Waking up early: Are there benefits to being a morning person?

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Many successful people wake up before the sun rises, including Apple CEO Tim Cook (3:45 a.m.), Michelle Obama (4:30 a.m.), and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson (5:00 a.m.).

But are these folks natural early birds, or is their morning routine key to their success? According to experts, it’s a bit of both.

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Early risers are in sync with corporate culture

Some research suggests that morning people do better in business because their bodies are in sync with typical corporate office hours. If your team starts work at 8 a.m., it’s vital that you’re in the office for then, too.

Christoph Randler, a professor at the University of Tuebingen in Germany who has studied early risers, told Global News that morning people seem to “have an advantage because they better fit into most work environments with an early start.”

He said that many CEOs and bosses prefer morning people over evening ones because they are more conscientious and are more proactive — characteristics that are favourable in work environments.

Randler’s research also found that morning people tend to do better in school, which ultimately lands them better jobs. Therefore, being an early riser is a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation: you need to get up early to be more successful, and many successful people are naturally early birds.

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“If your boss, your senior management team, or your whole team is earlier risers and you’re not, then you’re not going to be as successful career-wise,” said Fiona Bryan, a Toronto-based career and communications coach.

But Bryan says night owls shouldn’t fear: if you’re someone who does their best work in the evening, waking up at 5 a.m. isn’t going to help you. In fact, being successful means knowing your hours of productivity, and finding a job or workflow that best suits you.

“If someone says, ‘I would be forcing myself to wake up at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m.,’ or, ‘It doesn’t fit into my personal circumstances,’ then it’s not necessarily going to make someone more productive,” Bryan said. “People’s energy is different.”

Morning routines are important

What people do with their morning hours can help set them up for success, says Beverly Beuermann-King, a workplace expert and public speaker. Beuermann-King said that routines help people accomplish tasks, and set the tone for their workday ahead.

“People who have a morning routine … they tend to be more focused, their productivity is up, and they tend to manage their energy in a way that’s going to be productive for them,” she said.

If you look to most CEOs, they have morning rituals that help prepare them for work. Oath Inc. CEO Tim Armstrong says he gets up at 5:30 a.m. to work out, read, and spend time with his daughter before heading to the office.

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Starting your day with exercise is one way that can help boost energy levels. Many successful leaders, like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey who runs every morning before 6 a.m., swear by their morning workouts and say they help them clear their heads.

“They’ve definitely proven that your level of exercise or fitness matters, because you can go longer stretches without having to consume caffeine,” said Bryan. “If you get done in the morning, you don’t have to worry about getting it done in the evening when it can’t really slip off your list.”

Early risers may be more proactive

The tendency to get tasks done in the morning so they don’t fall wayside may also be why early risers are successful. Randler said his research found that morning people are more proactive than late risers, and that they also anticipate problems and try to minimize them.

Even though Beuermann-King agrees there’s a relationship between being proactive and waking early, she said that successful people are successful because they’re tuned in to when they get stuff done.

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“We all have a rhythm to life,” she explained. “If you’re sleeping properly, you’ll have most of your energy within the couple of hours of when you’ve woken up, then it will dip into an afternoon slump, and then rise in the early evening.”

“People who are productive and successful, they’re really in tune with those peaks and valleys, so they work with them as opposed to against them.”

Bottom line

While there’s many traits that early risers have that help them achieve professional success, it doesn’t mean that snoozers are any less productive. It’s all about knowing yourself and when you work best, said Bryan.

“Setting your own priorities and having that deliberateness of exercise, sleep and nutrition, that’s where our productivity comes from,” she explained. “There isn’t a one size fits all.”

Laura.Hensley@globalnews.ca

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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