Wake Up Benefits
Wake Up got messed up for a lot of people when Covid brought us new opportunities for sleeping in and napping more than ever before, unless of course the kids were crawling all over over you, but that brought problems of its own.
Then again, sleep problems affecting our health and well-being is not exactly news. Neither is the idea that getting up early is the way to go. You’ve heard most or all of these:
- “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” (Aristotle)
- “The early birdcatcheth the worm.” (John Ray)
- “The early morning has gold in its mouth” (Ben Franklin)
- “Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. (Ben Franklin)
In fact, Benjamin Franklin wrote a whole book on early wake up that makes it sound like one of the deadly sins if you don’t: Early Rising: A Natural, Social, and Religious Duty.
Here’s My Take
And now I have a whole new take on why I seemed to be in much better spirits than a lot of folks during the pandemic.
Initially, I figured that, as an introvert, there was simply something easier and more peaceful about the dramatically reduced stimulation from the outside world. And, of course, it also mattered hugely that by some luck and some effort my loved ones had been spared.
I also got to pick more carefully who did and didn’t get into my life altogether. Good Company, as I like to call it, borrowing the term from the philosophy I’ve studied.
But after reading about this study on the benefits of getting up an hour earlier, I all of a sudden realized it could have been Wake Up too.
When Covid hit, I start to wake up an hour earlier because I was writing a book. I thought I wrote better early in the morning, and wanted to get that in before I started seeing clients and tending to other parts of my life.
I’ll never know for sure if that’s what kept me in such good spirits in spite of it all.
I’m guessing it was likely a combination of things, including perhaps genetic predisposition, and the rich set of life skills I’ve learned along the way of my up and down life.
But I don’t think the one hour earlier rising hurt me at all—and I am doing it and loving it still. Just as they say, when we do things enough, it becomes so natural to us, that we feel out of sorts if we don’t. Repeating new behaviors makes them self-sustaining in that way.
Wake Up and You
The authors of the study admit the study raises as many questions as it answers. For example, would those who are already early risers benefit from getting up even earlier. Or, how much of the effect is due to the increased exposure to light with an earlier rise.
And, how much of the beneficial earlier rising effect had to do with a sense of fitting in better with a society that very much prizes an early rise.
Or—and they didn’t say this exactly but I am—how much of it is just showing the self that we can make a decision and make it happen.
A Hindu Swami who gave a talk I attended at Harvard once recommended that, every once in a while, we need to show the body who’s boss. So if the body thinks it can’t live without coffee, then no coffee for a week is a great idea.
Seems to me that showing the body that it can get out of bed an hour earlier because you told it to, is something the body might just admire and thank you for. If you are not already an early riser, try it, see what happens, and let us know.