Does waking up early guarantee you success?
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Does waking up early guarantee you success?

To snooze or not snooze, that is the question.


It’s pretty normal to want the type of success enjoyed by the likes of Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. And to achieve this, you may’ve read that they’re fond of waking up early, often attributing their success to being early risers. That’s what these all-about-the-hustle type of personalities do. But is there a connection between waking up at the crack of dawn and winning at work, especially when you’re clearly not a morning person? Let’s break it down.

Identify why you want to wake up early

We’ve heard it before: to be successful, get out of bed early. Apple CEO Tim Cook gets up at 3.45 AM, Fiat CEO, Sergio Marchionne is up at 3.30 AM, and Richard Branson at 5.45 AM — and, as we know, “the early bird catches the worm.” But, in a phrase preferred by academics, correlation isn’t causation. Basically, this means just ‘cause you see a connection or a mutual relationship between two factors, doesn’t necessarily mean that one causes the other.

The most important component of creating a successful morning routine is having a real reason to get up in the first place. If you’re waking up early because your favourite hustler is doing it, you’re doing it wrong. Think about it, you’re not going to benefit by merely being up at the crack of dawn. It’s what you do during this time that makes a difference in your productivity. So, think again and act accordingly.

Here are the definite benefits of waking up early…

  1. You tend to get enough sleep

When you get into the habit of rising early, you fall into the routine of hitting the sack to ensure you get sufficient shut-eye. Don’t stress too much about losing hours to “live” as waking up early will only put you ahead of the rest of the world. How? By the time everyone else is up, you’ll be already done with your exercising, planning your day, eating breakfast etc. Just make sure you’re getting at least 6-7 hours of rest each night. An inadequate amount will only have an adverse effect on your lifestyle (think ill health and poor productivity). You don’t want that, do you?  

  1. You value the peace and quiet

If you’re an introvert, the gift of silence is priceless, and early mornings are as still as it gets. Many believe that this bliss won’t make much of a difference to them, but more often than not, they may be the ones who need it. Here’s why: With all the madness, noise and hectic schedules you no doubt have, a little silence can help you start the day with a sane mindset and vibrant energy.  

  1. You’ll realize that little things get done

You’ll discover an extra 10-30 minutes each day that can make a huge difference in your lifestyle. Within that chunk of time you can jog, organize yourself, give your mom a call, and squeeze in tasks that never get done. For instance, Oprah Winfrey says she gets up at 06.02 AM every day for reflection, meditation, and exercise before starting work at 09.00 AM.

  1. It’s the ideal time to focus on your side hustle

It’s not always practical to find time and energy at the end of the day to work on your side hustle, so doing this in the morning can be your way to escape the rat race. Bottom line: If you find yourself wiped out by the time you’re done with your day, you might have to rise early to shine.

  1. Your hustling gets better

According to research by the Harvard Business Review*, early rising and success are proved to be connected. Biologist Christoph Randler asked 367 university students what time of day they were the most energetic and how willing and able they were to take action to change a situation to their advantage. Those who were inclined towards the morning indicated proactivity, such as “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen”.

At the end of the survey, it was also found that early birds get better grades. They discovered two things: that morning people seemed to be nerds (in a good way) and not everyone was a morning person.

What if you’re just not a morning person but you want to be successful?

To start with, for about half of us, this isn’t really a concern because it’s estimated about 50 per cent of the population aren’t morning or evening-oriented, but somewhere in the middle.

Approximately one in four of us are early risers, and another one in four are night owls**. The morning birds tend to be more analytical and cooperative and the night owls are rather imaginative and individualistic. Morning people have bigger goals, plan for the future more, and have a better sense of well-being. Numerous studies have found that morning people are more persistent, self-directed and agreeable, and compared to those active at night, they’re less likely to be depressed, drink or smoke.

However, if being active in the AM doesn’t work, then it’s not for you! “If people are left to their naturally preferred times, they feel much better. They say that they are much more productive. The mental capacity they have is much broader,” says Oxford University biologist Katharina Wulff, who studies chronobiology and sleep.

 On the other hand, she says, forcing people way out of their instinct can be harmful. She also mentioned that when the night owls are up in the mornings, they’re still producing melatonin that is supposed to be produced when they’re asleep. “Then you disrupt it and push the body to be in the daytime mode. That can have lots of negative physiological consequences and weight gain,” Katharina says.

But, will I still be successful, you ask? Yes! There many celebs who’ve made it despite being late risers like Box CEO Aaron Levie, Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti, James Joyce, and Gastave Flaubert. If they can do it, you can, too.

So…being a morning or evening person may or may not be in your control

You belong either to day or night depending on your chronotypes (a person’s natural inclination to the times of day when they are most alert or energetic) which makes it completely biological, and 50% of this because of your genetics. But, your habits play as equal of a role as your anatomy, so it’s changeable to some extent.

To alter your sleep cycle, the key is to change your bedtime instead of the number of hours of sleep. For instance, to be a morning person, you’ve got to hit the sack as early as possible. What’s more, according to a study†, biological clocks are also affected by signals from the environment — primarily light and darkness. So, to reset your circadian clock and help make the shift to becoming a morning person, go outside as soon as daylight hits. If you go outside only in the evening, you tend to shift toward eveningness.

Identify your peak time by paying attention to when you feel the most tired and most awake. If you’re a late riser and want to be on the other side, then do it for the right reason — not because someone did it and good things happened to them. If you can’t do it, don’t be hard on yourself, just fix on a schedule that works for you, your goals, and most importantly, your health. Lack of sleep can lead to many negative effects including moodiness, poor concentration, potential weight gain, anxiety, increased risk of heart disease and higher blood pressure

In the words of Adam Grant, “The world’s most successful people aren’t worried about what time others wake up. They wake and work on the schedule that works for them.” Adam is smart. Be like Adam.

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