We all want to live our best life, but at what cost? You probably wouldn’t mind guzzling an extra cup of coffee if we told you it could extend your lifespan – but you might decide it’s not worth subjecting yourself to freezing-cold showers every day just to feel more alert.
Depending on where you sit on the owl-lark continuum, you may think starting your day a bit earlier isn’t too much to ask. But some recent life advice from Inc. magazine has caused the Internet to react with disbelief.
Why? Because they recommended getting up early. Like 4am early.
There are three reasons, according to Inc.’s original article, that this ungodly hour is such a wellspring of productivity. First, they point out, there are minimal real-world distractions – no kids or work demanding your time. Second, nobody is calling or emailing you. And third, there shouldn’t be much on social media to divert your attention.
In other words: you can do a lot at 4am because you’re the only person bonkers enough to be up that early.
To illustrate the supposed benefits of joining the 4am club, Inc.’s article offers a list of CEOs and entrepreneurs who all purport to follow this hellish routine. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for instance, starts his day at 3.45am, a time most decent people would consider a late finish rather than an early start.
But as people pointed out, there are many non-billionaires who get up for work while the rest of us are still snoozing – Tim Cook may well get up before dawn, but that doesn’t mean that’s the key to his success.
There’s another downside of waking up at a time most famous as a shorthand for life catastrophes – it will severely reduce your free time.
"I'm exhausted, but in a good way,” entrepreneur and 4am-riser Peter Shankman told Inc.
“I won't have the energy to do something stupid like eat two gallons of Ben & Jerry's at 10.30pm," he added, somehow making the prospect of waking up at silly a.m. sound even worse.
As many people pointed out, forcing yourself to wake up so early can have some pretty terrible effects on your health.
But for some, the article was missing one very important factor in the quest for “success”.