No matter how often we hear that the early birds catch all the best slimy treats, many of us are still inveterate night owls. Whether we’re finishing up a bit of work, slumped in a Netflix torpor or sucked into a Wikipedia wormhole, it’s very easy to find yourself awake in the wee hours without even meaning to be.
Being early to bed and early to rise can literally make you healthier, wealthier and wise - and do wonders for you career. Here’s why you should consider, to quote Arianna Huffington, "sleeping your way to the top".
You’ll get better grades
As much as some swear by the all nighter revision session, such tactics may do more harm than good. A 2008 study by the University of North Texas found among surveyed students, those who identified themselves as ‘morning people’ averaged a whole grade higher on their GPA (grade point average).
Early mornings follow early nights, or at least seldom follow late, boozy ones. If you shave a few hours off your evening and add them to the beginning of your day, you will likely make a lot better use of them.
You’ll be more productive
Seems obvious - the morning is quieter, there’s no one awake on Facebook to distract you and you can plan your day before it all kicks off. This was confirmed in a study by Christoph Randler at the University of Education in Heidelberg. He found early risers were far more likely to agree with statements like “I spend time identifying long range goals” and “I feel in charge of making things happen”.
It also gives you more time to eat breakfast, which is a surprisingly big deal. A proper meal in the morning helps you maintain focus and stay productive throughout the day, as you don’t get distracted by hunger or see-sawing insulin levels.
You’ll be happier
We all feel better when we have had a good night's sleep. Who appreciates being rudely roused after a scant few hours? And those who wake up earlier can actually feel better about their lives overall. Research suggests a few reasons for this - from early risers being more in sync with the social rhythms of the day to greater exposure to natural morning light.
It is much easier to accomplish your goals when you are feeling content in yourself, and you will also be much more pleasant company for all of those around you too.
You’ll be more optimistic
Another finding of Randler’s study was that morning-loving students were more optimistic, with brighter thoughts about the future and a better sense of control. There is a lot you can achieve with a bit of self belief, and the right amount of sleep is an easy way to find that faith.
Remember that time you woke up early by accident and managed to shower, eat breakfast, check your emails and tidy your room - all by eight o'clock. You felt like you could do anything, right?
Morning people are also more likely to anticipate problems and deal with them effectively, which certainly makes for a brighter looking future.
Little things become easier
Most people aren’t great at getting up early, so you get used to everyone being a certain way: rushing in the morning, groggy at the office and staying late because they just spent their first hour yawning.
Get up early and see how much emptier the bus is, or get a seat on the Tube for once. Impress your boss or lecturers by never being late for meetings. You can even get all your procrastination out of the way early on and have a productive day at work, safe in the knowledge that you have ticked all your time-wasting boxes before you got there.
For too long, sleep has been left out of the formula for success. You don't have to be running your engine on midnight oil when an early night could open up a world of productivity that has been under your sleeping nose this whole time.