‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise’ were the words uttered by Benjamin Franklin (one of the founding fathers of the United States).
Science has shown there’s some truth in these words about the importance of hitting the pillow early, but this works best in conjunction with getting the recommended seven-eight hours (which many of us fail to do).
Sleep is a powerful force that dispenses a multitude of life-changing benefits – from making us more productive, to prolonging our lives.
Check out our top 14 benefits of sleeping early – all backed-up with solid scientific evidence.
1: Better sleep quality
Be wary of burning the midnight oil because there’s a clear link between sleeping early and improved sleep quality.
Matthew Walker, leading sleep expert (currently Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, as well as founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science), in his New York Times bestseller Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams explains the science behind this:
Sleep is made up of 90-minute cycles, during which the brain moves from deep non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep to rapid eye movement (REM).
The cycles remain fairly consistent but the split between non-REM and REM changes.
Non-REM dominates the cycle in the early part of the night and then REM takes over as we move closer to daybreak.
Why does this matter?
Non-REM sleep is much deeper and restorative than REM (although both provide different benefits).
Reap all the advantages of a good night’s slumber by turning in early.
2: Reduces the risk of diseases
Hitting the sack early could be a preventative measure for life-threatening diseases such as cancer.
The World Health Organization has officially classified night shift work as a probable carcinogen as it interferes with our circadian rhythm (otherwise known as the body clock).
The Ivy League Harvard Medical School stated that good quality sleep reduces the risk of chronic life-threatening diseases.
This scientific analysis is supported by (the aforementioned) Walker, who states that sleeping less than the six or seven hours a night doubles the risk of cancer, with insufficient sleep being a key lifestyle factor determining whether of not someone will develop Alzeheimer’s disease.
3: A healthier heart
There’s another life-saving benefit of slumber: it keeps the heart healthy as it lowers blood pressure.
High blood pressure seems to be on the rise in the US. It’s been reported that 75 million American adults suffer from it – alarmingly, that amounts to one in every three!
As high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, sleep could improve the quality of your life or even save it.
This doesn’t seem too wild a claim as heart disease is the leading cause of death globally, and in the US someone gets a stroke every 40 seconds.
4: Improves memory
Sleep statistics show that 7 out of 10 college students don’t get adequate sleep, however sleep has proven itself to be an excellent memory aid.
Both animal and human studies have uncovered that good quality sleep, for the right amount of time (seven-eight hours), has a positive impact on both learning and memory.
First, an alert mind helps to acquire and absorb information while awake. Sleep deprivation results in a struggle to focus and shorten attention span.
There’s a mounting body of research that sleep helps us to process and retain information long-term – it’s essential for learning new information. It protects newly acquired information and prevents us forgetting what we’ve learnt.
5: Controls weight
There’s a stack of evidence that sleep is the crucial ingredient when it comes to weight management – sleep stops pounds being piled on.
For decades scientists and doctors have explained that insufficient sleep affects the secretion of cortisol (a hormone that regulates appetite) and the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels.
This means if you’re sleep deprived, the higher the risk for weight gain or diseases like type 2 diabetes.
A recent study (August, 2018) found that not getting enough sleep changes genes in a way that is detrimental to metabolism and promotes obesity.
Increased weight gain can be experienced by healthy humans if they slightly adjust the time they go to sleep on a weekly basis, or are short of sleep in as little as five consecutive nights.
Moreover, those who suffer sleep deprivation can often be too tired to carry out much physical activity and burn off fat – this will cause the waistlines to grow!
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6: Feel happier
Getting a good night’s shut-eye could be the route to happiness.
Going to bed early means that you’re likely to rise early, and sunlight can be enjoyed for longer the following day (especially in the winter months). You can even invest in a sunlight simulator for dark mornings.
Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of serotonin. This is a hormone that boosts mood and helps you feel calm.
Research carried out by the Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research earlier this year, discovered that people in the UK rated sleep as the key to happiness – this is was above a good sex life, health of our close relatives, strong connections in the community and job security.
Sleep quality is at the top of the list for ensuring people’s wellbeing.
With 1 in 4 Americans developing insomnia each year we should never underestimate the power of sleep; it has the potential to bring emotional stability and an improved mindset.
7: More energy
There’s no denying that after a good night’s sleep we awake feeling more energized and ready to go.
On the other hand, insufficient sleep results in a sluggish and exhausted feeling.
Why does this happen?
Findings show that restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair and growth hormones are released during sleep.
Sleep provides the opportunity for the body to restore what we lost while awake – a huge benefit for energy levels – and yet another reason to get to bed at a decent hour.
8: Strengthens the immune system
Good quality sleep, at a decent hour, is a must if you want to keep well.
Recent research from 2017 shows the link between sleep and the immune system.
Those experiencing shorter sleep duration and insomniacs are more likely to have a depressed immune system, in comparison to someone who has the recommended seven-eight hours worth of sleep.
The time you head to bed is more important than you may realize!
Renowned neurologist Dr David Perlmutter has stated (in The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan) that after 10pm the body metabolizes a lot of waste products, and during 11pm-2am, the immune system recharges itself.
To stay strong and healthy, choose a sleep time that works around these hours.
9: Reduces anxiety and depression
Sleep can be a game-changer when it comes to your mental health, even little changes such as sleeping naked can have real benefits.
There’s a huge amount of scientific and medical evidence that proves that a lack of shut-eye has a significant negative impact on moods.
It can result in greater stress levels, feelings of sadness, anger and mental exhaustion.
The University of Pennyslyvania explored this very topic through a trial. Subjects who were limited to 4.5 hours of sleep per night for one week, reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad and mentally exhausted.
Another major study of 10,000 people suffering from sleep disorders revealed that people with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression and twenty times more likely to develop a panic disorder.
10: Feel more attractive
Sleep is excellent for the skin and it shouldn’t be an overlooked as a fundamental part of the beauty regime.
Hitting the pillow earlier leaves people feeling more attractive, younger and healthier.
Ground-breaking research found that sleep quality heavily impacts on skin function, with poor sleep accelerating the aging process and weakening the skin’s ability to repair itself at night.
11: Sharper thinking skills
A benefit for the mind is much sharper thinking skills, as opposed to a foggy, slow mind.
A report by international world experts explained that good quality sleep is vital for brain health and cognitive function.
When people don’t get enough good quality sleep, their attention and concentration abilities decrease.
Reaction times are much longer, people become inattentive and don’t respond well to the environment around them.
12: Prevents accidents
Another life-saving benefit is that sleep is a powerful force that may prevent accidents.
Sleepy brains don’t make the best decisions. Low levels of alertness and poor reaction times is common in the sleep deprived.
It’s unsurprising that that the American Automobile Association (AAA) study has estimated that one out of every six deadly traffic accidents, and one out of eight crashes, requiring hospitalization of car drivers or passengers is due to drowsy driving
Another credible study, frequently referenced, has revealed that a lack of sleep has similar effects to alcohol intoxication on certain aspects of the brain.
13: Increases productivity
Memory levels, the ability to mentally focus and a happier state, will lead to high levels of productivity following a good night’s sleep.
With society geared around an early start, it makes sense to get to bed at an early hour, rise early and seize the day.
Research suggests that morning people hold all the important cards. They’re more likely to get better grades in school, get into better colleges and consequently this will lead fo better job opportunities. Taking a nap at work is even believed to improve your levels of productivity!
Win at life by hitting the pillow early.
14: Improves athletic performance
Sleep can help increase an athlete’s game. It’s a useful aid for anyone – not just those running clocking up high mileage on long marathon runs.
Physical activity takes its toils on the body, particularly muscles and tissues; the body needs time to repair itself and this happens during sleep.
Sleep boosts performance, from speed (alert minds experience faster reaction times) to better co-ordination (as sleep is crucial for cementing learnings from during the day).
While oversleeping can have detrimental effects on your health and lead to an early death, exceeding the recommended sleep time can be a positive for sportsmen/women.
A study focused on basketball players showed the positive force longer sleep (ten hours) can have on athletic ability, speed, accuracy, reaction times and mental wellbeing.