Why Waking Up Early Is Great For Your Brain Health


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By Hope Campbell/Aug. 24, 2021 4:45 pm EDT

Early to bed, early to rise. If you get your recommended eight hours of sleep and wake up either at or before the crack of dawn, you likely went to bed early if you are waking early. Some people like to wake early because it might be the only alone time for peace and quiet they get throughout the day — especially if you have little kids. Some wake early because their jobs require them to do so. Whatever your reason for being an early riser, there are added benefits to the habit that are excellent for brain health.

Adequate sleep is absolutely essential for a healthy lifestyle. While we sleep, our brain and body recover from the previous day’s activities. According to Healthline, sleep helps the brain get rid of toxic waste built up during the day so it can store new information. It also allows your nerve cells to reorganize and communicate with one another, as the body repairs other cells so that hormones and proteins can be released to help us function during daytime hours. Sleep also assists with our problem-solving skills, focus, creativity, and memory skills. But if you are getting the right amount of sleep, why wake even earlier?

Waking earlier can help with depression

One hour can make all the difference. Go to bed an hour earlier, wake an hour earlier, and there’s a chance you might see improvements in your mental health. A study from JAMA Psychiatry found that adjusting your sleep schedule by one measly hour resulted in a 23% decrease in your risk for depression.

While some of your sleep habits are determined by genetics, lifestyle plays a part and we can choose to adjust our lifestyle for better sleep and a better sleep schedule, according to Well+Good. So, adjust your sleep schedule to wake earlier and you’ll be exposed to more light during the day, which also has an effect on brain health.

“We know that exposure to sunlight has an impact on our moods,” psychotherapist Michele Miller told Well+Good. “For example, looking at seasonal affective disorder, it’s the longer, darker days that lead people to feel depressed and less energized — so, getting up earlier allows you to experience more daylight, which could make you feel more energized.”

Waking earlier can improve your day overall

If you are used to a noisy house through the majority of the day, that one extra hour before kids wake can be all you need to have a better overall day mentally. You could even have more time to exercise, which releases endorphins that decrease depression. According to Healthline, exercise can improve your mood, decrease your anxiety, and increase energy levels, which leads to a better rest of the day overall.

If you have to work and are a commuter, the earlier you rise, the less time constraints you might feel. You could also experience less traffic during that commute, which can automatically reduce your anxiety for the day.

Healthline reported that going to bed earlier and waking earlier actually leads to better sleep rather than broken sleep. Good sleep can improve your overall mood when awake, lead you to focus better on tasks at hand during the day, and can even lower the occurrence of chronic diseases. All of that leads to more energy during the day, which in turn gives you a better day. So why not give it a shot and go to bed just an hour earlier, so you can rise at 7 a.m. rather than 8 a.m. — we’ll give it a go with you. 

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