Countless times we have all felt there are simply not enough hours in the day. For college students, deciding which of the 24 hours we allocate to schoolwork is a constant struggle. Your typical student does not adhere to the 9-to-5 work day, and it seems like those early 8 a.m. classes you didn’t mind taking as a freshman are now completely ruled out of your schedule. In a living environment where sleep comes in waves and has lost its role as No. 1 priority, it is imperative to take advantage of your optimal hours of productivity. Too frequently we conflict on whether we should either complete a paper at night or wake up at the crack of dawn to finish it.
A recent study conducted by Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, concluded that early birds are in fact more active than evening dwellers. After examination of 367 college students, he states that morning people tend to anticipate problems more effectively and get better grades. It is easy to refute his claim that morning people get better grades; however, one must not undermine the logical reason that points to why early risers experience success. Those who wake up early have a solid grasp on what they would like to accomplish for the day. More sensibly, accomplishing tasks in the early morning rids of looming responsibilities that distract one from their day. Removing stress that would later be experienced is a clear indication of why the American Psychological Association reports that early risers are generally happier and healthier than night owls.
Early risers also benefit from other opportunities that night owls are incapable of experiencing. For example, an early riser is much more likely to enjoy a full and satisfying breakfast. WebMD points to studies that suggest breakfast eaters are overall healthier than breakfast skippers. The reason being, breakfast reduces hunger throughout the day and leads one to make better meal choices. It also provides the much-needed energy to overcome obstacles and engage in physical activity. Another bonus towards waking up early is that morning people are blessed with a more consistent sleep schedule. We have all witnessed how one night of staying up late can sabotage what hours we sleep for an entire week. Routine sleep schedules aid in exhibiting one’s ability to plan out a day effectively. By not hitting snooze 50 times a morning, it is easier to take advantage of that small chunk of time you have before the day officially starts.
For those of you convinced it’s time to join the flock of early birds, there are methods you can practice to increase productivity in the morning. A starting point is to set an exact time to get out of bed and slowly work up to it. Meaning, if you usually wake up at noon it is unreasonable to assume you will effortlessly rise at 6 a.m. the day after.
Secondly, it is helpful to get out of bed immediately and expose yourself to sunlight. From the moment you wake up your first thoughts are going back to sleep, so instantly removing yourself from that memory foam mattress will eliminate such problems. Sunlight acts as an aid to start your circadian rhythms (science talk for your body clock). Daylight is your friend in its effort to reduce tiredness and help you start the day.
Finally, the most effective way to complete the transformation would be to start a morning routine such as exercise or meditation. Even something as seemingly insignificant as reading the paper or indulging in a cup-of-joe provides incentive to get out of the sack.
I understand many are reluctant to join the congregation because waking up is not enjoyable and it is much more enjoyable to stay up late. Fortunately, for all you non-converters, Professor Randler does list other studies that prove evening people are often smarter, more creative and have a better sense of humor. In fact, teenagers are expected to be night owls, and by no means does getting up early automatically make one more productive. However, these same studies show that the majority of our workforce tends to be early risers. So for all of those anticipating an entrance into the real world, it would be wise to get into the habit of being in on the early bird special.
Anthony Putvinski is a Collegian contributor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.