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NextGen Magazine


Waking Up at Five Takes Sacrifice

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Nov 9, 2017

Quite a number of CEOs and other high-ranking business executives are habitual early risers, getting out of bed well before the sun comes up. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, is known for waking up at 3:45 a.m. to get a real early start on his day. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong wakes up at 5 a.m. and never hits snooze. Xerox CEO Ursula Burns wakes up at 5:15. GE CEO Jeff Immelt wakes up at 5:30. And they're not unusual in this regard. Being an early riser is said to have many benefits, not least of which is more time during the day than others, as well as being more productive. Of course, it might be a chicken-and-the-egg scenario, as a study detailed in the Harvard Business Review found that morning people tend to spend more time identifying long-range goals for themselves and feel more in charge of making things happen than evening people. They were also found to get better grades in school, and are more proactive in addressing their problems, features that could in turn lead to better job opportunities. 

Regardless, though, this kind of schedule does not come without sacrifices. An article in Inc notes that people who need to wake up at 5 need to, first of all, forget about doing anything after 10 p.m. if they expect to get the sleep they need (unless you're Marisa Meyer who only gets about four hours of sleep a night). Second, if someone is shifting to an early morning schedule then expect the transition to be rough for the first few nights. Third, you'll need to get out of bed right away when you wake up: no more snooze button. Finally, and this might be the most tragic, you will probably need to give up alcohol and junk food, particularly if you're getting close to bedtime. 

There's also the possibility that, in trying to adjust your schedule, you might be trying to jam a square peg into a round hole. Not everyone is cut out for waking so early, and trying just might make you less productive, not more, as sleepiness and fatigue impair your performance. In this case, it might be best to wake up, say, 15 minutes earlier instead, to better suit your natural circadian rhythms.