I recently wrote an article on the side hustle debate where I went into the statistics on each side. But one toxic part of hustle culture unfortunately has become the “need” to get up early if you want to get everything done. With my schedule I find myself feeding into this narrative more and more.
So here is why hustle culture thinks you should get up at 4 am, why I get up at 4 am, and 5 reasons why I do not recommend it to anyone.
Why do People Say You Should Wake up at 4 AM?
When asked why people get up early many will cite the statistic that “over 50%” of self-made millionaires get up 3 hours before their workday begins. this can excite people. After all, who wouldn’t want to share a habit with a bunch of millionaires? While there is some truth to this statistic there is also a lot missing.
When asked why they got up so early most early-risers stated that it was when they were the most productive, or when they felt the most focussed they were able to accomplish plenty. For some it is simply so they can do their daily habits like exercise, eating a healthy breakfast, or reading. It gives you time when you aren’t focused on your work to accomplish your other passions before the rest of the world has even woken up.
In theory, this sounds amazing! In practice, it is quite the opposite.
Why I Wake up at 4 AM
Since early 2020 I have been waking up at 4 aM. not because of hustle culture, or because I have to do a ton of work before my full-time job. But because of my full-time job. for my job I typically work 6 AM until 2 PM, and with an hour and a half commute each way this leaves me with the unfortunate task of waking up at 4 AM to leave on time.
But this isn’t all downside as it has helped me get a much better perspective on how getting up at 4 aM changes your life in ways many don’t consider. It has given me the opportunity to get extra work done in the morning. And it has shown me a lot about why that isn’t necessarily a good thing.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wake Up at 4 AM
Despite what hustle culture tells you, you shouldn’t wake up at 4 AM. Despite the fact that 50% of self-made millionaires do it, you shouldn’t wake up at 4 AM. Here’s why.
1. It’s Impossible to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Waking up at 4 AM shifts how work-life balances are treated. Typically you will get up in the morning, have a nice breakfast with your family, go to work, come home, enjoy some dinner and downtime, put the kids down, catch up with your wife, and go to bed. This cycle repeats, day in, day out. It works well and allows you to split your time pretty equally between your family and yourself.
This isn’t the case with waking up at 4 AM. For most people waking up at 4 AM means that you will devote a lot more of your life to working and pursuing work than with your family. This means no alone time with your wife between your bedtime and the kid’s bedtime. It may mean no morning breakfast with your family either, assuming you are getting up straight to work.
You may think now that those things won’t be missed, but I assure you. As time goes on and you wake up consistently at 4 AM you will miss them.
2. The Rest of the World is Asleep
One of the many reasons people get up at 4 AM is so that they can get a start on the day while the rest of the world is sleeping. And while this can be beneficial if you are primarily a solo worker, or don’t need the help of colleagues to get your work done it can also be a burden. If your job involves sales, coordination, or working with a team starting work this early can hamper your results and decrease your productivity as you wait for others to get up and start their day.
3. You’re Not a Self-made Millionaire
“All the self-made millionaires get up early though” I hear you saying. but there’s only one problem with that. While you may be (and I hope you are) on your path to becoming a millionaire you aren’t yet. Being a millionaire comes with some benefits that those of us who are not millionaires don’t have the option of.
For many millionaires, this includes the ability to manage our days how we like. If they want to take a nap at 1 PM then they can feel free. If they want to take a break in the middle of the day so they can have lunch with their kids then have the ability to. The lack of need for additional income or growth can open your availability a lot. For most of us, waking up at 4 AM would be to work on a side-hustle, work out, or do activities you normally can’t because you have a full-time job eating up a ton of your time.
Self-made millionaires typically don’t have this problem. By the time you get to millionaire status, the world waits on you, rather than the other way around. This makes it a lot easier to get up early for work and still have time for family.
4. A Full Night’s Sleep is Key
The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep according to the Mayo Clinic. For most of us, we just take the average of this and say 8 hours of sleep. While this normally isn’t a problem if you get up at 6 or 7 AM, and are able to go to bed at 10 PM it can quickly become an issue getting up at 4 AM, where you find yourself having to go to bed at 8 PM, at the latest. While if you’re single, or don’t do anything in the evenings this may be an issue for individuals with families it can completely change your lifestyle.
Because of this sudden change, you will likely find yourself staying up later and costing yourself sleep. This can have untold amounts of issues on your body and mental state. Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can cause anger, depression, irritability, and a whole host of other issues. It drains your body and you will quickly find that even maintaining the same weight becomes more difficult.
5. You Can Get Less/Worse Work Done
Because of all of the reasons above it has a compounding effect, where you get up early to get more work done, but because of the issues that come with waking up early, you are able to get less work done. As you continue to wake up early you will begin to find that your brain does not function as well, you feel more lethargic, and you lack the energy you once had. All of this combined can lead to less productive working hours and overall lower quality work product.
So What Do I Recommend?
Instead of waking up extremely early in the morning every day I recommend making one simple change.
Keep a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. Even across the weekends.
This small change will work wonders in your life. Having your body in a routine can have amazing effects, and the extra energy you will likely have during the day will lead to increased productivity, ability to work, and quality of work throughout the day. No special morning routine needed, no super early wake-up times. Just consistency.