Illustration by Tyler Spinosa

I used to love to stay-up late. Maybe because of watching “Saturday Night Live” as a kid with my dad, or maybe because my friends and I talked on Xbox until the sun came up. I always felt like if I went to bed too early I might miss something interesting. It felt exclusive to be awake while most people were asleep — like a reward for managing to keep your eyes open.

I always wished that I would somehow get insomnia just so I could have a medically induced condition that let me use every hour of the day to my advantage, despite becoming zombified in the process. I would hear stories of people with insomnia reading whole books in a night just out of boredom and I became jealous of their productivity.

While staying up all night is a fun thing to do when you’re hanging out with your friends or making fond memories with your dad, it’s not really conducive to functioning in the real world — at least for me. As time went on I got really sick of sleeping the daylight away because I had spent the entire night goofing off with my friends. I would schedule my classes late in the afternoon so I got enough sleep beforehand and then end up waking up right as the sun was going down.

Now, once it starts to get close to 3 a.m. I get depressed because I know that I’ll probably wake up after noon if I go to bed anytime beyond that point. To combat this I made my work schedule as early as possible to try and make sure I’m up for sunrise instead of just getting ready for bed.

Waking up at sunrise is infinitely better that being up for sunrise. The former feels like an accomplishment, while the latter feels like a vivid symbol of my deep dysfunctions. I found that there was the same level of exclusivity involved in getting up early that there was for staying up late. For me, being awake before everyone else is even more fun than staying up after they’ve gone to bed.

The coolest thing about getting up early is seeing how much I can get done before I even walk out the door to head off to class or start my shift at work. I get to make my bed at a leisurely pace, listen to some music, make myself a cup of coffee and some eggs, and do some writing before I shower and get dressed, ready to go.

The extra time my brain has to actually begin functioning properly has also been helpful in making me feel more alert and competent in all different ways. My capacity for small talk has becomes much stronger and my ability to understand and perform tasks seems to be better.

It could all be in my head, but I have noticed a significant difference in the way I behave and how I feel about myself. Getting up early has also made me significantly less depressed on a daily basis. Sunlight has improved my mood in exponential ways and now I get really bummed out when it rains.

I’m enjoying the newfound level of control that I feel now that I’ve been watching the sun come up, along with a nice cup of coffee in front of my lame vintage typewriter at the start of my day.  

I strongly recommend giving this a shot to anyone who feels like they could never be a morning person. I used to think that too, and now the thought of not being a morning person makes me sad. You don’t even have to wake up before sunrise, just anytime before noon on a consistent basis might be enough to improve your mood and make you more productive.

The hardest part is realigning your sleep schedule, but it becomes easier over time. Once you have found a nice rhythm, you might wonder how you ever used to sleep in as late as you did.