This is one of my favorite subjects as it’s highly contrarian. From Navy Seals, who hit the gym at 4.30am, to many CEO’s who seem to excel each other in when they get up exercising or working, to Thomas Edison who worked 4 hours, slept 4 hours, worked 4 hours etc. What’s the secret formula and how can you get the most out of your day?
Let’s look at science for a start. There are two things to consider. A human’s biorhythm, you are either an early bird or a late riser. Secondly, one’s levels of Melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone the body’s pineal gland produces. During the day, the gland is inactive but as soon as the sun goes down and darkness comes up the gland is switches on. (Ever wondered why when taking an overseas flight and they close the windows during your (normal) daytime, sooner or later you are getting tired?) Melatonin levels stay in the blood for about 12 hours and is barely traceable during the day.
However, science has also proven that the difference between the early bird and the late riser is only a few hours in your natural wake up time.
Do you struggle getting up in the early morning? If you put 10 alarm clocks as far away from bed as possible and poison your body with high doses of caffeine, will you be highly effective for the first few hours of working or training? You certainly want to stop poison yourself and surely with a better diet in general, sleep will improve. But will you get up at 5am always? Consistently?Likewise, if you struggle after 2000 o’clock to get something done, will you want to work a night shift!
The practical tip is to watch your sleep and fitness pattern. Any smartphone app can support you by doing this. Then look at the results. What’s the earliest you can get up without feeling dead and what’s the latest you can go to bed without being hopeless the next day.
Sounds easy?…well, hold off! Lets call it discipline and habit, and that’s where the difficulty sets in. Our daily life is structured along certain time zones, albeit it is so much better in the last years with opening hours, online shopping, flexible work hours etc.
We all struggle to leave our comfort zones. Very often we have told our brain long enough, it’s impossible for me to do this or that. Habits deeply anchor in our subconscious.
When your sleep and wake pattern suggests it’s fair to get up between 06.30am and 07.30am how much discipline do you have to get up and get going, well knowing your body has had enough sleep to function? Likewise, when your bed time is between 21.30 and 22.30 who says you have to watch 2 hours TV before, instead of doing something useful which doesn’t require the utmost of your concentration?
It’s the choices we make that define how much we get out of a day. Knowing your levels of high and low concentration on any given day, knowing when your body is ready for exercise and when not gives you a head start in planning. Do the work the matters most in the hours of high concentration, do the stuff you can accomplish on autopilot during hours of low concentration, better, exercise during those hours as your body produces dopamine and serotonin (feel good hormones) which will accelerate you and push you through your next phase. Let the world around you know what body type you are. Still, get enough sleep! Its during our sleep time when our body reduces the levels of adrenalin and cortisol, the stress hormones and makes you ready for the next day.
Lastly, its YOU who matters, you can pick your holy hour at 5am or 10pm, there is no right or wrong. Live and sleep through YOUR life at YOUR hours and do YOUR best work at the time it suits YOU. I don’t mean to be selfish and live out of context. Just don’t live others people lives at their times! Maybe that requires change of what you are doing now but it opens up a deeper satisfaction and higher productivity once you put the discipline in.