“The Early Bird Gets the Worm… But is the Worm Worth Waking Up For?”
Does being an early riser versus being a night owl affect your overall health and wealth? I have my own theories on this, but maybe I’m biased. I have always been an early riser. When I started my first job out of college, I was always the first one at the office. No one told me that this might give me an advantage over my coworkers. I guess it was just somewhat intuitive. I often wondered why I was the only one there… I guess most people don’t like getting up early, but I believe that being an early riser helps to jumpstart your body, mind, and soul.
I would get to my desk before anyone else and take time to organize my to-do list for the day. I set goals for myself to accomplish each day and I outlined the things I needed from others to accomplish those goals. I would go my coworkers’ offices and put notes on their desks listing the things I might need from them for the day. When the rest of the world got to work, I was already warmed up and ready.
Many of us have heard that waking up early is a strong trait of successful people. I did some research to see if these theories were correct. In a survey done by Jim Citrin at Yahoo! Finance a few years ago, he discovered that many top CEOs are actually early risers. Some of the top early-rising CEOs he listed were General Motors CEO Dan Akerson, Virgin America CEO David Cush, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Disney CEO Robert Iger, and New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark, just to name a few. In further researching the traits that these successful “early risers” had, I discovered some noteworthy facts about why many early-risers have so much success …
A 2008 Texas University study found that college students who identified themselves as morning people earned a full point higher on their GPA than those who identified as night owls.
Harvard biologist Christoph Randler discovered in 2008 that early risers are more proactive. They tend to make more long-term goals for themselves and feel in charge of making things happen. (That’s probably from the ability to plan better before everyone else arrives at the office.)
RANDLER’S RESEARCH ALSO REVEALED THAT MORNING PEOPLE ARE MORE LIKELY TO ANTICIPATE PROBLEMS AND MINIMIZE THEM EFFICIENTLY, WHICH LEADS TO MORE SUCCESS.
- Early risers reported using their morning quiet time for brain training activities such as organization, goal setting, and planning.
- Various studies have shown that morning people exhibit positive character traits like optimism, agreeability, satisfaction, and conscientiousness.
- Also, many early risers feel they have more family time because they can leave the office on time and spend the evenings with their loved ones.
- Interestingly, I also discovered several health benefits from being an early riser.
- Most early risers go to bed before midnight, and it’s a proven fact that the quality of sleep you get before midnight helps your body to heal more efficiently than sleep after midnight.
Most early risers exercise in the mornings. Exercise physiologists report that jumpstarting your morning with physical exertion allows your metabolism to burn more calories throughout the day, leaving your body, mind, and soul feeling rejuvenated all day long. People who exercise in the morning also exercise more consistently than others, because they’ve already finished their daily workout before inevitable interruptions create a change of plans.
Night owls are also more likely to eat later in the evening. A recent study of 119 obese volunteers, half of whom were morning types and the others evening types, reported that the “evening people” consumed an average of 677 calories after 8 PM, while the morning people consumed 299 calories after 8pm. Wow. Since one pound of fat is approximately 3500 calories, this means that those night owls are gaining more than 1 pound each week! Yikes!
ONE STUDY REVEALED THAT EVEN SHORT TERM SLEEP DEPRIVATION (SUCH AS SEVEN DAYS OF FOUR HOURS OF SLEEP PER NIGHT) RESULTED IN A 35-40% INCREASE IN CARBOHYDRATE CONSUMPTION, PARTICULARLY SUGAR.
The sleep cycle has a number of distinct phases, including about four REM phases, which are considered the best quality of sleep. When you go to bed late and still have to wake up early for work, you don’t go through all the phases of sleep, which may affect memory and performance.
Several studies revealed that people who are early to rise also carry less excess weight. This is not merely a cosmetic benefit. Obesity is a known leading cause of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
The benefits of waking up early are clear. Early risers often have more success in their careers, life satisfaction, health, and relationships. So what do you do if you are NOT a morning person? Isn’t it somewhat genetic to be either an early bird or night owl? I believe that genetics do play a part. I also believe that diligently adjusting your sleep habits as much as possible (for all the reasons above) is a critical part of intentional living. The health benefits alone are compelling enough evidence to suggest that a change is necessary, but the potential for added success at work is also an invaluable benefit.
One suggestion for night owls struggling to make this change would be to find a job where you aren’t on someone else’s time clock. I’m a big proponent of at-home careers where you get to set the rules and make your own schedule. With an at-home career, a habitual night owl can really get “ahead of the game” because they can finish all their planning in the early morning hours while others are still asleep. From the years I spent growing up with my night owl sister, and seeing her continually struggle to wake up early, I understand how difficult it can be to adjust to early mornings if it’s just not in your genetic makeup.
However, it’s important to distinguish between which behaviors are genetic propensities and which are just your decisions to be lazy. Take action and make a deliberate change in your life that’s good for the body, mind, and soul.
And oh, just for the record, research does suggest that night owls do tend to have more fun. They are often adventure seeking, risk-taking, and outgoing people who find joy in spontaneity. Whichever sleep patterns suit your genetic makeup, just be sure to adjust accordingly. Making time for planning and organization are absolute MUSTS for success.