The Compelling Science Behind Early Morning Starts

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*This is a guest article by [Thomas Ewer](https://leavingworkbehind.com/).*

You reach for the snooze button the moment your alarms go off.

After a few rounds of snoozing, you finally open our weary eyes and try to summon the energy to begin your day.

But waking up early doesn’t have to be a struggle. It is possible to rise the moment your alarm goes off with abundant energy, ready to take on your day.

Instead of [sleeping your life away](https://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/12/science-of-sleep-trouble-with-snooze-buttons.html) and wishing that one day you’d start to wake up early, there is another way.

Make today the day you turned it all around.

### The Benefits of Rising Early

Waking a few hours earlier has been linked to a [slew of benefits](https://www.inc.com/news/articles/2010/07/research-says-morning-people-are-more-proactive.html) across every aspect of your life; from fitness, to school, to work, to mental and emotional health, and even your overall quality of sleep.

Students who think of themselves as morning people [maintain a higher GPA](https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20080609/early-birds-get-better-grades) than those who don’t. The extra time granted by waking earlier also gives you more time to engage in activities that bring you more lasting joy and health, such as meditation and regular exercise.(1)

Waking up earlier also means your body is more in tune with the circadian rhythms of the earth (i.e. sunset and sunrise), which leads to deeper restorative sleep. The many benefits of getting an early start [have to be experienced](https://zenhabits.net/10-benefits-of-rising-early-and-how-to-do-it/) to be truly felt.

### A World of Overstimulation

It’s easy to blame yourself for your poor sleeping habits.

You stay up late, glued to the television or your computer. The glow of the screen and stresses from the day cause your body to release adrenaline, which can keep you awake late into the night.

Often, your sleep issues are a result of your overstimulating environment during the nighttime hours. In reality, your sleep patterns aren’t due to your laziness; they’re due to a mismatch between your biological clock and your daily demands and schedule.(2)

### Creating the Sleeping Habit

Even if you’ve struggled to reap the benefits of rising early in the past, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Researcher Kenneth P. Wright took a group of students with poor sleep habits on a technology-free camping trip to effectively reset their internal clocks. Before the trip began, the students’ bodies released the sleep chemical, melatonin, around two hours before going to bed. Upon waking, levels of melatonin in the bloodstream would decrease slightly.(3)

By the time the week was up, those patterns had shifted. The students’ melatonin levels increased around sunset and decreased around sunrise. This change made it easier to fall asleep at night and easier to wake up with energy around sunrise.

In short, in the absence of artificial light and technology, they had successfully adjusted to their natural environment in a matter of days.(3)

Much of our current morning grogginess and inability to wake up early has to do with improper melatonin regulation. By making simple lifestyle changes we can prime our sleep cycle for early hours.

### 5 Simple Steps to Becoming an Early Riser

On the most fundamental level, to wake up earlier you need to go to sleep earlier.

The closer you can mimic the natural patterns of the sun, the easier it will be to wake up early in the morning.

Our bodies have a natural rhythm, called our [circadian rhythm](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm), which is preset to be in tune with the presence of natural light. The only way to ensure optimal melatonin production is to have a sleep cycle aligned with natural light cycles, sunrise and sunset.(4)

I’m not saying that you should be asleep by sunset and up at the crack of dawn. For many of us, that simply isn’t a practical way to live. However, science tells us that our bodies are naturally adjusted to sleep early and wake early, so the closer we can get to this ideal, the sounder we’ll sleep.

The following tips will give you a little guidance towards getting out of bed earlier:

1. Start by adjusting your bedtime incrementally, by say 15 minutes at a time, to allow your body to adjust gradually.

2. Create a bedtime ritual that gives your body and mind the signal to start winding down.

3. Find something in your life that will make you want to jump out of bed in the morning. Setting clear goals (personal and professional) and finding a way to remind yourself of these goals as soon as you wake up can be a big motivator.

4. Turn off any digital distractions and artificial light sources early in the night (at least an hour before you intend to sleep).

5. If possible, sleep with your curtains open so that your room is flooded with natural light in the morning.

Waking early can be one of the most beneficial habits to start in your own life. The benefits are great, but you’ll only experience them after break out of your normal cycle.

So why not make tonight the night you start your new sleeping regime?

Do you have any questions about how to get better sleep? Leave them in the comments section below.

### References

1. Randler C, Frech D. Young people’s time-of-day preferences affect their school performance. Journal of Youth Studies. 2009;12(6). doi:10.1080/13676260902902697.

2. Roenneberg T, Allebrandt K, Merrow M, et al. Social Jetlag and Obesity. Current Biology. 2012;22(10). doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.038.

3. Wright K, McHill A, Birks B, et al. Entrainment of the Human Circadian Clock to the Natural Light-Dark Cycle. Current Biology. 2013;23(16). doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.039.

4. Dubocovich M. Melatonin receptors: Role on sleep and circadian rhythm regulation. Sleep Medicine. 2007;8(3). doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2007.10.007.

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