I'm up before the rooster crows nearly every day, but I know many frogs (and even more humans) who have a distinct dislike of mornings. They moan and groan when the alarm goes off; preferring to hit the snooze button two, maybe three, times before being forced to get up and hurry like mad to get out the door on time. Benjamin Franklin had it right, though, and now science is backing him up. Not so much the wise or wealthy parts, but studies do show that those of us you get up early have a few advantages.
Larks, as early risers are often called, do have better health, says a 2012 article written in the journal "Emotion." This includes making better food choices and consuming a more balanced diet than our night owl counterparts. Those of us who go to bed early don't have those late-night food cravings, either. Eating sugary snacks late at night can cause restless sleep and increased weight gain.
Early risers are thought to be more productive, as well. A 2009 study performed by a biology professor at the University of Education is Heidelberg, Germany, found that morning people tend to anticipate problems and do their best to minimize them. This study also shows that "larks" achieve better grades which can open more doors for better jobs in the future.
Additionally, early risers get more sleep which can lead to less worry. A 2015 study published in "Cognitive Therapy and Research" showed that those who favor a later bedtime reported an increase in repetitive negative thinking (RNT) which is associated with a reduction in sleep time. Going to bed early, then, can cause more positive thinking and reduce stress and worry.
In addition to better overall health, the 2012 study written up in the Journal "Emotion" also showed that morning people have more positive emotions and are, generally, happier with their life than those who go to bed late. The researchers on this study think that is because society's typical 9-5 workday culture clashes with the night owls decision to stay up late.
For you night owls out there, here are a few simple steps you can take to help ease you into a new, earlier morning routine.
1. Get on a set sleep schedule. Sleep experts suggests moving your wake up time by about 20 minutes every day until you reach your desired morning rising time. Waking up earlier should help you fall asleep a little earlier in the evening, as well. As tempting as it might be to break your new schedule on the weekends, don't! So doing, can sabotage your entire week.
2. Create a pleasant morning ritual. This means doing things you enjoy and will look forward to. These rituals can include: Yoga (or other gentle exercise), meditation, reading from a favorite book, taking a bath and then finishing it off with a do-it-yourself oil-infused massage. Or, perhaps, going for a short, but brisk walk. Sun exposure is vital in the morning.
3. Develop an evening routine. Start to wind down around the same time every night. turn off all electronics two hours before going to bed. (And put them away so you won't be tempted to turn them on!) Avoid eating for at least three hours before climbing into bed. Drink warm milk with honey and cardamon, or brew herbal teas like chamomile or lavender. Combat the stress of the day by meditating, reading, or journaling. This a great time to write in your gratitude journal! I like to listen to soothing music as I write in mine.
Following this advice can, I hope, get your day off to a brighter, happier, and earlier start....even if you're a night owl! Mornings are marvelous. I know you'll agree, too, when the shock of seeing the sun come up finally wears off!