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Some people claim that they are morning persons; some say they are night owls. There are also some arguments hovering our circle of friends and colleagues about which type each of us should be.
I will consider myself as a night owl. I usually read and study law school assignments and cases during the wee hours of night. I have always considered myself “more productive” and attentive when I do my tasks during this time.
As a night owl, I would normally stay late at night doing all that needs to be done. Then, I spend the next eight hours or so after 4:00 AM sleeping.
However, if you are a working law student like me, it is settled that you have to be more productive and manage your time in order to thrive in a “hell” like law school. Sadly, even the night owl in me is convinced that sleeping and waking up early is the only way to do this.
What Made Me Revert to the Morning Person I Used to Be
When I was still doing office work in the government, I would normally wake up at 6:00 AM so I can catch my nine o’ clock morning shift. Then, I will dedicate the rest of my evenings studying piece-meal readings for my law school subjects. While I admit that doing office work while in law school has tired me a lot, it made me more productive as a person.
Whenever I will recount my office-law-school experience and compare it to my current status as a freelance-writer-law-student, I can’t help but reminisce the former. This made me re-examine my every day routine. I know I had to do double-time so I can increase my overall productivity even more and give more value to what I do as a working law student.
5 Benefits of Sleeping and Waking Up Early — For Working and Full-Time Law Students Alike
Despite being the night owl that I am, I saw positive results only within a week of sleeping and waking up early. Hence, I urged myself to switch to an early-to-bed-early-to-rise routine, which I have never done in ten (10) years. This is the current routine that I’m in.
No one is forcing you to change what you think has worked and will work for you in the long run. But then, it won’t hurt to give it a try, right? So, if you are a law student who wants to switch from being a night owl to a morning person, I hope that the following list of benefits helps you to make a decision:
# 1 – I feel happier and more revitalized.
Before, I would feel sluggish and weak during the day, even though I get to complete a 10-hour sleep. Not to mention, I even have to drink more coffee than the usual just to give me the needed boost.
However, when I started fixing my sleep-wake cycle by retiring to bed and waking up early, that’s when I began feeling more cheerful, well-rested, and refreshed. I noticed that I had a brighter mood during the day and had a burst of energy even with only two cups of coffee.
Well, this should not come as a surprise. As a matter of fact, research shows that early risers are happier and healthier than their night owl counterparts.
# 2 – I fall asleep easily at night.
I had easier time sleeping at night whenever I’d wake up early in the morning. Perhaps, this is because I have accomplished a lot during the day, enough to get me tired and sleepy as the day ends.
I find this as an advantage because it allows me to establish my early-to-bed sleeping pattern. It’s a beneficial cycle that goes on when I continue sticking to my early bedtime routine.
# 3 – My focus and memory were enhanced.
Our sleep has a series of 90-minute cycles within which our brain shifts from non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. According to studies, our non-REM sleep is actually more reviving or restorative than our REM sleep. When we hit the sack late at night, we are more inclined to having more REM sleep. Too bad, this results to less restorative non-REM sleep that could result to “lower brain power”.
This happened to me when I was still living up to my night owl lifestyle. Even though I complete a 10-hour sleep during the day, with my bedtime set at 7:00 AM (Yes, I used to sleep at day break!), I still feel sluggish and irritable. I even have to drink more coffee than the usual just to get me going and become more focused.
However, when I started sleeping and waking up early, I felt more alert, focused, and had easier time remembering law concepts and other things.
# 4 – I accomplish more tasks during the day.
Did I mention that I used to sleep at seven in the morning before? With this routine, I observed that I have been sleeping more than I should be. As a consequence, I end up doing less number of tasks than what I should be accomplishing for the day.
On the other hand, I noticed an increase in my overall productivity ever since I started establishing an early bedtime and early waking routine. This is so, particularly in the number of readings and other activities that I accomplish during the day.
When I sleep early, I am certain that I will also wake up early. Consequently, I start my day a couple of hours earlier than my usual night owl schedule. Thus, I am able to work on my freelance work deadlines earlier and have more read time to spend reading more case assignments and chapters in my law books.
# 5 – My immune system improved.
During sleep, our immune system releases proteins called cytokines, which are responsible for fighting infections and involved in our stress response. However, cytokine count is low whenever a person is sleep-deprived. This makes sleep-deprived people vulnerable to infections.
We all know that when we have tons of work and law schools stuff to do the next day, it is almost impossible to wake up early after hitting the sack late. This causes sleep-deprivation, which weakens our immune system and response.
I experienced this myself. And it was not until Jumel, my boyfriend, pointed this out to me. I should have listened to him before.
# 6 – My skin looked better.
Being a working law student and night owl is quite a bad combination: I stay up late at night but I also have to wake up early the next day to report for work. As an effect, my sleeping hours are shortened and I become more sleep-deprived and stressed. And we all know what stress and sleep deprivation can do to harm our skin.
When I started fixing my sleep-wake routine, I noticed that my dark circles decreased. I also have lesser break outs and noticed that my skin became clearer. This saved me some money because I didn’t have to spend a lot on beauty products and/or make up just to hide my blemishes and eye bags.
# 7 – I maintain my ideal weight.
One of my main observations with law students is that they gain more weight throughout their years in law school. I am not exempted from this phenomenon as I had also gained some weight over the years, although I try to maintain mine in relation to my body mass index (BMI). This may be attributed to lack of sleep, which is the primary consequence of not sleeping early.
Experts found out that sleep deprivation, which is a sure consequence of not going to bed early despite having tight schedules during the day, increases a person’s energy intake. When a person is awake for longer periods of time, he has more opportunities to eat. But then, he is too tired to exercise and burn calories.
Also, as a law student gets stressed out, he has the tendency to adapt to stressors through stress eating. This can actually compound his weight gain.
When I resorted to sleeping and waking up early, I noticed that I felt lighter in the long run. I had more time to move around, allowing me to burn some calories throughout the day. I also had more energy to preoccupy myself to doing and accomplishing more tasks and physical activities.
Some law students argue that it is “impossible” to get adequate sleep when one is in law school. I thought the same way before I had the courage to do something about my sleep-wake cycle.
However, when I started sleeping and waking up early, not only did I experience all the benefits I mentioned in the foregoing discussion, I also noticed that I’ve been getting more [meaningful] sleep than before.
This made me realize that I was wrong all along.
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