That’s how long an average person sleeping eight hours every day will spend in bed during their lifetime. And while we all need to sleep to survive and function, some people have more beneficial sleep schedules than others.
Why? Multiple studies show that waking up early can significantly boost our productivity, mood, and even income.
And even though for many people an early bird sounds like a mythical creature, it is proven that being one can give you significant advantages in life. The good news is, it’s not that hard to become an early riser. Before we dive into the process, let’s go over the main benefits of waking up early – and where they come from.
One of the critical advantages that people who wake up before the majority of society get is a significant increase in productivity.
Of course, it’s not like you wake up at 5 AM and just unconsciously decide to become a productivity monster. In reality, it gets built one step at a time – but it’s a highly efficient process.
One of the common features that people who wake up early share is that the belief that they are the ones in charge of their lives. Successful people who get out of bed early use the extra time to review their goals and short- and long-term to-do lists.
This allows them to see the bigger picture on a regular basis while also memorizing (and tackling) all the tiny tasks required to achieve their goals. And, it’s worth noting, that they do so much more often compared to people who like to sleep in.
The goal review process teaches people who wake up early one other important thing – they are more organized and better at planning even the seemingly insignificant details of their days. This helps them use their time much better and is one of the main reasons why they achieve more while sleeping the same amount of time as anyone else.
In fact, it’s important to note that waking up early does not equal sleeping just 4, 5 or even 6 hours. Our bodies need 7 to 8 hours of sleep on average, so when you wake up early, you will also have to go to sleep earlier – but we’ll get to that.
While this point is not necessarily something we can just plan to do, having and reviewing your day before you even get to work could be the reason early birds experience noticeably lower levels of avoidant procrastination.
In the end, having a well-structured day and repeating activities such as a daily review, helps build discipline and teaches us to postpone gratification. Reading our goals every morning makes us want to achieve them even more and reminds us of why we want to do so in the first place.
All of the above points help us create positive habits, become more organized and provide us with more control over our urges. The latter teaches us to avoid instant gratification and is one of the core reasons why people who wake up early become more productive. But, it doesn’t have to be the only one.
There are theories that morning people are more proactive because they are also more conscientious. Whatever it is – be it conscientiousness, productivity or simple discipline, the increase in the number of things that you can get done if you start waking up early is a huge advantage in life. And it’s not the only one waiting for those who decide to jump out of the bed a few hours earlier than others.
Another life-changing benefit of waking up early is the overall boost in the ability to focus and think in a much clearer way. Because, as said earlier, morning people are more proactive, they have much better problem-solving skills.
Simply speaking, by having more time to look at their day, they learn to anticipate problems and minimize them – quite often, they do so even before the said problems occur. Naturally, this is assuming that by waking up early, they don’t deprive themselves of sleep. A study shows that sleep deprivation can affect cognition.
The good news is, this works the other way around too. By having a healthy and consistent sleep schedule, we can increase our concentration and memory skills. On top of that, sticking to such a schedule is positively correlated with agreeableness and conscientiousness – what helps us increase our productivity even more.
But, there are even more benefits that mornings can bring to your life and career – especially if you are a team player or need to work on tasks that require a high level of attention and a great memory.
In an experiment made of people who, following an Indian tradition of Brahma-muhurtha, were asked to wake up at 4:30 AM in the morning and those who could wake at their regular time.
All those who were asked to wake up earlier than usual improved their scores for substitution, verbal and spatial memory tasks.
And what about being a high-achieving team player? A study on personality and individual differences shows that people who wake up early, are a lot more persistent and cooperative than their evening counterparts.
Personally, I believe that it is likely that this persistence boost comes from the fact that it’s not easy to keep waking up so early day after day. But, as we build it up, we also become more confident, organized, and patient– simply speaking, we improve all the qualities that can make us better at doing our jobs.
But productivity, focus, and cooperativeness are just one side of the coin. If there’s one thing that waking up early can have a huge (and positive) influence on, it’s your health!
Sleep is one of the core functions of our bodies. It helps us recharge our batteries and gives our body the necessary rest after a long day. That’s why a quality sleep is so important to our well-being. Its lack is linked to a weakened immune system and many chronic health problems, which include high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, kidney and heart diseases, as well as an increased risk of stroke or obesity. Not to mention that it gives us more time to take care of other aspects of our lives that influence our health.
Have you ever rushed out to work with no breakfast or with a substitute of one, made of a slice of pizza from yesterday’s leftovers or, even worse, a cigarette and a coffee?
Unfortunately, such bad eating habits are not that uncommon. Waking up early gives us the time necessary to prepare healthy (and tasty) breakfast – which is widely considered to be the most important meal of your day.
Eating a nutritious breakfast can help us prevent insulin resistance, blood sugar spikes and excessive storage of body fat – which is often the result of the two. That’s why waking up early is commonly associated with having a better body.
But, that’s just a by-product of it – although well worth the effort. The true success comes from the change in our habits. By leaving our beds earlier, we have a lot more time to exercise and improve our eating routine.
But it’s not just our physical body that significantly benefits from our change in morning habits. A study performed by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Chaining Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston shows that early risers have a much lower risk of depression compared to both intermediates and night owls.
Staying up late is also associated with higher levels of repetitive negative thinking and more OCD symptoms. This means that having a better sleep pattern makes us a lot more optimistic and helps us get a better outlook on life. Of course, it is worth keeping in mind that it’s not just the good night sleep what helps us diminish depression. What matters is also the way we begin our day and spend our time throughout it.
For example, having more time to prepare means we won’t be in such a rush all the time. This will then lower the perceived level of stress, which is known to decrease sleep efficiency and increase the number of awakenings during the night.
Having a better health, more time in the morning and experiencing less stress are all critical “ingredients” of something we are all searching for – a happy life. But, there’s still more we can do. If we use the extra time that we have in the morning to feel grateful and thankful for everything that we’ve got to have and experience, we can relieve the stress even more effectively and become much happier and more satisfied with our lives.
By practicing gratefulness, instead of feeling grumpy, stressed out, and angry that we have to go to work, we will feel happy, calm and will be able to actually enjoy all the little moments in life. How to cultivate gratitude to increase our well-being? It’s easy.
To get started, spend just five minutes every morning writing a thank you note (even to yourself), keep a gratitude journal and add a note to it, pray, or meditate. And if you wake up early enough, you might be able to see the sunrise – which can add magic to your morning rituals
Before we get to the “how”, let’s stop and discuss one other critical aspect of waking up early – time. No one denies the fact that having a great professional life and being someone who achieved a lot career-wise is worth waking up early in itself.
But, even though these are very common reasons why people decide to learn to leave their beds earlier, there is one other aspect which I believe are just as important - having more time.
And I’m not talking about having more time to arrange early appointments and prepare for work. While these, together with an easier commute and less traffic are quite obvious, I think the number one reason when it comes to time savings is having more time for your friends and family.
In the end, we all want love to see our loved ones more than we end up doing. Sometimes this is because we are so busy, trying to build a career or achieve our goals. But, no one forces you to spend the extra hour or two that you get every morning in your office.
Instead, review your day, go to work early but come home earlier too. At the end of the day, there is no better way of investing your time than with the people who are important to you.
There are, of course, tens if not hundreds of more benefits to waking up early – from achieving better grades to being able to observe the nature wake up after the night. But, while everyone would love to become more productive and healthier, it’s not always easy to make such a big shift – especially if you have been leaving your bed late for ages.
Luckily, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Now that we know the benefits of waking up early, let's look at steps to do so.
Now that you know why changing the time you wake up has a huge (and positive) impact on your life, it’s time to put together a plan to help you make this change a reality.
There are three core things you need to tackle when you are trying to make this shift – sleep time, alarm and your mindset.
Let’s break down each of them starting with sleep quality.
Waking up early doesn’t mean you should sleep less. In fact, for it to be beneficial you need to also implement a consistent, healthy sleeping schedule. As I said earlier, for an average person, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is just the right amount. This means that if you want to start waking up at 6 AM, you need to go to bed at around 10 PM.
Of course, it’s often easier said than done. If you currently wake up at 9 AM, suddenly waking up three hours earlier will not only be hard but may also be quite an unpleasant shock to your body.
If you don’t feel like making drastic changes, here is what you can do instead:
What does it mean? For example, you can start waking up 15 minutes earlier and shift the time every week. While changing your sleep habit for one hour will take up to one month, it will be much easier than doing so overnight. Moreover, it will help you build much stronger foundations for your habit compared to making a drastic change when you wake up half-asleep and have to force yourself out of the bed.
While it’s best to stay consistent throughout the whole week, it’s not always easy to stick to your schedule – especially during the weekends, when we often stay up late. That’s why when preparing for the change you might have to rethink the way you spend your time on Friday and Saturday evenings so that you don’t have to sleep in the following morning.
Sometimes the primary reason why we keep being tired is not the number of hours of sleep that we get but their quality. To improve it, make sure that your room is actually prepared to provide you with a good night sleep.
The necessary checks (and potential changes) include making sure that your blinds don’t let in too much light (thick curtains or external blinds are the best). If your window or door doesn’t stop all the light coming in, invest in a breathable eye mask. If you live with other people or your neighbors act loud, a pair of earplugs will definitely come in handy.
Of course, I don’t even have to mention things like a comfortable bed, clean sheets and a quality pillow. On top of that, it’s beneficial to start treating your bed as a place to sleep – not to watch Netflix and read books. You want to associate going to bed with sleeping so that it’s easier to fall asleep when you need to.
This is a big one. Many people who try to start waking up earlier consistently have a problem with going to sleep early. They think that it’s strange or that only babies go to sleep when others are still up watching TV or browsing the Internet. In fact, the Internet and TV are the two things you should limit before going to sleep.
For a better sleep, try to abstain from any electronic devices for up to one hour before going to bed and the same amount of time after waking up. This will not only help your eyes but also will limit the amount of artificial light that messes up your circadian rhythm and suppresses the release of melatonin.
Obviously, there are several other tips I could add here – but I believe it’s better to focus on those first, as they alone can completely revolutionize the way you sleep. Now that you know how to go to sleep, let’s get to the opposite process: waking up.
One of the biggest problems of people who want to become early birds is not the fact that they can’t wake up when the alarm rings. Usually, the problem is that they wake up, turn it off, and go back to sleep. Luckily, there are tricks which can help even the most stubborn sleepers.
This is the most common thing that usually gets good results. By having to actually leave your bed to turn off the alarm, you force yourself to stand up, which helps you increase your awareness and wakes you up. Sadly, some people turn off the alarm and still go back to sleep – if you’re one of them, you need to do more than that.
Once the alarm is no longer ringing, leave your room immediately and start preparing for the day. Preferably, head straight to the bathroom and wash your face with cold water. This will shock your body but, at the same time, help you wake up.
Another great idea to help you wake up is to drink a glass of water. You can even put it next to the alarm although I personally prefer to head to the bathroom first and brush my teeth to get rid of the so-called morning breath.
One of the best ways to wake up is to exercise. You don’t have to lift weights or run 5K first thing you wake up. Do 10 or 20 squats, push-ups or even jumping jacks. This helps increase the blood flow in your body and increase its temperature, effectively helping you wake up.
Word of caution – don’t do that if you are super tired – for your own safety, it’s best to leave it after you are at least aware of where you are Now that the physical part is behind us, let’s jump into the mental part of leaving the comfort of our beds.
Do you know what’s often the main obstacle that makes it so hard to start the day early? We, ourselves.
Our minds will do everything to make us go back to bed. To be honest, occasionally I still have to talk myself out of the idea to stay in bed – and I’ve been waking up early for years now!
The only difference is that I’ve been doing it for so long I can dismiss all the excuses much faster. What are the keys to take control of the whole process?
Do not try to negotiate with your inner self. Don’t listen to any arguments or rationalizations. Never, ever rationalize. Your mind will come with hundreds of reasons why you can stay in bed just 5, 10 or 15 more minutes. It’s normal that we crave comfort – and, in the morning, when we are still sleepy, we are much more vulnerable to suggestions. What’s even worse, once you start rationalizing, it’s quite hard to stop doing that. So, if possible, don’t do that at all!
One note – the reward can’t be anything related to waking up late. Keep in mind that you’re doing this to improve your life and have more time for your goals, hobbies, and family. That’s why you should reward yourself with spending more time doing what you love.
Sometimes, an important motivator to wake up and get things done is finding a super important reason why you want to do this in the first place. This could be anything – from wanting to change your carrier to being able to enjoy the silence when everyone else is still sleeping. In fact, being able to eat your breakfast with no distractions is a truly amazing experience – one that’s so rare especially in the era of smartphones.
One last tip is to just get started and make your morning routine so enticing that it would be hard for you to actually stop it. Waking up one hour earlier and having one more hour to do some important stuff in the morning may not sound like much in the span of a week, but after a few months, all this time accumulates to days of extra productivity time - just imagine what you could do if you had extra week or two of pure productivity time!
Naturally, all of this sounds easier said than done. As I said earlier, I believe there are two basic ways in which you can implement this change – in increments, moving your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier every day or week or, you can sign up for a 21-day challenge designed to radically change your sleeping habits and step out of your comfort zone.
Why 21 days?
This magic number is widely believed to be the required amount of time to make significant changes to your habit. While it’s not an accurate number for everyone, it should be enough to help you get used to turning off your alarm clock a little bit earlier than usual.
Because you will have only 21 days to make the shift, make sure that you do everything to increase your chances of achieving your goal and not feel like a zombie after those three weeks. How to do that?
Here are a few tips:
By now you probably know multiple benefits of waking up early. But, for this to work easier it’s important to focus on one that you believe is critical to your well-being and life. This will help you stay focused and motivated and overcome excuses when they come.
To make you even more motivated and disciplined, it’s good to come up with a way to reward your efforts. While the goal is not to go through those 21 days and go back to your old habits, but rather to build a new one, a reward after 21 days will help you stick to your resolution – which can result in the development of a completely new habit and the way of life.
Clean your room, get the earplugs and an eye mask, prepare a clean set of bed sheets – basically take care of everything that can increase your quality of sleep, and, as a result, chances of success.
Don’t sabotage your daily life just because you started waking up earlier. Instead, treat those 21 days as a transition phase to a new lifestyle. That’s why, together with switching the time you wake up, switch the time you go to sleep – even if it means lying down in bed for some time before you fall asleep during the first few days.
By obstacles, I mean everything that can affect the quality of your sleep. Avoid alcohol and eating before bed, and don’t exercise too late in the day. Physical activity heats up your body and makes it harder to fall asleep (unless you would come home super tired – but that’s not the goal).
Or, even better, start the challenge with someone else. That way, you two can motivate each other and exchange ideas and observations, what should further motivate you to keep going.
Lastly, remember that this challenge should be just the beginning and not a goal in itself. Plan to stick to it for more than 21 days right from the start. In the long run, you will definitely appreciate it – even if right now it sounds impossible, it’s easier than you think. But you need to stick to it.
Good luck – and don’t hesitate to share the results in the comments section!
There is no magic bullet here. Some people will call 6 AM early while others might go even further and opt for 5 or even 4 AM. When choosing the right time, make sure that you think about your whole week. Research shows that a consistent sleeping schedule is just as important as the number of hours that we sleep.
Usually, waking up late is just one of the factors that should be taken into consideration. Multiple studies show that people who stay up late make more self-sabotaging decisions – they indulge in poor dietary habits or are much less physically active.
By waking up early, you can better plan your day and focus on all the things that can improve your physical and mental well-being.
A morning routine is an essential part of the improvement process associated with waking up early.
If you just wake up two or three hours earlier and waste all of that extra time, you can just stay in bed.
By preparing for your day, reviewing your goals, and exercising, you can develop healthy habits, stay more motivated and focused on things that matter to you.
When you study, you’re full of dreams and potential. It’s also a very important time of your life during which you shape your whole future life and career.
Luckily, it’s proven that those who wake up early get better grades. This means that by implementing a quality morning routine, you can get ahead of other students.
Reflecting on your goals and achievements helps you understand what it is that you want to do in the future and makes you a lot more persistent in pursuing your goals.
As they say, everything is possible. But is it easy? Hell no! If you believe you can make the switch quickly, then I recommend that you go for the 21-day challenge.
Even if you fail, you will have a much better understanding of what it takes to wake up early on a daily basis and will see what necessary improvements you need to make to start leaving your bed a few hours earlier.
Of course! It doesn’t matter if you go to work at 7 AM or 9 AM or if you’re still studying and start your classes at 12.
What matters more is the time which you can spend on your morning routine and the discipline that it helps you build.
Sure - I used to be a night owl myself (or so I thought). The transition wasn’t easy and I had my ups and downs but I couldn’t be happier with it.
More often than not people who consider themselves night owls are just procrastinating and forcing themselves to go to sleep later.
To ensure that the change goes smoothly, make the switch incrementally and sleep an equal number of hours every night.
Some people manage to do it overnight, for others it becomes much easier after 21 or so days. Every case is different – you will never know unless you give it a try. It could be a lot easier for you than you think!
Got any other questions?
And how long did it take you to make the shift? Leave your questions and achievements in the comments section below.
Be sure to check out the best morning routines that change your life magically.