Forcing Yourself to Wake Early Can Lead to "Social Jet Lag" (So Just Hit Snooze)

Sophie Miura

When highly successful people share their morning routines, they often have one key habit in common: The ability to wake up early every day. While scoring an extra hour or so to work out, write a to-do list, or meditate is an advantage, late riser Valentina Resetarits says forcing yourself to follow suit could be bad for your health.

In an article for The Sydney Morning Herald, Resetarits explains that her health dramatically changed when a new job forced her to wake up an hour earlier, which was against her body's internal clock. "When the alarm clock rang at 7 a.m., I felt as if I had taken part in a wrestling match overnight. On some days, my work routine ran like a blurred film in front of me. I felt like I had jet lag. But I felt that every day. I was in permanent jet lag," she recalls.

After just three months of forcing herself to wake up earlier, she started to fall ill. "I'd had a constant cold since March and been plagued by headaches again and again. I had taken more sick days in one year than I had during my entire career up until then," she says.

While it's just one person's story, Resetarits points out that her experience is backed by countless studies about sleep and internal clocks. German chronobiology researcher Till Roenneberg explains, "If the schedules imposed by society do not correspond to individual sleep preferences, the differences between the expected sleep patterns on working days and those dictated by the internal clock lead to 'social jet lag.'"

The bottom line: Waking up early isn't for everyone, and that's okay. It doesn't mean you're destined to be less successful. "The fact is that I'm not meant to get up at 7 a.m.," says Resetarits. "It's only a one-hour difference between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., but for me, it's the difference between well-being and illness. And no one can blame me for not trying."

Have you tried to change your morning routine? Tell us how it impacted your health and productivity.

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