A long time ago, I came across the expression “videotaped sunrise.” It stayed in my mind. Thinking about it, I realized that I had—possibly like many others on the planet—seen more sunrises on the television and in the movies than out there under the sky.
What a pity.
By waking up much later than sunrise, we not only miss out on the beauty of the morning sky, but also deprive ourselves of certain health benefits.
Here is a small list of the perks and pleasures early risers get:
- You wake up in tune with the rest of Nature. This timeless circadian rhythm allows your body clock to function efficiently.
- The act of rising early gives you a sense of self-nurture, filling you with positive energy. In a 2010 Harvard study, Biologist Christoph Randler surveyed 367 university students, asking what time of day they were most energetic and how willing and able they were to take action to change a situation to their advantage. A higher percentage of the morning people agreed with statements that indicate proactivity, such as “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen.”
- You earn yourself an hour or two, which you can use for giving your mind, body, and spirit the attention they crave.
- The morning’s stresses haven’t yet kicked in, so you are able to take better decisions and feel calmer.
So yes, if there is one change of habit that can truly change the state of your health and well-being, it is waking up early in the morning. But of course, the challenge is to actually be able to wake up before the sun does!
Here are some suggestions to help you along:
Start by jotting down a statement of purpose: This is not a contract bound by law, but a promise you make to yourself, with the full commitment to honor it. In your own words, tell yourself you will make the change from night owl to morning person, because you owe it to yourself to live a healthy, fulfilling life. This is important because waking up at the crack of dawn is not an easy habit to cultivate—you will need to push yourself. A strong will power and a solid knowledge of the immense mind-body benefits will help you greatly.
Make a gradual change: A drastic or dramatic approach is neither needed nor practical. If you habitually wake up at 8 a.m., try waking up only 15 minutes earlier the next morning. Work your way in 15-minute clusters until you are comfortably arising at 5 a.m. Similarly, try going to bed slightly earlier than you usually do each night. Will yourself to switch off the computer and TV, and put away your mobile phone. Create a tranquil setting in your bedroom to invite sleep into your eyes.
Fill the early morning hours with something you love doing: If you start replying to emails, the charm of waking up early will only feel like more drudgery. This is bonus time you have created for yourself! Use it to enjoy! I find my creative flow much smoother at this time, so I write a blog post, or create affirmations that set the tone for a positive day. You could treat yourself to a stroll in the open air, sipping a leisurely cup of coffee, or just soaking in the wonderful silence. Go running or do a spot of yoga, listen to the birds greet the day…the golden hours are filled with beautiful possibilities!
Go ahead, get some work done: Some of us genuinely need a few extra hours to lighten our workload. If you are one of them, by all means, get some work done at this time—you will have better concentration and speed. You could also sort out a cupboard, clean out a drawer, put your clothes in order, and plan a healthy breakfast. Any or all of these will give you a happy sense of achievement. Such a good way to start the day!