How many high-achievers, biohackers, or productivity experts say 4am is the magic time? What's happening with the trend of taking photos of your watch to show you are up? Can we stop with the 4am shaming?
After a recent workshop on Organizational and Productivity Tools to Build Your Speaking Business, I was thanked for giving practical, actionable advice. The person told me they went to a workshop for speakers in the past, and the expert's recommendation to increase their productivity was to get up at 4am. That makes me cringe.
First, I am a definite morning person. My average wake-up time is about 5:45am, seven days a week. I sleep about 7-7.5 hours, so I go to bed early. But this is my natural sleep and wake time, and I'm fortunate to have a business where I rarely have to set the alarm. I also don't have children or pets that keep me awake or force me to get up for potty breaks.
My husband is a night person. He is a professional drummer and drum teacher. On an average weeknight, he gets home between 8-8:30, so he doesn't go to bed until 12-12:30. Getting up at 4am would be unhealthy for him. Short sleeping is linked to chronic health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression.
One of my favorite go-to resources is Dr. Michael Breus' book – The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More. He divides people into four chronotypes that work with their chronobiology or circadian rhythm. Think that sounds woo-woo? There are over 6000 studies on chronobiology.
So, back to the 4am message. I feel like it's shaming people. Making such a blanket statement without knowing the person's situation can be mean or, at the very least, make them feel unaccomplished or bad about themselves. If they do not get enough Total, REM or Deep sleep, that has harmful effects hormonally and metabolically. If they drink caffeine all day to function, that can mess with their adrenal glands and sleep the next night, starting a vicious cycle. If they have to go to bed super early to get enough sleep, they may miss out on the only time they have with their spouse or partner at night.
Getting up at 4am is not a panacea. Do most entrepreneurs and CEOs rise early? Yes. Inc. Magazine surveyed 1086 CEOs on the Inc. 5000 list and found that 64% wake up by 6am, and 9 out of 10 are awake by 7. According to Breus, most entrepreneurs would fall into the Lion category of genuine early-morning people. But does it mean that you can't be successful if you don't? No. And as a coach and for our company, that is not a recommendation I have ever given, nor do our coaches suggest it as the cure to get it all done.
Wake up early if you want to. Wake up early if it suits you. Feel happy and energetic, but don't project that if your colleague or spouse doesn't, they are slacking. Take that photo of your watch for yourself if it helps you be accountable and waking up early is your goal. Don't take it to make anyone else feel like they are less than you.
And please, don't feel like you are missing a golden hour that will ensure your success because you sleep until 8. Let's stop with the 4am shaming.