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Although many people believe that eight hours of sleep is a necessity, the reality is that each person has different sleep needs and even these needs vary throughout our lives. For an adult it is considered that having between 6 and 9 hours of sleep daily is a reasonable amount to avoid problems caused by the lack or excess of sleep. But more important than the number of hours is bedtime routine; that is, always sleep and wake up at the same hours.
Routine helps our body to prepare before every activity, whether it is doing sports, go to sleep, or wake up each morning. Surely not everyone will like the idea of waking up at 5.am as Richard Branson, but waking up early every morning will give us time to prepare for the challenges we face during the day.
In a post on Virgin.com, Branson explained the reasons why he wakes up early and discussed some of the benefits of having a consistent morning routine:
“Over my 50 years in business I have learned that if I rise early I can achieve so much more in a day, and therefore in life.”
It’s no small wonder, since he is the only entrepreneur to have built eight separate billion-dollar companies starting with Virgin in 1970 at the age of 20.
And in just under a half-century later, he has climbed his way to number 330 on Forbes’ list of The World’s Billionaires (ranking #12 in the U.K.) with a reported net worth of about $5 billion.
In his post, Branson confesses that he has always been an early riser. “Like keeping a positive outlook, or keeping fit, waking up early is a habit, which you must work on to maintain. Over my 50 years in business I have learned that if I rise early I can achieve so much more in a day, and therefore in life.”
He goes on to say that sleep is incredibly valuable for a busy life, and he tries to get it whenever and wherever he can – especially when he’s flying.
“Founding a business comes with a lot of responsibility, and one of the most important things I can be is accessible. Getting up and at it early gives me time to get on top of things, and chart my day effectively.”
No matter where Branson is in the world, he tries to routinely wake up at around 5am. By rising early, he says, “I’m able to do some exercise and spend time with my family, which puts me in a great mind frame before getting down to business.”
Sharp minds need sleep – but our brains can be conditioned and nurtured to be productive in other ways. Exercise, reading, conversation, and a positive outlook also keep the mind active and alert. Passion is another huge factor in keeping focused. Passion breeds energy, and is essential to running a business that involves long hours and hard decisions.
Branson continues to advice that life is not a dress rehearsal, so we should live each day to its full capacity. “I think it goes without saying that the days that we stretched out are more memorable than those when we got a good night’s sleep. However, whatever works best for each individual should be embraced – working flexibly means working efficiently.”
“Being an early riser isn’t about trumpeting how hard you work. It’s about doing everything within your power to help your business achieve success; and if that means you have to get up at an hour not known to most, then you might as well enjoy the sunrise.”
Apart from getting more time for the day, waking up early also gives you a great moment of silence free from distractions, an ideal place to concentrate on the objectives of the day. We can prepare a mental checklist to organize all the tasks that will lead us to achieve our goals.