For a very long time productivity gurus have been telling us that we should wake up at 4 or 5am to be as productive as possible. Perhaps you have tried to wake up insanely early just to see if you could see an improvement in your productivity. If you did, do you remember what happened?
You probably woke up, felt great for a few minutes and then just wanted to curl back in bed for the rest of the day.
The thing is, you probably don’t need to wake up at 5 am to be productive. The idea of waking up one or two hours earlier was meant to give you time to use that time on things that your heavy schedule does not allow for.
With that in mind, you probably don’t need to wake up early in the morning.
Look at your schedule
Have a look at your schedule. How full is it? Are you always busy? Where are you spending your hours?
Most times, we are just pretty bad at time management and we want to do more through our day, but we might be spending a large amount of time on social networks or playing games.
I would recommend that you keep track of your time for a whole week and pinpoint the biggest time-sinks. Afterwards, you can see if you can do something about them. Try to tweak your schedule and be mindful of where you are wasting time.
If the biggest time-sinks in your week are the tasks that you need to do on your day-to-day job, then only you might consider waking up an hour earlier.
Find out what works for you
If you still think that you might need an extra free hour every day, now you need to do some thinking again. There is no point in you waking up at 4 or 5am in the morning if you are going to struggle through the day.
Remember that some people work better at nights than mornings. All you need to do is figure out what brings better results to you. You might need to try going to bed one hour later or get up an hour earlier for a few days to see how your body and mind react.
When you are trying these different schedules you should keep repeating the same one for a few days in a row.
For the love of everything, sleep
Sleep is the most important thing in your life. It’s sleep that allows your body and mind to regenerate. You can do a few all-nighters, but we all know how crap we feel after a few days.
The thing with sleep is that it is very subjective. There isn’t a golden rule for sleep. Some people need eight hours in bed, others need just six. What really matters is how well you sleep.
If you wake up constantly at night, even if you stay in bed for ten hours perhaps the total amount of time you slept was just six hours and that is the reason why you feel like crap.
With that in mind, you might want to keep track of your sleep pattern and figure out what works for you.
In my case, I need to have at least nine hours in bed to feel fresh the following day, because I’m a light sleeper and it’s pretty easy for me to wake up with any bit of noise.
Changing your habits
My day-to-day job is based on shift work, as a flight attendant every working day is different and every working day I have to wake up at different times. Some days I need to wake up at 2:30am, others at 8:00am and sometimes I go from waking up at 2:30 to having to stay awake until 2:30am the following day.
Yet my sleeping pattern is quite stable comparing to someone who does shift work. I have found that I work best in the mornings, so even on days off, I try to wake up at the same time. I also try to go to bed around the same time.
If you want to change your sleeping habits, it’s important that you figure out what works best for you. Are you a morning or a night person? You need to try the two to know.
As a Portuguese, I was raised in an environment perfect for a night person. We usually had dinner around 9 or 10 pm and I used to go to bed around 1 or 2am. Waking up early was a pain and I just couldn’t do it.
The way I changed this was by waking up 30 minutes earlier every day. After day 3, I noticed how much better I felt. This was a surprise because it seems that I am a morning person after all.
Don’t wake up at 5am just because
You might not need to wake up at 5am. Or perhaps you might be surprised – like I was – that it’s good for you to wake up at 5am because you are a morning person. Everybody is different and what works for someone might not work for you. Give it a try, analyse how you feel, and figure out what works best for you.