In my post “How To Become A Morning Person When You Are Not In Fact A Morning Person“, I mention that one day I’m just going to rant about how much I love the morning and how it’s the best time of day and how much happier I am when I get up early. Today is that day, my friends.
First of all, I did a bit of an experiment this week. I posted a poll on my Instagram story asking what everyone’s favourite time of day was.* I then asked if this particular time was their favourite because it made them feel more productive, or more relaxed. I got the following results:
- 34% said their favourite time of day was the MORNING
- 19% said this is because they find the morning to be relaxing
- 81% said this is because they find the morning to be productive
- 23% said their favourite time of day was the AFTERNOON
- 28% said this is because they find the afternoon to be relaxing
- 72% said this is because they find the afternoon to be productive
- 34% said their favourite time of day was the EVENING
- 68% said this is because they find the evening to be relaxing
- 32% said this is because they find the evening to be productive
- 9% said their favourite time of day was the NIGHT
- 79% said this is because they find the night to be relaxing
- 21% said this is because they find the night to be productive
*sample size = 88 people
I don’t know about you, but I find these results super fascinating. I wasn’t expecting these things to be so obviously correlated.
What this points to is that in general, as a culture, we feel more productive when we wake up, and more relaxed when we go to bed. This makes sense – when we’ve just woken up we are well-rested, we’ve just eaten, and we’re ready to start the day and get things done. Just before bed, as the sun is setting, we automatically relax and wind down – otherwise it can be quite hard to sleep!
In the poll, the majority of people chose the morning or the evening as their favourite time (in fact, the same number of people chose each one).
I think this could be linked specifically to sunrise and sunset, which are just really beautiful times of day. They represent a state of change; we go from dark to light and vice versa, the lighting is extra special, and on top of that they have a strong cultural significance as well. In fact, I even received a comment from someone saying the reason they liked the morning most was specifically because of the beautiful lighting.
There’s a trend right now for people to wake up extra early – like 5am early, before the sun has even risen – in order to get more out of their day. I’ve written a post about the problems with this trend, as often these people don’t make up for waking up early by going to bed early enough, and therefore lose quite a bit of sleep as a consequence, making these schedules unsustainable. Here’s a New York Times article about how this trend is creating a nation that is chronically sleep-deprived, with higher levels of stress-hormone cortisol and higher blood pressure. Safe to say, this is taking things a little too far. The point is, the trend is there. Our culture has a strong focus on productivity right now, and the morning seems to be a great time to be productive.
Is Productivity Such A Good Thing?
I want to start by saying that productivity isn’t everything. I don’t think we should aim to do as much as possible all the time, as that’s just a super stressful way to live your life. But I do think productivity is a positive thing.
I’m going to define productivity as producing anything at all, by the way. Cooking, baking, sewing, painting, gardening, creating a TikTok video are all productive endeavours – I’m not just talking assembly-line level “productivity” that traditional jobs often entail (although the more begrudging tasks of answering emails and cleaning the toilet do also count as productivity). The alternative to producing is consuming. Watching films, browsing social media, reading books, shopping, going out to a restaurant. These aren’t bad uses of time, by any means! But let’s just get the definitions right, first of all.
Now, as much as I love spending days consuming what other people have created, I think it’s equally important to make your own contributions to the world – not because the world needs more content, but because it’s good for our mental health and sanity! I really believe creating our mark makes us healthier, happier people, and there are studies that support this as well.
The 2020 Coronavirus Lockdown has actually helped many people with these pursuits. The number of people baking their own bread has surged, for example.
However, I think it’s important to note that there is a firm upper-limit on how productive we can actually be in any given time frame. There are only so many things you can do in a 24-hour period, and I certainly am not condoning stuffing your day full of so many tasks that there isn’t actually time to relax and unwind.
The point is that, on top of having things we need to do every day (such as working in order to earn the money you need to live), and “time off” to relax (typically through “consuming” activities), we should have separate “time off” to create and produce.
So, now that we’ve established that productivity is great for our mental health and wellbeing, that it’s NOT the same as “working” or “having a job”, and that we tend to feel more productive in the mornings, this brings us to…
Why Mornings Are The Best Time of Day
There’s something inherently “fresh” about the morning that I still now can’t get over. I love the way the sun looks, I love the sound of the birds chirping, I love the dew that the night brings.
For the past week, I made a pact with myself to get up at 8am every morning, and stuck to it. I realise 8am isn’t early for everyone – for some it’s a long lie in, whereas for others it’s ridiculously early – but for me it’s been absolutely perfect. Rising and shining at a regular time every morning has made me feel happier, more stable, more calm, and more productive. I’ve also gotten more done and felt less panicky about the amount of work I have in general. It has also massively helped me to fall asleep quickly, instead of the usual tossing and turning for hours every night.
But will waking up early take away from your “relaxing time” every evening? No, not really. I’ve find that, however early I get up, I tend to still have an “evening” in which to relax. However, if you get up later and go to bed later, you don’t actually gain that much, and you lose the “morning” portion of the day entirely – “afternoon” never really seems to play the same role. In fact, the thing you typically gain from going to bed later is social activity, which a) is pretty much irrelevant with all these social distancing measures in place right now, and b) can 👏 be 👏 rescheduled 👏 for 👏 daytime! In fact, this is also reflected in current trends, with brunch having overtaken breakfast, lunch, and dinner as the most popular meal over the past decade.
I think the rise in the popularity of brunch is undeniably linked to the rise in early morning trends. It’s impossible to sustain a lifestyle in which you get up early, are productive all day, then go out for a boozy dinner and socialise at bars every night. Brunch provides the perfect alternative: day drinking and socialising, whilst maintaining the schedule of going to bed at a reasonable hour.
Health and The Morning
As I mentioned earlier, getting up at a sensible, regular time every day has massively improved not just my mental health but also my physical health. I feel more awake, more motivated to exercise (I have yet to actually exercise, but that’s a separate matter), and have an easier time falling asleep. I get hungry at more regular intervals, and am less inclined to eat junk food. I feel less inclined to drink as well, given that despite the existence of brunch, most drinking-related activities still take place in the evenings.
I feel that this trend of waking up early, socialising in the morning, and wanting to be more creative, all adds up to the idea of a healthier society. A society where people get enough sleep, where “work hard, play hard” is less prevalent, where we don’t grind ourselves to the bone – and yet a society where we achieve our own personal goals, and want to create something of value.
And THAT is why we should all wake up early. THAT’S why Mornings are awesome. To me, they represent all of this, and more. They are a time of day when I feel like anything is possible, and the opportunities are open to me. They represent taking care of ourselves, socialising over healthier “brunch” foods and cocktails as opposed to greasy takeaways on a night out. They represent taking the time to be productive, not for some job we need to survive, but for ourselves.
So let’s all celebrate mornings, and if you haven’t yet, try waking up early this summer and reaping the many benefits.