Waking up at 5AM isn’t Going to Change Your Life (Part 1)

No, this isn’t a clickbait article.

It’s an honest account of my experience waking up early and how it ruined my motivation. But before I dive in, you’ll need some backdrop.

If you’re engrossed in the massive world of productivity and efficiency, at some point, you’ll have stumbled upon some raving article or guru YouTuber who’s claimed that waking up at 5AM has changed their life. And maybe it has. Who am I to claim that others lie about their waking habits and how they really feel.

But these videos may mislead you. Here are a couple reasons why.

  1. These YouTubers oftentimes obscure the difficult parts of their journey. And if they do include the hard parts, it’s often not enough to “outweigh the benefits.”
  2. Self-selection bias. Only those who’ve had a successful experience would post their video. Moreover, only those who are likely to succeed are likely to think of making this video in the first place (this also applies to all those articles).
  3. Their jobs are NOT your job. Often-time, they’re freelancers or entrepreneurs who have a massive amount of control over their schedules.

Essentially, productivity gurus aren’t rooted in the same world as you or I.

For me, suddenly shifting my wakeup time back 2-3 hours was not a good idea.

At all.

The first day, I felt good. I slept later than I wanted (10PM—which left me with seven hours of sleep) but I woke up with adrenaline pumping through me. I sprinted through a carefully choreographed morning routine. I meditated, stretched, made some extra-strength black tea, and sat down to clear my inbox.

By the time I went to school, I felt like I had already done my day’s work. My fellow classmates had just woken up, and with drowsy, sunken eyes, shuffled into the school, while I strut in through the doors.

So day one was a resounding success.

But that night, I had a test to study for, and stayed up later than I expected. By the time I went to sleep, I was dreading waking up with only six to seven hours of sleep under my belt.

When I woke up at 5AM on the second day, I felt as if someone has smashed my head with a hammer.

Of course, there’s always an adjustment time to new sleep schedules, but I could barely pull myself out of bed. I slogged through my morning routine, and tried to focus as I scanned my textbook.

My eyes moved, but focus they did not. When I went to school, I at least felt awake—not like I had been ripped from the coma of sleep. But it had taken me nearly two hours to make that adjustment.

I was dreading the rest of the week.

Read part two here.