Can waking up early benefit our health?
Published 11 Sep 2021 • By Claudia Lima
"Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise!"
This phrase, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin who is said to have quoted it in the 18th century, was partly referring to health.
So what are the health benefits of getting up early? Is being a "morning person" just a trend? Is it applicable to us all? What are the good practices to follow?
We explain it all in our article!
What is a "morningophile"?
The "miracle morning", or waking up at the crack of dawn, a trend popular in the United States and illustrated in particular in the book "Miracle Morning" by Had Elrod, describes a method of personal development that helps us to feel more fulfilled.
"Morningophiles" (morning + phile, from the Greek philos, meaning "loving") will therefore exercise this practice, which consists of waking up 1 or 2 hours earlier in order to devote oneself to an activity of one's choice before starting the "normal" day, often activities for which one would not have the time to devote oneself during the day.
Often the goal of this practice is to improve physical health and well-being.
The principles of this movement are similar to those of "slow living", which include slowing down the pace of one's day, taking time for oneself, savouring the present and developing one's creativity.
Getting to know yourself first
Though we can't hear it tick, our body has its own internal clock - the circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm is made up of a number of physical, mental, and behavioural changes that follow a 24-hour cycle and is influenced by external factors such as light and dark, temperature and physical activity.
Our personal circadian rhythms, or "chronotypes" vary from person to person but may also run in families. The two main chronotypes are what we commonly refer to as "early birds", those who tend to go to bed and wake up early, and "night owls", those who tend stay up and wake up late.
It is important that we understand our chronotype in order to better organise ourselves in our tasks and activities, and to determine your level of fitness or fatigue.
Each person has his or her own rhythm to follow, and there are methods for identifying one's sleep cycle and deciding to adapt it if necessary to sleep better and therefore, wake up better.
Of course, in order to get up earlier, your work schedule must allow for it. The goal is to make the most of natural light, and a night worker would not be able to apply this type of method.
There are also a number of factors that cause people to wake up early, but not by choice: anxiety, depression, insomnia, hormonal fluctuations due to pregnancy or the menopause, etc.
And also, for many early risers, it's all a question of genetics.
It's up to you to find the right balance.
What are the benefits of waking up early for your health?
There are a number of good reasons for getting up early and many studies have analysed the effects, all leading to one conclusion: it is a factor in good physical and mental health.
Some of these benefits include:
- More time for yourself, to relax, to get organised
- More time to do things, physical exercise, creative activities
- More time for breakfast
- More concentration
- More exposure to natural light, which contributes to a better mood
- Less stress
- Less prone to mental health problems
Researchers scientifically explain that getting up early releases endorphins and dopamine which promote good blood circulation and act as a stress reliever.
How can you start waking up early?
Adopting an early bird routine won't happen overnight, especially if bad habits such as scrolling through your phone or catching up on your current series are ingrained.
However, if you are looking for a place to start, here are a few tips:
Get plenty of sleep
Try to get up and go to bed at regular times, get enough sleep and avoid anything that stimulates you, such as rich meals, video games and caffeinated drinks.
Gradually change your alarm
Shift your alarm clock by 15 minutes each day for a week or more to reach your target wake up time.
Look for motivation
Use the minutes you gain by engaging in activities that bring you pleasure.
Get out of bed
Get up at the first ring of your alarm clock, move the phone away from your bed and don't be tempted to lie back down.
Allow yourself to not be perfect
Maybe you had a hard, busy day yesterday, maybe you don't feel good today... That's okay. You are allowed an "off" day and deserve a lie-in. Not every day has to be an early bird day.
After all this information, does getting up early still not interest you and/or seems impossible? For your own reasons, do you have to go to bed late and wake up late?
This is perfectly normal. Each individual has his or her own possibilities and choices. The most important thing is to listen to your body.
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