Early to bed and early to rise Tips and benefits

woman sleep  alarm clock
What is considered waking up early is often subjective, but our biology suggests there are optimal times to wake and sleep. (Photo: Shutterstock, Envato Elements)
Alongside joining a gym and learning a new skill, one of the many ways people seek to better themselves and feel productive is waking up early. Sleep is fundamental to good health and wellness. While many people succeed in getting the recommended amount of sleep every night, what time we wake up and go to sleep can impact our lives. Waking up early is something many of us see as a chore necessitated by work or school; we wait for the weekend to be able to sleep in. However by understanding the benefits of waking up early, and equipped with some easy tips on how to do it, hopefully more people can start waking up early.اضافة اعلان

What is considered waking up early is often subjective — generally, 8am and earlier is considered “early” — but our biology suggests there are optimal times to wake and sleep. Aside from commitments such as work and school, the time we wake and sleep is governed by a mechanism known as our circadian rhythm cycle. It helps optimize our body for different times of the day. For example, it helps synchronize the digestive system with mealtimes to optimize digestion. Similarly, our circadian rhythm helps optimize our sleep patterns.

All of these different circadian rhythms connect to a “master clock” that helps regulate the many processes that occur daily in our body. To regulate sleep, the circadian rhythm depends heavily on light, particularly sunlight. There are two hormones that work in opposition to one another and are controlled by the circadian rhythm. The first hormone is melatonin and is responsible for the feeling of drowsiness at nighttime. The release of melatonin is dependent on the absence of light. Secretion begins at the time of darkness and peaks around 2–4am at which point it begins to drop. The second hormone is cortisol, which is responsible for waking and is often referred to as the stress hormone. Cortisol secretion peaks in the early morning between 6–9am but is not necessarily dependent on the presence of light.

Waking up
One of the major reasons why people have issues waking up early is inadequate sleep. This can be caused by a lifestyle that leads to going to bed late, as well as medical issues. On average, adults need seven or more hours a sleep per night in order to function properly. Fortunately, this can often be fixed by training your body to sleep earlier and adjusting your schedule to match. However, medical concerns are more difficult to manage. Disorders such as insomnia, adrenal dysfunction (the area responsible for cortisol production), mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety can negatively impact sleep and likewise the ability to wake up early. In order to resolve this, the underlying condition must be properly managed.

Waking early
Waking up early can have many benefits to several aspects of life, including wellness, physical health, and lifestyle. These lifestyle benefits are often taken for granted but can be an important part of having a productive day. By waking up early you have more time to yourself, especially when you have other people in your household that may otherwise occupy your time. These early hours of the day are the perfect time to have some dedicated alone time. When it comes to mental and physical health, waking up early also has many benefits. In order to wake up early you will have to practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is building healthy sleeping habits such as consistently going to bed and waking up at the same time every night. As you develop good sleep hygiene, your sleep will improve, which in turn can improve mood, reduce the risk of obesity, and even reduce the risk of certain chronic illnesses. Furthermore, the better the sleep the more energy you will have throughout the day in order to be efficiently productive. You may also begin to see your skin become healthier as well. The better our sleep, the less lines, wrinkles, and dark circles we may have due to improved blood flow. Lastly, along with improved energy throughout the day, waking up early allows us to concentrate more. This is mainly due to a concept known as sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is a normal part of waking and is the feeling of grogginess when we first wake up. The grogginess can make it difficult to concentrate and typically takes an hour or more to fully go away. By waking up early and, for example, filling that time with exercise you will ensure that you are fully prepared for the day ahead of you.

The disadvantages of waking up early are either subjective or related to poor sleep hygiene. For many, evenings are the only time they can see friends. This often comes at the sacrifice of sleep. When sleep is insufficient, there may be many negative health implications. This can include a weakened immune system and an increased risk of cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or even diabetes. Furthermore, routine is key and in order to make the most of the health benefits associated with waking up early, you will need to be consistent. Unfortunately for some, this also means waking up early on weekends. Fluctuations in sleeping patterns relate to poor sleep hygiene and further increase the negative health risks.

The first step to waking early is determining a time that is good for you. Many people like 6am as it is still cool outside — perfect weather for jogging, especially in the summer. Regardless of the time you choose, the next step is determining when to sleep. Since seven hours is the recommended minimum for sleep, work backwards from the time you want to wake. For example, waking at 6am would require you to sleep at 11pm. In order to do this, you should first train your body to adapt to the new schedule. Gradually set your alarm 15 minutes earlier every day until your body is used to it. If you wake up feeling too tired, keep that time for a couple of days and try sleeping earlier. Additionally, it is important to properly occupy yourself during that extra time. By filling it with things you enjoy doing, it will make waking feel less like a chore and instead motivate you more. If you are concerned that your poor sleep patterns relate to an underlying condition, seek out medical advice. For example, the Specialty Hospital located in the Shmeisani area of Amman can provide sleep studies that will help diagnose any conditions and well as providing effective treatment.

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