Some of the best entrepreneurs are up before sunrise.
Michelle Obama is awake at 4:30 a.m., Richard Branson rolls out of bed at 5:45, and Tim Cook is on the treadmill by 5:00.
Think of it this way: if you set your alarm just thirty minutes earlier every day, you’d gain 3.5 more hours a week, 15 more a month, and 183 more a year. Imagine what you could do in all that time.
Beyond the bonus hours, there are a few other benefits that early birds enjoy. Here are three of our favorites:
1) The time and space to be creative
In his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, author Mason Currey found that more than 70 percent of the artists he profiled were early risers. Because the prefrontal cortex is most active right when you wake up, many artists find that their creativity levels spike first thing in the morning.
Frank Lloyd Wright came up with his best ideas between the hours of 4 and 7 a.m., while Irish writer, Edna O’Brien, famously said that she writes in the morning “because one is nearer to the unconscious, the source of inspiration.”
So the next time you hit a creative block, take a cue from the world of creatives.
2) A jumpstart to your day
Many early birds use their quiet time for organizing, goal setting, and planning.
Studies have shown that willpower is strongest at the beginning of the day, so it can be the perfect time to tackle any big projects you’ve been struggling with. In addition to feeling more determined, early risers also tend to be more proactive and in control of their day.
A recent study of 367 college students found that early birds were more likely to agree with statements like, “I feel in charge of making things happen,” and “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself.”
3) A healthier mind and body
Those who are up before dawn often spend their mornings exercising or meditating.
Exercise not only improves your fitness level, but it also alleviates stress, leads to deeper sleep cycles, and boosts your mood. In fact, most people feel happier within just five minutes of beginning their exercise routine.
Meditating is another common trait of morning folks, and those who do so on a regular basis report improved concentration, lower blood pressure, and faster healing times. A 2012 study by the American Psychological Association found that “self-professed morning people reported feeling happier and healthier than night owls.” Our typical nine-to-five workday favors early risers, which is why so many say they feel better than their nocturnal counterparts.
We get it — mornings aren’t everybody’s jam. If you’re already happy burning the midnight oil, there’s no harm in sticking with what works for you.
But the next time your alarm rings while you’re off in dreamland, try not to hit the snooze button. The morning may be just the thing you need to ring in a great day.