A cursory glance over history’s most prolific minds locates intense morning rituals as a through line. The decorated author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou, would wake at 5:30 am and work till 2 pm (unless the work “wasn’t going well”). The eccentric Dutchman responsible for Starry Night and the interpretive art revolution would rise at 7 am, paint, eat and smoke til 7 pm. Oprah Winfrey, who is perhaps history’s most recognizable luminary, takes the dawn with Sufi teachings and meditation, every morning before she “moves out into the world.” Hemingway fancied the idea of starting his day in the cold morning and then warming up as his productivity blossomed into the evening.
You’re likely just as bored of the anecdotal hero-worshipping morning regimen reporting as I am, but research continually insists that there’s something to it. In Habits That Shape Our Daily Life: Looking At Americans’ Morning Routine, Sleep Judge, surveyed more than 1,000 people, observing an interesting contrast between participants that approached mornings casually and those that adopted strict morning procedures, the authors report, “while experts suggest morning rituals can fuel accomplishment, there’s no single optimal routine for all individuals. Consistency is essential, but helpful morning habits can vary enormously according to one’s preferences and needs.”
Respondents with consistent morning routines were found to earn around $12,500 more than participants without them. Specific first light practices were associated with higher wages than others. People that engaged in physical activities in the morning earned the highest of all the individuals involved in the study, even though only about 25% reported doing so. A similar correlation was found in respondents that allowed morning time for meditative efforts. In fact, those that mediated and took some time to journal in the morning garnered more than $50,000 a year on average.
There are a lot of potential predictors at play here. For one thing, many high-earners have the kind of jobs that allow for “productive mornings.” A barista living off of $10 an hour, sharing a bathroom with nine other roommates might have a harder time fitting in a little Tadasana before work than Bill Gates would.
Secondly, it might have less to with the act of waking up early to exercise or meditate or what have you specifically, and more to do with the kind of personality traits that foster these kinds of activities, in a more general sense.
The SleepJudge report found that 91% of participants that worked out in the morning described themselves as creative, eighty-five percent regarded themselves as punctual, and 88% considered themselves to be well-organized. A creative, well-organized individual that has a mind for time management is likely to be successful whether or not they start their day with crunches. The only constant worthy of serious consideration is the role quality sleep plays in satisfaction, success, and productivity.
The authors over at SleepJudge add, “Of course, a vigorous and passionate life depends on truly restorative rest. If the quality of your sleep is undermining your success, a meaningful morning routine will probably only do so much to help”
Recently, researchers from HealthySleep surveyed nearly 2,500 people to determine exactly how much quality sleep impacts everything from income to mood.
Alongside benefits to overall wellness, participants that habitually received a good night’s rest earned about 16% more than those that did not every year. Additionally, 29% of “good sleepers” requested raises in the past year, and 92% of this demographic were satisfied with their decision and the wage increase.
Based on the data I would guess that quality sleep promotes quality work, granting workers the confidence to request relevant compensation. Seventy-one percent of bad sleepers felt “overwhelmed” at work compared to 35% of good sleepers. Seventy-four percent of bad sleepers felt anxious once a week at work compared to 37% of good sleepers. Fifty-five percent of bad sleepers, brought their work stress home with them at least once a week, compared to measly 19% of good sleepers.
“Good sleepers were half as likely as bad sleepers to be dissatisfied with their paycheck, their collaboration with co-workers, and the tasks they performed on the job. When we looked at workload, the difference between each group was even more substantial, with a very small percentage of good sleepers feeling dissatisfied with the amount of work they performed,” the authors of the study summarized in the report.
Originally published on The Ladders.
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