Oh, To Be a Morning Person!
"You May Have More Control Over Your Time Than You Think"
(Keeping Life Simple, Karen Levine, 2004)
I am not a morning person, although I hope to be, one day. I was thinking about this as I drove home from my late morning workout, feeling strong and motivated, and brimming with ideas for this blog. Lucky enough as I am to live in the country with a flexible work schedule, I admired the runners I passed who had likely been up and out the door with a start time much earlier than mine. Imagine having several hours to write, instead of the two I manage to steal mid-day before the after-school routine begins! That would be possible if I was to wake up earlier.
What are the health benefits to waking up early? Are there any? Here's what I found during a little search: While not directly a health benefit, the peacefulness of a silent house can make one feel a little less stressed out than rushing around every morning, and you may even be able to fit in some healthy benefits like exercise or eating a good breakfast. Some people use this early time to get work done, read, plan their day or perhaps meditate. A blog published by ForbesWoman, under "Healthy Living" talks about the advantages of waking up early from a career perspective, using examples of powerful female business magnates who rise at 5:00 a.m. or earlier and exercise before getting to work. It goes on to talk about a university study that revealed students who are "morning people" earned higher grades; early risers in the workplace can anticipate and solve problems better; early risers are the optimists among us, and night owls, although highly creative and intelligent, are the pessimists. Interesting.
I asked some of my early-rising friends and family members to share their thoughts on the benefits of being a morning lark. Janette, a tireless community volunteer, wife, mother and part-time student will be the first to admit she is not a natural "morning person." Despite this fact, she has managed to successfully drag herself out of bed regularly several times a week to hit a 6:00 a.m. indoor cycling class or boot camp at our local gym, because, she says simply, "I just like to get it done." Pam, music teacher, wife and mother of two busy boys is another one who commits to an early start, arriving at the gym at 6:00 a.m. every day except Saturday, where she likely "sleeps in" 'til 7:00 to get there by 8:00. Like Janette, she agrees the benefits of getting up early are "getting my workout done and not having to think about it for the rest of the day!"
Personal trainer and running coach Ann, who is co-owner of Thrive Fitness in Alliston (and who cheerily runs those 6:00 a.m. indoor cycling classes) says, "I will not lie - every morning at 5:00 a.m. I want to ignore my alarm. However, I can talk myself into the early morning workout because of the challenge that begins as soon as I open my eyes. I love the camaraderie that goes on between workout/run partners during the early morning. I love feeling my body come alive and most of all I love the post-run high, sweat and the coffee! Makes me a happy person!"
My husband the architect is a morning person. He's even trained himself to deliver a cup of steaming coffee to my bedside every morning (I did not ask for this. He started this ritual on his own. Very sweet, but maybe that's part of the reason why I don't get up so early...hmmm. Note to self: Do not let him read this blog.) When I asked him why he loves getting up at the crack of dawn, he said, while emphatically holding out his arms as if hugging the sun (I guess), "I love starting my day. I cannot wait to starting thinking and drawing. All my best ideas come in the morning. What's that expression? Carpe diem - Seize the day!"
My 11 year old son is also a bright, cheery, energetic morning person. Why does he like getting up early? He doesn't even have to think about it for half a second: "So I don't waste my day," he says simply. Duh.
Perhaps the health benefits of getting up early are more likely to surface because one gets up early (provided one gets the required seven to eight hours of sleep that one's body does, in fact, need, studies show.) There is more time to include healthful activities into one's day like eating a good breakfast, exercising or just enjoying some stress-free peace.
I expect more responses to trickle in from the early risers out there, but not right now. They are all probably setting their alarm clocks and going to bed, like I should be, for my "mid-morning" long run at 8:15 a.m.