Waking up early is a notion frequently present in the repertoire of many motivational professors. Nonetheless, it’s a scam tactic sold to the reader consciously or not.
Waking up early is motivated by two main points:
- Successful people do it
- Get a head start on everyone
Unsurprisingly, both points are deprived of any logic.
1. Successful People Do It
Motivational and self-improvement artists often give ultra-successful people as an example when promoting waking up before the cows.
Below are some frequent quotes:
” (insert a billionaire’s name) wakes up at (insert hour between 3 and 5 a.m.)”
“You have to sleep faster.”
“You can’t sleep for 8 hours because that’s 1/3 of your life.”
“Get up early and kill it”
Why is this nonsensical?
1. How much a person sleeps is a peripheral rather than a core habit.
Peripheral habits are not integral to one’s success. For example, a successful person might have a dog and enjoy walking that dog in the morning. That habit has zero direct influence on that person’s success.
One can make the argument that such habits indirectly push the person towards success. For example, a genius may think of a business plan while walking their dog.
Sure. But they can also do so while eating ice cream. The link between the habit and success is too weak to make the behavior essential.
Ultimately, the point of waking up early is not to earn the title “early riser”. The goal is to do something that makes a difference. If that’s not happening, you might just as well be sleeping.
Thus, the lack of sleep itself has no value.
The actual core habit that could propel you forward is the activity that the successful person does instead of sleeping.
However, if the follower/wannabe rich imitator has time to perform that activity without suffering sleep deprivation for the sake of it, there’s zero need to wake up early.
2. Lack of Sleeps Makes You Stupid and Clouds Your Judgment
There’s an old saying that goes as follows: “The morning is wiser than the evening.”
Where does it come from?
In the evening, the “RAM” of the brain is already filled to the maximum of its capacity from whatever has happened during the day.
If you play video games from dawn till dusk, you will be dreaming about video games. If you study math, you will be thinking of numbers.
Sleep is a process during which this information is recycled. The brain absorbs it and frees space for more.
In essence, sleep wipes out of the temporary files of your computer, and the next morning you experience a more clear judgment. As a result, you can see details that were previously invisible to you.
3. Successful People Sleep More Than You Think
Successful people sleep just as much as non-successful people. In fact, the richer you are, the more time you have to sleep because you don’t have to wake up to an alarm button and go to the factory. Whether rich people take advantage of that option is a different story.
4. People Are Inefficient Anyway
There are two main lines of work – mental (CPU intensive) and physical (Periphery intensive)
A writer or a graphic designer is a mental worker limited by mental energy. The CPU of the average human cannot operate at high capacity for longer than 2-3 hours and that’s extremely generous. There are some exceptions (e.g., geniuses) that can overclock their brain to 4 and maybe even 6 hours but that’s rarer than winning the lottery.
The average mental worker has 1-2 productive hours a day. The rest is fluff/busy work that doesn’t make a difference.
When I was writing my last two books, I had the opportunity to dedicate more time to them than usual because I was softly forced to quit my day job (unfortunate circumstances).
I quickly realized that I simply can’t write for 8 hours a day. In fact, I couldn’t even reach six unless I added some mindless Internet browsing or a movie in-between.
In the evening, I was mentally exhausted to edit my text even though I’d practically done 2-3 hours of work.
Or in other words, I had plenty of time but no brain to use it in regards to my work. Thus, losing sleep wouldn’t have done anything for me.
Sleep deprivation is not needed for optimal performance at a physical job either. It’s actually detrimental.
For example, if you work as a driver, sleeping less would hurt your performance for obvious reasons.
In short, mental employees can’t use the time saved by reduced sleep due to having a clogged brain whereas physical laborers need sleep to safely do their jobs.
Why Do They Sell You The Idea of Sleeping Less?
It’s very simple – motivational gurus always focus on variables that humans can change.
E.g., Sleeping, eating, time structuring…etc.
While changes in those areas can be beneficial, nobody talks about the most important ingredient, namely – THE ACTIVITY THAT ACTUALLY MAKES YOU RICH.
Here’s the formula:
Pupil asks: “How can I become a successful writer/painter/entrepreneur/whatever?”
Motivational con artists: Starts dropping generic quotes from mega-rich people that have zero relevance to the actual questions. (E.g., How bad do you want it?)
Why? Because those gurus have no idea how to become anything other than a hope seller.
Excellent. You forgot to mention side hustle wankers…when I am so rooted from my 7am-3pm job, how am I going to do a side hustle.
Success gurus teach you everything except how to be successful. Taleb debunks “The Millionare Next Door” book in his book Fooled By Randomness.
Waking up early in and of itself is not a scam. It is a scam when it’s sold as some sort of panacea or “ticket” to success.
Sleeping in really late every day has always been counter-productive and demotivating to me.
Waking up early can be satisfying if you have a plan or goals or actions to undertake. Just waking up early for the sake of waking up early is a waste of time. You’ll likely just go back to sleep if you don’t have a plan for how to use the time.
True. But in the end, those actions that you’re talking about make the difference not the hour when they’re executed.
But is that just for you? The point here is you should have a sleep schedule that maximizes your potential.
So what makes the succesful people succesfull then?
It’s a long answer, but in general the following are always present:
– The right place at the right time
– Talent, genetics
When I first started reading your blog a few years ago, I thought that you are unhappy pessimists. Now, a few years later, I think you are very wise with no bullshit advice. Thanks for a great artcile, as always.
Intelligent people are usually unhappy and pessimistic. There is a saying: Ignorance is bliss.
100% true. Ask anyone who has ever been in the military as to what’s most important, and I can personally attest that it is sleep. Give a soldier 2 free hours and he will be sure to sleep every time. Sleep is so crucial to proper functioning. Sleeping less for the sake of sleeping less is just pure stupidity.
But hey, everyone’s looking for the quick fix one size fits all answer to success.
My favorite is when, instead of a guru, an actual successful person speaks and dreamers listen like it’s Jesus speaking. Like when Elon Musk talks about the future everyone grabs a pen and paper ready to absorb it like it’s a prophecy. Or when Michael Jordan talks about his determination and young athletes engrain what Jordan says in their head believing they unlocked the secret to success.
Even actual successful people don’t know what it really takes. Look at Lebron’s son, he is 6’3″ and no where near as good as his father. It’s all genetics, you either have it or you don’t. No blueprint is going to unlock unlimited success for you.
Well, it certainly depend on your life and what are your priorities.For example, I got to wake up at 5 am to pray, eat, bath and train and finish all of that around 6:30 because i have university classes at 8 and i advance in school stuff before them. As for sleeping, I try to go and sleep as latest posible at 9 because i have to sleep well to fulfill the oposite of your argument “Lack of sleep makes you stupid” Which makes perfect sense at all.
Genetics are a myth and an excuse used by author who had a bad and miserable lifting experience where he never learned how build muscles instead followed some powerlifting bs like starting strength lmao
Many guys lifted body part split with enough intensity got gains all natural while this guy cries.
Bad take on what you’ve read here. That’s comparable to a manlet saying that genetics are irrelevant and is literally pushing himself to the limits in the hopes of playing professional basketball, which would never happen due to his short stature.