Should you make “getting up earlier” a priority in 2019
My last blog post of 2018 I am writing to you from the Manoir de Lébioles, which is a beautiful Manoir at Spa in Belgium; Spa, the city. I'm here for two days to take a last break, in order to get ready for 2019 and today's topic is about if you should make “getting up early” a priority for 2019.
Let me tell you what inspired me to even talk about this. I've recently seen a couple of people doing a challenge to be early risers. They got up at 4:30 AM, whether they had enough sleep or not. I want to talk about that, because there have been a lot of articles about successful people getting up at 4:30 AM. Some articles mentioned, how that is not necessarily productive, and if you follow me on LinkedIn, you might have seen my post referring to a tweet by J.K. Rowling, who was targeting that particular article talking about successful people getting up at 4:30 AM and her comment was “piss off!”. I absolutely loved that, because if you wake me up at 4:30 AM, I will most likely have the exact same reaction.
Here is the thing, and if you have followed me throughout the year, you will know that whenever I talk about something, I want to back it up scientifically. So, let me tell you, why getting up early might not be your ideal solution. Every being on this planet has a circadian rhythm. Every animal has a circadian rhythm or a biological clock and everything/ everybody, humans and animals alike, are mainly dominated by light and day and by sleep pressure. That's what makes our biological clock and that's what makes us wake up and fall asleep.
All of us, we have very individual rhythms. Some of us are natural early risers and some of us are night owls. Human beings are the only ones that are sleep depriving themselves on purpose, that choose to override their natural way of sleeping, by either sleep depriving themselves or by living a rhythm that is not actually their natural one. All other species don't do that, unless there's an emergency. So, what tells us that about us? Are we super smart or do we just think we are smart but are incredibly stupid by not listening to what nature is telling us?
Let me elaborate a little bit more about that. When you are insync with your natural rhythm, you will also have the main benefits cognitively; meaning we all have a couple of hours of flow during the day. We have a few hours where our brain's capacity is at maximum speed, where we are better at memorizing information, we are better at being creative, we're more productive, we're more focused, we're sharper, we're quicker, we're more focused; everything is just on steroids. If you manage to catch those few hours, you will be more productive during that time than during the rest of the day. What I want to say with that, is that if you decide to become an early riser, yes, you can train your body to some extent by sticking to a very, very strict bedtime and getting up time, but your natural rhythm means that your brain is not going to be in that state of flow, whenever you are getting up. Your brain is like a cold engine that's not warming up enough. It doesn't matter when you get up. If your natural getting up time is around 7:30 AM or 8 AM and you're getting up at 4:30 AM, your brain's cognitive potential is most likely not going to be there. If you're getting up at 7 AM or 8:30 AM, your brain's cognitive potential is usually around 1 hour or 1 1/2 hour later, so around 9:30 AM/ 10 AM.
That is also why Seattle has changed their school times recently. Teenagers have a delayed circadian rhythm. They naturally go to bed later and get up later. It doesn't have anything to do with laziness. When they are sitting in the classrooms at 8 AM, they might physically and consciously be there, but their brain is literally not as efficient as it could be later during the day. Believe me, I know! I was a teacher for 10 years and 8 AM were my favorite lessons, because I would just have a room of zombies. They would be nice and quiet; I could teach my lessons, but it also meant that they would not be able to perform at their potential we had to write a test for example.
You cannot trick nature completely! You might be getting up earlier, but the real flow of your brain is still not going to change. If you are unfortunately living or working in a working environment that has the old-fashioned belief, that presence equals productivity, which is bullshit in my opinion! You can be present for eight hours, but that doesn't mean you're very productive. You're probably only productive two to three hours and there's not much you can do. Obviously, you can try to change your work schedule and adapt it a little bit more to your natural rhythm; but if you are an entrepreneur, independent or if you can design your own work day, try to stick as much as possible to your natural rhythm. The way you can figure out your natural rhythm, is by taking one to two weeks and just letting your body do what it does best.
Go to sleep when you feel tired and start waking up naturally. It will take you two to three days to catch up on sleep debt, especially if you're someone who's constantly a little bit sleep deprived. If you get up every day because you have to (because the alarm clock is waking you up), then it will take a couple of days for you to catch up on sleep. But once you've done that, you will realize that your body is actually having a very timed going to sleep and waking up rhythm and once you have that and you design your day around it, that's when the magic happens! That's when you can only work two to three hours, maybe four and get tons done and the rest of the day, you do things that still are work but might not need that complete cognitive focus. That's what I usually do. For example, I do client prep work during those hours, because that requires a lot of focus, but working with my clients, seeing them, listening to them, being there for them and actually teaching them what I've prepared, that doesn't necessarily need my flow hours.
The same is true for you. If you know when you are in the perfect state, then try to stick to that. Some of you might have a slightly delayed circadian rhythm, which means that your optimal hours will probably be around 2 or 3 AM. Going to sleep and waking up around 10 AM and working around lunch time. So again, it's not very social. It is a little bit of a sleep disorder, where we say it's a delayed circadian rhythm. If you can go with it, go with it. If you don't, then you can work with melatonin, caffeine and light. It's not going to be optimal though.
That's my two cents on why or why not, you should make ‘getting up earlier’ a priority on your list. If it is because you think you're going to be more productive, more creative, then here's the news: it's probably not going to happen. Also, there were lots and lots of people, who didn't get up early this year. We see those lists of early risers, but you also have people who were wildly successful and got up a lot later during the day. It's just one of those things I think society is still judging and it's just not as known.
Do your research and google it. You will find a handful of people. One person that I can totally relate to is Winston Churchill. He woke up around 7:30 AM, but he wouldn't leave bed until 11 AM. He would read the newspapers, write some letters, even have breakfast in bed and then he would get up to take his bath. I'm not exactly the same, especially now that I have to bring my little one to school. But if I'm left to it, I will do pretty much the same. I will snooze for 1/2 hour, not set an alarm clock but just take my time to wake up. I'd do my email in bed as well. It takes me a long time to get up in the morning, but I love it! My peak hours are between 10 AM and 1 PM. That's where I get all my work done and, in the afternoon, I do little bits & bobs and things around the house.
So, that’s everything from me in this last blog post for 2018!
I hope that you will have a wonderful New Year's Eve and a beautiful 2019. If your sleep was crap during 2018, then get in touch, so 2019 can be amazing and let me know if you have any topics you would like me to cover in the new year. I cannot believe that 2018 has gone by already. 2018 has been a roller coaster but 2019, I'm so excited for it!
Greetings from Manoir de Lébioles and have a wonderful rest of the day!
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