There have been many articles about how getting up early is the key to success. The most well-known is one by Richard Branson, Why I Wake Up Early. Recently I read one by Peter Shankman, How to Wake Up Early (And Why It’s So Important), where Peter explains why his getting up at 3:30 a.m. is key to his success. I’m sorry, but a 3:30 a.m. wake time is just nuts — unless you own a chicken farm or a Dunkin’ Donuts.
Now there is no doubt these men are highly successful, but I have had some significant success myself and have found that I am most comfortable and successful when my sleep time is 1 to 2 a.m. and my wake time is 7 to 8 a.m. Having been a single father of five children (their mother left us when they were very little), I have had to do early wake-time for many years to get them ready and off to school. But when I didn’t have to do that anymore, I went back to my more natural later bed and wake times.
Here are my top 10 reasons why going to bed later and getting up later has led to my success:
1. The news is really news.
When you take in the news at night, you are viewing it when it is fresh and about the day you just experienced. I find it so much more relevant to see news, financial updates and sports the day it happens. Go to bed early and you see it when you wake up — when the world is onto to something new.
2. Enjoy some commuter bliss.
For those of us that live in New York, going into work after rush hour save hours per day and adds years to your life. And going in a touch later means you leave after rush, too. Bonus: I would be at work after everyone else left and that was my most uninterrupted and therefore most productive time.
3. Be better prepared for the next day.
I look at my calendar at night for the next day and I prepare my clothes, equipment and whatever I need for the next day when no one is around to bother me or distract me. I can think about what I need with no pressure of having to leave and be someplace. How many times have we forgotten something at home because we are rushing in the morning? I rarely do.
4. Creativity peaks at night.
When you wake up in the morning you are thinking about the day ahead and all the stresses you will face. At night I have had the whole day to observe and synthesize my thoughts. I do most of my writing (including this article) at night when it’s calm and quiet, there are no interruptions and I have no place to go.
5. Sleep with less stress.
Who likes waking up to an alarm? For me, just having the alarm set causes my sleep to be less deep. I go to bed knowing everything is prepared for the day and I don’t have anything to do in the morning other than enjoy my French press coffee and head out.
6. Lift more weight and run faster.
Yeah, I know Rocky got up before sunrise, ate raw eggs and headed out for his run. But that’s Philadelphia via Hollywood. Per Bodybuilding Magazine, coordination, stamina, lung performance, body temperature, flexibility and strength are at their peak in the later afternoon to early evening period. I hit the gym right when I get home from work.
7. Dinner guilt disappears and enjoyment returns.
It’s common knowledge today that if you want to keep your weight under control as you age, you need to eat a light dinner. Not only is that a disappointing consequence of aging but it is difficult to do. Dinner is fun. It’s the time when we date, enjoy time with friends and enjoy great restaurants. When your workout is done at 7 p.m., your metabolism is rocking and your dinner becomes fuel to repair your muscles. Keep the carbs low, but you can enjoy that 8 p.m. steak — guilt free.
8. Take control of tomorrow.
I use the late night period, usually close to bedtime, to send email follow-ups from the day’s events and I give my directions to my staff and others for the next day. I go to sleep knowing I have dispensed with today and wake knowing I can start a new day with new challenges. Others will see my emails when they wake so that when I hit the office they have (hopefully) acted on my directives.
9. The Cubs won the World Series.
If you get up at oh-dark-early, you didn’t see Cleveland’s comeback, extra innings, a rain delay and the Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in over a century because you were asleep. I get to see the Super Bowl without yawning through the 4th quarter. And I will actually know who becomes our next president when it actually happens — not from a phone alert when I wake up. Important stuff happens at night and I want to see it when it happens.
10. Tikkun Olam.
Tikkun Olam is Hebrew for “repairing the world.” My scheduling has allowed me to make a positive and meaningful contribution as a father, a company leader, and through helping others. I am on the board of two non-profits, I help manage another, I am a speaker. I write for several publications, and am lucky enough to be CEO of an amazing company and an involved father to five successful adult children. My efficient and late-oriented schedule makes all of that possible.
Some folks have found great success going to bed early and getting up early. I have found my comfort and success taking the opposite approach. It’s clear both ways can lead to having a meaningful, successful and productive life. What bedtime and wake-time makes you most successful?
Guest Author: Matt Sweetwood. Originally published on Msweetwood.com