Does the early bird really catch the worm? And is the worm worth it? If your 2022 resolution is to start getting up earlier, start by understanding the benefits of changing your sleep routine.
Understanding the sleep cycle
Sleep isn’t as simple as falling asleep and waking up again. Your brain moves through several sleep cycles every night, with each cycle comprising wake, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. Sleep cycles earlier in the night have more deep sleep, and later cycles have more REM sleep.
What is circadian rhythm?
Don’t get sleep cycle confused with circadian rhythm. This natural cycle is an internal rhythm that regulates your sleep–wake cycle throughout a 24 hour period. Your circadian rhythm can be physical, mental, and behavioural and is mostly triggered by light (and dark). And it’s this relationship to daylight hours that is a compelling reason to get up earlier.
What is a “normal” wake up time?
Do you ever wish humans hibernated like some other mammals? It’s really not surprising that most of us find it easier to get up early in spring and summertime, and feel the urge to nap at about 4pm in winter. It’s all to do with the sunlight. Remember, your circadian rhythm runs on light and dark.
5 healthy benefits of getting up early
Most of us get up when the alarm goes off for work (or to get stuff done before work). But what happens when you take control of your wake up time to manipulate productivity, energy, and maybe even health?
Studies into wake-up times have found significant benefits of waking up early – all assuming you go to bed at an appropriate time! There’s no point getting up earlier if you keep going to bed late. Remember the golden rule of 7-9 hours sleep and work backwards from your wake-up time. And bear in mind that this isn’t for everyone – studies have found that some people simply get on better with a later wake up time. (1)
Tick the training box
It’s not always easy – or practical – to train at lunchtime or after work. You might not have enough time, and energy levels can be a problem. Getting up earlier to train means you’ll definitely get it done (what could get in the way of a 6am workout?) and will feel fired up for the rest of the day.
Make the most of your hormones
Certain hormones are higher in the morning, and this could lead to a more effective training session. Make the most of that elevated cortisol and growth hormone to train hard and build muscle.
Set up healthier habits
Being active early in the morning tends to have a positive knock-on effect for the rest of the day. People who get up earlier and train (or even just walk) make better food choices, stay more active, and get to bed at a sensible time.
For many of us, early morning is the only time we get to ourselves. So get up early and make the most of it. Use that early hour or two for reading, journaling, meditation, an outdoor walk, a workout, food prep for the day. You’ll start the day feeling calm and organised.
Ironically, getting up earlier may well help you sleep better. People who wake up earlier tend to get to bed earlier (probably because they know they’ll be knackered if they don’t) and enjoy better quality sleep as a result.
How to start waking up early
Up for the challenge? Start by moving your wake-up time back gradually (by 15 minutes a day for a week or so). And make sure you go to bed early enough so you still get your 7-9 hours sleep. Avoid blue light (from phones and other screens) before you go to bed – and definitely do not scroll your phone in bed.
Plan what you’ll do with your extra morning hour/s, so you go to bed feeling motivated rather than hard-done-by.
When that early alarm goes off, get up and out of the bedroom as quickly as possible. IF you’re training, leave your kit in another room. If you want to spend the time reaching or journaling, set up a tempting space in another room of the house.
The Gravity team love getting up early and find it has massive benefits for training, energy, and business productivity. Try it and let us know how you get on. #teamearlybird