Waking up at the crack of dawn because it will make you more productive is not a new thing. The likes of Dwayne Johnson and Jeff Bezos claim that their early wake-up time makes them super productive, and people have been jumping on the ‘5am club’ bandwagon for a long time.
But, like many routines designed to aid wellbeing, TikTok has taken this and run with it, and the five-nine routine has become a big, pre-work ordeal. The hashtag #5to9routine has 35 million views on the platform, and some people are really taking it to the extreme, sharing wake-up routines starting at four in the morning.
Though it may be very disciplined, is it actually worth it, and will it make you more productive?
Well, not necessarily, says psychologist and author of Self-care For Tough Times Suzy Reading (suzyreading.co.uk).
“Some people naturally feel greater mental clarity in the morning, while others will feel more switched on later in the day. Go with what works best for you as an individual. What’s most important is respecting and meeting your sleep needs – for adults, this is seven to nine hours of sleep daily, and sacrificing our sleep needs will not serve us in the long-term.”
The rose-tinted social media version of productivity and wellness trends can be damaging to us. They look calm, perfect and productive. It’s a romantic notion that your life could look like this, simply by waking up earlier.
“There is so much pressure on us to perform – to be the perfect parent, have the perfect home, the perfect yoga pose, pressure to excel in our careers – people are looking for all the hacks available,” says Reading.
“We absorb so much unhelpful messaging; ‘You snooze, you lose’, ‘No pain, no gain’, consumerism tells us we must buy more to be more, and this grind culture conflates our self-worth with productivity. In times of economic uncertainty and job insecurity, the pressure to be productive is enormous, and social media fuels our ‘comparisonitis’ – the pressure to keep up with the Joneses can be overwhelming.”
And the five-to-nine trend can go too far, actually making you more tired in the long run.
“This trend puts more pressure on us to strive in our self-care, pressure to squeeze more into our day, glorifying productivity. It is OK to prioritise your sleep and rest needs. And actually, it’s not just OK, it is necessary and smart for us to pace ourselves,” she says.
Your productivity may actually benefit more from knowing what your body responds to, and a routine that keeps you calm and happy. If that is getting up early and going to sleep early, great, but what works for one may not work for everyone.
“One characteristic of ‘good sleep’ is waking up naturally without an alarm. Get to know your body clock and help regulate it with consistency – going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time, where possible,” says Reading.
“It makes more sense to wake feeling refreshed by adequate sleep, than getting up earlier to engage in an energy-boosting practice. Going to bed earlier is a trend I could get behind!”