May 21, 2019

Why You Should Let Yourself Sleep In

“The internet really wants you to start getting up earlier. Everywhere you look, there’s an article touting waking during the pre-dawn hours as the ultimate life-hack.

There is Mark Wahlberg’s viral morning routine that involves waking up at 2:30am to go to the gym, which ostensibly helps him stay focused on…whatever it is that Mark Wahlberg is trying to achieve. There’s the widely-ridiculed portrait of an HSBC executive who rises at 5:30am, using her early morning hours to meditate, drink green juice, and talk to friends and family on FaceTime. The New York Times talked to 300 successful people and determined that the average wakeup time for a business leader or Olympian type is 6:27am. And finally, The Cut’s Edith Zimmerman recently (and somewhat cheekily) suggested a 4am or 5am wakeup call for anyone trying to get ahead in life, noting, “When I helped start a website almost a decade ago, I didn’t know anything about how to do it, but I knew that at the very minimum I could wake up early as hell.”

But the cult of early rising seems to miss a pretty obvious point: There is an opportunity cost involved. First and foremost, if you’re waking up this early without going to bed early, you’re going to be very tired and sleep-deprived. If you are going to bed early, that means you’ll need to cut down on other non-work-related areas of your life such as exercise, doing household chores, cooking delicious meals, having drinks with friends and colleagues after work, reading actual books, having free time after you put your children to bed, or watching one of the 17 Netflix shows everyone is talking about. Indeed, unless the goal is to make like a Silicon Valley ascetic and eschew friendship, pleasure, wine, home-cooked meals, and downtime in the service of ruthless productivity, this advice seems pretty useless.”

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