For people living in the northern hemisphere, the approach of fall and winter means saying goodbye to long, summer days and welcoming longer nights and shorter bursts of sunlight. The sunrise each morning will continue to get later and later, and the sunset earlier and earlier until mid-December, when we experience the shortest day of the year.
When faced with an early sunset, a lot of people start to feel unmotivated or drowsy and may even experience symptoms of seasonal depression. For this reason and many others, now may be a great time to switch up your sleep schedule and wake up early—even before the sun—to enjoy a longer, more productive day.
If you’re wondering why waking up before sunrise is a good idea or how you can turn a night-driven sleep schedule around, here are some tips.
Benefits of waking up early
If you’re a night owl, the thought of getting up before the sun every morning might seem crazy. However, many studies have shown that waking up early has a lot of benefits for your mood, productivity and even your health!
- Can make you more productive: Research on early risers has indicated that people who wake up earlier tend to feel and be more productive and focused. They tend to accomplish more throughout their day, including things like exercise and chores, and get better grades than those who sleep in later.
- Better for mental health: Studies have shown that women who sleep in are more likely to develop mood disorders like depression compared to early risers. Of course, there are also genetic factors and other influences, but sleep schedules may play a role in your mental health!
- Allows you to enjoy more of your day: When you get up earlier, you’re more likely to feel better about your day, especially if you spend some time every morning for you. Whether you choose to exercise, do yoga, meditate or just sit quietly drinking a cup of coffee, carving out some uninterrupted “you” time can help you reduce stress and may improve your overall health.
Tips for becoming an early bird
If you’re used to sleeping in, you may think it’s impossible to switch your sleep schedule around and get up early, let alone before the sun! Fortunately, there are a few natural ways to accomplish this with ease.
- Adjust your bedtime: You don’t want to cut out hours of sleep in order to force yourself to get up early! If you’re dedicated to the change, you’ll want to adjust your sleep schedule in its entirety and head to bed earlier than normal, ensuring you’re still getting around the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep.
- Melatonin: If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, you’re more likely to sleep in and catch up on sleep in the morning hours. Melatonin might be useful in alleviating insomnia so you sleep and wake up more easily. It can also be useful for a week or two while you’re adjusting your sleeping pattern. Try taking melatonin supplements two hours before you want to go to bed to allow the hormone to work and make you sleepy.
- Drink water after waking up: Keep a glass of water or a water bottle near your bed and drink it first thing after you wake up. Hydrating right away in the morning can wake up your tired brain and help you feel better, paving a path for a good-feeling morning.
- Get a sunlight alarm clock: Waking with the sun is actually the most natural way to wake up, but when the time of sunrise is constantly changing, along with Daylight Savings Time ending and starting anew in spring, it can be difficult to do this every day! Sun boxes or alarm clocks can help you wake up “with the sun” each morning and usually offer different brightness settings. These can also be useful if you don’t have many windows in your home by allowing you to get exposure to bright light earlier in the day and waking up your mind.
- Don’t rush it: Your body runs on a 24-hour clock called a circadian rhythm, and changing your sleep schedule drastically over one or two nights can throw things seriously out of whack and make you feel worse. Instead, try gradually altering your sleep schedule by around 30 minutes every few days, heading to bed earlier and waking up earlier until you reach your desired schedule. This gradual approach is going to be easier on your body, brain and routine!
Once your sleep schedule has been successfully shifted toward the early morning hours, try to keep it consistent. Remember to take time to focus on you and your health while enjoying a fuller day, every day.