Rise and shine, sleepy Gophers

Changing your routine and getting up earlier in the morning can help improve your GPA.

by Courtney Johnson

A recent Minnesota Daily article âÄúThe early bird gets better grades,âÄù reported that students who attend earlier classes get better grades. The article noted that students who drink less alcohol and go to bed earlier are more productive in the daylight hours. This is great for students who consider themselves morning people, but for others, waking up at 7 a.m. for an 8 a.m. class seems like an impractical and tedious task âÄî yet sometimes inevitable.

I have found myself groggily rolling out of bed in the early hours of the morning and crawling to my dreaded 8 a.m. class like many others. But, did taking some of these morning classes actually help me to perform better? Ultimately, students who go to these morning classes must be able to commit to the classâÄôs early hours in order to earn the better grades.

In my few years here at the University of Minnesota, I have found myself forced to take an abundance of 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. classes. At first, my late night study habits did not support this early morning regimen. After a few days of exhaustion, though, I was able to retune my circadian clock, which helped me achieve success in these early classes.

Your circadian clock is a biological process that regulates your sleep-wake cycle; adjusting it by waking up early on a regular basis can make you feel more energized earlier in the day. One way to do this is to be sure to get a good nightâÄôs rest by making an effort of going to bed earlier than what your body is used to. After a few days, the cycle should be normalized for earlier hours.

Some environmental factors can prevent this from happening, but when the environment is controlled, these factors are of minimal disturbance. For example, even when sleeping, the mind is constantly processing certain types of stimuli like light and temperature. Adjusting these and sleeping in a dark and cool room can help to promote an excellent sleeping pattern. Also, sticking to this new and improved sleeping schedule is important to create a routine of undisturbed rest throughout the night.

However, there might be a side of impracticality to this. As a student, studying late at night is often deemed as a necessity to keep grades up and do well on important exams.  Also, many students find themselves working into the late hours of the night to pay for certain expenditures.

On the other hand, starting a new routine and waking up early can generate more productivity throughout the entire day. Taking classes earlier leaves students with more time to work, hang out with friends and study. If adjusting a sleep schedule isnâÄôt practical for a student because of nightly school or job responsibilities, then finding a way to incorporate exercise into their daily routine also helps to promote better rest at night. For me, not only does exercising bring about a happier attitude, but it also releases endorphins that help me to venture off into dreamland at night âÄî allowing me to wake up on time for that 8 a.m. lecture. A great thing about this is that even a short 5 minute aerobic exercise helps to improve sleep at night âÄî thus helping students feel less groggy in the morning and more alert to take on the day.

The ultimate goal is to get endorphins moving in your body. Once these endorphins are circulating through your system, this happier attitude leads to better productivity throughout the course of the day. Students are then able to fall asleep at earlier hours, making it easier to wake up and go to class. This happier attitude is just an extra perk to getting better grades. 

It might seem impossible to get to bed early because of typical college lifestyles, but a few simple changes to oneâÄôs routine can help students to achieve better grades âÄî even if they donâÄôt consider themselves a âÄúmorning person.âÄù