The 5 AM Morning Routine Isn’t One Size Fits All

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Don’t let all those productivity gurus on the internet make you feel bad for not wanting to wake up before the sun.

It might not work for you to be up that early and that’s okay. As someone who will never wear a size 5 AM wake-up time, let’s normalize working with our circadian rhythms. And normalize getting things done on our own time.

Unless you’ve found that a 5 AM wake-up time works for you, then this article may not be relevant to you.

There was a point in my life, not too long ago, where I considered the benefits of getting up at 5 AM. Some of them included:

  • Extra time to work on my content before going to my 9-5
  • Time to meditate and stretch
  • Extra reading time
  • Getting to see the sunrise
  • Maybe even getting in a workout

However, as quickly as I romanticized a 5 AM morning routine and how productive I would feel, I soon learned that I am not a morning person.

Nor am I a night owl.

But rather some sort of evening gremlin who is (surprisingly) super productive between the hours of 7ish pm and 10ish pm.

Now imagine my surprise when I slowly began waking up earlier and earlier. Struggled with feeling groggy each morning. Was getting very little done in the way of productivity, and eventually went back to waking up at 7:30 AM.

I felt so guilty but after some much-needed hindsight, I’ve decided 5 AM isn’t right for me and I can’t be alone in this feeling either.

5 AM only works if you’re in bed by 9 PM, right?

This was my biggest struggle. I’ve never been someone to go to bed early. Laying in bed, after taking melatonin, and willing my brain to be quiet seemed to be a common theme.

It just wasn’t working.

I’d try tea, white noise, blackout curtains, melatonin, etc.

Going to bed just wasn’t my cup of tea. I wasn’t trying to stay up all night, but 9 PM was just too early.

My brain was like a weird movie reel. Replaying the events of the day, thinking about all the things I needed to do the next day.

While it felt nice to jump into my cozy bed earlier, I still rolled around for what felt like at least an hour trying to convince myself (like I was a toddler) that it was time for bed.

My brain doesn’t function before 9 AM

I don’t know about you, but my biggest hurdle by far was trying to get my brain to wake up alongside me.

I’d get up and feed my pets, make a hot cup of tea, and fill a glass with water. Do some light stretching and then sit down to look at my calendar or to-do list. Or maybe even grab my iPad and open up my current read.

Except nothing would happen. I’d be like a zombie, staring at the screen while my brain questioned why the hell heck we got out of bed?

Not only did I need a minute to wake up, but I found I needed a much slower routine in the morning than other people.

I find it amazing how much some people can accomplish before 7 in the morning. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous, but I am content that it’s just not for me.

Why do I have to do what everyone else is doing?

After a few frustrating and exhausting weeks, I finally had to sit down and ask myself if getting up at 5 AM was even worth it?

Why was I so excited to let “gurus” on the internet completely change my whole sleeping pattern?

For productivity???

They made it such a simple and almost romanticized notion. Get up earlier, get more done, and feel more accomplished.

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Like it makes sense, completing a lot of personal or side hustle tasks before even starting your day or 9-5 sounds amazing.

But what they don’t tell you is that it might not be for you and that you are not lazy for not wanting to get up super early.

Even at a slow pace, it wasn’t for me

I didn’t jump right into a 5 AM alarm clock, I slowly moved the alarm in 10-15 minute increments, cursing it every single morning, until I had achieved a 5 AM wake up.

And I could feel myself slowly, slowly, slowly adjusting. The brain fog still lingered and my brain still begged me to go back to sleep. But I could feel…something.

Until I would get to my desk at 9 am and be exhausted once more. And being unable to take a nap before getting home at 5:30 made some days just drag on incredibly and painfully slowly.

And at some point, I had to just admit defeat.

Could I have continued pushing on for months and willing the 5 AM alarm to work? Yes.

But it didn’t make me happy or feel more productive.

So what actually will work?

For me, I like to be in bed by 11 PM and up by 7:30 am.

I do my best to get a solid 8 hours but also allow myself some extra time in bed when needed.

And as I mentioned earlier, I am most productive between 7ish PM and 10ish PM.

So my evening routine looks something like this:

  • Home by 5:30 – workout from 5:30-6
  • Dinner from 6-7ish (cooking and watching an episode of something with my partner)
  • Cleaning up dinner, shower, changing clothes
  • At my desk by 8 to edit, write, or content plan
  • Hard stop by 9:45 pm to pack my lunch for the next day
  • And in bed by 10 pm to read for about an hour or so
  • Then lights off, falling asleep by 11ish pm

And this works for me!

It comes down to your timing

I am more productive than I have ever been. I recently wrote an article about giving up subscriptions to 3rd party productivity apps and switching back to the Apple iOS ecosystem.

Having systems and routines in place that start with understanding your schedules, responsibilities, and time frame for extracurriculars, is a game changer. In my opinion, where true productivity journeys begin.

Because like a 5 AM wake-up, productivity is not one size fits all either.

I am grateful to not have too many responsibilities so a schedule like this works well for me.

Maybe you’re a parent with young children and can only dedicate 30 minutes a night to your goals, side hustles, or personal tasks.

That’s okay too.

The most important part is making the time work for you.

Because we all get 24 hours in a day and that’s the problem isn’t it? We all only get 24 hours in a day.

Success doesn’t begin at 5 AM

The 5 AM routine reminds me of how successful people always make their beds in the morning.

We’ve gotta stop letting others dictate our lives. Because personally? I only make the bed when company is coming over.

(Please don’t come for me.)

Life is exhausting enough. If 5 AM and making the bed fits into your routine and lifestyle, then more power to you.

But success is a lot of hard work, commitment, and time spent.

Whether that is at 5 AM or 5 PM, solely is dependent on your schedule, responsibilities, and life.

Let’s go define success for ourselves without the added pressure of feeling we need to do things the way others do.


So how about you? What routines have you built/are building for yourself if you’re not a 5 AM person like me?

Or are you a 5 AM person who has found this routine works perfectly for your schedule and lifestyle?

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