The Unexpected Benefits Of Waking Up At The Same Time Every Morning
We can talk about diet and exercise endlessly, but neither will help you reach your prime health without sleep as their backbone. Sleep, unlike other areas of health, isn't a trend or a big question mark. In fact, it's one of the most definitive components of wellness for one reason: We all need it.
And new research shows that it's not only the number of hours asleep that matters; it's about the time your alarm goes off in the morning, too.
A new survey of over 1,000 people conducted by the sleep news site Mattress Inquirer found that the time you wake up every morning may be just as important as the time you go to bed the night before. The results showed people with a strict wake-up time reported being more satisfied overall in every area of their lives: Compared to people who are more loose about the time they get up each morning, people with strict wake-up times were 13 percent more satisfied with their personal lives, 45 percent more satisfied with their financial situation, and 42 percent more satisfied with their work-life balance. Those are some huge differences!
While these findings are based totally on self-reporting without the in-depth statistical analysis typical of more 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?
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, some studies suggest getting up early could be the key to peak productivity, which would explain why people who wake up at the same time every morning are so much happier with their financial and work situations.
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 creating a cycle similar to travel-induced jet lag. Research suggests this irregular sleep schedule can potentially wreak havoc on your health, including lowering the body's levels of good cholesterol, increasing body fat, and increasing symptoms linked to diabetes and heart disease risk. If these small irregularities in our sleep schedules can have such a large impact on our bodies, is it such a stretch to think they might also be affecting our mental states? (After all, consider the long-term effects it has on jet-lagged business travelers and night-shift workers.)
The survey found 69 percent of people are able to hold down a consistent morning routine, compared to 35 percent of people who get to bed at the same time every night. A balance of the two is the goal (early to bed, early to rise!) in order to keep up a healthy schedule that wards off any of the potential negative consequences of a more irregular sleep pattern.
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. 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 each morning—might be one effective method to help you avoid that snooze button.