4:30am Wake-Up Call

Recently, I made a deal with a friend that we would call each other at the ungodly hour of 5am and hold each other accountable to our ideal schedule. Whether this was a good idea or a bad one will really depend on my ability to get into bed at a time that gives me enough hours to function. I know this because in the past I have managed periods of incredibly disciplined schedules just like this.

My first time was in 2016, and I still remember waking up at 4:30am – a time that seemed to arrive just minutes after I closed my eyes. I had decided on this ludicrous time because of a problematic schedule. My freelance job was filled with clients that would contact me practically anytime into the evening. This meant that I could not really anticipate my working hours and was often anxious when I thought about them. Then, a brilliant idea struck me… no one was up at 4:30am.

4:30 is a funny time. It’s well past the time that all the clubs are peaking, and when most people would have gone home or to a private after party. It is also a time that is too early even for the early risers. And having gone to a club or two in my time, I discovered this moment, just an hour, when the “City that never sleeps” takes a break. It is truly surreal to run through a completely empty Times Square with all of its lights still on but not a single soul there – almost like a zombie movie.

Why 4am you Lunatic?

Exactly. I was the only one up and would be for the next several hours – this was my time. You see, I realized that for all of the things my clients were, they were not early risers. In addition, though I would get requests in the evenings, outside of emergencies these reasonably wouldn’t be due until the next day. As a result, there was an entire chunk of time that was all mine if I had the tenacity to claim it. So, for several months in 2016 and sporadically in 2017 and this year, I woke up at 4:30am and by the time 9:30am rolled around, I had been up and productive for FIVE HOURS

I cannot really adequately convey how productive this makes you or how much this accelerated every positive thing in my life. Maybe it’s the fact that no one else is up to distract me on messenger, or the fact that no news outlets are publishing articles yet. Maybe it’s the feeling that you got up and are deliberately not doing one of life’s most pleasurable things, sleeping; and as a result you feel the weight of this currency and commit to being productive in exchange. Whatever it is, though, at one point I had a single stretch of 45 days during which I woke up  at 4:30am every day. I consider this to be one of my life’s greatest achievements and more opportunities opened up for me in that time than any other I can remember.

“Discipline” with 7 hashes for 7 consecutive days on the whiteboard.

NO, this is NOT easy

I absolutely do not want to give the impression that this somehow came to me easily, or that I was successful in the beginning. In fact, when I started, I went for three days, then jettisoned the idea for three weeks. It would be a spotty process from there as every morning basically became a mental sparring session. When I am just getting up that early, probably at 15% mental capacity, Sleepy Miłosz is a pretty clever and convincing guy. However, I just didn’t stop.

Today, I feel grateful for my accountability partner Aubrey with whom I just sealed the pact. We’re both convinced that even the slightest opportunity to achieve our dreams is enough to risk absolutely everything – including sleep.

However, this actually doesn’t happen because just a couple days in I found myself falling asleep by 8:00pm… for a full 8 hours of sleep. So, in spite of this actually sounding like a crazy way to rob yourself of the best hours of sleep, during this period of time I slept better than practically any other time in my life. So, here we go again.


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