly early hour? Here’s why it might be worth it.
More time for yourself
If you live with other humans — little ones or adults — getting up early could give you some much-needed (and desperately wanted) time for yourself.
More time to sip that coffee slowly while flipping through the paper or just enjoying the silence can help prepare you to face a hectic day feeling a little more chill.
More time to exercise
If working out is important to you, but you often struggle to find the time, getting up early could be the ticket.
Getting your exercise in first thing remedies the temptation to skip workouts because of job or social commitments later in the day or plain old tiredness.
And while we’re on the subject of feeling tired, here’s another perk of morning workouts: Exercise initiates a surge of those feel-good endorphins that can improve your mood, lower stress and anxiety, and increase energy levels. You’re welcome.
Less time in traffic
Getting up and out of the house early can help you beat the usual traffic, which is pretty much a universal plus.
Less traffic doesn’t just save you time and money. It can also help protect your health and well-being, as research has linked sitting in traffic to:
More time to get things done
Ever wish you had more hours in a day to get things done? POOF! Your wish will be granted — if you set your alarm an hour or two earlier than usual.
You don’t have to fill every second to get more, more, more done, of course. But if you need a little extra time, getting up early gives you a distraction-free chance to take care of things you might not otherwise be able to do.
Better sleep …
Getting enough sleep comes with plenty of benefits:
- improved mood
- better concentration
- lower chance of obesity and other chronic diseases
On the flip side, a lack of quality sleep can:
- weaken your immune system, which means you might get sick more often
- raise your chance for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes
- mess with your sex drive
… which can mean more energy
It’s true: Better sleep generally equals more energy.
If you’re going to bed earlier and getting better quality sleep, it’s not a huge leap to imagine you’ll wake up feeling more rested and refreshed for the day ahead.
Rough nights can show on your skin in fine lines, wrinkles, paleness, and swollen or droopy eyelids. Sleep deprivation can also contribute to acne.
Good sleep helps keep your skin healthy. During sleep, your skin cells regenerate, while increased blood flow and collagen help repair environmental and UV damage.
Plus, going to bed earlier (you know, before you’re completely dead on your feet) gives you more time to practice good skin care, like washing your face. So don’t be surprised if you wake up with that morning glow.
Fewer dark circles
As long as you pair getting up early with an earlier bedtime so you’re not sacrificing sleep, you can say buh-bye to dark circles.
That’s because dark circles are created by shadows from puffiness under the eyes. The cause of that puffiness? Fluid buildup from a lack of sleep.
More time for breakfast
Waking up earlier in the morning gives you extra time to make and enjoy a filling breakfast, instead of grabbing a quick coffee and donut on the go.
Starting the day with a nutritious meal can leave you feeling full longer, with more energy for the day ahead.
Helps you concentrate
Your brain doesn’t wake up the second you do, which is why we tend to feel groggy and disoriented when we first get up.
This sleep inertia is a regular part of the waking process. Still, it can last about an hour or more, making it harder to concentrate and get stuff done if you’re up and out the door too quickly.
Waking up earlier gives you time to fully wake up so you’re more focused.
There are a few factors that make some people early risers, but not all happen by choice.
Some people wake up too early and don’t get enough sleep. This type of sleep disturbance can happen with:
- mental health concerns like anxiety or depression
- hormone fluctuations from pregnancy or menopause
For some early risers, genetics also come into play. In one
If you want to be one of those early birds that catch the proverbial worm, these tips can help make the transition easier:
- Gradually move up your alarm time. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier every day for a week, gradually moving the time up to where you want it. To make it easier and avoid waking up tired, try going to bed a bit earlier, too.
- Motivate yourself. Getting up early shouldn’t feel like a chore, and you’ll be less inclined to make it happen if it does. Find motivation by using the extra time to do something that makes you happy, like tackling a project earlier so you can finish your workday in time to go out with friends, or enjoying a morning meditation or yoga sesh you never have time for.
- Reward yourself. Reminding yourself of the benefits of waking up early might be reward enough, but if not, there’s always self-bribery. Just think: You’ll have time to stop at your fave coffee shop for that decadent coffee-chino something-or-other, or time to double-check your outfit before heading out.
- Get out of your bedroom. Lingering in your room after you wake up can make it tempting to go back to sleep, which could make you late or leave you feeling super-groggy. Leaving your bedroom helps you resist that temptation.
- Avoid blue light before bed. Blue light is great for perking you up in the daytime, but avoiding it in the 2 to 3 hours before bed can help you wind down for sleep. That means it’s best to switch screens off early.
- Allow yourself the occasional lie-in. Take the pressure off on days when you need to stay in bed a little longer, like when you’re sick, have had a late night, or have a killer hangover. It happens.
- Avoid heavy meals and spicy foods late at night. Going to bed overly full or eating spicy foods for dinner can lead to heartburn or indigestion — neither of which are likely to help you get a good night’s sleep.
The consensus is that waking up early is better because it allows you to rise with the sun and sleep when it’s dark, which is what our bodies are wired to do.
The thing is, we’re human, and plenty of sh*t happens to prevent us from getting to bed early, like working the night shift or occasionally staying out late.
If you need to sleep a little later to get the right amount of sleep, then by all means trust your body’s needs.
Getting up early may offer some important benefits, but there’s no need to sacrifice a good night’s sleep.
“Early to bed, early to rise” isn’t for everyone, so if you need more sleep or just prefer to sleep a little later, that’s OK, too. Sweet dreams!
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.