I have seen a lot of different opinions on when to get up in the morning and how much sleep you need. Sleep is still a mystery to science. Some say that 5 am is a good time and others say 6 am. I have even heard people argue for waking up a 4 am!
The Dalai Lama recommends rising with the sun; his reasoning sounds good but since I live in Denmark the sun rises at 3 am in summertime and at 9 am in wintertime; some days the sun doesn’t even show because of grey clouds. Rising with the sun would not work for me.
I was thinking that there had to be some general rule that applies to all human beings no matter where you live in the world. Since the concept of time is constructed I don’t think that your organs care much about it; I think that your organs and your body are constructed in a way that follows several cycles and that means that your body must have some kind of biological watch.
I became curious about this and I started searching evidence and scientific research. It turns out that this idea is very old and common in Chinese traditional medicine, but it is also a scientific research area that is called chronobiology. I found an interesting book about this topic that I am going to read to find out what science has to say that can help improve my sleeping habits.
The book is not academic but it is based on academic evidence with a list of scientific sources. “The Scientific American Day in the Life of Your Brain” by Judith Horstman shows how your body works at certain times of the day. This book is now on my wish list of books I want in my bookcase. You can read extracts of the book on Google books.
Body schedule from 4.00 am to 7.30 am
In this book I found an interesting schedule that shows what happens in your body at certain times. This is a list of what happens between 4 and 7.30 am.
Body temperature and respiration at their lowest
Level of adenosine at the lowest and starts to increase
Onset of menstruation most likely
Insulin levels in bloodstream are lowest
Blood pressure and heart rate begin to rise
Levels of the stress hormone cortisol increase
Levels of melatonin decrease
Secretion of melatonin stops
Best time to wake up
To my question about when you should wake up there doesn’t seem to be an exact answer. However, your body seems to prefer if you wake up between 5.00 am and 7.00 am. Depending on when and how much the blood pressure rise it would probably be a good habit to get out of bed between 5.00 am and 6.00 am. If you live on the northern hemisphere you experience darkness during wintertime and your hormone levels will follow a different pattern than during summertime.
It is now winter in Denmark and I get up at 6.30 am and I will try to get up about 5.30 am when summer comes.