Recently, a colleague invited all his friends and clients to join him in the ‘ Morning Club’. This required getting up at 5 a.m., exercising, working on projects for several hours and getting children off to school before arriving at the office at 9 a.m. This routine was touted as a means to make you more productive as you would have completed several tasks before you even got to the office.
Though I am very happy for my colleague for having found a routine which works for him and helps him achieve his goals, it is erroneous to assume that this routine will work for everyone. In fact, many people who try this routine will find that their health and well-being suffers and they are less productive than before. I know this both from my personal experience as well as working with hundreds of clients who request help in healing both their sleep and their health.
The idea of getting up early ‘to get things done’ comes from the view in our society that we are only valued when we are productive and sleep is to be minimized because it keeps us from being productive.
Our society also still reflects an agricultural orientation that required working when the sun was shining. Even though electricity allows us to work when it is dark outside, we still adhere to the principle of ‘making hay when the sun shines.’
In our need to get up early and get work done, we have now become quite sleep deprived. In fact, most surveys show that up to 50% of us are getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night. This, while other research shows that the best health outcomes and longevity are associated with nightly sleep of between 7 and 8 hours.
If you are regularly getting up at 5 a.m. even though you would rather be sleeping, it is likely you are sleep deprived and if you are sleep deprived, you will be less productive, sick more often and at greater risk of making mistakes and being injured.
Another reason not to join the Morning Club is because you may be most productive and do your best work later in the day or at night. I am such a ‘night owl’ and I tried for a long time to be in the ‘Morning Club’ until a physical crisis taught me that I was healthiest and most successful if I followed my own best waking and productivity schedule.
Night owls have been indoctrinated to believe that there is virtue in waking early, and even if they are successful in life and work, they find it difficult to overcome the shame and guilt of not being able to be ‘early birds.’
If you are an early bird type and being a member of the Morning Club allows you to be healthy and successful, great! But realize that we are not all programmed to be early birds and trying to do so is detrimental to our health and well-being. Rather than believing we can all be part of the Morning Club, we should be more focused on recognizing when we are most awake and alert and plan our sleeping and waking schedule accordingly. That is how and when we will be most productive, healthy, creative and successful.