Goodbye lie ins, hello early mornings. Sharron Lynskey examines scientific evidence that claims that getting up that hour earlier increases the chances of better grades, and how hitting that snooze button is actually bad for your health.
With the cold winter mornings well and truly upon us, it’s easy to press snooze and turn over in the bed for another hour of golden, sweet sleep. You don’t have a lecture until 11 anyways…
You might be feeling the effects of that extra episode on Netflix or maybe that long night in the library, rushing to finish that paper has caught up with you. Don't forget to take in the nightlife and parties, how can you sleep when there's so much going on?
But think about it. Are those extra hours of sleep in the morning actually helping you? Or are they making you more groggy and counter-productive? Experts have proven that excessive sleep and lying in is actually doing you more harm than good.
So are there any advantages of getting up an hour earlier? How do you convince the die-hard night owls to step away from that snooze button? Here are just a few reasons why the early birds are the real winners here.
After a feed of cheap Tesco vodka and a hoard of Dominos the night before, going for a run is no doubt the last thing you want to do at 8am. However, working out in the morning is one of the best ways to start your day. Even just a brisk walk in the crisp fresh air will give you that morning boost. Regular exercise improves your mood and fitness, provides energy for the whole day and helps create deeper sleep cycles. At the very least, it might shake off the stench of stale cider that’s been following you around since last night.
Waking up early has proven to result in more productivity. Less distractions before 11am will help you get more done in the first few hours of your day. Let’s face it, nobody wants to Snapchat you their face before lunchtime, so interruptions like that are kept to a minimal in the morning. The morning is when your brain is most alert and focused, so get your most important tasks done right away and save the Snapchatting and Facebook messages for later in the day when you're feeling a little less motivated.
The snooze button is not your friend. At the time, an extra ten minutes of glorious sleep is more appealing than a three week holiday in the Caribbean. While you might think that hitting snooze will give you a chance to finish your sleep cycle and wake up feeling rested, that's not what happens. After you hit snooze and drift off, your brain starts its sleep cycle all over again. When the alarm goes off a second time, you're likely at an even deeper, earlier part of your sleep cycle, which results in you feeling even worse than you did the first time. Not good.
Early risers see more daylight hours in winter
With the evenings closing in close to 5pm these days, the early risers reap the benefits of seeing that extra bit more daytime. Nobody likes to see the long, dark evenings and with the wind howling outside, it’s tempting to stay in your warm, cosy bed with the curtains drawn until 10am. But getting up earlier gives you that extra hour of sunlight, therefore prolonging your day and that can only be a good thing, right?
Yawn. Cue eye roll. I’m not saying get up and start studying before sunrise. That’s just unrealistic… and a bit weird. However, a Texas University study in 2008 showed that college students who consistently woke up earlier each day earned a full point higher on their GPAs than those who were "night owls" (3.5 vs. 2.5). Of course, this is not simply down to just getting up early, but when you wake up earlieryou’re more likely to have a good routine, which includes having a good breakfast. And all that helps out that grey matter that’s between your ears.
And finally…Get at least one lie in a week
You’ll be glad to hear that science has shown that a lie-in at the weekend isn’t just a lazy indulgence. It can, in fact, be vital for well-being. A study conducted last year found that an extra hour in bed at the weekend can reduce the risk of high blood pressure – a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes – by up to 39 per cent. So treat yourself… the odd time!