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At last! An article talking about sleeping in to be productive. If I wasn’t the one writing the article I know I’d be reading it for sure. I have always been a late riser. Not from the perspective of being lazy, my body just likes the 2nd shift a little better.
If this sounds like you, wipe the “sleepys” out of your eyes and let’s explore why waking up early isn’t for everyone.
Why Waking up Early Sucks
Waking up early is touted by so many people as being the key to productivity. But the thing is, not everyone who wakes up that early is really perky and energetic.
The phrase “not a morning person” has some validity to it. Way back when cavemen were dragging their cavewomen home, our bodies adjusted to sleeping at different times of the day. It’s a survival thing more than a lazy thing.
Having someone who stays awake and watches out for anything potentially trying to eat you was pretty important back then. There was no rush hour commute or early morning meetings to get to. It was all about surviving another 24 hours.
If Waking up Early Sucks Why Do People Do It?
Many people are simply following the routine they’ve made for themselves. Waking up at 5AM every day for 40 years is a pretty difficult habit to break. Many people make adjustments and fight their body clock to accommodate their job or desired lifestyle.
For instance: In the military, rising before the crack of dawn is a discipline that’s drilled in. Then again, if you want to be a trial lawyer, there aren’t too many courtrooms in session at 2:30AM.
A well-publicized study also found that our sleep patterns might be in our genes. But the choices we make about our sleep environments and sleep habits can make a significant difference. Sleep studies go either way. You just have to make your choice of sleep schedule work for you. Read on if you are a night owl.
What Do the Experts Say about Waking Early?
You can’t click through Twitter or a productivity site without someone talking about the benefits of waking early and its correlation to success. Some of the reasons people profess getting up before the roosters crow is the thing to do are:
- Time to Exercise
- Alone Time to Reflect
- Time with Family
- Plan Your Day
The wake-up time suits their routine and business/careers. But what if you have a more flexible schedule?
Countering the Notion of Early Rising
The luxury of living in our times is that we don’t need to be early risers to be successful. It’s hard enough to relax and destress, let alone have a regular sleep schedule.
The good news: all of the tasks you can do in the morning can be done at various times of the day. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t get up early:
- If you live in that part of the world, it makes the gray winter days longer.
- If you aren’t used to it, you’ll be tired sooner.
- If you can’t get into the office early, you can’t get ahead on work; so what would you do with the extra time?
- If you have kids, you need all the sleep you can get.
How to counter the early to rise notion.
- Nap if possible. Shift workers benefit from power naps.
- Stay up later. You’ll have a reason to get everything done before bed.
- Block your time and work on important tasks when you’re body wants to work.
- Everyone will be asleep later in the day so you can still have your quiet time.
Here is a snapshot of my schedule. I planned my schedule because I am much more creative from 3PM onwards. I tend to tackle any meetings or calls and other administrative stuff early in my day whenever possible.
9AM-10AM: Wake up
10AM-11:00AM: Have a light breakfast and read.
12PM-12:30PM: Lunch and read.
12:30PM-1PM: Send emails so local clients will get the email right after lunch.
1PM-4PM: Write, edit, send proposals, cold calls and emails, marketing.
4PM-6PM: Flex time. I fill in with tasks that need to be finished. This may be research, emails, calls, and depending on the time of year, coaching soccer.
6PM-8PM: Dinner and family time.
11PM-12AM: Plan the next day.
12AM-1AM Relax and wind down.
Your personal schedule may be different because you might be a third-shift person where you like to work at night. I believe the morning isn’t some magical time of the day when there is a productivity turbo button and you get all things done just because the sun is in the East. It’s more about personal routine and habits than the time of day.
Tips for Working Odd Hours
When working odd hours, the sun is not always there to usher in natural light. Having good lighting is important for your eyes so you don’t easily fatigue. The first thing is to follow the 20/20/20 rule. The rule states you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Try it and see how much of a difference it makes.
Use a Chrome extension like eyeCare to remind you about the rule.
Apps for Less Eye Fatigue
Try apps to help reduce eye strain. F.lux (All platforms except Android) will adjust the colors of your screen to help with fatigue and to help you sleep better. That’s right, sleep better.
When you are in front of your super bright screen at 2AM, your body can think it should be awake. You’ll need a lot more off-screen time for your mind to adjust for you to fall asleep. Kind of the same principle of not watching television before bed and you’ll sleep better.
Deluminate is a Google Chrome extension you can use for better reading at night. Deluminate inverts the colors on your browser making it easier to read in lower light. Again, not having a super bright screen will help with fatigue.
Twilight is a good replacement for F.lux if you are an Android user. Twilight will adjust the color of the screen to warm the colors late at night. Screen Filter is another Android app used to dim the screen.
As Yaara said, don’t allow eyestrain to hamper your productivity.
Monitoring Sleep Patterns for Optimal Rest
Healthy sleep patterns help you feel rested no matter what time of day you wake up. It’s more about getting into that deep REM sleep and not being woken up during a cycle. When you wake up in the middle of a cycle, you feel groggy and have a hard time focusing.
Sleep Cycle is a mobile app (Android and iOS) used to monitor your sleep patterns. It uses the gyroscope in your device to tell if you are tossing and turning or dead to the world, drooling on your pillow asleep. Based on this, it determines your lightest phase in your sleep pattern and wakes you up within a 30-minute window of your alarm going off.
You should feel rested when you get out of bed. I know that’s a strange concept, but the app is based on sleep science.
Another device, Beddit, calculates more information to better analyze your sleep patterns. Some of the other things Beddit monitors are your sleep quality and duration, resting heart rate, breathing, and snoring.
Jobs for Late Risers
Now that we know it’s okay to be up after the sun rises, we need to find a job that works within the hours we are most productive and awake. Luckily, many careers are more deadline driven and offer an option to telecommute. This allows you to work with your body clock, not the time clock.
Some of the possible jobs late risers can revel in are:
Writing: Many different types of writing jobs are available and have telecommuting and flexible schedule options.
Hospitality: Hotels and other hospitality industry related jobs are 24/7 so having an odd schedule may benefit you.
Hospitals: Medical staff is always needed. Even if you are not in the medical profession, a lot of positions from, housekeeping to food-prep are possibilities at a hospital.
Emergency Services: Working as an EMT, police, fire or other emergency service providers is an option. Disasters happen around the clock and people need saving.
Media Worker: This can be a camera person, work for a radio or television station, photographer, journalist or any other spoke in the wheel of the entertainment machine.
Freelance/Telecommute: Working for a company or clients on a different continent will surely require you to keep odd hours. Jobs ranging from call centers to marketing to management are available for people willing to look for them.
The key to finding a career that suits your sleep schedule is to be creative. Take a look at what’s open while you’re awake. Compare that to your skill set and see if you can conjure up any matches.
Recognizing you have a hard time waking up in the morning is just one step along the path of bettering yourself. Decide to make the leap and work when your body tells you it wants to be productive. With proper routines, other parts of your life will fall into place, including your job and even relationships. Whether you are a morning person or a night owl, well-planned routines will help you stay productive.
What time do you wake up? Have you realized waking up early sucks and you aren’t doing it anymore? What have you done to make living the second shift of life a reality?