Robin Sharma authored the book 5 A.M. Club, and in it he discusses how “world-class performers” wake up at 5 a.m. While the book isn’t the most captivating of reads due to a plotline that is overly contrived, the message and the advice given within the book is superb. It helps people understand the value of waking up early. Since reading the book, I have become a 5 a.m. club member myself, and it is no longer a chore for me to wake up so early. In fact, I find that if I don’t wake up at 5 a.m. then the rest of my day just doesn’t feel accomplished. In this blog post, I’m going to explain just why that is and why waking up early is one ingredient to the recipe to success.
The Benefits to Rising Early
More time for yourself
5 a.m. is a time when nobody else is awake. Well, except for you and others who are in the 5.a.m. club. Most likely, though, it will be you, being able to be with yourself and your thoughts. It is the perfect time to adopt self-care practices that can leave you feeling refreshed, energized, and overall, just happier each and every day.
When waking up at 5 a.m. you have more time for yourself and that ever-essential morning routine. This could mean you have more time for journaling, exercising, meditating, all things that have been scientifically proven to reduce depression, curb anxiety, and increase endorphins which decrease cortisol levels in the brain. (Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone)
This may be the biggest benefit of joining the 5 a.m. club. Coming from personal experience, I know that I am just so much more productive throughout my day when I wake up around 5 a.m. This is related to benefit number 1 because we have more time for ourselves. By having a bunch of easy wins for ourselves in the morning, it can springboard us to be more productive throughout the rest of the day.
While this is just personal anecdotal evidence here, what I believe is happening is that my little wins feed the fire to fuel my larger wins that take more time and energy. If I already have meditated, written in my journal, exercised for half an hour, ate breakfast, spent time with God, then by the time I go to work at 8:30 a.m. I will have done more than most people do their entire day.
Waking up at 5 a.m. also gives my body a handful of hours to get itself oriented to the day. This means that by 8:30 or 9 a.m. I am ready to write, and I can easily (most times) bust out 1000+ words in a single hour writing block. This larger task of mine is more manageable because of the time I spend on myself in the morning. By 10 a.m., assuming my writing session went well, I will have already considered the day to be successful, and I can just continue stockpiling victory after victory on top of it.
Research suggests that those who wake up early and go to bed early enjoy longer, better quality sleep. And sleep, in general, has been linked to a myriad of benefits, including:
- Improved mood and libido
- Increased concentration
- Lower chance of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes
- Strengthens immune system
- Better muscle recovery and growth
- More energy
If we go to bed early, we are less tempted by outside distractions, and most likely, will end up with better quality sleep. It will lead to feeling more rested, refreshed, and rejuvenated the following day.
Healthier skin and fewer dark circles
This benefit is an inherent result of getting better sleep. During sleep, skin cells regenerate. This, along with increased blood flow and collagen, will help repair any environmental damage your skin will have taken the day before. Also, by getting enough sleep, those dark circles underneath your eyes will disappear. This is because that puffiness and bags you see is fluid buildup from a lack of sleep.
Time for breakfast
I am always shocked by how many people have no “time” for breakfast or do not make breakfast a priority. Coming from someone who eats four to five meals a day, I make sure that I have breakfast no later than 7 a.m. so that I can squeeze in the rest of my meals every three to four hours. By not waking up early, it means that I can’t have completed the rest of my morning routine and I’ll fall behind on eating. That means that I have one less opportunity for my body to consume protein and engage in muscle-protein synthesis, which is activated when we consume protein. This helps build stronger muscles.
People who skip breakfast are individuals who do not want to truly optimize their bodies for building muscles. And while I’m not suggesting that everyone become massively huge body builders, having muscles is something not just reserved for men. Women can also benefit from gaining muscle. Muscles help:
- Manage blood sugar
- Build strength and stamina
- Support joints
- Help bone density
- Control body fat
- Regulate emotional state
- Make you more confident
Do yourself a favor and make time for breakfast. Get up early and eat something in the morning. There is a reason why the saying goes, ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day.’ Eat breakfast and I’m sure your body will thank you for it.
Why waking up early matters
I hope you can see how each of these benefits helps facilitate the one after it. By having more time for ourselves and our morning routine, we can feel more accomplished. When we feel more accomplished, our self-esteem improves, and it leads to more and more victories throughout the day. With more victories underneath our belt by night’s end, we can go to bed early not stressing about what else there has to get done for the day. Hopefully, we’ve already made this day a success. And by going to bed early, we get better quality sleep, as we are more in tune with our circadian rhythm, and this leads to a myriad of health benefits listed above.
By consistently waking up before 6 every day, we are getting one more hour (or more) than the average person. This means that, over the course of a year, you’d have accumulated 15 days more of time into your life from those “early” risers who wake up at 6 a.m. and a month’s more of time than normal individuals who wake up at 7 a.m.
That is an incredible difference in and of itself, but if compounded with the other benefits like increased concentration, mood, energy, fat loss, muscle gain, etc. that comes with getting good sleep and rising early, then there is almost no reason not to be able to achieve success. This wisdom extends even as far back as the biblical wisdom of Solomon:
And while not waking up at 5 a.m. may not lead us to poverty, I am pretty sure that many of us won’t ever get rich or become successful without having this trait. (You’ll see some examples of successful CEOs later in this article.) But when we “open our eyes”, meaning wake up, we will be more productive and we will be given the things that we need to have our “bread” or be rewarded with the fruits of our labor.
How to Wake up Early
Step 1: Go to bed early
As I mentioned before, waking up early doesn’t mean you need to give up sleep; it just means you need to alter your sleeping pattern.
Step 2: Establish a bedtime routine
A bedtime routine is just as critical as a good morning routine. The hour before you go to bed could be the most crucial hour of your day, as it will set you up for a long night of peaceful rest or not. Here are some easy steps to follow to establish a bedtime routine.
- Decide on a set bedtime. Do the math and work backwards. If you are waking up at 5 a.m. try to make sure you are lying horizontal in your bed by no later than 10 p.m., but 9 p.m. would be even better as that can give you closer to 8 hours of sleep.
- Leave the electronics alone. Try not to be on your phone the hour before you go to bed. Instead, do something else like read a book, journal, meditate, or spend time with your loved ones or pets.
- Don’t go to bed super full. Try to have the last meal of the night at least two hours before you go to bed. This way, it just isn’t resting in your stomach as you try and sleep. This doesn’t necessarily matter from a calorie perspective and fat loss perspective, but if you are trying to optimize sleep, make sure you don’t go to bed super stuffed.
Step 3: Join a support network
Waking up by yourself can be challenging, but that is why there are health coaches like myself and accountability buddies that can help you form this into a habit. Here in China, I have created a group called Life’s Kitchen that is currently having registration for a 21-Day Lifestyle Habit Challenge. Here, people register and join in to participate in a challenge that will require them to wake up around 5 a.m. for twenty-one days straight. This is done because I love encouraging people to be as productive as I am, and I firmly believe part of my productivity comes from my ability to rise and shine in the morning. If you’d like to join in, feel free to contact me by installing the “WeChat” app and adding my username: MThies90. Otherwise, try to get a group of friends together and hold each other accountable for waking up early.
I hope that you don’t take this article as a call to neglect sleep. Far from it. But going to bed earlier and waking up earlier will reward you with a myriad of benefits, so always be striving for those seven to eight hours of sleep per night. This will pay off in the long run.
One of my favorite quotes about this topic comes from the highly successful and amazing actor, Leonardo Dicaprio.
If you are the type of individual who wants to be successful, or have a greater chance of earning success, you have to be willing to do what 99% of people won’t. And while you think this idea may or may not seem absurd, I just want to take this moment before we conclude to show you just how many successful people wake up early.
- CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, wakes up at 3:45 a.m.
- Michelle Obama is working out by 4:30 a.m. before her kids wake up.
- General Electrics CEO Jeff Immelt rises at 5:30 a.m. to work out.
- The CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, is in the office by 7 a.m., waking up at 4 a.m. to start her morning routine.
- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wakes up at 5:30 to meditate and run six miles.
And the list goes on, you can find more by going here.
And probably the most influential and successful man who ever lived, Jesus of Nazareth, has even woke up early. Mark 1:35 states, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
Getting enough sleep and waking up early is just one aspect of living a healthier, holistic lifestyle. To gain a better perspective of holistic health, make sure you check out my blog article about holistic health.