Career Tips, Family Life

5 Reasons Why 4am Is The Most Productive Hour Of The Day

How to be more productive

Have you ever wondered how successful people reach the triumphs they are enjoying now? Well, here’s a secret. Most of them – if not all – are said to be early risers. We will tell you more about that as you read on and why 4am is the most productive hour of the day yet.

But first, a scientific support says something about a person’s habit of waking up early. It’s called the circadian rhythm or the biological body alarm clock, which, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is the “24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle.”

It’s basically getting used to a certain sleep cycle. Circadian rhythm works best for people with regular sleeping habits. For instance, going to bed early at night, and then waking up early in the morning the same times every day – regardless if it’s weekday or weekends. When things like jet lag or daylight savings times happen, your circadian rhythm is interrupted, which leads to feeling different and makes it harder for you to pay attention on matters.

It is also good to note that the circadian rhythm changes as the person gets older. You may not have the same sleep/wake cycle as before or like that of your husband, your children or your parents.

Apart from this scientific reason, however, there are several factors why productivity is at its peak during the wee hours of the morning. Here are a few probable reasons we thought why 4am is the most productive hour of the day:

  1. Peaceful Environment

Let’s admit it, during this time, almost everyone at your home are still asleep – unless of course if someone is leaving to catch an early flight, maybe he or she is working on a night shift, there is an emergency or the person is working in a 24/7 job like doctors, nurses or those in all day and night round convenience store. At 4am, there is peace. It’s quiet. The absence of noise makes it easier for you to think, come up with ideas, leading to being able to do your tasks for the day or that proposal that is nearing its deadline.

As Josh Davis — a psychologist and director of research at the NeuroLeadership Institute, and the author of the book, Two Awesome Hours — say in an article published by Wall Street Journal, “When you have peace and quiet and you’re not concerned with people trying to get your attention, you’re dramatically more effective and can get important work done, so they have that part right.”


  1. Energy Level At Its Peak

Still wondering why 4am is the most productive hour? Well, when you wake up early in the morning, it is the when your body’s energy level is at its peak. It is still full. With a high level of energy, you get to multitask, to do a lot of things. Imagine being asleep for x number of hours the night before – that means, your body was able to rest and regain enough strength that you need for the day ahead.

  1. A Well-Rested Body

It actually goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. A body that has had enough sleep or rest is the key towards productivity. Let’s admit it, it’s hard to function when you didn’t have enough sleep or when you are exhausted. And when is your body at its peak? Of course, it functions at its finest upon waking up.

  1. A Well-Rested Brain

With a high body energy level comes your brain working faster. Of course, by the time you wake up, it become the first moment as well that your brain will do his work. It has rested enough during the night. When you wake up in the morning with a well-rested brain, it’s easier to think of ideas, plans or actions concerning your job or your daily tasks. Compare it to when it’s already 5 in the afternoon, by then, you just want to go home and rest. No more ideas or thoughts coming in.

  1. You Are Focused

Focus is the secret to being productive. When you are focused, you get to do the job well and on time. You can only focus on getting the job done when there’s nothing else to think about but the job. At 4 in the morning, you get that. Without distractions and with peace around, plus a well-rested body and brain, then focusing on things is easier.

Furthermore, in a report published recently by the Wall Street Journal about why 4am is the most productive hour of the day, it cited the following reasons:

– Minimal Distractions

Well, during the wee hours of the morning, 4am at that, most people are still sleeping soundly, dreaming. If you are a mom and wife, your kids and husband are most likely still enjoying the comforts of their respective beds. They are still at rest. So, no one will bug you to play with them or ask your help on an assignment they forgot to do the night before. No husband will distract you with his corny jokes either. You have the time all by yourself.

– No Texts and Emails Coming In

Still wondering why 4am is the most productive hour? Well, since everyone is still asleep, and people thinking you too are sleeping, no one’s going to send you text or email at that hour. People value your right to rest, so, they will most likely send a message once they are sure you are already awake – unless, of course, it’s a very important urgent matter like life and death.

– Less Uploads on Social Media

Since people are will sleeping, then obviously, there is less to see on social media. You don’t get distracted with the thought of checking your friends’ most recent posts. Most likely, what you get to see by this time are old uploads or posts that you have probably already seen the day before.

Still not convinced why 4am is the most productive hour? Well, here are a few examples of successful people who claims to be early-risers:

– Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States of America. She wakes up early in the morning to exercise and does her emails after.

– Anna Wintour, British-American journalist and editor. She reportedly wakes up early and plays tennis at New York’s Midtown tennis club

– Michelle Gass, former president of Starbucks EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Russia, Africa) and currently the chief merchandising and customer officer at Kohl’s department stores. She said she wakes up at 4:30 in the morning to go have some physical activities, particularly, running.

– Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. He claims to rise at 3:45 in the morning to answer emails. Then, at 4:30am, he goes to the gym for some physical workout.

With these people testifying how waking up early adds up or probably the main reason of their productivity, then, you know those sayings that go, “early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” and “the early bird caches the worm”? These may be right after all.

It is good to note, though, that each one of us has his own time of the day that he or she feels most productive. While most people prefer doing work during the wee hours of the morning, some can do more work on mid-days, others at night. Our bodies are different. What works for you may not work for others.

Nevertheless, whether you are a morning person or an afternoon or night person, your productivity level also depends on how you want things done and what drives you to finish them.

Now, while it is worth noting that there are certain hours in a day when we can be most productive, we cannot deny the fact that there are days or a time of the day when we are less productive too. Here are a few reasons why:


Chances are, if you’re feeling like a hamster spinning backward, you’re doing too much. And guess what that leads to? No, unfortunately, there’s no hustler of the year of award. It more often than not leads to utter exhaustion.

And what happens when you burn out? You stop. Your output reduces to zero for an extended period of time. Nothing gets done. And this isn’t a planned recess. It’s forced. The effect on your work can be devastating.

Gross work/life imbalance 

When some talk about how to be more productive, they also skip the concept of balance. I don’t believe in the fantasy that all areas of your life should balance out, all of the time. But it is vital to be aware that when your kids don’t recognize you, your spouse thinks you’ve moved out, and your dog mistakes you for the neighbor…..maybe, just maybe, you’re overdoing it with work.

Does work take up the largest portion of your energy? On long work days, that’s inevitable. But do you still have energy after work and on days that you are off to be fully present and engaged with your loved ones?

How about your hobbies and leisure activities? Have they all but disappeared?

As mentioned above, it’s near impossible to create a perfect balance. But don’t take work to the extreme, isolating family members and giving away all of your daily energy to that one area of your life.

Overwork sucks doesn’t feel good

Outside of people addicted to work, trying to get everything on your over-extended to-do list done is misery. It can leave you feeling anxious and unhappy. Many people provide suggestions on how to be more productive but miss the element of stress.

Productivity is good, undue stress is bad. And this must be considered when creating productivity-oriented routines. The stress of it all can overcome you and land you in a state of despair about work and life.

So, what to do, instead? How do you get to the root of the age old question of how to be more productive?

Well, apart from trying out an early morning routine like waking up at 4am or earlier, how do we structure our work for best results?

First, know your limits.

Become self-aware. Instead of focusing on how to be more productive, listen to your body and thoughts to identify when you’re edging close to that tipping point. Only by knowing this can you then take a step back. With this knowledge, you can also establish boundaries.

Set boundaries for yourself based on your limits. Boundaries aren’t just for your annoying friends who like to call you at 1 am. There also for to know when you need to slow down or stop.

Know your limits and stick to them.

Re-assess your to-do list and timetable

Are the tasks you have to complete within a realistic timetable?

A 30-page daily to-do list that’s been rolling over for months sets you up to attempt over-working. It also leaves you feeling unproductive at the end of the day when you see that you’ve barely scratched the surface of your list of to-dos.

Get help/Delegate

There’s no tombstone special that reads

‘Here lies Productive Penny. She did everything herself. May she finally rest (in peace)’

It’s okay to ask for help and/or delegate tasks as needed.


Are there things on your task list that you’ve been carrying over for months that no longer need to be done? There may be an ambitious project (or two) that need to be tabled or scrapped completely.


As mentioned above, rest is an important aspect of productivity and efficiency. Regardless if you wake up as early as 4am or not, when you have enough rest, you are good to go.

Remember to regularly assess your rest periods. Are you taking breaks while you work? When you’re off, do you rest your mind and body sufficiently? Allowing work events to constantly run rampant through your mind does not allow your mind to rest and can increase your stress levels.

Also, spend a few minutes every day assessing your work and your rest habits. If you’re the detail-oriented type, track your habits and feelings in a spreadsheet or notebook.

Through tracking, you can learn even more about yourself, and you can learn about habits that are helping or hindering your results and quality of life.

The key towards being productive is to fully focus on your work periods, and on resting and recovering in between. This allows for deep, focused work that brings the highest quality results. Aim for it. It’s the missing key to productivity.

Going back to why 4am is the most productive hour, it is safe to say that it is during the wee hours of the morning when there is less stress, when you can think thoroughly. The moment or hour – for that matter – gives you the freedom to assess yourself, to look for ways how to go about a certain task, these and more. No wonder now most of successful people we know are early risers.