The Pros and Cons of Waking up Early

There are several advantages as well as disadvantages to being an early riser!

Reviewed by Melina Theodorou

a woman waking up early and holding a cup of coffee

Waking up early is easier said than done but for many of us, it comes with the nature of our jobs. For others with a more flexible routine, waking up early might just be a habit that helps them make the most out of their day.

While you may have heard of the numerous advantages of waking up at the crack of dawn, there also some considerations; some of them depend on the kind of person you are. 

Here are the pros and cons of waking up early. 

The pros

Waking up early can be a force for good in your daily and weekly routine, enabling you to make the most out of every day.  Here are ten pros to waking up early: 

1. You get a better quality of sleep

Waking up early means going to bed on time. If you are new to waking up early, this might be difficult at first, but over time, it will get easier, and you will fall into a healthy sleep pattern. Such a pattern regulates your circadian rhythm, thus leading to a deeper sleep. As a result, you will feel less tired and more energised as the day goes on. 

2. You will have a smoother commute

Getting up early means that you might benefit from quieter roads and less crowded trains or subways. Even bike paths might be less busy! A quieter commute will not only be less stressful, but it will also be more comfortable, healthier, and set you up well for the day ahead. 

3. You’ll have more time to yourself

One of the best excuses to wake up early is to get some time to yourself, whether you’re at home or at work. At home, you might be able to get ready for the day in peace, without fighting for bathroom turns and so on. At work, you will benefit from fewer distractions, accomplishing tasks before the office fills up or your inbox comes to life. One example of this is the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, who famously gets up before 4am each day to go through his emails before the US East Coast wakes up. 

4. It can increase your productivity

One study has shown that people who get up early can be more productive. This is largely attributed to using the extra time in the morning to prepare for your day. Those who get up early might use this time to set out their schedules, reflect on what needs to be accomplished, or work through a routine that enables them to be at their best. This sets the stage for getting plenty accomplished throughout the rest of the day.  

5. You will be aligned with corporate scheduling

In the same way that Tim Cook likes to get up early to take advantage of time zones, it can also help you be more aligned to standard corporate scheduling. The business world tends to wake up before 9am and begins winding down for the evening from 4pm onwards. Getting up early aligns you to this pattern, making you more effective in your interactions with colleagues and other offices. 

6. It can improve your overall wellbeing

Getting up early means that you might have more time to prepare a tasty and healthy breakfast, which is one of the most important things to do in order to set yourself up for the day. Meanwhile, while there are some benefits to exercising in the evening, the consensus shows that getting up early to exercise in the morning offers the best advantages to overall wellbeing. Early exercise aids weight loss, boosts metabolism, and can leave you feeling more alert for the rest of the day. It can also do wonders for you mental health!

7. You will get through harder tasks faster

Eating the frog is best defined as setting out to complete your largest or most complicated task first; akin to getting it off your plate as fast as you can. Getting up early enables us to focus on these tasks right from the outset. 

An early start, when your energy and willpower are at their highest, is the perfect time to eat the frog. Doing so promotes healthier work habits and helps you proceed with whatever the rest of the day has in store.

8. You will have a better work-life balance

Getting up early might sound detrimental to work-life balance (after all, having a lie-in can offer some quality “me” time!) but in fact, it might give you more time to focus on hobbies and loved ones later in the day. Assuming starting work earlier allows you to finish work earlier too, you will be able to spend your evenings focusing on the things that matter, such quality time with your kids and spouse.

9. It might help you get better grades

A study by the University of North Texas concluded that students who went to bed early and get up early had higher GPAs than those who didn’t. There might be an argument here that more diligent students will be doing less partying but getting a good night’s sleep will encourage plenty of the good behaviours discussed above that will contribute to studying effectively.

10. It can increase your happiness

In general, waking up early is a great way to boost happiness. Studies have shown time and time again that early risers have a better mental health, improved moods, and are generally more satisfied with their lives. In addition to this, waking up early can also boost your job satisfaction as well. 

The cons

Walking up early is not for everyone, nor is it always a solution to our problems. For some people, this may not be the right approach or lifestyle fit. Here are ten cons to waking up early:

1. You may be a night owl

Sleeping patterns are often ingrained in who we are. Indeed, each person has their own internal biological clock, also known as circadian rhythm, which can define whether they naturally are an early bird or a night owl.

If you are predisposed to going to bed late and getting up later in the day, then an early start might be detrimental to your routine and wellbeing. You might feel happier getting up later, and not having to go to bed at a set time in the evening.  

2. It could result in sleep deprivation

One of the most important aspects to getting up early is that it’s best preceded by an early night. If you are used to getting up early, but going to bed late, then you might start to suffer from sleep deprivation, manifested as exhaustion, lack of concentration, or moodiness.

So, if you going to commit to waking up early, you will also need to commit to getting at least eight hours of sleep every night.

3. It can raise your stress levels

For some people, waking up early can be the result of stress, anxiety and other health-related reasons. This can often result in deep deprivation and de-regulated sleep cycles, which, as we have seen above can have a terrible impact on your wellbeing.

4. It can result in unhealthy habits

Getting up early is often presented as a ‘must do’ in order for us to be effective and get our life in order. But the reality is that you must work out a routine that works for you. Forcing yourself to get up early if you are not naturally inclined to do so might create bad habits such as consuming too much coffee to stay alert throughout the day and getting less hours of sleep than you actually need just to maintain your early wake-up routine.

5. People may expect too much from you

It’s true, getting up early can help you become more productive at work. This, coupled with an increased presence at the office, can lead to managers or colleagues expecting a lot more from you going forward. Just because you are more efficient with your work, doesn’t mean you should be burdened with the workload of two (or more!) people. That can only be managed by planning out your day with your tasks at hand and learning to say “no”

6. You might be going against your natural productivity patterns

Whereas getting up early can be good for getting work done early and focusing on difficult projects first, some people focus better and work more effectively later in the day.  For these individuals, getting up early will go against their peak productivity hours. Work out a sleep pattern that fits you and structure your day according to when you will be functioning at your best. 

7. It can make you moodier

Getting up early can make people moodier. This is one example of a phenomenon known as ‘morning depression’ that is associated with a lack of sleep and increased stress levels. If you are waking up early, only to find yourself angry and frustrated with what lies ahead, it might be worth restructuring your sleep schedule. 

8. It can lead to poor concentration

Waking up early can affect your concentration and make working on tasks more challenging, especially as the day wears on. This can manifest not just from tiredness, but also from lack of scheduling and a solid routine, leaving you uncertain of how to use of the first hours of the day effectively. 

9. You might have less time in the evening

To make the most out of waking up early, you will need to go to bed early too. This might mean that you have less time for yourself in the evening. If you value downtime and the chance to get on with your own things later in the day, you might end up having less opportunity to relax this way. 

10. You might find it more difficult to sleep in

Getting in the habit of waking up early can lead to your internal clock permanently adjusting to this new pattern. Many people find that this change will lead to them getting less sleep during the weekend, despite wanting to catch up on some shut eye on their days off. 

Final thoughts

Getting up early is a great way to make the most out of the day. Doing so has numerous proven benefits to your wellbeing but also your work and personal life. Nevertheless, waking up early isn’t for everyone. It is worth taking the time to understand your own internal clock and working out a routine that works for you to make the most out of your day. Whatever time you decide to get up, don’t forget to set an alarm clock!

Are you an early riser or a night owl? Let us know in the comments section below!


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 1 August 2015.