Note: In the following blog post, I have summarized my experiences while following different sleep schedules and my thoughts on Chronotypes.
This blog post would not have been possible without the amazing support and help I received from Manuel Huning.
The 5AM Club is a group of people who wake up at 5 a.m. It's been quite popular for a couple of years now.
If you go to YouTube, you'll find thousands of videos with a title like "Why you should wake up at 5 a.m.", or "How waking up at 5 a.m. changed my life". We all know that Steve Jobs used to wake up around 6 a.m., and how Tim Cook, Jack Dorsey, Indra Nooyi, Richard Branson, Mary Barra and many successful and creative people wake up around 4 - 6 a.m.
And now, almost everyone wants to wake up early because they think that successful people are successful because they wake up super early. Well, my dog wakes up at 4 in the morning, does that make him successful in the International Dog Community?
While I agree that one of the reasons for their success is waking up early, it is not about waking up super early, it's about what they do when they wake up, and that sets them apart from the average people.
I had been a morning person for about two years, and I absolutely loved it. Nothing beats the calmness of early mornings. And on most of the days, I'm done with my daily goals by 1 p.m. And then, I have the whole day for myself, I can work on any hobby or side project or study or just play with my German Shepherd dog.
Okay, Webster! So, it's really great to wakeup at 5 a.m. Then, why shouldn't everyone do it?
While everyone on Social Media is in a race to become a morning person even if they aren't made to be a morning person, I'm going to tell you that everyone doesn't have to be an early riser to be successful in life. Take a look at the graphic below:
Yes, you can say a lot of successful and creative people wake up early. But there are equal amounts of people who are Night Owls and are equally successful. Success and creativity does not depend on only waking up super early. Every person has a different biological clock.
According to Dr. Michael Breus, every person has a natural inclination with regards to the times of day when they prefer to sleep or when they are most alert or energetic. This is called Chronotype. Breus is a clinical psychologist and sleep expert, and calls himself 'The Sleep Doctor'.
According to Breus, there are 4 different Chronotypes:
- Bear: Consisting of about 50% of the world's population, Bears have high sleep drive and wake up with the Sun.
- Lion: Early Risers with medium sleep drive, consisting of 15 to 20% of the world's population.
- Dolphin: Low sleep drive, potential insomniacs.
- Wolf: Night Owls with medium sleep drive, enjoys an energetic evening.
However, I believe a person can be a mixture of different chronotypes.
I'm not saying that Night Owls can't become Early Risers, but the transition won't be smooth and effective because they'll loose certain benefits of their chronotype.
For example, I'm a Night Owl (of Wolf Chronotype) and I know when I'm most alert and energetic which is in the later part of the day. When I shifted to become an Early Riser, although I've got things done much earlier than usually when I woke up as a Night Owl, but I noticed it took me more amount of caffeine to get started in the early morning schedule, and I was less energetic because my circadian rhythm was forcing me to be sleepy and hence it took enormous efforts to stay focused. But when I'm on my 'Night Owl schedule', it takes me less amount of caffeine to get going and I'm naturally more energetic and my circadian rhythm helps me a lot.
Because I'm of Wolf chronotype, I don't need any caffeine and I'm more focused in the evening and late night.
The thing that people actually need to know is everyone is wired differently, while some things are working for you, they may not work for someone else. Hence, waking up at 5 a.m. just because some Navy Seal advised you to isn't going to change your life around. You're not a Navy Seal, you're not Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, you're you. Their schedule may not work for you and your schedule will not work for them. And that's fine. You can still be the Greatest of All Time in your craft if you get your morning rituals right and if you love your craft. It's not about when you wake up, it's about what you do after waking up that matters. So, if you're a Lion, then stop being a Wolf, and if you're a Wolf, then stop being a Lion. You need to listen to your body's biological clock.
But still, if your job doesn't allow you to work according to your chronotype, you can adjust to other schedules. It will take some time, but you can. I'm just grateful that I have the freedom to work and study whenever I want.
If you want to find out what's your chronotype, Dr. Breus has created a quiz that you can take called The Power of When Quiz.
If you can't seem to figure out your routine, it's okay to try things out. Don't believe in Dogma, try things out on your own. It's awesome to try things out. I have tried almost every crazy sleep schedule, and it took me about 4 years to finally figure it out.
I like to challenge myself. I like to learn - so I like to try new things and try to keep growing. - David Schwimmer
tl;dr: It doesn't matter when you wake up as long as you follow your Biological Clock and as long as you keep waking up at the same time everyday. Waking up at inconsistent times will mess up your circadian rhythm. It is also advised to follow some morning rituals.
Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day. - Glen Cook
References & Links
- The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People graphic
- The Power Of When Quiz
- Discover Your Chronotype and Improve Your Sleep & Energy - a video by Mind Drip
- Business Insider
- BulletProof Blog
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If I missed out on anything, please let me know in the comments below. And if you want more content like this delivered to your inbox, sign up in the Subscription form below. 👇🏻