Waking up at 5AM sounded like the dumbest idea to me in my whole life.

I’ve never been a morning person, I love staying up late, and I secretly loathed anyone who boasted about waking up early before the sunrise (even old people!).

OK maybe that’s a bit sarcastic, but you get the point.

But all of that changed when I actually tried it for myself. Go figure.

For the past 6 weeks I’ve been waking up at 5AM, Monday through Friday and it has truly improved my life in tangible and substantial ways.

So much so that I’m never going back.

Don’t Secretly Judge Me

Now I mentioned this in passing when I took you on a day in the life of my business a few weeks ago and I got many questions about my wake up time.

Why do I do it? Is it hard? How has it helped my life?

I’m going to answer those questions today and specifically share with you the 4 sneaky, and rarely talked about benefits of waking up at 5AM.

Even if you are NOT a morning person and you are secretly judging me right now, please stay with me to the end as I think you might be intrigued by this hidden benefits.

Benefit #1 – Mental Clarity And More Effective Work Days

Do you watch sports? Any sport?

If so, tell me have you ever seen your favorite athlete jump right into a game or match or heat without warming up?

Do swimmers take off their track suits and jump in the pool cold?

Do football players run out of the tunnel and then go and tackle an opponent immediately?

Heck no! These people warm up first!

Even cyclists at the Tour de France get on a warm up bike for an hour+ BEFORE they do a 6 hour race! 

Cyclists at the highest levels will ride an hour+ before they actually race!!

Why?

Simple: they perform better when their bodies are warmed up and primed for action.

They are looser, stronger, and more prepared to perform their best.

So why don’t we do the same with our brains before we need to use them all day?!

When I would wake up around 7 or 8, get dressed, maybe eat breakfast, take my kids to school, and then jump right into work at 9 I would sit at my desk like a zombie

I would stare at my screen wondering why I have no good ideas, no creativity, and little drive to serve people and get my work done.

It was because I wan’t warming up.

Now, when I wake up at 5AM I have a few things going for me:

  1. I am physically awake 4 hours before I begin working which means my brain has simply had more time to pump blood and get working, thus the morning fog has long since lifted.
  2. I get a solid hour of quiet time in a dark house to read my bible, pray, read a personal development book, and think. This allows me to focus, reset, and gain clarity and vision for what is going on that day and that week. All without a single distraction. It’s the ultimate warmup.

These days when I get to work I’m ready to hit the ground running and I typically get more done in 2 hours than I would in 4 because I’m not dragging and I’m thinking clearly.

Benefit #2 – Hormonal Health And More Satisfying Sleep

You know what I hate? Waking up tired and groggy.

And I figured that if I was already tired and groggy waking up at 7 or 8 in the morning I would be even more so waking up at 5AM.

Turns out I was completely wrong.

A funny thing happens when you commit to waking up at 5AM, you tend to go to bed earlier at night.

This makes sense right? If you want the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night then you can’t keep plopping down in your bed at midnight.

In order for me to get minimum 7 hours of sleep and wake up at 5AM I realized I would need to be IN BED and asleep by 10PM.

I basically begin moving to the bedroom shortly after 9PM, brush my teeth, lock up the house, and read some light fiction in bed before turning off the light before 10PM.

So why is this helpful to you?

Because according to health expert Shawn Stevenson

It’s been shown that human beings get the most beneficial hormonal secretions and recovery by sleeping during the hours of 10PM to 2AM. This is what I call money time. You get the most rejuvenating effects during this period, and any sleep that you get in addition is a nice bonus. – Shawn Stevenson, Health Expert

Also, renowned neurologist Kulreet Chaudhary, MD says

Timing your sleep is like timing an investment in the stock market – it doesn’t matter how much you invest, it matters when you invest. – Kulreet Chaudhary, MD

The idea is that our bodies were designed to go to sleep within a few hours of it getting dark.

Whether that’s 10PM or 9PM or 11PM isn’t as important as the general idea of following our bodies’ natural rhythms of melatonin secretion, which begins to increase after sundown.

According to Stevenson in his excellent book Sleep Smarter:

Around 10PM your body goes through a transformation following the natural rise of melatonin. The purpose of this transformation is to increase internal metabolic energy, repair, strengthen, and rejuvenate your body. Heightened production of antioxidant hormones happens at this time to help protect your DNA from damage, improve your brain function, and more. – Shawn Stevenson, Health Expert

And I’ve definitely been feeling it.

Sleeping deeper, waking up more refreshed than when I would wake up at 7 or 8. And I just feel healthier overall.

Boom! All by going to be bed by 10PM – which is a natural result of choosing to wake up at 5AM. Nice.

Benefit #3 – The Discipline Ripple Effect

A fascinating thing happened when I began the discipline of starting my day at 5AM – I became more disciplined in other areas of my life.

I started making my bed every morning (something I NEVER did with any consistency), I began putting away all the dishes in the kitchen before work, and I also began exercising every day.

Part of this is due to the extra time I have in the mornings, but most of it is a ripple effect of being disciplined in one area of my life: when I wake up.

There’s something about that simple choice to wake up early that has spilled over into these other little areas, which lead to great results!

As Navy Seal Admiral McRaven famously said in his commencement speech:

If you want to change the world, start by making your bed. – Navy Seal Admiral McRaven

 

My kitchen and bedroom are cleaner and more orderly which makes me happier and more relaxed.

I’m in the best shape of my life because I’m not skipping working out.

And I’m even more disciplined in my eating habits because I don’t stay up late and fall prey to the post dinner boredom induced snack craving.

You know what I’m talking about…

It’s subtle and simple, but by choosing to be disciplined in one area of your life, you can impact so many others.

Benefit #4 – Undeniable Self Confidence (In The Best Way Possible)

I’ve always been a relatively confident person for whatever reason. But like anyone I’ve struggled with insecurity, doubt, and imposter syndrome.

But an interesting thing began to happen when I started waking up at 5AM: I grew more self confident.

Maybe it’s the subtle smug attitude you get from knowing that you are awake while everyone else is snoozing their lazy lives away, or maybe it’s the “pat yourself on the back” feeling of being disciplined in one area of your life.

Either way, when I started this new routine I immediately began to feel like if I could do this, I could do anything!

How I imagine what people think of me now that I’m super awesome and disciplined

I go into work feeling good about my day knowing I’ve already accomplished so much before 9AM.

I feel like I respect myself and I’m being intentional, and both of those things breeds a healthy self confidence that spills over into my work and life.

At times I’ve struggled with depression and “funks” but that’s virtually all but disappeared since waking up at 5AM!

Again all of these benefits are connected but there’s a real change there that can give you a positive boost in your attitude and outlook on life!

Will You Join Me?

Now here’s the moment when I guilt and shame you for not waking up at 5AM…

Just kidding 🙂

But I’m seriously curious…do YOU wake up early as well? It doesn’t have to be exactly 5AM.

If so, what has been the biggest benefit YOU’VE experienced?

And if you don’t, which of these 4 sneaky benefits to waking up at 5AM is most appealing to you and why?

Leave a comment below!

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24 thoughts on “4 Sneaky Benefits To Waking Up At 5AM”

  1. Hi Graham!
    Since my tween girls were born three and a half years ago I wasn’t able to maintain my running routine (I used to jog for 45 minutes every day, Monday through Friday, so that would be my main incentive to wake up earlier (I get up at 6:45 to go to teach at high school, then I come back home, were I work on my own business).
    But I have a question, did your wife shared with you this change in schedule? I don’t se how I could go to bed two hours before my wife (and see even les her going to bed at ten to wake up at 5!!)
    Cheers,
    Javier

    1. She doesn’t wake up as early as me, but she DOES enjoy going to bed early. In fact she has always wanted to get to bed earlier than me, but it finally took me committing to this new schedule for it to happen. As long as you find a rhythm that works for both you and your wife that’s what is MOST important.

    2. I wonder too. My going to bed and waking up are always done with my wife. I want to know how I can share and just do this waking up early project with my wife.

  2. I don’t “wake up” that early as in get out of bed and start working on things. But from 5 on I’m not really sleeping either. So I’m thinking why not just get up and put in a couple of hours before 7 when I normally get out of bed to dress for work etc.. Yea I still have a full time job. But my goal is to turn my business into full time. So 2 hrs x 5 days = 10 hrs — that’s over a full day’s work extra each week on my music and business.

  3. Graham, I’ve contemplated this idea a long time. I always made the excuse that I was more productive at night (I’m a student and I work full-time so I generally get most of my writing and producing done between 10pm-2am). I find that when I am awake in the morning before my requirements (school/class) I feel a positive energy and a motivation to DO things. When I wake up, rush out of the house, and go to work/class, I find myself tired and groggy and still warming up when I get there.

    I think my biggest problem is my nighttime routine. Some nights I don’t get home until 10-11pm after extra curricular activities and I value my free time so I end up playing music or reading or watching a show to end the night and I stay up until 2-3am. How do I learn to let that go, and find the power to go to sleep earlier so I can be more productive the next day? If I woke up every morning at 5am, surely I would be more productive than I currently am.

    Thanks for this Graham, setting my alarm for 5am now!

    1. Great points Greg. I’m the same way in that I used to “wind down” in the evenings and liked staying up late because it was quiet and peaceful. It is a sacrifice for me, to go to bed earlier. But the reward more than makes up for it!

  4. I’m totally with you, I get up at five and love it. My quiet time is actually quiet!! Plus somehow you get so much more done even though I have the same amount of hours awake that I used to! It really is life changing and if you can’t change all in one go, do it by getting up fifteen mins earlier each week.

  5. I still stay up late (old touring musician habits are hard to die) in order to have my own headspace, but I get up most mornings between 4:30am-6am because I have young kids.
    I love late nights AND I love early mornings and I’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years (my eldest is 19 years old), but my body really needs more sleep… Regardless of what Arnold Schwartzenegger says about having less sleep, 4-6 hours of sleep each night ages you faster (not that I look old and haggard) and has negative long-term effects.
    My goal is to keep the early mornings and scale back my late nights, except for when I’m gigging.

  6. Hey Graham,
    I’ve been getting up anywhere between 4-5:30am for years. I have a cold shower, do yoga, read sacred text, meditate, and then go to work. I’ve felt all those benefits. It really sets my day up for success. Daily life involves constant pressures (both physical and psychological) and by preparing your body/mind in the morning, before the sun comes up, you can equal those pressures and truly be ready for anything.

  7. Well I’d like to toot my horn and say I get up at 5am and I love it and I’m not ashamed!

    I do struggle with my wife waking me up as she ever so loudly comes into the bedroom to go to sleep though. That puts a damper on things … 😭

    1. Oh and the benefit is definitely the quiet time I get to have away from the constant and never ending demands of the world on my life.

  8. Thanks for the advice Graham.
    It’s going to be a bit of a challenge changing my going-to-bed time to my getting-out-of-bed time, but the gathering darkness of Autumn (for us in the North Hem.) should be a motivator.
    Unfortunately I live right in a downtown core, so ‘quiet time’ starts around 2am and ends promptly at 6am. Wish me luck!

  9. I totally get this! I’ve been waking up at 5 am at least 2 to 3 times a week and I definitely feel more accomplished on those days. I prefer being a night owl and used to work on my blog in the evenings, but lately my mind shuts down earlier in the evening. Now I’ve made time to work on it for 30 minutes to an hour in the morning before heading out to work. My next goal is to wake up consistently 3 to 4 times a week!!

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