Should you get up early to be successful? Apparently so. I mean just read this article. Or this one. Or even this one. The consensus is clear - if you want to be successful you better be up before 5.

There’s Something To Be Said For Early Mornings

Just from my own experience, I find a lot of value in the early starts. Getting up at 5-5:30 to read, get ahead of a busy workday or even exercise sets a nice tone for the rest of the day. The quiet that an early morning brings is a great way to have a clearer mind going into the day. I know my most productive days have been those when I use that space to catch-up or just have “introvert time”.

Many of us complain about not having enough time. Getting up a little earlier may create that extra margin you were looking for. The CEOs mentioned in these articles are so busy during the day, they have to get up early to have that extra time.

Early Rising…At All Costs?

Okay, so you’re bought in. Your path to greater productivity is getting up early. 5:30…5…maybe even 4:30 in the morning. You’re off to an awesome start and finding a lot of margin in your day.

Are you sacrificing a full night of sleep as a result? If you’re up until midnight and then still getting up, I would argue that the extra margin you’re getting is cancelled out by the lack of sleep. This article shares research on how just losing one hour of sleep per night for a week ‘will cause a level of cognitive degradation equivalent to a .10 blood alcohol level. ‘

You’re up early. You’re disciplined. But are you more productive? Isn’t the goal to make your head clearer, not muddy it up further? Getting up early is great but only if you’re making the space to get a full night’s rest. I’d argue you’d be more productive sleeping in than trying to be a hero.

People are impressed by how well you function as a person, not by how few hours of sleep you operate on.

Life Stages, Seasons and Morning Routines

I recently shared how my morning routine has shifted a bit as of late. Before our second child, I had a nice routine of getting up early, making coffee and doing a little reading, writing and/or getting ahead on my work day. The unpredictability of an infant’s sleep schedule stacked on top of our toddler experiencing her new found freedom of not being constrained to a crib anymore wrecks havoc on a predictable morning routine.

Even Nicholas Thompson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, threw shade at an article saying how everyone should wake up every morning and do a tremendous amount of writing:

This seems like a good idea: write three pages by hand every morning right after waking up. But I 100% guarantee that whoever first came up with this didn’t have kids.

Even someone who has reached a high level of success recognizes how real life can interfere with the best intentions.

A few people commented on Thompson’s LinkedIn post saying that kids should never be an excuse, to get up at 5am before your kids.

My kids are sometimes up off an on from 4am on. How do you navigate that?

Christians tend to similarly glorify the early morning quiet time. However, as our pastor said the other morning from the pulpit “sleep in a little, get more rest, be a better parent as a result and enjoy God in the noise.”

I’ve found that I can’t sacrifice rest and becoming a cranky dad as a result just to worship at the altar of an early morning cult.

Do What Makes Your Life Better, More Productive…Whatever That is

We are all wired differently. We all have different ways of working that work best for us.

I truly believe for most people, the early morning quiet is an untapped resource. Getting up early is not easy and likely doesn’t come naturally for most. However, it’s a discipline (given I have had a mostly-complete night of sleep) that has really helped me be more productive and have a much clearer head for my family and coworkers.

For some, it may be late nights. Some may have so much bandwidth during the day that the early morning isn’t necessary at all.

Do what works for you. I’m not saying sleep in because it’s easier to sleep in (it is for most of us). Find the rhythm that best helps you achieve the most. There’s more factoring into your success than the time of day you wake up.

What are your thoughts on early mornings? Is it over-hyped?