Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy & wise.
Everyone has heard the classic Benjamin Franklin quote, but few apply it in their own lives.
There is a good reason that military forces around the world rise early. It’s one of the first traits they instill in fresh recruits because it is the basic building block of self-discipline. From there it’s easier to conquer other lazy habits.
Have you ever heard of a high-powered businessman who sleeps in till 10 or 11 in the morning? No of course not, because such a person would be unlikely to rise to the top ranks in the business world. He would be easily dominated by his competitors, who would run circles around him each morning before he was even awake. As the saying goes, showing up is half the battle.
In my decades of observation and experience, I have come to accept the truth of this proverb. The people in my life who habitually rise by 6am are generally go-getters with high levels of self-mastery, and successful careers or businesses. Conversely, I’ve known many people who are awake into the wee hours and stay in bed until mid-morning, and they have mostly been mediocre people lacking in motivation and accomplishment. I used to be one of them.
Now I arise at 5am every morning and I’m in bed by 9:30pm. Weekends are no exception. I have seen firsthand how it increases my productivity and competitiveness. My peak efficiency is during the first few hours of the day, and this is a very commonly reported phenomenon. It’s a great feeling to literally get more done before 9am than most people do all day, and it does wonders for your career and personal goals. My mind feels sharper and fresher in the morning, and I frequently awaken with breakthroughs that came to me in the night, which I’m eager to put to paper before they’re forgotten.
Most people who stay up late and sleep in are full of lame excuses, the most common one being “I’m a night owl”. Nobody is born a night owl, and nobody has a natural proclivity to keep late night hours. It’s a bad habit that forms over time, like so many others. It indicates a lack of self-discipline and a severe laziness, and this is why it’s looked down upon by successful people.
“I have insomnia” is another pathetic excuse. If you have insomnia, then why do you tolerate it? Why do you not pursue a solution to this problem, instead of living with it for years? Insomnia is an indicator of poor physical or mental health, and there are dozens of proven methods for combating it. To accept such a condition as inevitable is the mark of a cowardly weakling…a loser.
Why is it so bad to stay up late? Because it’s a waste of time. It saps your vital energy and sacrifices productive time for leisure. Let’s look at what most people are doing if they’re still awake after 10pm:
- Drinking in bars or nightclubs
- Doing drugs, smoking weed
- Watching television
- Surfing the internet
- Dicking around on social media
- Playing video games
- Watching porn and masturbating
- “Hanging out” wasting time with other losers
None of these things brings you any positive self-development or improvement in your life. They are just time-wasters to fill the void. And in order to engage in these destructive activities, you must sacrifice the most productive hours of the day by sleeping through them!
By contrast, none of those things are typically done in the morning hours between 5 and 9am. Instead, it’s common to fill those hours with more constructive things:
- Stretching, exercising, and running
- Preparing and eating a healthy breakfast
- Preparing a healthy lunch to bring with you
- Grooming, hygiene, and dressing neatly
- Organizing a game plan for the day
- Catching up on business emails
- Creative endeavors like writing
- Reading the news or favorite blogs
- Working on a side business
- Beating the commuter traffic
- Showing up to work early
- Viewing amazing sunrises
Personally when I work salaried positions I make sure that I can arrange with my employer to come in early and leave early. If they require me to work standard commuter hours, I probably won’t accept the job. Not only do I hate fighting all the zombie-like drivers in the daily rush hour grind, but I find that co-workers are harmful distractions more often than not. I get more done in those peaceful early morning hours at work from 6 to 9am than I do in the remainder of the day.
It’s always easy to identify the people at work who stay up late. They are typically the first people you’d want to fire if you were paying their wages. They don’t eat proper breakfast, so they are showing up weak and hungry, or else they bring their food with them and eat unhealthy snack foods on company time. They eat garbage and they don’t exercise. For this reason, most of them are fat and sluggish. They usually have a slovenly appearance, wearing wrinkled clothing and scuffed shoes because they only had time to grab something off their floor. Some don’t even take a proper shower half the time. Many of them check in and then disappear to the bathroom for fifteen minutes to take care of business they should have done at home. They are always racing the clock but never beating it, chronically arriving 10 or 15 minutes late. They are tired and grouchy for the first couple hours of their day, until they pump themselves full of coffee.
These people are universally looked down on by those who exert self-discipline in their lives. They are rarely given promotions or raises, because they can’t even be bothered to show up on time, ready for work. They frequently call in late or sick with lame excuses, when the real reason is that they overslept again. And they are never giving 100% at work because you can only do that when you are healthy and well-rested.
When you indulge in a lifestyle of being a “night owl”, you are essentially trading productivity for time-wasting. It’s just not possible for most people to be efficient and productive on meaningful tasks between the hours of 10pm and dawn. It’s the period when a healthy body is naturally slowing down and telling you that it wants sleep. Sitting around on the couch gazing at a screen is a compromise – it’s relaxing but it’s not restful. You won’t be going to the gym at 10pm because you are tired. You are not doing great work on a side business at that hour because your mind is slow and foggy. Your clients and business contacts are unreachable until morning. All you are doing is killing time.
There are exceptions to every rule, and we can accept that the rare few are somehow wired differently and do their best work at night. If this is the case for you, it will be apparent in the results of your highly-successful life. There are also people who can be alcoholics and still build a big pile of wealth. But for the vast majority, they are only lying to themselves in the desperate avoidance of getting their act together. You can argue that the people who succeed in spite of their bad habits would have been even more successful without them.
What can you do to change the nasty habit of staying up late and sleeping in?
It’s not as hard as you think. You simply need to make a steady, gradual change as with any other lifestyle modification. Here’s what worked for me: set your alarm for a specific time, and wake up at that time whether you feel like it or not. Your fatigue will force you to bed earlier that night. Start going to bed a half hour earlier every night until you are at the point where you’re falling asleep 8 hours before your alarm goes off.
Obviously if you have addiction issues, you’ll need to address those first. Many people stay up late because they are alcoholics, drug addicts, porn addicts, or video game addicts. These poisonous pastimes should be completely cut out of your life if you want to step up to the plate and be a real man.
Assuming your addictions aren’t the problem, then you merely need to tell your body it is being put on a new schedule, and give it a couple months to adapt.
Go to bed earlier even if you don’t feel tired. If you lay there tossing and turning, so be it. This will fade in time. For me, reading a good book in bed, for a half hour before lights out, never fails to put me to sleep.
Make sure your bedroom is conducive to a good night’s sleep. Darken it completely, block out unwanted noise with a fan or white noise generator, try playing nature sounds on your phone or a small speaker if you suffer from noise distraction. If you’re a social media or internet addict, keep your phone and computer in a different room. Get rid of the TV in your bedroom. Invest in the most comfortable bed you can buy. Make your bed every day. Invest in high-quality pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets with high thread counts. Your sleep is so important you should never pinch pennies on your bedding.
Another tip is to exercise a couple hours before bed time. This will make you naturally more tired and it will often lead to sound sleep.
Don’t drink excessive caffeine, and avoid it completely after noon. Don’t eat sugary foods, sodas, or desserts after 7pm (or ever ideally).
If you have any physical maladies such as heartburn, sore muscles, or back pain which prevent you from sleeping well, then address the causes of these symptoms and vow to heal yourself. Nothing in life is more important than your physical health and your sleep. If you don’t realize this already, you will as you get older. Without good health and good rest, you will be sleepwalking through your days, and you’ll never reach your full potential in whatever you desire to achieve. This is a battle that is well worth fighting, and it will pay guaranteed dividends for life, just the same as regular exercise and healthy eating will. Good luck!