Is Rising Early a Form of Escapism?
Do you want to be more productive?
Everybody and their mom is talking about the huge benefits of rising early. Me too. Well it’s all true. You can greet the sun and be alone and do the work of the entire day in three hours if you wake at 5AM.
Everyone who is not rising early is blown away if you tell them that you get up 4:30AM. I know I tried. They think to themselves that you are either amazing or insane or both. They may admire you or think you should get a life. They are right.
Everybody has the same 24 hours
But wait, there has to be some trick here. It does not matter how long you sleep, 6 hours, 8 hours, whatever. If the time for rising early corresponds to the similar early time to bed, then the waking time is the same.
Where does the time come from?!
Let’s say that 8 hours is a good time for a nights sleep. So, if you want to be amazing and wake at 4:30AM, then you should go to bed 8:30PM.
Well… as you can probably guess the 8:30PM bedtime is the problem, not when you wake up.
You get to use the most productive and energetic time, shortly after waking, to yourself and your most important tasks. But this is only true if you have things you have to do in the morning. Going to work 9AM, take the kids to school 8AM. That probably covers 80% of the working adults most effective time.
But why does waking early work?
Because you trade time in the evening in the company of your family and friends for the quiet time you get in the mornings. That’s pretty much it. You may regain some of that time by spending fewer hours working but that additional time you get is when everybody else is still working.
If you look at the person who does not have the morning responsibilities, then it really does not matter when she gets up. There is no real difference if you take the three hours from 5 to 8AM or the ones from 8 to 11AM as your personal quiet and productivity time.
Well, that is not really true, there’s probably a peak performance time for everybody, and you should time your sleeping schedule to get your first waking hours on that period.
Becoming an early riser
Most of my young adulthood I got to bed around the time the early risers get up. I slept till noon, and it was great. I considered 8AM chicken o clock in the morning. By my early 30s, I had developed a more rigid schedule waking and getting to work like most people. Then I stumbled upon the idea of waking early and decided to try it.
What I found out during my experiments was that I usually wake up 7 to 8 hours after I fall asleep. Sure enough, if I get to bed at 9PM I’m up at 5AM. I also discovered that it is relatively easy for me to change the time when the sleeping period occurs. I can adjust my bedtime to be anywhere between 9PM and 3AM.
My experiments with rising early
I ran an experiment to find out how waking up early improves my results.
I moved my wakeup time to between 5 and 5:30am.
Waking up at 5:30 means that I have to hit the bed 9:30pm.
Everything seems great until you factor in the people you live with. Spouse. Kids. Friends.
How do you get your kids to school?
What time would be a good time for a romantic candlelight dinner?
When do you have sex?
And of course, some friends think that 8 or 9pm is the time when you start having fun.
Waking up early is like living in a different time zone. Everything you do is time shifted to a certain degree. Others wake up usually two to three hours later than you.
But the main problem is that the morning routine for most people is optimized to maximize sleep and get from bed to work most efficiently. Everybody is rushing around sleepy, and you can’t have a lot of quality time with your family at that time.
Another problem with rising early is that when I wake at the regular time, then I work way past 5pm. This is a habit that has stuck with me. Even if I wake at 5am, I still work until 7 or even 8pm. As measured with Toggle my working time stretched to 11 hours per day.
That would not be a problem if you don’t have any social responsibilities. The 1 or 2 hours that you can squeeze into the time after work and before bed are not enough for quality relationships.
Sure, you don’t have to work 10 or 11 hour days. With a more modest workload, you might finish your day around 3 or 4pm. However, you have to consider that for regular people the time from 3 to about 7pm is blocked with work and after work commute.
And now you are back at the beginning where you only have 1 or 2 hours to spend with the people you care about.
Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day. ― Glen Cook
So the real key to rising early is misaligning yourself with others.
Well, it’s true. If you want to avoid distraction you have to avoid detractors, I mean people.
Yes, I understand that most people have the morning responsibilities that cut your day in pieces and in that case rising early is the best solution. But you pay for that time with the time you take off from interacting with regular folks in the evening.
Are Night Owls Smarter?
A New Study Suggests That Late-To-Bed-Late-To-Rise Leads To Greater Workplace Success, Medical Daily. Though outliers such as former U.S. President George W. Bush, Thomas Edison, and Ernest Hemingway achieved phenomenal success as early risers, such people on average tend to make good civil servants and accountants, whereas later risers tend to demonstrate traits linked to greater occupational success and higher incomes.
So, there, that’s how I feel about this. Should you get up early or live with everybody else?
Image: Dozing cat, Milk by Ryusuke
Also published on Medium.