by Sherra Parent
On the list of things you don’t want to do, getting out of bed at 7 a.m. might seem as painful as studying organic chemistry during a vacation. But while waking up early may not sound like the sexiest thing to do, there are plenty of reasons to forego hitting the snooze button and genuinely enjoy life more because of it.
Benefits of waking up early:
- It’ll help to stabilize your sleep schedule and keep you healthy. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) emphasizes the importance of sleep, citing that staying up late can actually harm your well-being and productivity by impairing memory function, decreasing physical performance, damaging your mental health and making you more susceptible to illness. “Rising with the sun” can help reset your body’s internal biological clock, contributing to a better and fuller night of sleep and consequently better health.
- You’ll get more stuff done. College students never seem to have enough time. Because there’s so much to do throughout the day, we notoriously suffer through all-nighters to get stuff done. While it might seem like studying all night is the only way to go, waking up early can actually free up some time you might have thought you didn’t have. The extra alertness from your full night of sleep can allow you to accomplish more during the day rather than slogging through work late at night. Having those extra hours to yourself before you have to rush to class, work, or appointments can make a world of difference in planning out your day, relaxing, or catching up on homework without the distractions of the busy day ahead.
- Your stomach will thank you. The stressors and night-time nature of college life can sometimes mean eating a full-course dinner with friends at 11 p.m. While this may be fun in practice, the repetition of this can lead to weight gain, poor nights of sleep, and a consequential decrease in productivity. Having a stable sleep schedule can help your dietary habits. You’ll have time for breakfast and starting the day off right.
- There are gems on campus that you wouldn’t have been able to enjoy otherwise. In addition to the personal benefits of waking up early, there are a few on-campus activities that you would have otherwise been asleep for, such as:
- Watching the sunrise at the top of the Richard A. Beard Parking Garage
- Having the gym to yourself. The gym’s quietest hours, between 6 and 8 a.m., can have as much as 88% less people than its peak hours of 5 through 8 p.m.
- Getting to know other early risers. Campus Rec offers some morning fitness classes. Get your heart pumping with a morning cycling session, or take a group yoga class and make your body more limber and your mind sharper for the day ahead.
How to rise so you can shine
If you’ve consistently been a late riser or a person with an uneven sleep schedule, waking up early may seem like an impossible task, but it’s not unattainable.
- Gradually shift your bedtime and wake-up time 15 to 20 minutes each day. Try not to skip weekends; it’ll reset your progress and make it harder to wake up on Monday.
- Try not to hit snooze.
- Put your phone away before you climb into bed—using electronic media before you go to sleep can contribute to insomnia and feeling more tired when it’s time to wake up.
Sleeping in until noon and staying up late may sound tempting, but being able to make more of your 24 hours might be just as or even more enjoyable and fulfilling.
What do you think? Does a later schedule work better for you or is waking up early worth the dedication? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!