You’re probably familiar with Ben Franklin’s old saying “Early to bed, and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
It’s actually true.
I know. I’m not a morning person either, but I’ve found that by going to bed earlier, I actually can wake up first thing in the A.M. That has made me more productive, and dare I say more successful. But, that’s not just me.
Here’s the science to back up the words of advice from Ben Franklin.
Unhappily, a study in 2014 determined that people who go to bed later are more likely to be overwhelmed with repetitive negative thoughts. As an entrepreneur, I can vouch for that statement. I can’t count how many nights of sleep I’ve lost worrying about a team member, problem-solving how to secure more funding or wondering if maybe it’s time to close-up shop.
But while sleep disruption leads to more pessimistic thoughts, a good night’s rest helps you deal with problems and improves problem-solving. Developing a pattern that allows you to sleep a full 6-9 hours each night helps you handle any negativity that’s being thrown your way.
2. Sleep enhances your chances of success.
According to Christopher Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, “When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards. My earlier research showed that they tend to get better grades in school, which get them into better colleges, which then lead to better job opportunities. Morning people also anticipate problems and try to minimize them.”
Randler added, “They’re proactive. Many studies have linked this trait, proactivity, with better job performance, greater career success, and higher wages.”
“Though evening people do have some advantages — other studies reveal they tend to be smarter and more creative than morning types, have a better sense of humor, and are more outgoing — they’re out of sync with the typical corporate schedule.”
3. Morning people are more persistent, cooperative, agreeable, conscientious, and proactive.
Randler’s work listed above already determined that larks are more active than night owls, but his research also discovered that early-risers tended to be more persistent, cooperative, agreeable, and conscientious. These are all positive traits that leaders and successful possess since they make them more likable, disciplined, appreciative, and eager to learn.
4. Sleep keeps you healthy.
If you’re a freelancer, small business owner and a parent, like so many of us are, you can’t afford to get sick. Luckily, that’s something that getting enough shuteye and waking up early can help you with.
For starters, research has found that getting plenty of sleep strengthens your immune system — which is an excellent preventive against whatever nasty bugs are going around.
Secondly, getting enough rest keeps you energized enough so that you can exercise — besides waking up earlier gives you the time to squeeze in a workout before you get distracted. And, when you sleep-in, you tend to skip breakfast, which means when you do get hungry you’re going to crave unhealthier options.
5. Sleep reduces stress and makes you happier.
Here’s two scenarios.
You have to be out of the door by 8 a.m., and you sleep-in until 7:30 a.m. You’re rushing to take a shower, brush your teeth, grab something to eat and make sure that you have everything you need for the rest of the day.
If you woke up at 6 a.m. that gives you two hours to not only get ready, but also catch up on emails, the news, or work on a pet project. Most importantly, it makes your mornings less stressful, which in turn, will make your days less stressful.
The first hour or so of your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. A study conducted by Dr. Joerg Huber of Roehampton University in London found that “Morning people tend to be healthier and happier as well as having lower body mass indexes.”
6. You procrastinate less.
A 2008 study found that early risers didn’t procrastinate as much as people who stayed up later. This statement shouldn’t come as a surprise, since they’re proactive and have more quiet time in the morning to complete tasks. When you aren’t waiting until the last minute, you reduce your stress and can fall asleep worry-free.
7. Sleep makes you look better.
There was an interesting study from the University of Stockholm that found that those who appeared tired are also more likely to be perceived as unhealthy and less attractive. That’s not necessarily the end of the world, but when you’re trying to make a solid first impression on the opposite sex, potential client, or prospective investor, you want to look as good as you possibly can.
You can make the switch to morning person.
If you’re not a morning person or you are having a difficult time trying or staying to fall asleep, here are a couple of pointers to help you sleep better at night:
Take baby steps. Start slowly by waking up earlier than you normally do, like 15 minutes for the first week, 20 minutes the following week, and so forth until you reach your goal time.
Create and stick to a sleep schedule. Even if you don’t fall asleep right away, at least make it a habit to start getting into bed at a set time every night, such as by 9 p.m.
Stay away from bright lights. Electronics, such as your TV and smartphone, produce light that stimulates your brain. Instead of watching Netflix, read for an hour.
Follow the circadian rhythm. This is your body’s clock telling you when to sleep and when to wake-up. Since it’s a part of nature, try camping for a couple of days to get back on-track.
Set the mood. The ideal sleeping condition is pitch black and a temperature between 60 and 67 degrees.
Avoid alcohol and eating before bed. Both of these prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Exercise. This makes you tired enough so that you’ll sleep straight through the night.