Science Shows Waking Up Too Early Might Be Killing Us

Young woman drinking coffee in the morning

Young woman drinking coffee in the morning | iStock.com/gpointstudio

We all know that there are serious consequences associated with not getting enough sleep. Besides the obvious ones (lethargy, a lack of focus, depression, increased stress levels), it can lead to a host of medical issues including heart disease, blood pressure issues both high and low, strokes, and diabetes. While lifelong studies of sleep patterns and habits are still in progress, and few have been completed, it’s thought by many that the effects of sleep on our longevity is grossly underestimated.

However, what’s been newly researched isn’t so much the quantity of sleep we get, but the quality of it. Specifically, we’re supposed to be sleeping when the sun’s down. This might be natural for most of us, but for those who work overnights shifts or who are forced to get up well before the sun rises, we’re going about our business when our bodies WANT to be sleeping.

Dr. Maree Barns, a sleep physician, puts it this way:

“When the sun comes up in the morning, the light turns off or suppresses melatonin, which is the naturally occurring body hormone which helps us go to sleep. At the same time, our internal cortisol levels start to rise in the mornings. Cortisol is the same hormone that’s released if you have a fright and get that jolt of energy.”

So what do you do to fix sleep deficits, hopefully avoiding the many pitfalls that come with them?

Fortunately, there are a lot of simple lifestyle fixes. Check them out on the next page.

Beautiful girl waking up

Beautiful girl waking up | iStock.com/StudioSandbox

Cut Out Caffeine

The good news is that you don’t even need to cut it out completely. Just don’t consume any about six hours before bedtime. Not only will it help you fall asleep faster, but it will drastically improve the quality of your slumber once you fall asleep.

Plan Your Evenings and Morning Around Sleep

Making sleep a priority may not sound appealing, but doing so could make your waking hours a lot more pleasant. Work and hobbies have a way of creeping into our sleep, so set up strict boundaries and schedules, stopping them when it’s time for sleep. You’ll find you get more done during your time out of bed.

Eat Well, Especially for Breakfast

Vitamin D from food is a last-resort substitute from not getting enough sunlight, so if your sleep cycle is “off,” make sure you get a little more from your diet. It can help with your energy.

Use One of Those “Fancy” Alarm Clocks

You know those alarm clocks that works by simulating the sunrise? Those things work, and counteract the exact issue the doctor discussed on the previous page. You can fool your body into thinking the sun is out when it’s not, and the hormone production schedule will eventually more closely match your sleep schedule.