They say the early bird catches the worm: But what should you do when you wake up?

Margaret Thatcher was famous for needing only four hours of sleep. That’s the popular wisdom, at least; her critics might argue that chronic sleep deprivation explains some of the iron lady’s policy decisions.

What researchers now appreciate about sleep is that, as your brain tires, it sucks energy away from the areas needed from critical thinking, in favour of those areas that keep you alert. So you can turn up–you just can’t think very well.

What is striking about leaders, however, is that even those who do get a decent eight hours a night are mostly early risers. According to their birdsong tweets friends Shaa Wasmund, author and founder of Smarta, gets up at 5 AM and Emma Jones, co-founder of StartUp Britain & founder of  Enterprise Nation gets up at a similar time and during a recent interview the entrepreneur and TV dragon Peter Jones said that he gets up at 6 because, as he put’s it: “Life is too exciting to sleep.”

I suspect there’s a virtuous circle here: Great jobs make you want to get up early–and the better the job you do, the more exciting getting up early becomes. Could waking late could be a sign that your brain doesn’t like the day you have planned for it?

But with daily schedules starting so early what they do with those early hours? The very disciplined have learned not to start shooting out emails at 5 AM. At the very least, they park them draft until 8. Some go to the gym, or in Shaa’s case run along the beach of her beloved home town of Whitstable, Kent. Others use the time to think and collect their thoughts before the day begins.

For myself, I like to wake up early, at around 6, and lie in bed with iPad or laptop and go through emails, logging in to the various dashboards that report on the activities of parts of our business and plan the work that lies ahead of me. It means that, when I do get up, I feel mentally prepared.

However, the downside is that, as I live alone, I can become  become so absorbed in doing things that I am still there at 9am, but before the phone starts to ring and my inbox chimes with new messages, those few hours are the most productive of the day and also map out the 8 or 10 hours that they precede.

If you’re sleeping late; what does that mean? Are you exhausted–or just disengaged?


Richard Alvin

Richard Alvin is founder of private equity company Audere Capital which has a number of investments across the media and fashion sectors. Entrepreneur of the year in 2014 Richard is also Group MD of Capital Business Media and director of award winning PR company Brighter Comms, he is regarded as one of the UK's leading experts in the SME sector and an active angel investor and advisor to new start companies in addition to being an advisor to Save Our Business the U.S. based business advice television show.

About Richard Alvin

Richard Alvin is founder of private equity company Audere Capital which has a number of investments across the media and fashion sectors. Entrepreneur of the year in 2014 Richard is also Group MD of Capital Business Media and director of award winning PR company Brighter Comms, he is regarded as one of the UK's leading experts in the SME sector and an active angel investor and advisor to new start companies in addition to being an advisor to Save Our Business the U.S. based business advice television show.
  • Peter J

    Some people need to sleep later in the day so as to be able to do a good job in the early hours of the morning. For example Policemen on the 10pm-6am shift of emergency surgeons in A&E.
    Getting up early should not be regarded as a virtue. The virtue should be being ready and able to work, and sometimes lead, at the time one is expected to be there.