Successful people wake up at 4am. Should you, too?

The answer shouldn't surprise anyone who reads my newsletter or blog.

By Michael J. Breus

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Published: Mon 24 Jun 2019, 10:22 PM

Last updated: Tue 25 Jun 2019, 12:23 AM

Is 4am the new 6am?

I'll let you decide . and I'll share the results of a sleep makeover I did for a journalist later in this article.

Recently in an article in the Wall Street Journal, a journalist interviewed several billionaires and discovered that they all seem to find 4am as their "most productive time of day." If you want to learn why this will only work out for about 15 per cent of the population, keep reading.

The reasoning, according to the reporter, that this crazy early morning hour is so good for the interviewee's productivity was threefold:

1. At that hour, there are minimal distractions (kids, family, employees or bosses)

2. There is almost no one emailing to texting you

3. There is less to look at on social media

The group of people were not a huge surprise: Tim Cook (CEO of Apple), Richard Branson (CEO of Virgin Atlantic), Michelle Gass (former President of Starbucks; you know she's drinking her product at 4am). But what was so interesting to me was that most of these people saw this time of the morning as "personal" time for their productivity.

They used the time to set up their day in a positive manner, exercise, read for personal growth, meditate, or pray. In addition, the interviewees report that they all now go to bed much earlier, which may have some social implications for them.

These predawn tasks they are performing are all great things to do. It begs the questions: Why at that time? Why can they do it? Is it something I should try?

The answer shouldn't surprise anyone who reads my newsletter or blog, it is because they know their chronotype. If they are natural Early Risers, this can be an easy transition, but 4am seems a bit extreme.

Of course, there are people who naturally wake early, maybe around 5-5:30am, I call these people Lions or extreme early birds. But there are only about 15 per cent of the population that can do something like this successfully (and not at 4am).

This is a genetic issue, your chronotype is an aspect of your genetics, not your alarm clock. Early morning routines are great, I can't say I would recommend 4am, but if you are going to bed according to your chronotype you will know if this is a schedule for you or not. And here is a hint: for 85 per cent of people, this is NOT a good idea.

I know why these articles are so popular. They make a person think, "If these successful people all do this, and I want to be successful, then I should do this!" Unfortunately, this is simply not the case for most of us (myself included, I am more of a Wolf or night owl).

But if you are going to try to do this, which I only recommend for Lions, here are a few ideas:

. Get to bed on time, to allow yourself at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep. So if you are up at 4am you should have lights out by 9:30pm (this gives you 30 minutes to fall asleep)

. Stay consistent. Don't just pick a few mornings, if you do, it will really mess up your biological clock.

. Wear blue blocking glasses at night for 60 minutes before bed, this will help you fall asleep easier with less blue light exposure.

. Consider 5am not 4am. 4 am is extreme for any chronotype and unlikely to be a truly productive hour for most people.

-Psychology Today

Michael J. Breus is a clinical psychologist and a diplomate ?of the American Board of Sleep Medicine

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