Most people in college and just out of it are night owls. I even know one or two who regularly sleep until noon. This behavior is reinforced by a student culture that emphasizes socializing at night as the highest priority.
As a wise man once said, that's no way to go through life, son.
I wake up every morning at 6:00 AM on the dot. Sometimes I use my alarm clock. Sometimes I don't. Either way, during winter I'm up before the sun and during summer I wake with the sun. As a result, my days are more productive, more active, and healthier. Ben Franklin had it right when he wrote "early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."
- More Productive. Since I wake up earlier, when fewer people are active, there are fewer distractions. I take a few minutes to just relax and collect my thoughts. Sometimes I'll make a rough plan for the day, though usually I just identify a few key goals I want to accomplish.
- More Active. Waking up earlier, for whatever reason, gives me more energy than sleeping late. The difference between sleeping from 12:30-8 and 10:30-6, though both give my optimal 7.5 hours, is remarkable. By waking up before everything starts happening, I'm able to set a plan of attack instead of having to react to all the late-morning stimuli exploding around me. As a result, I don't tire as easily later in the day.
- Healthier. There are two main health benefits to waking up earlier. First and most obvious is lower stress. I lead a life that is almost completely free from long-lasting distress (as opposed to eustress, or good stress). I'm positive that waking up early helps with that, since as I stated before, I don't have to react to anything right away. I can just chill for a good hour or so. The second health benefit is a greater duration of exposure to sun - one of the few places you can get vitamin D. Vitamin D is your friend. Vitamin D is important. Get more vitamin D. Wake up early!
Here are a few links which go into greater depth on this topic, and which offer some tips as to how to get up earlier painlessly:
Zen Habits - Ten Benefits of Waking Up Early and How to Do It
Wikihow - Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock
How to Wake Up Early (dot com)