Losing Sleep: Message from the Morning Man by Kojo Yankson


Losing Sleep: Message from the Morning Man

by Kojo Yankson

17th November 2015

I wonder if you’ll believe me if I told you I’m really not a morning person. “Yeah right”, you’ll probably say. “The Morning Man is not a morning person? That’s like saying Justice Derry is a vegetarian”.

But the truth is I really don’t like waking up early. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to switch off my alarm and get back under the covers for another two hours. My preference would be to get out of bed only when I become sick of being horizontal, or when the need for food and water outstrips the need for sleep. In all truth, I’m more Mattress Man than Morning Man.

I mean, I don’t know how to make you appreciate the depth of my love for sleep. I have a huge white bed with four soft, fat, white pillows and a great white quilt. I choose white, because it makes me feel like I’m sleeping in the clouds. At bedtime, I like to keep the room cool, switch on some music, or a talk show in a language I don’t understand (don’t ask why, but it relaxes me), I hug one pillow and I drift off into dreamland in minutes.

Getting out of bed is hard! Your whole body resists it. When the cock crows or the alarm goes off, or the kids run into the room, it brings your rest to an abrupt end. It’s a rude interruption to your daily vacation away from the stresses, the pressures and the problems of your life. You open your eyes and the things that made you worry yesterday are right there waiting for you to get up and worry about them for one more day.

Getting out of bed means getting out of your safe place and venturing out into the unpredictable world once more. It means re-joining the rat race. It means a car ride with your loud children, followed by a work day with your even louder boss, interspersed with money problems, marital troubles, and all the other migraine-inducing conundrums you will have to navigate your way through in order to find your way back to your bed again at the end of the day.

I used to tell my friends that there is no other pleasure on earth that I would give up sleep for. Not even sex. So when I got this job, you can imagine what a struggle it was for me to wake up at 4am every morning.

How did I do it? Not easily. But I had already made my choice. I had finally found a pleasure for which I was happy to give up my sleep, so no matter how painful it would be, I had to teach myself to become a morning person. And when I say I had to teach myself, I mean I had to trick myself.

I set alarms on my phones, and keep them a distance from the bed, so I’m forced to get up and switch them off. But I know, I’m likely to switch them off and drowsily get back into bed, so I set the first alarm for 0330 and the second for 0400. I also set a timer on the room thermostat to turn up the heat at 0330, which means by the time the second alarm goes off at 0400, my bed has become unbearably hot, and I actually want to get out of it. I then go straight into the shower and turn on the cold water for five minutes, followed by the warm water for 15 minutes. That’s when the real waking up happens.

With this shock therapy, over time, I slowly got my body used to the idea of loving mornings. Plus it helped that I was climbing out of bed and into a job I loved so much. The sense of purpose I get from my job, to me, is the one thing worth losing sleep over.

So why am I telling you all this anyway? It’s because I recently discovered that rising early is actually one of the most consistent habits of successful people around the world. PepsiCo CEO, Indira Nooyi wakes up at 4am. So does Prince Amoabeng of UT Bank. Other early-rising high-rollers include Tim Armstrong of AOL, Alhassan Andani of Stanbic Bank, Richard Branson, Virgin Group Chairman, Sir Sam Jonah, and Tim Cook of Apple who is up by 0345 every morning, just so he can have a head start on his East Coast competition three time zones ahead of him.

Why do they do it? Well, time is the most limited resource in the world, so rising early gives you more of it. It’s as simple as that. The truly wealthy man or woman is the one who makes the best use of their time. We all get one life, so if you intend to do more with yours, then give yourself a head start.

My friends, a successful life is basically a series of productive days. And a productive day starts early, so teach yourself to leave your bed early. It’s your first battle of the day. Win it decisively, and you’re in with a decent chance of a successful life.

My name is Kojo Yankson, and I happily sacrifice being the Mattress Man, so I can be the Morning Man.