Early to rise? No, thanks | Meet the high achievers who wake 5 minutes before work

Meet the high achievers who wake 5 minutes before work

Deep Dive

What time we wake up isn’t a reflection on our productivity and achievements, but old-fashioned stereotypes are still persisting in the world of work. These folks are here to tell you it’s high time we got rid of them.

As Benjamin Franklin, serial inventor (electricity conduction, anyone?) and he of the $100 bill notoriety, famously said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Or, as the German speakers put it, “Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund” (“The early morning has gold in its mouth”).

Or, again, the famous saying in English, “The early bird catches the worm”.

But does it? What about those famously successful people who stay up late and wake up late, who have had great success and fulfilling careers? Or better yet, in the new world of working from home, those who wake up right before their alarms go off and get cracking as soon as they hit the desk?

Buzzfeed founder and CEO and HuffPost co-founder Jonah Peretti wakes up at 8.30am, grabs some newspapers and magazines, and heads for the subway, according to Insider.

World-famous South African comedian and host of The Daily Show Trevor Noah wakes up at 6pm, according to his episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Serena Williams’ husband and founder of Reddit Alex Ohanian famously wakes up about 10am.

And one of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffet, told PBS, “I get quite a bit of sleep. I like to sleep. So I will usually sleep eight hours a night, and no, I have no desire to get to work at four in the morning.”

As long as I perform and I'm on time why do I need to see the sun rising?

Being a night owl is genetic

Yet we are all still more than likely to carry unconscious bias against those who turn up to morning Zoom meetings having just rolled out of bed. But isn’t it time, now that everything else is changing to be more inclusive, that we accept it really does take all types to make a successful organisation?

More importantly, whether you’re a night owl or an early bird may be genetic.

A 2019 study conducted by more than a dozen academics using data from nearly 700,000 participants found that whether you’re a ‘lark’ or an ‘owl’ is genetically predisposed by – and this number may blow you away – by about 350 different genetic indicators.

According to the study abstract: “Chronotype, often referred to as circadian preference, describes an individual’s proclivity for earlier or later sleep timing and is a physical and behavioural manifestation of the coupling between internal circadian cycles and the need for sleep, driven by sleep homoeostasis.

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