There are so very many reasons to start your day early. We’ve all heard tale of those traditionally-defined mega-successful people, like Tim Cook, Michelle Obama, and the Navy SEALS, who start their days well before dawn. Of course that need not be the goal for everyone, but even waking up 20 minutes earlier (and in turn going to bed 20 minutes earlier) can be more conducive to having a good day. And stringing all those good days together can result in a better life. Let’s count down the top 4 reasons to get up early!
#4 More time for the most important meal of the day
If you’re someone who never skips breakfast—good on you! For those of you who feel like there’s no time and maybe you don’t even feel hungry that early, let me tell you the world of difference it makes to eat something truly satisfying before you go out into the world.
When you take the time to prepare and eat a balanced, delicious, and nutritious meal first thing, and make it part of your daily routine, you’ll notice such a marked boost of sustained energy and attention span that you’ll never want to skip this oh-so-important meal ever again. In addition, especially for women, starting your day with breakfast helps to balance hormones, such as estrogen, and blood sugar, a key factor for energy and weight loss.
#3 Bolster alertness and mood
Those who wake up earlier are less likely to suffer from negative, unproductive thoughts and rumination. And the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that women in particular who get up early are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
Additionally, because sleep inertia, that pesky feeling of grogginess many of us wake up with, can take 2-4 hours to dissipate, and because the hormone cortisol, which is known to increase awareness and wakefulness, tends to peak around 8 a.m., be sure that you’re making the most of that natural boost by already having started your day so you feel alert and ready to perform tasks with mental clarity.
#2 Sleep more and better as a Morning Person
We all know that getting a proper amount of sleep comes with plenty of benefits like better mood, concentration, and overall health. Interestingly, many studies demonstrate that night owls end up sleeping fewer overall hours when compared to morning larks. Apparently when you wake up earlier, you accumulate adenosine faster, which in turn makes you sleepier at night, allowing you to fall asleep quicker and easier in order to get those oft-recommended 8 hours of shut-eye a night.
Furthermore, society in general seems to be optimally structured for Morning People, simply based on the standard working schedule of 9am to 5pm. And on top of that, according to biologist Christoph Randler, ”Morning people…anticipate problems and try to minimize them…And they’re proactive. A number of studies have linked this trait, proactivity, with better job performance, greater career success, and higher wages.” Of course, we must always be aware of the difference between causation and correlation, but it may still be a benefit to consider when deciding whether to change up your morning routine.
And the #1 most important benefit of an early start to your day is…
…that sweet, sweet extra time just for yourself
‘You can’t pour from an empty pitcher,’ as they say. Patrick Stewart advised Hugh Jackman while on the set of the movie Logan to always make time for yourself first thing in the morning. It’s too easy to let the day get away from you with the constant obligations and distractions that come with our daily lives. Because we want to do our best, perform well in our various roles, and give our all to those around us, when the day is finally coming to a close, we often find ourselves with nothing left to give. And of course, this is not sustainable over the long haul.
If you get up early—before anyone else in your house is up—this may be the only alone time you get all day, so refrain from things that cause stress (news, emails, etc.), and use that bonus time for relaxing, centering, doing yoga, and in general feeling good. Many instructors at Ignite Yoga incorporate meditation first thing upon waking. It helps dissolve lingering thoughts from the night before or remnants of dreams to ensure your first task begins with clarity. By starting your day with calming activities, you can check ‘self care’ off your to-do list first thing, and you’re assured to start the day with a full pitcher.
How to get an early start
Get a good night’s sleep
We all know we’re supposed to avoid caffeine and blue light from our screens well before bedtime. And it seems obvious, but make sure your bedroom is at a comfy temp and that you’re sleeping on quality bedding. By waking up earlier consistently, you’ll encourage your body to regulate its sleeping pattern, and eventually you will go to sleep earlier in order to give your body the rest it needs.
So to all the early morning go-getters in the world, consider yourselves lucky if your natural circadian rhythm has set you up nicely to seize each day. If, however, you find it more difficult to go to bed early and wake up early, never forget the power of habit—scientists estimate that at minimum 40% of our behavior can be attributed to it.
New routines are built with repetition. And with time and repetition, it will get easier!
Set your alarm earlier in small increments
If you’re already a morning person, then getting up incrementally earlier may not be such a big stretch, but for those who consider themselves night owls, remember to take it s l o w w w w…
If you normally wake up at 7 a.m., but realize that a full hour earlier would allow you to meet your goal of doing yoga and having a complete breakfast before the day starts, remember to make the change gradually. At first set your alarm earlier—start with even just 5 minutes! Get used to that for a week or so, and then make it 10, and so on until you find that the time you’ve allocated for yourself first thing every day is fulfilling your needs.
Never utilize the ‘snooze’ button—it makes sleep inertia even worse. Leave your bedroom as soon as possible after your alarm goes off, otherwise it can be too tempting to just roll over, cocoon yourself in the covers, and squeeze your eyes closed for any extra amount of time possible. This too will worsen the grogginess of sleep inertia.
Implement temptation bundling
As you adjust over time, the ‘getting up early’ becomes the reward in itself; intrinsic motivation is the best kind of motivation. But in the meantime, try combining something you should do with some kind of reward that you don’t often give yourself. For example, you can bribe yourself! If you wake up early, you can reward yourself with a delicious and expensive coffee, or a pedicure if you’ve been making it to that 6:00a Power yoga class every morning. Anything to make it all feel like less of a chore. This clever method described by behavioral economists can allow you to receive instant gratification and the long-term benefits that come with true willpower.
Early yoga in Dayton
The benefits of morning exercise are myriad, and it is incredibly rewarding to finish something so important early in the day before distractions and simple exhaustion can get in the way.
Yoga is somewhat unique in that it can simultaneously count as self care, me-time, and exercise, which makes it triply important to ensure that you develop and stick to a consistent practice. Oftentimes after a long, hard day, it can be tempting to skip this vital piece of self care. And while many people struggle to find the time for daily exercise, those who get up early are more likely to do it.