There's probably lots of reasons. I always got a kick out of it when I was up before dawn. I'd think, "Everyone else is sleeping, and I'm awake and alive!" That's a nice feeling.
But I don't think that's the biggest reason.
I've been on the nocturnal sleep schedule plenty. Sometimes I'm in Asia, and I have calls back to the USA during USA-daytime. That means I'm awake at the night, and sleeping through the morning into early afternoon.
It's fine to wake up at 2PM, as long as you start working immediately.
But if you don't start working immediately, and you halfway screw-off with your time for three hours, then you're in trouble. Very good chance the whole day is sunk. It's 5PM and you haven't done anything... yeah, you've only been up three hours, but that... just... feels off. Very hard to get going full steam.
But if you wake up at 4:30AM, 5AM, whatever - and you have a leisurely morning, slow breakfast, screw off and waste time for a few hours - then it's only 8AM. Still good to go.
Hell, if you waste the first seven hours of the day, then it's only noon. Very cool.
Whereas if you get up at 2PM, waste seven hours, then it's 9PM and you haven't done anything... yeah, good luck with that.
Lots of nice things about getting up early. But I think that's an underrated one - if you burn a few hours, it's still very early in the day. Psychologically that seems to really mean something.
Awesome post! Do you have any advice regarding actually waking up? I've been struggling with this problem for a while now.
In the period between when the alarm goes off and me actually waking up, I'm a completely different person. I have mental battles like "I should get more sleep so I'm not as tired for my day *SNOOZE*, etc, *SNOOZE* etc, *SNOOZE* and when I actually wake up I beat myself up.
I set multiple alarms but my "other self" turns them all off.
Do you have any suggestions to overcome this problem?
I just switched to this a couple months ago and it just feels better. I have kids, so I spend most of my afternoons into the evening getting them ready for dinner, dressed for bed, teeth brushed, playing games and generally just being a Dad. So when 9-10PM comes up, I don't feel like doing much of anything; if I do, it takes me so long to get into the flow that I'm already tired and end up going to bed too late or not having completed anything.
I now get up at 5AM and love it. Make some coffee, write , get dressed, and go. It's an excellent schedule, and it really sets the pace for the whole day.
If you want to make the most of your morning, I recommend writing or just organizing your thoughts a bit while sipping some coffee or just futzing around the house. Then go into work knowing something you want to do, with a vague idea how you're going to get there, and just get it done. With any luck, you'll accomplish one significant thing for the day, so whether or not you get 10 more things accomplished you can walk away knowing you did something with your time that was genuinely productive.
Used to get up early (~4am) and spend time thinking and planning. But I was too tired to spend time with my family when I got home from work, so now I switched to ~7:30am. But now I don't do much thinking or planning anymore. Perhaps I will try something in the middle, like 6AM.
IME this depends *a lot* on your diet. Currently I can go to sleep at around 12:00PM and get up at 5am 7 days a week. Before I changed my diet to cut out any white carbs I'd have trouble with 10PM-6:30AM, but as ever YMMV.
For the past couple of weeks I've been waking up at five to get an hours worth of writing/editing in before work. With a total mental reboot, the morning is easily the most productive time of day for me. Why give that productivity to the man when I can have it for myself?
Or even better - wake up early and get momentum quick, it will pay off twice, except if you do any quite tiring work.
Wow EXCELLENT point. I had never thought of this before.
Really striking. I woke up at 1 O'clock yesterday. 7 hours into my day, I was winding down, even though I didn't actually go to bed until 1 AM.
I woke up at 630 today. Right now I'm 7 hours into my day, but I feel like I'm just getting started! Barely after lunch!
And you're spot on again, I was able to take it easy in the morning, ease into the day... but then not feel rushed when I realized it was noon and I'd barely done anything.
Fascinating, I can't believe I never really noticed that effect before. Notch another point for the early birds.
What time do you usually go to bed? I was on the 5am schedules a few times before and loved it, but then there are events that require me to stay up late, knocking me out of the cycle.
I have to agree. Recently I used to go to sleep at 1:00 AM and wake up at around 11 AM. Usually, after all the preparing, I'm ready for work at 2 PM - leaves me 11 hours per day for my duties.
Now, following Steve Pavlina's advice, I go to sleep when I'm really sleepy, which is around midnight and wake up every day at 6:30 AM and usually I'm ready to go at 8 AM - leaves me with 16 hours per day. And it's just like you said in an older post, it feels like two consecutive days! And the feeling is awesome!
Plus when I sleep a lot I tend to be very sleepy, tired and unproductive during the day, and surprisingly, quite the opposite when I wake up earlier. It's great!
Question from a reader:
"Sebastian, do you have any suggestions on getting back on a regular sleep schedule after traveling/strange hours without resorting to melatonin supplements?"
Yeah. It's remarkably simple, actually.
Say you went from New York to Tokyo, so now you're waking up around dinnertime in Tokyo naturally, wanting to be awake all night, and sleep at the crack of dawn. Here's what you do:
You wake up like normal at 6PM Tokyo time, and then you make preparations and plans to stay up all night and all of the next day, and you put yourself into places/situations where you physically couldn't sleep.
When I first started this schedule, the whole day was a hard period. I was a zombie.
As I moved on, the days started getting ok and the nights were hard.
Soon I felt tired from 11pm-5am, but was ok after that.