8 excellent reasons to start your day earlier

Night owls take note – there is much beauty to be found in becoming a morning person.

From having more time to yourself to more sleep and a healthier diet, here are eight of the many health and wellbeing benefits of being an early riser.

1.     You’ll be happier

Those who get cracking early each day possess greater positive emotion than those who go to bed and wake up late, according to research by the University of Toronto.

And a US study of 32,000 women found those who are early to bed and early to rise are significantly less likely to develop depression.

“Our bodies are hardwired to operate at their optimum during daylight hours and waking up early when the sun rises is associated with greater happiness and better mental health, including a lower risk of depression,” says psychologist Sabina Read.

2.     It gives you more time to enjoy the things you love

For Flow Athletic director and trainer Ben Lucas, that means exercise.

“Working out in the morning means there is less chance life will get in the way and you skip it,” says Ben.

“Plus, working out releases endorphins which make you happy – therefore doing some form of physical activity in the morning will set you up positively for the day ahead.”

Meditation and wellness expert Luke McLeod says he might use the time to go for a swim in the ocean, read a novel, or simply take the dog for a walk.

“That extra bit of time at the beginning of the day can really do so much,” says Luke.

3.     You’ll get that good morning sunshine

Taking in the early morning sunshine can increase your alertness, according to psychologist Dr Emmanuella Murray.

Research suggests morning sunshine may help us stay alert during the day and sleep at night,” she says.

“The bright light inhibits the release of melatonin (sleep inducing hormone) and sunlight is thought to increase the release of serotonin, which we know can boost mood.”

4.     Enjoy greater connection with family

Starting your day earlier may help family relationships.

“Research from Kellogg has shown 35 per cent of Aussies felt a stronger connection with their families when they spent mornings at home eating breakfast together,” says Sabina.

“Making time each day to talk and listen with family and friends helps strengthen relationships and nurtures the social bonds we all value.”

5.     You can take in the serenity

The early morning is a beautiful time of day that bring a calmness that can set the tone for the rest of your day, says Luke.

“I can practise my mediation before my mind becomes occupied with a thousand ‘to-dos’,” he says.

“It also gives me time and space to just appreciate life itself, something we take incredibly for granted.”

6.     You’re more likely to eat better

Early birds are more likely to make healthier food choices throughout the day, according to US researchers.

The study of almost 2000 people found stark differences in energy and macronutrients consumed by morning people and evening people.

They found morning people ate more balanced foods overall and ate earlier in the day, while evening people ate less protein and ate more sucrose in the morning, and more sucrose, fat and saturated fatty acids later in the day.

7.     Reduce your risk of illness

Those who start their day early, as opposed to people who stay up late, have less risk of developing diabetes, metabolic syndrome and sarcopenia – even when they had the same amount of sleep, according to Korean scientists.

Adding to the protective benefits of an early start, a UK study found early risers have a slightly lower risk of breast cancer than those who burn the midnight oil.

8.     You’ll sleep better

Getting up and starting your day early can improve the quality of your sleep, according to Dr Murray.

“Spending too much time in bed can make sleep problems worse,” she says.

People who get up early are naturally sleepier when it’s the “normal” time to go to bed, and being on a predictable routine can help you sleep better each night and wake up feeling refreshed.

“Selecting a standard wake up time and sticking to it will help us develop a more stable sleep pattern which is essential for maintaining good mental and physical health,” says Dr Murray.

Written by Claire Burke.