In today’s busy, capitalistic lives, most people follow a 24-hour schedule instead of stipulated hours for when they wake up and go to sleep. Flexible timings, late hours at work and stress also automatically push your bedtime further. But here’s the conundrum – just because you are spending more hours at work or thinking about work does not mean you are being more productive. Your body and mind need to be able to break away from work to steal a few hours of rest. The hours you spend sleeping are of great importance and the more you chip away into those hours, the greater the risk of chronic fatigue, insomnia and even heart disease. So here’s presenting the benefits of sleeping early.
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Going to bed early simply means that you get to sleep for longer. Typically, you may go to sleep late but that does not mean you can wake up late too. You have to get to work by a certain time, you have appointments to keep and deadlines to meet. No matter how late you burn the midnight oil, come 7am, you need to get out of bed. This not only means you get fewer hours of sleep, but also means the rest of your day is thrown out of order.
When you go to bed early, you can also wake up at your normal time, well-rested and without puffy eyes. No longer do you need to keep hitting the snooze button. It can be difficult at first but gradually you will start waking up on time naturally as your body feels better rested. This is one of the most logical benefits of going to bed early but is also one of the most important. When you try it out the first few times, you may find yourself lying awake in bed but not being able to sleep as it may be too early compared to your regular schedule. But give it a few weeks and you will begin to see the difference.
While going to sleep early means you can sleep for longer, it also means you can sleep better. Studies have shown that irregular bedtimes have a greater risk of causing insomnia. So you may be priding yourself on being able to stay late to finish that last episode of a new Netflix show you’re binge-watching or pulling an all-nighter to complete a college assignment but the more you stretch your bedtime, the greater the chance that you’re making yourself vulnerable to insomnia.
When you go to sleep early and at the same time every day, your body gets into a routine it trusts. All your other functions will also gradually fall in line with that routine, making the day go much smoother. This stability of routine allows you to sleep much better and consistently improve the quality of your sleep. The longer you get to sleep, the greater the chance that your brain will go through all the stages of sleep, from light sleep to REM sleep, ensuring it is fully rested and charged up for the next day.
Studies have also shown that the timing of when you go to sleep and how long you get to sleep could also have an impact on your thoughts. Going to sleep late and waking up early could induce pessimistic thoughts and negative emotions. These pessimistic thoughts are bound to lead to some stress and anxiety. You then enter a vicious cycle where the anxiety caused by lack of sleep also does not allow you to fall asleep or wakes you up in the middle of the night. This is a sleeping disorder of a kind which can be rectified by taking the reigns of your life and setting a routine your body can rely on.
When you go to bed early and wake up with at least seven hours of sleep under your belt, your mind is not in overdrive and the anxiety you’re feeling could be significantly reduced. When your mind is well-rested, it is better with dealing with overwhelming emotions. So even if the reasons for your anxiety are not fully addressed simply by going to bed early, you can equip yourself to handle it better.
Having a fixed, early-to-bed time can also have a great impact on your mood. Of course, external factors like work pressure or a petulant boss can turn your mood around for the worse but at least you would have slept well! Studies have found direct links between irregular sleep schedules and mood disorders. While being in a surly mood may not necessarily mean you have a mood disorder but if the practice carries on, it could mean a serious readjustment.
A tired body and mind are bound to be snappy and irritable. When you sleep better, you’re simply in a better mood because you have allowed for all the chemical processes that happen when you’re asleep to take place. This also includes the healthy secretion of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is known to induce feelings of happiness and well-being.
When you go to sleep earlier, you not only sleep better and wake up fresh but can also find time to make your mornings more productive. You will not find yourself hitting snooze until the last minute and scrambling to get ready. You can be well-rested, wake up in your own time and perhaps even enjoy breakfast and the newspaper in peace on your dining table.
This productivity also extends to your work and to the rest of your day. When you are better rested, you can be more focused on your work and control your mind from wandering off or feeling exhausted. Sleep deprivation leads to a loss in focus, productivity and attention span. When you go to sleep late, you are automatically cutting short the hours of your sleep as your wake time usually stays fixed if you work from an office.
Getting more quality hours of sleep also means you will have more energy to put into your work the next day. When you have better energy and are in higher spirits, your productivity is bound to go up automatically.
When you stay up late and wake up early, your body automatically has less energy. In the most logical terms, this means you have less energy to do exercise and burn calories. But in more physiological terms, your body can also experience a hormonal imbalance where your brain tricks your body into eating more to increase energy. Leptin, a protein made in the fat cells is typically responsible for telling the brain there is enough energy stored in the fats you have consumed. When your leptin levels are high, the brain processes that as sufficient levels of energy, which means the food can be burnt and consumed at a normal rate. When leptin levels are low, the brain goes into an emergency mode and tells your body it is hungry. This is what tends to happen when you don’t have enough sleep.
If you notice, when you stay up beyond 2 am or 3 am, you often experience pangs of hunger. This irregular sleep schedule tricks your brain into thinking you’re hungry, often leading to compulsive eating and obesity. There has for long been a belief that eating close to your bedtime or late into the night should be avoided as it leads to obesity. This of course, also depends on what you choose to eat. Foods that are low energy (so they don’t keep you up) and rich in nutrients are said to do less harm than foods high in carbohydrates. Automatically, when you go to sleep early, you eliminate the urge to eat food late at night.
Your body’s a well-oiled machine that needs several processes and functions to fall in place at the same time for all to run smoothly. This includes eating right, exercising and most importantly, getting enough sleep. The more irregular your sleep schedule, the greater the risk of chronic diseases like heart conditions. When you sleep, your body is working on getting the adequate amount of rest as well as carrying out work and repairs on your blood vessels, heart, brain, etc. When you lose out on good quality sleep, your body also loses out on the chance to carry out these important processes.
When you go to bed early, there’s a greater chance you will also fall asleep earlier and therefore sleep longer. The duration of your sleep makes all the difference because it means the hours that you are asleep is a solid window for your body to heal itself from what you have put it through during the day. As you grow older and the risk of such chronic ailments become real, the importance of sleeping early becomes all the more significant.
This point is in conjunction with the point made above but is about less severe things than chronic heart disease. When you get sufficient and good quality sleep, it also keeps your immune system healthy. This means that come winter and you have to sit next to a sneezing co-worker or a coughing co-passenger on the commute to work, there’s a greater chance your body can fight that infection off. This doesn’t mean you’ll never fall sick. If the pollutants are invasive enough, you may certainly fall sick but your body has greater strength to fight it and recover sooner.
Studies have found that your sleep cycle and your immune system are codependent on each other to thrive. Sleeping, after all, is also a physiological process which accords as much rest to the body as it does to the brain. So while you’re sleeping, your immune system is still fighting off infections and still working on making itself stronger. Chronic loss of sleep could flare up inflammatory mediators in your system, leading to a compromised immunity.
Having a long night of little sleep means you wake up with a swollen face and puffy and bloodshot eyes. It’s called “beauty sleep” for a reason. This is not just to make a case for vanity but to delve into the science of it too. When you are sleeping, the old cells in your skin are regenerated to make way for new ones. A good, solid seven-hour sleep is also a great opportunity for your skin to breathe and get some oxygen without the stress of the rest of the day. Your muscles are relaxed and so is your skin.
When you get a good night’s rest, you wake up looking and feeling fresher. You can notice your face glowing and looking more radiant. When you pair a healthy sleep schedule with a responsible bedtime routine (like exfoliating and toning your face), your skin will see the difference. Stress also causes breakouts and skin eruptions which can all be taken care of if you can just give your body a good night’s rest.
Drive to Work Safer
If you drive to work, then being adequately rested is of utmost importance. While all the other points mentioned above are pertaining to individual health, this point makes you responsible for the safety of others driving on the road too. Sleeping off on the wheel is more common than you realize. According to a survey conducted by the Centre for Disease Control, at least 1 in 25 adults have admitted to falling asleep while driving. This leads to countless fatal accidents and destroyed lives.
This is an acute problem as a vast majority of adults are sleep deprived. When you go to sleep late but have to wake up early regardless, you are compromising your ability to stay alert on the road, especially on the freeway where there is flowing traffic. Don’t let your irregular sleep habit come to this point before you decide to change your lifestyle.
Those were the benefits of sleeping early. Remember, these are lifestyle changes and not simply something you can do on alternate days or when you feel like. It is a change you have to commit to and figure out how to sleep early. This means that you will need to start designing your days accordingly. If possible, try as far as you can, not to bring work back home. Eat dinner early so you have enough time between your last meal and the point when you have to go to bed.
At first, it may seem challenging. But try getting into bed at the same time every day, even if it means you won’t fall asleep immediately. Read a book or listen to some music but at all costs, keep your phone away. Social media and your email is a vortex that is only going to pull you further away from sleep. So make a commitment to making these changes and see the health benefits almost immediately!