I LOVE the early morning trend that’s currently a-happening. I love that young people are focusing on getting up early, being productive, and leading a healthy life, as opposed to the student lifestyle of going out every night and eating cheap takeaways on a hangover every morning. I love replacing the pub with the hipster café, and meeting friends when it’s still light outside. I even suggested getting up early in my January Blues post.
However, like with any trend, there are people who take it to extremes. Waking up at 5am or even earlier is getting increasingly more popular, and there are countless articles and youtube videos on the subject (great productivity porn, by the way). This is being held up as the golden standard for living a healthy, millennial lifestyle, and like with the “clean eating” trend, it has some serious downsides in terms of health.
The problem with the super early morning trend is that it encourages people to get up at extreme times, without finding a sustainable bedtime to match. If you’re aiming to get up at 5am every day, you should be asleep by 9pm every night. And for most people, this simply isn’t feasible, especially if you live somewhere like London where the commute home and the late working hours will likely pile onto your evenings. More than that: going to bed early isn’t particularly encouraged by the early-morning movement. Sure, they’ll seemingly go to sleep at a reasonable time – 10, maybe 11pm. But for a 4 or 5am start, this simply isn’t enough sleep.
What I suggest is finding the earliest possible time you can expect to be asleep regularly – say 10pm – and work around that – say a 6am start. I know, if feels much more glamorous to get up earlier than that and have all that time before work in the morning. I get it. But you can’t just magic more time into existence – there are only so many hours in the day, and there are limits to how much more productive you can be by getting up earlier and earlier. Losing sleep in exchange for working harder isn’t healthy, and it’s likely to make you less efficient anyway. So do yourself a favour – give yourself the opportunity to get your 8 hours, and hopefully you can still achieve everything you want to accomplish in the remaining 16.