Both you and I have read a lot about the power of getting up early. It’s undoubtedly a super-habit to make The Great Morning possible. But could you take it further? What would happen if we took the early morning to the extreme? Does it make sense to wake up at 3 in the morning as something healthy after having slept well?
Marking the difference requires getting up early
Some time ago I discovered that some of the people who do this world get up at 4 in the morning. I mean people like Dwayne “the Rock”, Benjamin Franklin, Obama, Charles Darwin, Robin Sharma, Bill Gates, Lexy Funk, Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Richard Branson. Others like Dave Cush (Virgin), Robert Iger (CEO Disney), Padmasree Warrior, Michelle Gass (Starbucks) or Andrea Jung (Avon) at 4:30 am. There are even some like Tim Cook, Dan Lee or Brett Yormark (New York Jets) who get up at 3: 30-3: 45 am. Although few outperform Margaret Thatcher, who barely slept between three and four hours a day.
Here in El País, they talk about business people and entrepreneurs who get up from 4:30 a.m. until 6 a.m. Other profiles oscillate 4 am. Most “successful” people seem to get up between 4:45 am and 6:30 am. Wow.
Is getting up early related to doing the work that matters and excels? Is it so decisive?
And, is to wake up at 3 am something that will empower my life and work?
Experiment (and challenge) of waking up at 3 in the morning for 31 days in a row
I have always been a person that struggles to get up early as I get up later than 7 am. So this time, I will not only experience something new, but I will also challenge myself to get up at 3 in the morning every day for 31 days in a row.
Why do I need to wake up at 3 am for 31 days in a row? Why getting up earlier than anyone else?
My question here is, and why not?
What prevents me? What happens when you wake up at 3 am every day? How do your work and your life change? (if it turns). How do you face things? How ultra-productive are you capable of being? Does it help to expand and optimise High Performance? What will change in oneself the habit of getting up at 3 in the morning and winning the day? How much and what will I be able to produce in all those days? What positive things will this super-habit bring to my life? And what other not-so-positive things will I also discover in the experiment? Will I manage to get up early? Will I develop some core skill as a consequence? What impact will it have on my health? And on my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual performance?
Getting up earlier than I’d like to
I only know one way to see the answer to these questions by trying it. So starting tonight, I’ll sleep earlier to wake up at 3 in the morning every day and see what effect it has on my life and work. I will design a qualitative and quantitative scorecard, and I will follow the progress of each day very carefully. In the end, I will share the results as I have done with all the experiments until today.
The goal is to get up at 3 in the morning and follow the process, wherever it takes me. There is no doubt that before trips, commitments, lifestyle, events, work and more, it will be a significant challenge. I’m going to put myself to the test again, against myself.
What happened when I tried to wake up at 3 am for 31 days in a row (final report experiment)
Four weeks ago, the last experiment of the year ended. One that had to do with the critical element to improving my lifestyle. I’m talking of ultra productivity and highlighting our optimal performance by getting up early. In this case, the experiment consisted of waking up and getting up at 3 am for 31 days in a row. Quite a challenge considering that for me early was waking up between 7 am and 8:30 am.
I have divided the getting up at 3 am a report in different sections:
- Context of the experiment.
- Control panel.
- Reflections and conclusions.
- Validated learning – discoveries.
- Limitations and considerations.
To wake up at 3 am was a brutal experience, indeed.
1. Experimental context: to wake up at 3 am
This section explains the basics of the getting up at three is during 31 days experiment:
What am I trying to get out of this experiment? The benefits of getting up sooner than 98% of the population, to obtain positive results that affect the lifestyle and professional productivity.
What am I trying to achieve? Higher ultra productivity and Holistic High-Performance.
What is the value that was expected to be extracted? Significant improvement in lifestyle and make a fundamental change in my biological clock.
What is the motivation behind the experiment? See where it can take other people who will follow it and review it and me.
The experiment tried to answer the questions you will find here.
As in each test, I have developed a scorecard with which I have measured the critical parameters of getting up at 3 am during these 31 consecutive days. The parameters analysed have been:
- Time to wake up at 3 am, if possible.
- Sensations when going to bed
- Hours of sleep.
Sleep quality (measured with the Sleep Cycle APP.)
- Problems caused during the day.
- Productivity percentage.
- Fatigue moments.
- Early morning observations.
The formula for measuring productivity: number of tasks you perform, times (multiply) the time it takes to complete them between (divide) generated impact – the impact caused would be that you give a score of 1 to 10 to the result you get when you finish each task.
You can check the final scorecard here.
3. Reflections and conclusions in video format
This video of one hour and 27 minutes contains the impressions collected each day after getting up early. Also, the final thoughts and conclusions after two weeks. I decided to unite all the content in an audiovisual way to give this experiment on early riser coherence and expansion:
Here I share the hypotheses resulting from the tests done during the 31 days :
- What is the relative importance of this experiment? Here are four relevant factors:
- You can be more productive in and out of work sleeping less and without this, leading to negative consequences in the short or medium term.
- Getting up at 3 am helps to be ahead of personal and professional responsibilities.
- Waking up so early supposes a competitive advantage concerning the capacity of reaction versus proactivity that we have in front of things.
- The change of mood is more than remarkable because of mental lightness and clarity that is achieved.
5. Validated learning – discoveries
The primary discoveries have to do with answering the questions posed to start the experiment
- Question: Does getting up early to do the work that matters and to excel change everything? Answer: after the experiment and the study, it is undoubtedly a turbo for both. Mainly because you take the lead not only to the rest but for yourself, for the inconveniences that may occur and the unforeseen circumstances that may arise.
- Question: What is the reason for getting up at 3 in the morning for 31 consecutive days? Answer: to see what happened when you wake up before everyone else. What happens is that you go ahead, you have more time for yourself and more time for others.
- Question: What is the reason to wake up sooner than anyone else? Answer: to observe how my life is in an extreme that I had never been before. How is it? Much more efficient, more ultra-productive and with better mood and humour.
- Question: What happens when you wake up at 3 am for 31 days? Answer: First, I have not woken up at 3 am sharp every day, because I have not been able to go to sleep as soon as I wish. Second, what happens is that you have less reason to procrastinate and entertain yourself in things that do not contribute, besides that you see everything much more clearly. The result is to be able to free space occupied mentally uselessly, which gives you a sense of tranquillity, freedom and wellbeing that you’ve not felt before.
- Question: How does getting up at 3 am change your lifestyle and your professional side? Answer: By having more time and more mental and physical freedom, you can decide to do more things. For example, I have finished an online master’s degree that would not have ended without the experiment, where I had to dedicate 2 to 3 hours per day for 37 days. I have practised more sport. I have had more time to do things with friends, family, travel, disconnect. Regarding my work, at 11 am, I had finished 85% of my day, and I faced any interaction or problem, with a much more optimistic, determined, empathetic and relaxed attitude.
- Question: What about ultraproductivity? Can it be improved? Answer: absolutely, for everything mentioned above, in the daily analysis and the daily productivity percentages. When you get up early, you have more time free of interruptions and distractions, only your ones, which are more sensitive still. You have more quality time, in work and life.
- Question: How does it affect High Performance? Answer: if you have more quality time and you use it wisely, you can distribute more quality to each one of the dimensions of the human being. I have lengthened times in meditation, for example. I have been able to write a more detailed and extensive journal, and I have had more time to breathe and do things at a more leisurely pace. In the end, it is time that if you know how to use it, its power multiplies.
- Question: How does this early morning super habit help? It helps to win the pulse of the day, your time, your work and everything you choose, partner, family, children, entrepreneurs, hobbies, etc.
- Question: How much important work have you been able to create during the experiment? Answer: the productivity indices in the scorecard say it all, more than you would have imagined.
- Question: What are the most positive things I found in the experiment? Answer: the quality time to devote to what you need or want the most. To be able to win the day at the beginning of the day, the feeling of having done the most cumbersome and hardest thing at the beginning of the morning, and the feeling of freedom that gives you. Another thing that has pleasantly surprised me is how well I have been sleeping so little, around 4:45 on average, when I was asleep before about 7:50 on average, I realised that I do not need to sleep that much.
- Question: What negative things have I found? Answer: the big problem of not getting to bed sooner for more than a few days. The fatigue that sometimes, I’ve never experienced. The adaptation period of the first days. Having little social nightlife, although more than I expected, but that reduced my sleep. The sacrifice of doing it and keeping it.
- Question: Have I developed any core abilities in the experiment? Answer: yes, to optimise my dream.
- Question: What has been the impact of this test on my health and performance? Answer: analysis with improvements in the analytical, but not substantial. Perfect dream, my mental state is in the right place, but emotionally, I feel calmer and firm. And spiritually more connected.
6. Limitations and considerations from getting up at 3 am
This last section refers to all the setbacks encountered during the experiment:
- It has been virtually impossible for me to wake up at 3 am every day.
- My biggest problem has come at bedtime. I’ve only managed to get to bed early in 20% of the experiment.
- I have spent much fewer hours resting, as indicated in the validated learning section.
- I have not restricted my social activity to perform this test, even if it meant sleeping much less or hardly at all.
- The quality of sleep has dropped considerably in the early morning, that is a fact. However, that has not led to a noticeable decline in my energy levels, although somewhat more accumulated fatigue.
- I have taken melatonin to sleep, as usual, same dose, same effect.
Getting up earlier is a decisive hack to win the day, have a better mood, enjoy a more positive attitude. Gain more focus and relieve the mental burden of procrastination. Get much more, have more time for yourself and squeeze the day in every way. And on top of that, as you have been able to observe, have more energy resting less.
So you’d better wake up at 3 am or sooner because you need to win the morning to win the day.