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Does Rising Early Really Make You Healthy, Wealthy & Wise?
You’ve probably heard this old proverb: “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
We all want to be healthy, wealthy, and wise… but does going to bed earlier actually bring about these results? (And if it does: can you become an early riser if you’re not one naturally?)
According to research… well, yes. (To both questions.)
What Research Found
A UK-based study from the University of Surrey found a correlation between earlier bedtimes (and consequently earlier wake times) and longer life expectancy. That’s right: people who went to bed earlier and woke up earlier actually lived longer.
In this study, 433,000 people (between 38 and 73 years old) were followed over 6.5 years. Each person self-identified as belonging to one of four categories:
- “definitely a morning person”
- “more a morning person than an evening person”
- “more of an evening person”
- “definitely an evening person”
Other lifestyle habits and health parameters were taken into account.
By the end of the study, the group identifying as “definitely an evening person” was at a 10% higher risk of death compared to those identifying as “definitely a morning person.” These night owls were also more likely to experience psychological problems, get inadequate sleep and consume more cigarettes, caffeine and illegal drugs.
The bottom line: a late-night lifestyle can promote unhealthy sleeping and eating habits and disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm, which can have devastating long-term effects on your mental and physical health.
If you’re naturally an evening person, this begs the question: can you transform into a morning person? Spolier alert: you can. But… how?
Read on to find out how to wake up early, how to go to bed early and what to do when your night-owl habits try to make a comeback.
How to Wake up Early
Step one: wake at the same time every day. Consistent wake times will help your body find its natural circadian rhythm.
Instead of yo-yo-ing between drastically different wake times during the week (as we tend to do with our weekend-oriented culture), try to pick a fairly consistent wake time and don’t deviate from it too drastically. The time you wake will help set a predictable rhythm for your body and ultimately help you go to sleep earlier.
If you sleep until noon, chances are you won’t feel ready for bed by 9 PM. Waking at sporadic times throughout the week gives your body inconsistent messages about when to be awake and when to be asleep.
Decide what time you need to wake up to be at work, and plan your wake time around that. Then, try not to sleep in more than an hour over your set “wake up time” — even on weekends.
Finally, use your “wake up time” to determine a bedtime that gives you adequate sleep (aim for 7-8 hours as an adult, more for teens and children).
How to Go to Bed Early
We all have the best intentions around our bedtimes.
If you’re like most people, you aim to be in bed by a certain time… but inevitably that time comes and goes, and you’re still up scrolling through trivial Tweets on your iPhone.
So the question becomes: how do you overcome these deeply-ingrained habits? First, create a bedtime routine. Your routine should begin about 30-40 minutes before you intend to be in bed, with the lights out. Eventually, the start of your routine will tell your body to start preparing for sleep, and sticking to your bedtime will become automatic.
What to Do When You Start Staying up Late Again
As soon as you create the perfect bedtime routine, you’ll start to notice all the ways you avoid following it.
What are your time-wasters? Where do you consistently get trapped into missing bedtime? Here are some common things you’ll likely notice coming up:
- Work-related projects or emails you want to finish
- Social media, TV or internet rabbit holes
- Late-night phone calls or visits from friends
- Household chores
- Hunger for a late-night snack
- Stress about your day (or the next day)
It’s important to identify your biggest reason(s) why you avoid bedtime so that you can come up with a realistic solution.
For example, if you find you’re often up late surfing the internet or perusing Facebook, consider installing an app on your phone to track your social media use and set alarms when you’ve exceeded your daily limit.
If you’re consistently up late answering work emails or working on projects, not only is it keeping you from getting to bed on time — you’re also introducing stress and screen time when your mind needs to be shutting down and relaxing. Consider making a no-work-in-the-evening rule and, instead, waking a little earlier to answer emails before you head to the office.
Here’s to Being Healthy, Wealthy & Wise
As human beings, we’re designed to need sleep.
Rest gives your body a chance to repair itself, consolidate and retain the things you learn, fight infection and disease, digest your food, keep your brain sharp and so much more.
Sleep has a huge impact on your capacity for health, wealth and wisdom — so give your sleep routines the attention they deserve.
(1) Mandal, ANanya MD. “People who stay up late risk shorter lives." News Medical, 13 Apr. 2018, www.news-medical.net/news/20180413/People-who-stay-up-late-risk-shorter-lives.aspx
(2) “How to Train Yourself to Go to Sleep Earlier." Sleep.org, www.sleep.org/articles/train-go-sleep-earlier/. Accessed 5 Dec. 2019.
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