Sleep Health and Wellness

Sleep is essential to good health. Rest is essential to being well. Find a way to get both with these resources.

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Waking up early may sound nice—birds chirping and the sun rising while everyone else is still asleep—but setting an alarm and actually getting out of bed before you have to can be really hard. Especially during the winter months, where waking up early means you’re up before the sun.

However, if you can train yourself to wake up with (or before) the sun, there are many benefits.  

Benefits of waking up early

Now, we’re not saying it’s better to be an early riser than to be a night owl. By all means, if staying up late works for you, don’t feel pressured to change your schedule. However, if you want to switch up your sleep schedule a little bit, why not try waking up earlier? Here are some benefits of becoming an early riser:

  • You’ll have more time before work or school to be productive. Use this time to read, journal, work out or just sip coffee and read the morning’s headlines.
  • You’ll get some peaceful, “you” time before your partner and kids wake up. Do something for yourself with your extra time. Do a face mask, go for a run, enjoy a warm cup of coffee or tea, catch a sunrise.
  • You’ll have time to eat a full breakfast. Getting up even 20 minutes earlier gives you time to cook a healthy breakfast that gives you fuel for the day and keeps you full until lunch.
  • Getting on a sleep schedule (whether you’re an early bird or a night owl) helps you get deeper, quality sleep. When you train your body’s internal clock, you’ll naturally start to get sleepy around the same time every night and will wake up around the same time every morning.

6 Tips for waking up Earlier

Changing your sleep schedule can be hard, especially if you’re used to staying up really late or have a hectic schedule that varies from night to night. With a little work, tips and tricks may help you train yourself to become an early riser.

  1. Make a schedule and try to stick to it. We know—you’ve probably heard this 1,000 times. With kids, social activities and weekend plans, sticking to a sleep schedule can be really hard, but it can help you train yourself to wake up earlier. A set sleep time may be easier to set during the week with repetitive activities like work and getting the kids to school, but try to keep it up on the weekend, too. By creating (and following) a sleep schedule, your body will get into the habit of getting up at the same time, making it easier to wake up early. (Just remember, waking up earlier means going to bed earlier, too, so work that into your schedule.)
  2. Avoid electronics before bed and first thing in the morning. This one might be tough. It’s so tempting to check in on your friends on social media a few times a day and before bed or first thing in the morning may seem like the perfect time to do that. However, screens give off harmful blue light that keeps your brain active, which makes checking your phone or watching TV a bad nighttime habit. It’s also bad for your eyes first thing in the morning. You should let yourself wake up naturally (with the sun) before you look at a screen. Banning electronics from your bedroom and nighttime routine may help you fall asleep faster, sleep better and therefore, wake up earlier.
  3. Set your intentions for getting up early. We’ve all heard the saying, “the early bird gets the worm,” but that’s probably not good enough motivation to wake up an hour before you have to in the morning. If you decide why you want the extra time in the morning (and make it something meaningful and beneficial to you), you’re more likely to stick to it. For example, if you want to start getting up an hour early for some morning yoga to start your day, you’re more likely to stick to your early-to-rise schedule.
  4. Train yourself to wake up earlier, gradually. For the first week, set your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier. The next week, set your alarm for 30-45 minutes earlier. Slowly but surely, you can train yourself to wake up earlier.
  5. Hold yourself accountable. If you’re not the best at sticking to it yourself, enlist the help of a friend or your partner. If you’re one of those people who turns the alarm off and rolls back over, maybe your partner can help motivate you to get up. Or have an accountability buddy (like many people do for the gym). If you’re both trying to get up earlier, text or call each other in the morning to prove you’re up and moving—hold each other accountable.
  6. Make sure the sleep you’re getting is deep, quality sleep. It’s great if you’re going to bed earlier and getting up earlier, but you may feel really tired if you’re not sleeping well in between. Deep sleep is important for feeling rested and recharged in the morning. Good, REM cycle sleep, which is the deep rest you get about 90 minutes after you fall asleep, is the goal. So, if you’re someone who hits snooze 3 or 4 times, that 10-15 minutes of extra sleep you get may actually be worse for you (and a waste of time) than if you just get up because it’s not quality sleep.

As we said before, waking up early is not necessarily the best sleep schedule for everyone. It’s not universally backed by experts or scientifically proven to be better than staying up late and sleeping in later. If you have a sleep schedule that works for you, that’s great! However, if you want to see if you’re more of an early rise, try it out. Just make sure the sleep you’re getting is good sleep. Once you get into the habit of getting up early, your before-the-sun-is-up alarm won’t seem so bad and you may really enjoy the extra time that being an early bird gives you.