5 Reasons to Wake Up Earlier (and 2 Reasons to Skip It)

Could you wake up two hours earlier every day? Rachel Gillett at Fast Company tried it for a week, rising at 6:30 a.m. and tallying up the ways in which it improved her productivity and happiness, both in her personal life and at work -- plus, a few of the challenges involved in resetting her daily clock.

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(Photo Credit: Art4TheGlryOfGod/Flickr)

First things first: waking up earlier won't work for everyone.

1. Experiments like these are easier if you're not a working parent.

"Many [parents] pointed out that they rarely have the luxury of sleeping until 6:30 a.m., which would make their wake-up time for this project much earlier," writes Gillett. "This seems implausible, though some have done it."

Her colleague Scott Thigpen, for example, regularly rises at 3:50 a.m., in order to have some peace and quiet before his two children wake up. He often meditates during his morning hours, which sometimes just consists of quietly enjoying a cup of coffee without interruption.

2. Not everyone's work and life rhythms are the same. 

If you're a morning person, waking up earlier buys you extra hours to create and think, but if you're a night person, you might just feel exhausted, as if you're tacking on more unproductive time long before your brain kicks in.

If you can get stuff done in the morning, however, there are rewards to getting up much earlier than usual, including:

1. Increased energy, especially if you, like Gillett, use the time to work out first thing in the morning.

2. Weight loss. Again, the early morning workouts might help, but so can having a bit more time to plan meals, eat slowly, and just generally reduce stress.

3. Improved punctuality. One reader tells Gillett that getting up earlier makes it easier for her to make early-morning meetings and flights.

4. More time to yourself. Want to train for a marathon, write a book, or pick up a hobby you abandoned years ago? Getting up earlier than everyone else is a great way to do it.

5. Less rushing around. Some stress is healthy, inspiring us to do our best work, strive for a goal, or improve ourselves. The pressure we feel when we're constantly just a few minutes behind isn't that healthy kind of stress. Get up earlier, and you start the day ahead, instead of behind.

Tell Us What You Think

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30 Comments

  1. 30 LALLU PANWADI 30 Aug
    tell me one thing... Do you have any other thing to do !!!!!!!!!??????? 5:30 am is a time... and 2 hours, i.e. 3:30 am... try your self and then try a write up... A write up on how it feels to get-up at 3:30 am, and work all day long till 10:00 pm then commute back 1 hour, have dinner, spend some time with family, plan for next day... do it for 1 week and write... I am sure everyone will appreciate your article then.... Being into core industry(construction, manufacturing, services, etc.) is not about your timing; it's about timing yourself....
  2. 29 Tater 29 Aug
    6:30 AM-- shoot a lot times already leaving 4:30 Am Average is 5:30--any earlier might as well not go bed....HECK
  3. 28 Amy 29 Aug
    It's really irritating when someone writes and article like this. Obviously they do not already get up @ 6am in the morning and have to get a 4 yr old ready and leave by 7am to drop your child off at school and to be at work by 8. They need a dose of reality. Another thing that gets on my nerves is people who keep croaking that old saying "the early bird gets the worm". Well have you ever thought that the last mouse gets the cheese?
  4. 27 Mary T 29 Aug
    Why 2 hours? How about 1 hour. You can gat quite a bit accomplished in an hour of uninterrupted time. Might help with productivity while not make you totally exhausted. Maybe even every other day.
  5. 26 Charlie 29 Aug
    keep watching. wake up early is good, just not fit my situation.
  6. 25 Chris K. 29 Aug
    I agree with most comments. However, I already get up at 5:30 am, live only minutes from NYC, and I manage construction projects in NYC. If you don't know union construction rules, the workers are required to have their toolbelts ON and swinging hammers at 7:00am on the dot. As the construction manager, I need to have every single person orchestrated, planned, and coordinated for the entire day well before work starts. So what the hell time did you now want me to get up? thats what i thought. the author needs to live in the real world for a few days!!!!
  7. 24 Tazza 29 Aug
    Like most of the prior posters I'd also have to get up at an hour that's not practical (3.30am) I have a one hour commute to and from work and work 10 hours days even though officially it's only 9 - I'm in Engineering. That's 12 hours a day gone in total before I've even started on things like meals, cleaning, *attempting* to relax etc. Heck even on Saturday nights when I normally get smashed I still get up way before 8.30am on Sunday because I can't sleep in no matter what anymore.. I guess it's habit. Whoever wrote this article - I want your job :P
  8. 23 tina 28 Aug
    I'm going to give this a whizz although in the past its just meant I have spent longer getting ready. Although fitting in a swim every morning would be great since I've been paying for a membership for 8 months and been about 5 times due to available time with young children and a hubby that works late every day.
  9. 22 Alex 28 Aug
    As per most comments, are you for real? Jump straight outta bed into the shower and dressed followed by breakfast and out the door in 30mins for 7min journey to work all on 6.5/7 hours sleep thats me. As it is I get up at 0200 to start at 0300 for an 11hour shift driving articulated heavy trucks. You can get even more done when the roads are empty. Amature article but loving the comments discussion. Eat Sleep Rave Repeat.
  10. 21 Willie 28 Aug
    This is crazy, probably make sense for a free-lance writer that gets paid by the article. If my logic is correct, you normally wake up at 8:30am. Just doesn't seem plausible for people in Corporate America, medical, logistics or manufacturing. I see retail and services as a possibility only.
  11. 20 Donna 28 Aug
    I agree with many of the readers - I would need to set my alarm for 3:30 AM - crazy With a long commute and long working hours I barely get enough sleep now
  12. 19 JT 28 Aug
    I have seen the folks that are "morning people." They are barely awake in the middle of the afternoon and end up drinking a gallon of coffee. People are meant to be awake when the sun comes up. Not earlier.
  13. 18 Cari 28 Aug
    I wake up at 6:00am....So, I should wake up at 4:00am....Are you CRAZY!!!! I have an hour and a half commute (1 1/2) and I have to be at work by 9:00am....I wake up at 6:00am....Spend 9-18 minutes hating the alarm clock....The rest is spent getting ready....I have to be dressed....I mean dressed!!!! No dungarees, funky skirts, "cool" garb. I have to have on suits, polished dresses and matching shoes....It takes TIME!!!! Who are you relating too?
  14. 17 Cordaro W. 28 Aug
    I wake up every morning around 4:30. Im in the army so i use to being exhusted by the end of the day but i would say that it does help me out in the morning. 2hr is more thaen enough time to get your day started
  15. 16 Chris 28 Aug
    I prefer sleeping at 3a or 4a and waking at 9:30a. My job allows for it, and it works for me. I'm most productive in the hours after 11pm, when again, everyone's asleep, no one is calling, no emails are coming in.
  16. 15 God's Mentor 28 Aug
    Best plan is to win the lottery. Beat that evil Genesis 3:16 thru 19 bull-oney. Then you can do as you please. I'm trying to teach the good Lord these principles but he's a stubborn ol' chap!
  17. 14 scott 28 Aug
    That was pointless
  18. 13 OMG 28 Aug
    You were able to get up at 6:30 AM for a whole week????
  19. 12 Nate A. 28 Aug
    So two hours earlier for most working professionals would mean getting up at 4:30am. Is Rachel Gillette a part-time writer in grad school??
  20. 11 Cliff 28 Aug
    "Early bird catches the worm...so if you want something different for breakfast get up a little later." I thought the same thing as others that have posted...you get up at 6:30 meaning you were able to get up at 8:30 before? Wow, what a life.
  21. 10 Terri Foth 28 Aug
    You do not wake up early enough. I am already to work by 6:30 and I work till 5:00 pm most days. By 3:00pm my internal clock is ready to shut down. Do I get paid for these hours? Included into my salary. Yes, during the early morning and no-one is at work, I am able to accomplish a lot.
  22. 9 Hayley 28 Aug
    I wake up between 4:00-5:00am every day. That is so I can work the 10-11 hours days I need to keep my head at water level but get home at a decent time to spend with my family and take care of other responsibilities.
  23. 8 Ime Isua-ikoh 28 Aug
    I think i'd give it a try.
  24. 7 Phil 28 Aug
    Most mornings I wake up between 5 and 5:30 but usually don't get up until after the 6:00 news, weather and sports. I would like to sleep in on weekends but too many year of early rising seems to prevent that. It would be interesting to know if the writer goes to bed early. I don't think I've slept in until 8:30 since I was a teenager.
  25. 6 Sue Schwartz 28 Aug
    The thing that prompted me to start work at 6:30 am is the unbearable commuter traffic in Johannesburg. I could sleep in 'til seven and spend 2 hours ion the road, or I could leave home at 6:am and get to work in 20 minutes. Plus I've negotiated with the company to leave at 4pm and still get home in daylight and spend real quality time with the family. I've become far more productive in the 2 hours at work before the crowds arrive. Works for me.
  26. 5 Jim 28 Aug
    I don't see any mention of going to bed 2 hours earlier. I would think the touted beneffits of waking 2 hours earlier would be lost with 2 hours less sleep.
  27. 4 Amy 28 Aug
    Waking up 2 hours earlier isn't very practical advice for most people. I already wake up at 5:30 am to get to work by 7:00-7:30 am. I wish I had the luxury to sleep in till 8:30 like the Fast Company writer! I don't even do that on weekends, and I don't even have kids.
  28. 3 Diane 27 Aug
    Unfortunately it sort of works and sort of doesn't work for me. I'm more of a nighthawk and do the opposite of your suggestion. After my husband goes off to bed, that's when I get my 'stuff' done. This can work in one's favour and then not if one works days!
  29. 2 K.D. 27 Aug
    My decision 8 months ago to get up at 4:30 has resulted in every one of the five good outcomes. I've lost 40 pounds, become much more fit, arrive at work between 7 and 7:30 sharp and alert. Plus I have time before the rest of the team gets in to prepare for my day.
  30. 1 Kerry 26 Aug
    I am a Morning person and in 1987 I decided to start getting up at 6:00 AM. to Run, work on bills have quiet time I have raised five children, and get a leg up on the world. I have believed Poor Richard from his almanac "Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise." When more pressure mounted I got up earlier. I am now a 4:30 AM person. No alarm, no bells, Sunday, vacation, lay offs, Holidays I always wake up at 4:30 AM. At 10:30 PM I tend to get grumpy and its time for bed. No Letterman, late night TV or Star Gazing. I have two children that are nocturnal and work best from 4 PM to Midnight or 2:00 AM and they hit the sack about the time I get up.

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