Up with the sun
Former US president Benjamin Franklin may have been on to something when he said: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Research backs the theory that rising at 5am or 6am boosts health and increases success.
A 2012 study published in the American Psychological Association journal found people who wake earlier feel healthier and happier than those who prefer to press the snooze button. It found that early risers were more proactive in all areas of their life from their exercise regime to their job.
Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz goes for a bike ride every morning and still gets to the office by 6am. Apple chief executive Tim Cook can usually be found in the gym by 5am but only after clearing out some emails first.
It’s not just men who reap the benefits; according to Cosmopolitan magazine, Mamamia editor Mia Freedman hits the treadmill for 20-30 minutes first thing every morning.
Think Performance Psychology director Jodi Maguire says exercising at first light jolts the body.
“Getting sunshine on your body first thing stops the production of melatonin, which is the chemical that helps you sleep, ” Ms Maguire says. “It wakes you up and gives you that clear thinking and clear mind to start your day.”
A study by Germany’s Aachen University recently found that people who preferred a late night to rising early ate more and less healthily, and were more prone to depression.
Ms Maguire says some studies now show waking early, exercising and then eating breakfast can also reduce snacking mid-morning and combat those afternoon energy crashes.
“We also release all those positive chemicals, so we stay positive, we interact positively and it helps us achieve our goals and cope with the challenges of kids, family and work with a positive mindset, ” she says.
As well as making us feel happier, the time we choose for exercise can also affect our sleep. Exercising releases lots of great feel-good hormones. Get those first thing in the morning and you’re primed for an energetic day; but flood those into your system too late at night and you might find yourself struggling to close your eyes.
Total Leader and Coach Solutions Australia sports psychologist Heather McGregor-Bayne says the key to the early morning workout is getting enough good-quality sleep the night before. If you are getting a good sleep, try to wake at the same time each day.
“Once your body becomes more conditioned to sleeping particular hours, you are going to be getting better quality and quantity of sleep. Then you’re going to experience the benefits of enhanced mood and an extra sense of energy.”
© The West Australian
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