If like Justin Cobb, you regularly read business publications, you would be forgiven for thinking that the only way to be successful is to jump out of bed at 3 am and start checking your emails. The internet especially is full of articles promising increased success, wealth and knowledge if you just get up early. However, the reality isn’t so clear cut. Many of our most successful entrepreneurs are night owls, and in fact, there is little to no positive correlation between rising early and ‘getting the worm’. In fact, striving to become an early riser when you aren’t one could be holding you back.
Since 1970, researchers have been studying ‘chronotypes’, which are the sleep behaviors of people based on their natural underlying circadian rhythms. The science overwhelmingly shows that these vary wildly and that a person is not able to change them. Therefore, those who are early risers, are simply so because of genetics. The same goes for those who stay awake all night and get up in the middle of the day.
So how could this be holding you back? The modern business world is often very harsh on those with chronotypes that do not fit standard expectations. But science has shown that going against your chronotype can actually be bad for your health. You may be tired all the time, and unable to function as well as others around you.
What can you do if you don’t have the ‘early riser’ chronotype then? Well, if you’re reading articles about being an entrepreneur, chances are you’re already in the right career. One of the great benefits of being an entrepreneur is the ability to set your own schedule. This allows you to set aside classic ideas of productivity and work in a way that suits you.
But this isn’t always possible. Some people are in traditional careers, and find themselves having to rise early to meet expectations. For these people, there are things that can be done. For example, late risers tend to be least productive in the morning and become more productive in the afternoon and evening. So scheduling your most important work for the end of the day can help to keep you more focused.
As much as you may believe it, working against your natural rhythms will not be productive in the long run. So if you find yourself naturally rising late, then you may find it beneficial to restructure your life in order to take advantage of that.
Justin Cobb is an international entrepreneur, based in the US, with a network of companies spanning the globe.