Waking Up At 4AM WONT Make You More Productive (But This Schedule Will!)
Should You Wake Up Earlier?
Anyone who has spent time in or around self improvement circles has heard it:
“Want to be more productive and successful? Wake up at some crazy time in the morning!”
It used to be 6, then it was 5, now it’s 4… Will it soon be 3?
Given the amount of successful people swearing by this schedule — from David Goggins to Steve Jobs, Jocko Willink to Jack Dorsey, Richard Branson to Dwayne Johnson — with some surveys suggesting 90% of executives wake up before 6AM, there must be something to this waking up early thing, right?
Well, there is. But it’s not as simple as the headlines would have you believe.
In truth, the association between waking up early and business success falls prey to a corelation causation error—rather than one causing the other, there is a third variable causing both.
Understanding this variable, and how is applies to you personally, is what will actually help you get the most out of your energy during the day.
What is this third variable? Its something called your “chronotype”.
Meet: Your Chronotype
According to Michael Breus, one of the foremost sleep researchers in the world:
Every person has an inbuilt biological rhythm that dictates their energy and rest hormones. These rhythms are mostly fixed for our entire adult lives regardless of when we actually wake up or sleep.
Further, any individual tends to fall in to one of four distinct energy cycles, termed their chronotype, which are commonly associated with specific temperamental traits.
Dr. Breus book, The Power Of When, describes the four types as follows:
The Lion — “The Early Riser”
Percent of Population: 20%
Natural Schedule: Rise before the sun, sleep in early evening (~5AM to ~9PM)
Common Traits: Conscientious, driven, emotionally stable, practical, optimistic, overachieving, health conscious, success seeking
The Bear — “Normal” Schedule
Percent of Population: 50%
Natural Schedule: Rise with sun, sleep in late evening (~7AM to ~11PM)
Common Traits: Cautious, extroverted, friendly, easy going, happiness minded, comfort seeking
The Wolf — “The Night Owl”
Percent of Population: 20%
Natural Schedule: Rises long after sun, sleep very late in evening (~10AM to ~3AM)
Common Traits: Impulsive, pessimistic, creative, moody, emotionally intense, pleasure seeking
The Dolphin — “The Insomniac”
Percent of Population: 10%
Natural Schedule: Malleable and inconsient. Rarely sleeps through the night. Frequent naps.
Common Traits: Cautious, introverted, neurotic, intelligent, perfectionistic, detail oriented, stability seeking
According to Breus’ research:
We all have energy at specific times of the day, and when our schedule is out of sync with our best times, we leave a significant amount of productivity (and likely, happiness) on the table.
So while it may be true that it’s often in the Lion’s biology to be an early rising, optimistic, hyper conscientious go-getter built to reach the top percentile of business success, that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t massively optimize our output by getting aligned with our own schedules.
Below is the recommended schedule for each type:
A few notes on this:
The schedules above assume that you work an 8-5 job. When possible Lions often benefit from shifting their schedules an hour or more earlier, while wolves often benefit by shifting their schedules an hour or more later.
The schedules above also assume you fit neatly in to one of the four categories. Personally, as a “turbo wolf” diagnosed with Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, I followed the wolf schedule when I worked a salary job, but after working for myself, realized it works best for me when shifted 3-4 hours later.
So: use these schedules as a jumping off point, and dial in over time what works best for you.
Below is the quiz to find your chronotype, the full book, as well as the audiobook chapters (free, Youtube) for each type.
Quiz: The Power Of When Quiz
Full book: The Power Of When By Michael Breus
Dolphin Chapter: The Power Of When by Michael Breus Audiobook
Lion Chapter: The Power Of When by Michael Breus Audiobook
Bear Chapter: The Power Of When by Michael Breus Audiobook
Wolf Chapter : The Power Of When by Michael Breus Audioboo