We Aussies have a reputation for being laidback, so it comes as a surprise that we don’t tend to sleep in. When Jawbone crunched the data from the activity trackers it has sold around the globe it discovered the world’s earliest rising international city wasn’t frenetic Tokyo or bustling New York, but sunny Brisbane.
It seems the average Brisbanite leaps into action at 6.29am. And, according to another study, almost half of all Australians are up and at ‘em by 7am.i
Apparently, millions of us have taken Benjamin Franklin at his word about health, wealth and wisdom arising from bouncing out of bed shortly after dawn. But does the evidence support Franklin’s view?
Are early risers healthier?
Most early risers don’t head straight to the workplace. Rather they set their alarm clock so they can kickstart their day with a yoga class, gym session, surf or jog. Of course, it’s possible to engage in those activities later in the day. But without good time-management and self-discipline, exercise often gets put on the backburner as demands and distractions pile up.
While getting up early to exercise is a great way to fit physical activity into your day, it’s difficult to determine whether getting up earlier makes people healthier, or healthy people get up early.
It may just be the post-workout meal rather than the workout itself that makes the difference. University of Roehampton research found that early risers were more likely to eat breakfast.ii And people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight.
Do early risers earn more?
According to a Danish study, morning people earn 7 per cent more than evening people.iii This could be because a society where most people start work by 9am favours people who enjoy an early start to the day. Early risers were shown to possess greater qualifications and had jobs in more lucrative fields than late starters. If a night owl possessed the same qualifications and job as an early bird, the difference in earnings would be only 2 per cent.
However, for every study showing larks out-earning night owls there’s one that suggests the opposite. Studies from sources as diverse as the University of Madrid to the US Air Force have shown late risers have an edge in areas such as inductive reasoning and lateral thinking, which means they’re more likely to have higher-paid, white collar jobs.iv
Answer: The jury is still out.
Are early risers smarter?
The University of Madrid study also revealed larks do better in school. But again, chicken and egg arguments scramble the matter. School lessons and exams are typically scheduled for the morning and early afternoon, which would seem to give early risers an unfair advantage.
All is not lost if you are not great in the mornings though, as night owls had a preference for independent thinking and while that was a handicap in sitting exams it did stand them in good stead in their careers.
Answer: Well, they get better exam marks.
How do I resist the urge to hit the snooze button?
Irrespective of what studies show us, rising a bit earlier is a great way to squeeze more out of your day, whether you use the time to hit the gym, work on that novel, or just get a head start on your working day.
For those of us who struggle to get out of bed in the morning but would like to reap the benefits of an early start, here are some tips to help you rise and shine.
- Have a good reason to get up earlier
- Go to bed earlier
- Don’t eat just before retiringSwitch off all electronic devices & keep the room dark
- Start small – set the alarm a little earlier each day