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Do you believe that you have to be an early riser to become happy and successful?
Did you ever motivate yourself to wake up at sunrise but only to feel all grumpy and sluggish throughout the day?
Maybe you thought to yourself, “It’s okay. This is the first day and I will feel great once I make a habit of waking up at sunrise.” (Coz all successful people do it)
The next morning, the alarm goes off! You hit snooze and go back to sleep, only to wake up and realize that it’s way past sunrise.
And finally, you felt disgusted with yourself and thought, “ How the hell am I gonna become successful if I can’t even wake up at the same time as successful people do?”
Well, let me clarify one thing first:
All of this motivation-for-success advice about waking up early is utter crap.
And you know why? Because it is not customized for you to become successful.
We all know that Sleep is one of the most important necessities in life.
Compromising with sleep can jeopardize your health which can lead to a severe lack of productivity with work and a ton of other side effects which has the potential to limit your success.
Let’s look at the wake-up times of some of the most successful people in the world.
- Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson wakes up at 4 AM
- Oprah wakes up between 6 to 6.20 AM
- Jeff Bezos wakes up between 7 to 8 AM
- Mark Zuckerberg wakes up at 8 AM
- Jonah Peretti, Co-Founder of BuzzFeed wakes up at 8.30 AM
- Pharell Williams wakes up at 9 AM
- Aaron Levie, Co-Founder & CEO of Box wakes up at 10 AM
So what’s there to understand from all of this?
Successful people follow their own sleep schedule.
Doing so helps them build success with their work and in their life.
The question now is how do you find your optimal sleep schedule?
I believe that’s why you’re here. So let’s dig in!
What Makes You Sleepy
There are two factors that determine your sleep.
Sleep Drive or Sleep Debt
The Sleep Drive works as a reminder to your body’s need for sleep.
It’s scientifically referred to as the homeostatic system, which is the process of maintenance of our body’s internal health through the regulation of blood pressure, temperature, water, and nutrient content.
More hours you are awake, more will be your sleep drive.
The Circadian System regulates biological processes and alertness levels in our bodies.
A small bunch of neurons, called ‘suprachiasmatic nucleus’ deep within our brain control a vast number of biological cycles to regulate our body’s sleep patterns, eating patterns, core body temperature, brain wave activity, and hormone production over a 24-hour period.
It is your internal biological clock that signals your body when to fall asleep and when to wake up influencing how much sleep you need.
It also affects your attention and cognitive performance by controlling alertness levels influencing when you may be most productive over a 24-hour period.
The alertness levels regulated by the Circadian system, however, vary throughout the day which might have made you experience feeling drowsy and energized around certain times every day.
The interesting part about this is that the Circadian rhythm is determined by your unique chronotype.
A chronotype is your natural tendency to be alert and to sleep during a 24 hour period.
Knowing your chronotype can help you synchronize your daily activities, your work, and your sleep routine to your circadian rhythm so you can optimize your time, health, and productivity.
What’s Your Chronotype
Dr. Michael Breus is a psychologist and sleep specialist who also calls himself “the Sleep Doctor”.
He popularised four different categories of chronotypes after findings from several research studies in his book ‘The Power of When.’
He labeled the four different chronotypes after mammals who exhibit similar sleeping patterns in their circadian rhythm.
Let’s find out the different categories:
People with the Bear chronotype generally have no problem with sleeping and their sleep-wake patterns follow the sun. They feel the most energetic and productive in the daytime, generally in the middle of the morning.
Wake Up (approx.): 7 AM
Go To Sleep (approx.): 11 PM
People with the Lion chronotype are early risers. They can easily wake up before dawn and are the most energetic and productive in the morning. They naturally get tired by evening, often going to sleep early.
Wake Up (approx.): 5.30 AM
Go To Sleep (approx.): 10.30 PM
Wolves are the night owls who clock their most productive hours between the middle of the day and evening. Naturally, they go to sleep and wake up later than others.
Wake Up (approx.): 7-7.30 AM
Go To Sleep (approx.): 12 AM
Dolphins are very light sleepers which often leads to irregular sleep routines and lack of quality sleep.
They experience their best productive hours from mid-morning to early afternoon.
Wake Up (approx.): 6.30 AM
Go To Sleep (approx.): 11.30 PM
Find Out Your Chronotype
Dr. Breus has taken all of his research findings and developed a quiz for us to identify our chronotype.
You can take the test using the link below to find out your chronotype.
After you take the test, he also shares a few emails helping you understand your sleep patterns better.
Can You Change Your Chronotype
You cannot change your natural chronotype specifically because it is determined by your genes.
The best you can do to change from a wolf to a lion is to hack it by exposing yourself to bright light to reset your circadian clock or take melatonin supplements at specific times of the day to help you fall asleep.
But it is not recommended by doctors as a long-term solution.
Trying to hack your biological clock might leave you with sleep deprivation and affect your health and productivity severely.
Consult a doctor before trying out any hacks with sleep.
Work with your Chronotype
You can listen to your biological clock and learn to work with your chronotype rather than against it.
Following a schedule according to your circadian rhythm will optimize your health, performance, and sleep. Here’s what you can do to work with your chronotype to optimize your sleep and performance:
- Identify your Chronotype
- Pay attention to your energy levels throughout the day (from fatigued to most productive)
- Set a Sleep Time: Identify your ideal sleep timings with at least 8 hours to sleep
- Do enough physical activity to feel tired by the end of the day
- Reduce bright light exposure at least 2~3 hours before Sleep Time
- Set a Work Time: Identify your peak energy and productivity timings
- Schedule the most important work and activities during your Work Time
- Keep track of your sleep and work performance
- Tweak and organize until you get it right
To become successful in life, you need to know exactly what is the best possible way for you to achieve success with everything that you do. Being able to identify your optimum schedules for rest and productivity can make a world of difference in the way you’re trying to build your life.
Stop beating yourself up if you cannot wake up early in the morning or work till late at night.
Success matters only when you achieve it in your own way. And the path towards success starts with taking care of yourself and working in your best possible way.
Customize your life for the kind of success you are passionate about. Trust me it’ll be worth it!
Here’s a nice table of the four chronotypes with Dr. Breus’s recommended routines, put together by the folks at Business Insider.
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