No matter if you stay awake until the early morning hours or not, we’re all pre-wired to wake up when the sun starts to shine.
Think about it: if we still lived out in nature as the universe intended, we would all go to sleep a little after the sunset, and wake up as the sun rose because our bodies would be more in tune with the natural rhythms of the world. Since we live in a man-made environment now, many of us have a hard time getting to sleep early and waking up early, because unnatural lights (such as those from computers, TVs, and cell phones) keep us awake. Out in nature, we wouldn’t have any of these artificial light sources keeping us up.
Tracey Marks, a psychiatrist from Atlanta and author of Master Your Sleep, told USNews.com, “We are supposed to be awake when it’s light outside and asleep when it’s dark outside.”
Even if you have difficulty going to bed at a decent hour, you can train your body to become a morning person and reap all of the health benefits of waking up earlier.
Here are 8 reasons why morning people are healthier than the rest of us:
1. Morning people have lower body fat levels.
It turns out that those who get most of their light exposure between 8 AM and noon have lower body fat than those who obtain their Vitamin D later in the day. According to Northwestern University research published this past spring, people who got most of their sunlight during morning hours had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who soaked up the sun later in the day. Something else interesting to note is that these results were independent of people’s activity levels or caloric intake.
“Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance,” study senior author Phyllis C. Zee, MD, told ScienceDaily.com. “If you don’t get sufficient light at the appropriate time of day, it could de-synchronize your internal body clock, which is known to alter metabolism and can lead to weight gain.”
2. They drive better.
Not surprisingly, morning people have better driving skills than night owls, according to a study done by Spanish researchers. Granada researchers studied the biological rhythms of 29 University of Granada students, some who identified as night owls and others who labeled themselves as morning people. When they asked the night owls to drive at 8 AM, they did significantly worse than when the researchers asked them to get behind the wheel at 8 PM. However, the morning people performed well at both times of the day. The researchers found that morning people show more care for detail and exhibit higher diligence compared to night owls, which explains their ability to drive well at any hour of the day or night.
3. Morning people are go-getters.
Many studies have linked an ambitious attitude to higher wages, better job performance, and a greater success rate than those who don’t exhibit such high levels of proactivity. When Harvard biologist Christoph Randler polled undergrads a few years ago, he found morning people had higher levels of agreement with statements such as “??I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen,” Harvard Business Review reported.
4. Happiness comes easier to them.
Exposure to morning light can lower depression risk and boost energy levels, which may explain why morning people are happier overall than night owls.
When the University of Toronto researchers surveyed more than 700 adults on their sleeping habits, mood, and overall health, they discovered that morning people who got up around 7 AM or earlier had up to a 25 percent increase in feelings of happiness, cheerfulness, and alertness.
5. Morning people exercise more.
More and more studies have been proving that working out in the morning is ideal for those who wish to keep up a routine and see the best results from their workouts.
“In terms of performing a consistent exercise habit, individuals who exercise in the morning tend to do better,”? Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer with the American Council on Exercise, said on OrnishSpectrum.com.
Because they get their workout out of the way earlier in the day, they tend to stick with the routine easier than someone who gets home from work and must head straight to the gym afterward. You could use the excuse of being too tired to work out when you get home from a long day at work, but for morning people, it invigorates them, even more, to jump out of bed and get their sweat on first thing in the morning.
6. Bosses have a better impression of those who get up earlier.
Corporate bosses tend to view morning people as more conscientious and ambitious, according to a 2014 study by the Journal of Applied Psychology. Supervisors think of people who clock in later as less diligent and mindful of their jobs than those who get to work earlier. However, if your boss turns out to be a night owl, he or she will probably have a soft spot for night owls and not come down so hard on you if you clock in late now and then.
7. They get better grades in school.
“It’s easier to get to your classes on time and study if you get up earlier,” study author Daniel J. Taylor, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the University of North Texas in Denton.
Although college students can choose when to take classes, early birds still get the worm. A study of more than eight hundred students found that morning people had a GPA that was a whole point higher than that of their night owl colleagues (3.5 vs. 2.5).
8. Morning people who have diabetes have better blood sugar levels.
Many studies have reported that going to bed late might negatively affect your blood sugar levels and cause other health problems, such as coronary artery disease, metabolic syndrome, impaired glucose intolerance, and obesity. Night owls also tend to consume most of their calories late in the day, which can cause metabolic issues down the road. One study found that, among Japanese adults with type 2 diabetes, night owls had higher HbA1C levels (a measure of blood sugar control), triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol than morning people.
Final Thoughts on Morning People
Morning people enjoy many health benefits. Their early start gives them the advantage of a more efficient metabolism, accomplishing tasks earlier in the day to eliminate worry, and finding the time to exercise. Give it a try! Start by rising just thirty minutes earlier and see how much you enjoy that extra time.