The super early bird doesn’t always get the worm

May 4, 2018 — by Anna Novoselov

It was 6:45 on a Saturday morning. While most teenagers were sound asleep in their beds, I was watching the sunrise from on top of the monkey bars at Saratoga elementary.

I had woken up at 4:55 a.m, when the sky was still pitch black.

Despite naturally being an early riser, usually waking up at 7:30-8 a.m on weekends, I decided to see how changing my sleep schedule would alter my productivity and mood. Instead of going to bed at 12:30 a.m. and waking up at 6:45 a.m., I set a goal to shift my sleeping schedule two hours earlier.

Waking up early, specifically on weekends, jumpstarts my day and allows me a couple hours of quiet in the morning, which I can use for relaxing or getting some work done. I think that this has had positive impacts on my well-being and academic and social schedule.

According to the Times of India, early risers have reduced stress, more energy, and higher levels of productivity. Generally, they experience higher positivity and self-esteem.

Additionally, a study of 824 undergraduates by the Texas University found that, on average, students who woke up early had a an GPA 1 grade point higher than those who slept in. Being a typical Saratoga student whose life revolves around grades, I was intrigued.

I started my experiment on Thursday night, going to bed at around 10:45 p.m. Although I was tired, I could not fall asleep for a while. The next morning when my alarm blared, I hit snooze, but finally forced myself to start the day at 5:05 a.m.

I drowsily went downstairs, made myself some breakfast (cereal and fruit) and sat down at my bedroom desk intending to be productive. I opened my textbook and began staring at ellipses, hyperbolas and parabolas, scribbling math solutions onto my graph paper.

After some time, I took a break by going on the library’s database to research a topic for my English research project on social justice issues. My eyes skimmed the articles, but my brain only obtained scraps of information.

I focused my attention back to math, getting out a red pen to check my answers. I frowned, comparing my work with the answers in the back of the textbook. Ultimately, my math homework took me longer than it does on average; I had to redo countless problems as a result of careless errors.

For the rest of the day, I didn’t feel more tired or energized than usual, leading me to question if trying this experiment was even worthwhile.

Losing track of time, I went to bed around 11 p.m that night. But the next morning, I resisted pressing the snooze button and abandoned my comforting blankets at 4:50 a.m..

Once again, I started my math homework. Planning to watch the sunrise, I anticipated the gradual lightening of the sky, but it remained black. My eyes repeatedly strayed from my textbook to the window.

Finally, the sky began turning grayish-blue at 6:45. While I could watch the sunrise every day following my normal sleep schedule, leaving the house a couple minutes after waking up is not appealing to me. But today, I had already been awake for two hours, so I did not have that excuse.

I got dressed and walked to Saratoga Elementary School. It was quiet, empty and strangely peaceful.

The sky gradually enveloped itself with streaks of yellow, orange and pink, casting colors onto clouds. The breathtaking effect continued as the sun peeked out from beyond the horizon and spread its rays, signaling the end of night.

But the rest of the day, I felt tired and grumpy. I had trouble being productive and blamed it on my altered sleep schedule. Most likely, I was just not used to the early wake up calls and disliked doing homework while my peers were sound asleep. To be fair, I had been sleeping while most were frantically finishing procrastinated homework at midnight.

Ideally, individuals should adapt to a sleep schedule that maximizes their productivity and energy levels. For instance, if one is a night owl, he or she should do their work while most people are snuggled under the covers at night, sleeping in a little later the next day.

Early risers enjoy more hours of daylight, but that does not necessarily lead to a brighter mood or productivity, for it depends on the individual. Sleeping early and waking up super early does have its advantages, but I will be sticking to my old sleep schedule.

Perhaps, the results of my experiment would have been different if I had carried it out for an extended period of time rather than two days. It may be that I just had to get used to the different sleep schedule. However, I do not feel the need to wake up before the crack of dawn.

The early bird gets the worm, but there is no point being the super early bird, who mindlessly flutters about at night when even the worms drowse deep beneath the soil.

 

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