Ever wondered what it would be like to be an early riser? One of those people who lunges out of bed enthusiastically at the crack of dawn, ready to embark on a highly productive day of adventure?
You can rise early and enjoy life more fully. In this article, I reveal how you can set your body clock to early bird so you can lose excess fat, get more done, and feel great.
Becoming an early riser isn’t as hard as you might think. In fact, you can transform yourself into an early bird with ease.
Below, I share the science behind early-rising and why it’s healthier. You’ll see how to adjust your body clock to be ready for bed by 9 p.m.
Early Bird VS Night Owl
I understand why a lot of people are night owls. Years ago, I was one of them – staying up late to work, watching TV, reading novels, or scrolling through social media on my phone.
But ultimately, I realized I wasn’t at my healthiest as a night owl.
As you’ll see below, it’s also not intended to be a typical state of being for most people.
Early birds feel brightest and most productive earlier in the day, with their energy waning as the day progresses.
Night owls are people who come alive after dark.
It would be unfair to insist that every night owl is unhealthy and has unnatural cycles.
In truth, some genuine night owls are highly productive and live healthy lives. They feel more clear-headed and energized in the evenings.
However, these true night owls are a rare breed.
Most people who think of themselves as night owls are early birds who gradually developed a set of unfortunate habits that threw them off their natural cycles.
The Science Behind the Early Riser
Your body follows a natural circadian rhythm, an internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
This rhythm is influenced by external cues such as light and temperature.
When you align your waking hours with this natural rhythm, you’re more likely to experience improved sleep quality and overall well-being.
Several studies suggest a correlation between being a morning person and better physical and mental health:
- For example, one study (sources at end of article) published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that morning people had lower levels of depression and better sleep quality than evening people.
- Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that morning people had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and better insulin sensitivity.
- Another study indicates early risers are more productive is published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. This research established that early risers (morning-type individuals) had higher grades than night owls (evening-type individuals) in a sample of college students. This suggests that early rising may be positively associated with performance.
- A study conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto and published in the journal Emotion in 2017 found that individuals who considered themselves morning people reported higher levels of overall life satisfaction and happiness than those who identified as evening people. The study was based on surveys filled out by over 90,000 participants.
The Benefits of Being an Early Riser
Yes, some people are just genetically night owls. They simply do better at night.
But science shows us that most of us would thrive more in the mornings if only we could get past the awkward period of resetting our body clocks:
Improved Mental Health
Waking up early provides you with quiet, uninterrupted time. This peaceful atmosphere can be conducive to meditation, mindfulness, or simply indulging in activities you love. This early morning ‘me-time’ can significantly reduce stress and anxiety, promoting better mental health.
Enhanced Productivity of the Early Riser
Morning people often find their minds sharpest and most creative during the early hours. With fewer distractions, you can focus on your tasks and accomplish more in less time. This heightened focus can boost your overall productivity throughout the day.
Better Physical Health
Studies have shown that early risers tend to have healthier lifestyles. They are more likely to exercise regularly and make healthier food choices. Additionally, exposure to morning sunlight provides essential Vitamin D, promoting stronger bones and a more robust immune system.
Improved Sleep Quality
Surprisingly, waking up early can also improve the quality of your sleep. Establishing a consistent wake-up time helps regulate your sleep schedule, making it easier to fall asleep at night. This leads to a more restful sleep, allowing your body and mind to rejuvenate fully.
A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2014 found that exposure to the blue light emitted by electronic devices (such as phones, laptops, and e-readers) in the evenings can disrupt circadian rhythms and lead to poor sleep quality. The study has practical implications for people as it suggests limiting evening screen time can improve sleep and help maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Circadian Rhythm is a natural biological process in humans that times key events within the body according to the earth’s twenty-four-hour cycle. These physiological events can be disturbed by sudden light fluctuations.
Light is the enemy of a good night’s sleep. It prevents your body from producing melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel tired, by regulating the sleep-wake cycle.
When light enters your eyes and hits your optic nerve, it sends signals to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which controls human circadian rhythms. The SCN interprets these signals as daylight, which tells your body to stay awake instead of getting ready for bedtime.
Tips to Become an Early Riser
Starting your nightly wind-down routine after your body starts secreting its melatonin hormone is missing a prime opportunity.
A person who is ready for bed at 9:00 p.m. is an early bird.
Their hands and face are cleaned, their teeth are flossed and brushed, their skin is moisturized, and their front door is locked before 9:00 p.m.
That way, when their hormone melatonin begins to secrete, they can leverage that magical moment, turn out the lights, and get into bed.
I encourage you to experiment with the following methods to see if, over time and when done consistently, they begin to make a positive difference in your life:
1. Gradual Adjustments Only, Until You Become an Official Early Riser
If you’re used to sleeping in, suddenly waking up at 5 AM might not be sustainable. Instead, adjust your wake-up time gradually. Try waking up just 15-30 minutes earlier each day until you reach your desired waking time.
2. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine to signal your body that it’s time to wind down. Avoid stimulating activities and electronics before bed. Engage in calming activities like reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing deep breathing exercises.
3. Optimize Your Sleep Environment
Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Keep the room dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that support a good night’s sleep. These adjustments can significantly enhance your sleep quality.
4. Limit Evening Stimulants
Avoid caffeine and heavy meals in the evening. These can disrupt your sleep and make it harder to wake up feeling refreshed. Opt for herbal tea or a light snack if you’re feeling hungry before bedtime.
5. Morning or Afternoon Exercise for the Early Riser
Engaging in physical activity in the morning or afternoon energizes you for the rest of the day and helps regulate your sleep patterns. Even a short workout session can significantly affect your ability to wake up early and feel refreshed. For some people, after-dark workouts mess with their circadian rhythms.
6. Time Your Eating
For the sake of your body clock, have no big meals before bed. Avoid snacking or eating a big meal before bedtime if you want to reset your body clock to become an early riser
- Eating a lot at night is tempting because carbohydrates help you feel sleepy.
- But that can also lead to indigestion or gas at night — not ideal if you’re trying to get an early start the following day.
- People who eat later in the evening tend to experience acid reflux more often.
- Also, your body must work harder to digest a stomach full of food while you sleep, which can lead to an exhausting morning.
Instead, try eating smaller portions throughout the day so that your body doesn’t have too much food on its hands at once when it comes time for bed.
7. Consider Low-Dosage Melatonin Supplementation
Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle.
But melatonin does more than help you sleep:
- Research on melatonin has established it as a master hormone.
- According to Examine.com, “Melatonin may have general neuroprotective effects (brain benefits) related to its antioxidant impact.
- Melatonin also has several anti-cancer properties. Melatonin potentially stops your body from gaining more fat.”
The problem with melatonin supplements is that many take too high a dosage.
It’s likely that the younger you are, the less dosage you need. I’m 58 years old, and I take 0.5 mg each night before bed, which is a smaller dose than many others. Ask your medical doctor whether melatonin supplementation is a good idea for you and, if so, what the appropriate dosage is.
Conclusion on Becoming an Early Riser
In our fast-paced world, where time is often considered a luxury, becoming an early riser can be a game-changer.
The tranquility of the early morning, the soft glow of dawn, and the chirping of birds are the serene moments often missed by those snug in their beds.
What I’ve found helpful is to go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until I finally reach my desired new bedtime. By gradually transitioning to early bird, I avoid having a day of jet lag symptoms.
But being an early riser is more than just a habit; it’s a lifestyle choice that can significantly impact your health and productivity.
Becoming an early riser is a transformative journey that can positively impact various aspects of your life.
Embrace the tranquility of the early morning hours, and you’ll find yourself not just waking up early but truly living each day to its fullest potential.
So, set your alarm, create a peaceful morning routine, and embark on the path to becoming a proud and successful early riser.
Incorporating these tips into your daily routine can gradually transform you into a morning person.
Remember, becoming an early riser is not just about waking up early; it’s about embracing the quiet moments of the morning, finding peace in the stillness, and setting a positive tone for the rest of your day.
So, rise and shine – your journey to better health and productivity begins with the first light of dawn.
Additional Resources for Resetting Your Body Clock:
Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders – https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12115-circadian-rhythm-disorders
Night Owls, Cortisol, and Diabetes – https://www.rushmemorial.com/night-owls-vs-morning-people-which-lifestyle-is-healthier/
Delayed Sleep Phase – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/delayed-sleep-phase/symptoms-causes/syc-20353340#
Early Birds Less Prone to Depression – https://www.colorado.edu/today/2018/06/15/early-birds-less-prone-depression
Night Owls Have More Excess Body Fat – https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20130628/night-owls-may-pack-on-more-pounds