Benefits of being a morning person
Benjamin Franklin was quoted to have said, "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." According to science, he may have been on to something.
Waking up early is a chore to many people -- especially night owls -- but there are a lot of benefits that come with being a morning person.
Many creative, successful people stick to strict morning routines. Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, starts her day bright and early with a 5:45 a.m. tennis match, according to the Guardian.
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs also had his own morning ritual. "For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" Taking the time to find this kind of perspective has been biologically proven to be a total game changer.
Biologist Christoph Randler found that early risers tend to be more proactive, optimistic, and agreeable. Challenges that come later in the day take less of a toll on people who start the day with a positive attitude. Others use the morning hours for meditation, exercise, writing or finding inspiration.
The consistency of morning routines biologically program their minds and bodies differently than those who don't take advantage of morning hours.
MRI scans show that the prefrontal cortex of our brain is the most active in the early morning right after we wake up. That's the part of the brain used for decision making, social behavior, planning, goal-making, personality, and willpower.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham and the National Institute of Education in Singapore revealed that there is a significant physiological drop in self-control as the day wears on. Effort, perceived difficulty, fatigue, and blood glucose levels all suffered from later stages in the day. Willpower is strongest in the early-morning hours. Mornings make the most sense for productivity since willpower can be sapped throughout the day by any number of different stressors—work, school, kids, chores, etc.
This is not to say that night owls can't be productive. It's deeply ingrained in our culture that waking up early is a good thing. Schools and business work on the assumption that most people work better in the morning, and some people think evening people are lazy.
Night owls tend to be more creative, humorous and according to a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. Creative types just tend to work better in the evening. Another study published in the Journal of Biological Rhythms found that night owls' brains were most excitable at 9 p.m.
Our preferences for mornings or evenings are rooted in biology to some degree. Some studies show that about 50% of our sleep cycle can be pinned down to biology. Back in our caveman days, having a mix of early risers and night owls was probably a good thing. That way someone could always take over the watch.
There has also been a small shift in society. Some businesses have started to institute flex time, where workers can set their own schedules. But for the vast majority of workers, being a morning person might be best for now.
If you want to get into the rhythm of a morning person, there are a couple of tricks you can try:
- Go outdoors! One study published in the journal Current Biology found that a week of camping can reset the body's clock. The researchers found that when we are exposed to natural light most people's bodies sync to the cycles of daylight. According to a different study published in the journal Neuroendocrinology Letters, just getting a burst of sunlight in the morning can "stimulate the body's 24-hour biological system, which regulates the sleep/wake cycle."
- Getting into a routine can also set you on the right track. The time of day doesn't matter so much as simply sticking to your ritual everyday. Rituals can help you stay focused.