The Unexpected Benefits Of Waking Up At The Same Time Every Morning
Sleep is one of the most definitive components of wellness for a reason: We all need it. And it's not only the number of hours asleep that matters; the time your alarm goes off in the morning is important, too.
How wakeup time corresponds to quality of life.
According to board-certified sleep specialist Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., the most important way to ensure you're getting restorative sleep is to wake up at the same time each and every morning. And there's lots of anecdotal evidence to back him up.
Take one 2018 survey of over 1,000 people conducted by the sleep news site Mattress Inquirer that found that people with a strict wake-up time reported being more content overall in every area of their lives.
Compared to people who were looser about the time they get up each morning, people with strict wake-up times were 13% more satisfied with their personal lives, 45% more satisfied with their financial situation, and 42% more satisfied with their work-life balance.
While these findings are based totally on self-reporting without the in-depth statistical analysis typical of scientific studies, it's always fascinating to observe baseline associations between sleep rituals and life satisfaction. Findings like these raise the question: Why might keeping a definitive wake-up schedule be such an effective practice?
3 reasons it's healthy to wake up at the same time every day.
It adds reliability and consistency to the day.
For some, it's about getting and staying in a routine that's comfortable and reliable. Think of it like boarding a flight at a specific time: You can rely on it happening, and if it doesn't, havoc ensues.
Others simply might thrive on the idea of having more hours in the day. After all, research suggests that getting up early could be the key to peak productivity1, which would explain why people who wake up at the same time every morning are so much happier with their financial and work situations.
It staves off social jet lag.
Another possible explanation for the apparent benefits of a strict wake-up time? As an overworked society, we rely heavily on the concept of "catching up on sleep," particularly on the weekends, which can result in something even more detrimental: social jet lag.
A lot of people use weekends as the time to sleep in and make up for the hours lost during the busy week, which often leads to staying up later, thus throwing off the sleep schedule.
Research suggests this irregularity can negatively impact one's cholesterol2, diet3, and cardiometabolic health4. Since these small irregularities in our sleep schedules can have such a large impact on our bodies, it's not such a stretch to think they might also be affecting our mental states.
It can help you break up with the snooze button.
Knowing that you're in a routine of getting up at the exact same time every day can make the snooze button less appealing. It turns out, pressing snooze over and over again in the mornings does more harm than good, since you're not actually returning to a deep sleep in between alarms.
"Nobody wins. You're not getting great rest, and you're also not having a leisurely, relaxed morning," holistic psychiatrist Ellen Vora M.D. previously told mbg.
How to get in the habit of getting up at the same time.
If you're a night owl or someone with an inconsistent daily schedule, the idea of waking up at the same time every morning no matter what happened the night prior might seem daunting. While implementing a strict sleep plan isn't always easy, small changes can create a big impact.
For starters, having a set routine to start off your day—scheduling an early spin class or just committing to a few minutes of meditation or journaling—is important. Dry brushing and then jumping in a cold shower can also help jolt the system awake in the mornings, decreasing grogginess and the urge to get back in bed.
And of course, making sure you're getting good sleep the night before is key to waking up feeling refreshed. Avoiding alcohol and stimulants, cutting back on late-night snacking, meditating, or doing another mind-clearing ritual before bed, shutting off technology at night, and taking a sleep-promoting supplement can all help you achieve deeper, more restorative sleep.*
The bottom line.
A growing body of research shows that waking up at the same time every morning is an investment in mental and physical well-being. While life will inevitably get in the way every once in a while, it's a noble—and potentially very healthy—habit to work towards.
Nichole Fratangelo is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer who focuses on food, wellness, and entertainment. She received her degree in language and culture from Universidad de Salamanca, and her bachelor's in public relations from Quinnipac University.
Fratangelo is a former editor of Latina magazine, where she covered sex, women's health, and relationships. She's reported on everything from mental health research to celebrities' favorite workouts. Her work has appeared in Revelist, POPSUGAR, Reader's Digest, and more. When she's not typing away at a coffee shop, you can find her running around Brooklyn or relaxing at the beach on the Jersey Shore.