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I’m sure you’ve heard that waking up early is one of the keys to being successful. And you may have wondered, “Why? I thought getting sufficient sleep is an important part of being your best self!”
But when you hear that there are benefits to waking up early, these perks aren’t related to cutting your sleep short. They are a result of giving yourself that extra quiet time in the morning that you can use in a constructive way before the chaos of your day begins.
The idea of waking up at 5:00 in the morning was pretty dreadful to me, especially because I started this habit in the middle of winter when I just wanted to stay in bed. But as I began to adapt to my new morning routine, I found it to be increasingly easier to wake up when my alarm went off. (Don't use your phone as an alarm clock!) Then, a few weeks into it, I was waking up at 5AM without even having to set my alarm—and I was waking up energized and ready to tackle my day.
In this post, I’m going to uncover seven of the biggest benefits of waking up early. Mind you, this list is not all-inclusive, as the possible benefits of taking up this habit stretch far beyond the scope of this article alone. But consider the following to be the biggest “wins” by building this important habit.
Let’s get started!
Benefits of Waking Up Early
1. It gives you time to exercise.
I have to start with this benefit of waking up early because it was the one that had the greatest impact on my overall wellbeing. I can recall endless days at work where I would be looking for an excuse to skip the gym that night. I had some extra work I had to do, my stomach kind of hurt, I was having a tough day…
The first thing I did with my extra time when I revamped my routine to wake up early was exercise. My alarm would go off and I wouldn’t even give myself the option to reconsider going to the gym–I would just get up and go. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t even completely awake until I had already run half a mile! But I got my exercise out of the way and I wouldn’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.
Starting your day with a good workout can help you burn more calories throughout the day and it will help improve your sleep at night. Further, studies have shown that exercising in the morning can actually help improve your decision-making skills for the remainder of the day and increase your sense of happiness due to the release of endorphins you will experience.
So if you are facing challenges that prevent you from exercising, waking up earlier might be a great solution for you. Your morning workout sessions are less likely to be cancelled than the ones that you schedule for after work, and if you do miss a workout in the morning, you will still have that second chance to go in the afternoon.
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2. Your confidence will soar.
Having confidence in yourself is a long-term benefit to you because it will help you have a positive attitude, show leadership presence, and ultimately be a happier person. Doing things to make you feel better about yourself will greatly improve your life in several ways, including helping you feel like you’re better than everyone else.
I know, that sounds arrogant.
However, we are hard-wired to engage in social comparison–we all do it every day, whether it’s about how much money someone else makes or the awards someone wins at work for consistently meeting their goals, we often make ourselves feel bad in some way when we compare ourselves to other people. However, this tendency toward social comparison can be used to better your life rather than bringing you down.
Now, you’re not looking for ways that you are intrinsically better than others, but when you get up early in the morning and start getting things crossed off of your to-do list, you can certainly feel behaviorally superior to others who are dragging themselves into work at the very last minute. Getting that head start on the day can boost your confidence because you will already be on track to accomplish a lot in the day when other people are just starting to get up.
3. It can benefit your long-term career.
Whether you’re loving your current career or desperately trying to get out of it, waking up early in the morning can help you be productive with your work. If you work in an office, you are certainly used to being distracted pretty often with phone calls, emails, or people stopping by your desk, which can put a huge dent in your productivity.
If you can just have an hour or two of complete silence to focus on your work, you will be amazed at what you can get done, which will open the door for new projects that you can take on.
Alternatively, if you’re not loving your job, you can use the calm of the early morning for two things, either looking for another job or growing your side business. Let’s face it, looking for a job can be a full-time job in itself, and you can’t really be pulling up job-searching websites while you’re at work. You will get further in your job hunt if you take the time in the morning to do your research and really polish up your resume as you’re applying to jobs.
Alternatively, if you have a hobby that you love doing that you want to turn into a career, the morning is the perfect time to refine that. You won’t be able to achieve your dream of making your side business your primary source of income unless you’re able to put in the time. Paying attention to this goal before you’re completely exhausted from the day is going to make you more productive in achieving it.
No matter what your long-term goals are when it comes to your career, waking up early can give you the time you need to reach those goals sooner. And being happy in your career is a huge part of living a fulfilling life.
4. It decreases stress.
Think about how your mornings tend to go after you press the snooze button a few times until you absolutely have to get out of bed. You’re probably frantically running around the house, fighting for time in the bathroom, trying to find something–anything–to wear, skimming an email from your boss on your phone as you’re rushing to let the dog out, while also begging the kids to find their own shoes, eat whatever they can find, and not forget their science project that’s sitting on the dining room table. By the time you get to work, you’re still in a bit of a frenzy, visibly agitated, and already exhausted.
Now rewind that situation and let’s say you got up early. You’re out of the shower and dressed before anyone else is awake, you have time to lay out a simple, yet healthy, breakfast for your family to enjoy together, and leave the house before traffic gets congested.
Both of these situations will set the tone for your day. If you add up all of your work days over time, it becomes clear that the more relaxed approach will help you improve your focus, be more present in the moment, and even allow you to spend more time with your family.
5. It will improve your sleep.
One of the greatest long-term benefits of waking up early is having the ability to go to sleep early as well. When you can train your body to be on a sleep routine, it will be easier for you to go to sleep on time and wake up early without an alarm clock.
Doing this is important for the health of your body’s circadian rhythm, and maintaining this schedule on the weekends is a key part of maintaining your body’s internal clock.
People who wake up early naturally become tired earlier, and having a predictable routine will help improve your quality of sleep, which will in turn help you wake up feeling fully rested.
6. It enhances your productivity.
Our brains are actually the most alert during the morning hours, so if you can have this uninterrupted time to focus, you will be able to accomplish more than you otherwise would. People also typically make more rational decisions in the morning than they do later in the afternoon after they have been making decision after decision all day long.
You can also improve your productivity in the morning by taking a moment to set your goals for the day and lay out your schedule. You can prioritize your tasks and knock a few things out before the sun is even up.
7. It improves your mental health.
All of these benefits put together lay the foundation for better mental health. Engaging in physical exercise, having confidence, decreasing your stress, and improving your sleep are all critical components to your psychological well being.
And why is your mental health important? Your mental health is critical to your welfare and life satisfaction from infancy through adulthood and beyond. Being in good mental health helps you realize your full potential in life, cope with any stressors that come your way, help you think, create and maintain relationships, and make valuable decisions.
Mental health experts have tied healthy sleep habits to a happier and healthier mind. Going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier is linked to having a more stable personality, while staying up late and sleeping in can lead to the development of depression. Even getting too much sleep can lead to depression. So it is important to find the right balance and get on a solid routine.
Final Thoughts on Waking Up Early
The benefits of waking up early don’t end here, but these reasons should be convincing enough to motivate you to make the change. So how do you start?
Start slowly by just waking up 30 minutes before your normal wake-up time. Continue to increase that by 30 minute intervals until you feel like you will have a solid two hours of peace and quiet before your day begins. Once you get through the first two weeks of making this change, you will find that you’re able to go to sleep earlier and eventually you will be naturally waking up at your goal time.
It won’t take long for you to realize how much you can get accomplished during this time, which will be a motivating factor on its own to get out of bed each morning. While it may seem far-fetched now, if you’re like me, these early morning hours will end up being one of your favorite parts of each day.
Finally, if you want the perfect morning routine, then check out this seven-step process for creating a morning routine that will become a vital part of your daily life.)
Connie Stemmle is a professional editor, freelance writer and ghostwriter. She holds a BS in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her 4-year-old daughter, running, or making efforts in her community to promote social justice.