The Paleo diet is a popular choice among health-conscious people, but there is more to living a healthy lifestyle than just watching what you eat. Your exercise routine and your sleep patterns matter too. Waking up early is something that many people struggle with, but did you know that being an early riser can make you a more successful and healthy person?

According to a study recently published in Emotion, the American Psychological Association Journal, people who get up early are generally happier than people who are night owls. As well as being happier, they have stronger immune systems and are generally healthier. Early risers are less likely to be obese too.

One of the benefits of waking up early is that you have more time to exercise. It’s easier to fit in a morning jog than it is to find the energy and time to go out after work when you have had a long, stressful day and you just want to get home, relax and watch some TV. However, the weight-regulating benefits of being an early riser aren’t all related to the ease with which people can fit exercise into their daily routine. A 2011 study conducted by researchers at Northwester University found that people who prefer to sleep in consume 248 more calories per day than early risers, and they eat less fruit and vegetables too. They didn’t elaborate on why early risers have healthier eating habits, but their findings make it easier to understand why early risers tend to have better overall well-being.

Changing Your Sleep Pattern

Changing your sleeping pattern can seem a difficult thing to do, but it is no harder than changing the way you eat ? something that you have already done if you follow the Paleo diet. It takes just 21 days to turn a “must-do” routine into a habit, and if you can push yourself to go to bed at a sensible time and then get up when the alarm goes off in the morning, then you will be able to turn waking up early into something that you “just do”.

Choose a time that you will go to bed. Make yourself go to bed at that time, even if you’re not tired. Don’t just lie there tossing and turning, though. Take a book to bed with you and read until you feel yourself dozing off. When the alarm goes off in the morning, get out of bed and go to the bathroom to get washed. The act of standing up and walking around will make you feel more awake, and you’ll be less likely to want to go back to sleep.

If you usually sleep for more than eight hours, then getting into a habit of getting up early will give you more time each day. Don’t waste that time. Try to use it productively, whether that’s to prepare a more nutritious packed lunch or go for a jog. Use your time well and you’ll look forward to those quiet mornings.