If you’re the kind of person who wakes up at the crack of dawn to sneak in a workout, you may be onto something—actually quite a few things. It turns out, early birds benefit from more than just a view of the sunrise. To help inspire you to continue being a morning person or to encourage you to become one, here are six major benefits of waking up early.
You’re more likely to exercise.
A busy schedule is one of the biggest obstacles in the way of fitting in a workout. Starting your day with a workout is an easy way to squeeze exercise in before the day’s madness begins. “Early risers tend to exercise more frequently and enjoy the health benefits that go along with regular fitness routines such as reduced blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and weight loss,” says Constantine George, the chief medical officer of EPITOMEDICAL and founder of Vēdius.
You’re more apt to eat a hearty breakfast.
When you give yourself enough time in the morning, you’re more likely to save some time to enjoy a well-balanced breakfast enriched with the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Plenty of research supports the importance of breakfast. One study published in the journal Circulation linked skipping breakfast with an increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). Another cross-sectional analysis from 2014, as part of the Child Heart and Health Study in England (CHASE), found that regular breakfast consumption may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes in adults.
You might be more productive.
Sleeping in doesn’t disqualify you as a go-getter, but setting your alarm for earlier might set you up better to tackle the day. One study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that morning people tend to be more proactive than their evening-type counterparts. They also found that morning people were more inclined to use positive language, outwardly portray confidence in their daily interactions, and assert themselves on a regular basis. “Waking up early also allows for fewer distractions and allows you to define your goals and reach them,” adds Dr. George.
You may experience improved mental health.
It’s true that waking up early gives you some space and time before your day begins to collect your thoughts, get in touch with your feelings, and even set a mind and body agenda for the rest of your day. “The morning allows you to get a jumpstart on the day and removes the sense of rush you feel throughout the day, which results in better mental health overall,” Dr. George says. This sense of rush is also linked to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which research has linked to increased anxiety and body fat.
You may get more restful sleep.
Few activities are more important to us humans than sleep—it’s a vital function we need to survive. Still, according to the American Sleep Association, approximately 35 percent of U.S. adults report not getting enough shut-eye during a typical 24-hour period. Research has found that night owls, or those who go to bed later and sleep later, are more likely to be faced with harrowing thoughts as they wind down for bedtime than those who go to bed earlier and rise earlier. “Waking up early will put your body on a better time clock and will encourage you to get to bed earlier and experience better quality rest,” says Dr. George. Aim to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night. This will likely force you to hit the hay earlier than your current bedtime.
You’ll procrastinate less.
As it turns out, your boss might reap the benefits of you waking up earlier, too. A 2008 study published in the Journal of General Psychology analyzed the connection between late-night and early-morning behaviors and found that those who went to bed later and woke up later were more likely to procrastinate than their early-morning counterparts. “An early rise time gives you the chance to acknowledge and deal with issues first thing, so the rest of the day is dedicated to tackling your to-do lists which can lead to less stress and better efficiency,” says Dr. George.