August 1st, 2008

How to Become a Late Riser: 5 Reasons Why Sleeping In Every Day Will Boost your Productivity

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There is no hope for a civilization which starts each day to the sound of an alarm clock. -Author Unknown

Super-Replicating Belief: A Belief that has some property which facilitates its own transmission, which makes it be held by an increasing number of minds.

There is a super-replicating false belief in our society that sleeping in is lazy. Sleeping in is not lazy- many individuals would actually be more productive if they slept in versus waking up early (especially if they learned lucid dreaming). But as a whole, promoting the belief that sleeping in is lazy serves the needs of a stable society, in which individuals are all on similar schedules.

What are some of the ways that society makes us feel guilty for sleeping in?

  • “Early to Bed, Early to Rise, Makes a Man Healthy Wealthy and Wise”
  • Early risers are considered more productive than those who sleep in
  • We are only supposed to need 8 hours of sleep, and people often brag about getting by on less
  • If we sleep in, we may feel out of synch with the 9-5 society
  • The online community, including bloggers Steve Pavlina and Leo Babauta, promote becoming early risers

There is no need to feel guilty or lazy- here are 5 reasons why sleeping in will boost your productivity:

5 Reasons Why Sleeping In Every Day Will Boost your Productivity

Are you a Night Owl?
Are you a Night Owl?

1) Depending on your chronotype, you may be a Night Owl living in a Morning Lark’s world

Morning Lark: Morning person, naturally wakes up 2 hours earlier than the majority of the population, is ready for sleep between 8pm – 10pm. Cope more easily with early shifts.

Night Owl: Night person, naturally wakes up 2 hours later than the majority of the population, doesn’t feel sleepy until 12am – 2am. Cope more easily with late shifts.

Many creative types, such as writers, actors, and computer programmers, tend to be Night Owls. If they don’t have to get up early for work, many Night Owls choose to go along with there inherent sleep schedule and work until very late at night.

2) Most people need more than 8 hours of sleep

Before the invention of the electric light in 1879, most people slept 10 hours each night, and this has recently been discovered as the ideal amount of sleep for optimum performance. Additionally, people in cultures that are free from the demands of modern society typically sleep 10 hours each night. There are big benefits to sleeping ten hours per night:

Research Center of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, have demonstrated that alertness significantly increases when eight-hour sleepers who claim to be well rested get an additional two hours of sleep. Energy, vigilance, and the ability to effectively process information are all enhanced, as are critical thinking skills and creativity.

-James B. Maas, Power Sleep

3) Sleep consistency is important; the time you wake up is not (unless you must get up for work)

Sleep consistency is key- this is why I named this post “5 Reasons Why Sleeping In Every Day Will Boost your Productivity”. But the time you wake up is not important:

In 1757 Benjamin Franklin gave us the epigram “early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” It would be more accurate to say “Consistently to bed and consistently to rise….” As long as you fulfill your sleep requirement without interruption, it doesn’t really matter what time you go to bed or get up.

-James B. Maas, Power Sleep

Sleeping in can improve your long-term memory retention
Sleeping in can improve your long-term memory retention

4) Sleeping in can improve your long-term memory retention, memory organization, and learning

REM Sleep: Stage of sleep with predominant eye movements and dreaming. During REM, brain neuronal pathways are fired randomly, and REM sleep causes strengthening of memory circuits similar to lifting weights causes strengthening of muscles.

When you fall asleep at night, you go through 4 stages of sleep every 90 to 110 minutes. You typically go through 4-5 cycles of these stages each night. With each successive cycle, more time is spent in REM stage. During later sleep cycles, REM sleep increases from twenty to as much as sixty minutes.

Whenever you have a short night of sleep, you eliminate the long REM periods that come toward morning. This can have significant negative consequences in terms of your learning, thinking, memory, and performance. The only solution is for you to get more sleep.

5) Sleeping in allows you to catch up on sleep debt

Sleeping is a way for you to catch up on sleep debt (Hours of sleep you need per night – Hours of sleep you actually get). In my sleep debt post, I recommend that instead of sleeping in, you catch up on sleep debt by going to bed earlier. However, if you can’t get to bed early, and can’t get enough sleep in your normal schedule, it’s smart to sleep in to catch up on sleep debt when you are able to.

Bonus Reason) Sleeping in allows for more time to practice Lucid Dreaming, allowing you to control your dreams and rehearse for waking life

A lucid dream is a dream in which you are aware that you are dreaming. There are many reasons people decide to try lucid dreaming. Here are a few of the more popular reasons:

  • Fun (ex. flying, superhero abilities)
  • Treatment for nightmares
  • Rehearsing an activity for your waking life (ex. sport, musical performance)
  • Self knowledge and personal growth

To learn more about lucid dreaming, sign up for your Free Lucid Dreaming Starter Handbook.

Now that you know the benefits, here are three tips for becoming a late riser:

How to Become a Late Riser

Note: If you are a Morning Lark, and easily awaken at an early hour, you will generally not be able to become a late riser. This advice is for Night Owls who do not wake up easily for work.

For freelancers and those in control of their own work schedule, sleeping in is an easy habit to adopt. But what about the rest of us? Here are some solutions for the regular worker:

1) Talk to your employer about flextime

Flextime allows you to determine when you work, so you can sleep in every day if you negotiate coming in late with your employer.

2) Talk to your employer about working from home

Talk to your boss about working from home one day of the week. Prove that you can be trusted, and then negotiate working from home full-time. As part of this arrangement, make sure to negotiate working on your own hours (so you can sleep in).

3) No flextime and can’t work from home? Quit your job

If your employer doesn’t allow flextime or working from home, and you are a Night Owl, and getting up early each morning is hell for you, why not consider some alternatives? You could find another employer that is more flexible, or you could start your own business. Either way, you would be more productive working your own hours, versus the hours that society chooses for you.

4) No flextime, can’t work from home, and don’t want to quit your job? Sleep in and face the consequences

A late riser in North Korea:

This post is part of the Sleep Evolver Series

Creative Commons License photo credit: Tyla_1975, left-hand, ☣ bionerd ☢

Creative Commons License photo credit: alex012

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36 Responses to “How to Become a Late Riser: 5 Reasons Why Sleeping In Every Day Will Boost your Productivity”


August 6th, 2008 - 9:33 pm

Hey cool stuff here, everyone likes to sleep in. glad you can support it.

Nice blog– i love this stuff

Derek Ralston

August 6th, 2008 - 10:01 pm

Thanks! Yeah everyone does like sleeping in, just too bad that they feel guilty for doing something that’s healthy and good for them (=


August 17th, 2008 - 1:45 pm

The video clip doesn’t show a scene from North Korea; at the beginning it sounds like they’re speaking Mandarin. It’s China, not North Korea. They’re trying to mock the North Koreans, but the panel at the end shows jumbled pseudo-Korean script in the banners.

I think it may have been filmed in China to mock North Korea.

Elizabeth Roberts

August 17th, 2008 - 3:26 pm

I can completely relate to this! I too am a night owl and since beginning my home based business love not having an alarm clock, but society still judges me for working until wee hours of the morning and sleeping in. I will stop feeling guilty about it now!
I will also share this with my potential business partners!
Way to go!

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Aaron Cruikshank

August 17th, 2008 - 4:40 pm

I really like the point about not taking any guff from an employer who can’t accomodate your working style. We’re moving into an era where demand for labour will far exceed supply and employers need to wake up and smell the fact that they need to offer flexible working arrangements.

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August 17th, 2008 - 5:27 pm

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August 17th, 2008 - 7:28 pm

A six-year study Kripke headed up of more than a million adults ages 30 to 102 showed that people who get only 6 to 7 hours a night have a lower death rate than those who get 8 hours of sleep.

Got to love contradicting studies :-/

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Sleep Guy

August 17th, 2008 - 8:29 pm

Great stuff.However, I think many Night Owls can become Morning Larks by just going to bed earlier, and taking the blackout shades off the window to get some early morning light or using an alarm clock that uses light to wake you up (and going to bed early enough so that you get plenty of sleep). Also, you should have mentioned sleep apnea. One of the main reasons some people tend to need to sleep later and take naps is that they aren’t sleeping well. Getting a sleep study and then possibly going on CPAP (sometimes covered by insurance), using a special mask (usually not covered by insurance), or getting surgery (usually not covered by insurance) may help with sleep apnea, which will help avoid risk of a lot of serious health problems, not to mention greater alertness and mental ability.

Matt Santi

August 17th, 2008 - 8:36 pm

Be sure to not drink a lot of liquid before you go to sleep. There is nothing worse than having to get up in the middle of the night and disturbing your sleep to run to the bathroom.

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August 17th, 2008 - 11:21 pm

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August 18th, 2008 - 6:53 am

Great, so long as the late sleepers are also going to bed at a reasonable hour. Sleeping with too much daylight is not as restful as sleeping in the dark. Sleeping late in the morning is not as good for you as sleeping those same hours in the dark.


August 18th, 2008 - 7:17 am

Sorry, but life has proven that this article is wrong. Early risers are always more productive and accomplish more in life. You’re trying to impress your audience by rejecting an all-time main principle of productivity and effectiveness. I’ve seen by myself both kind of men, And the traditional approach seems to fit better. Also, I think 8 hours it’s a fair number to sleep each night, while you can be right with 6. It depends on you.

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August 18th, 2008 - 9:13 am

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Derek Ralston

August 18th, 2008 - 8:37 pm

Wow… This post has had a lot of traffic after hitting Digg front page yesterday!

@Berkana: I read that on the Youtube comments (video being made in China, mocking North Korea), but still thought it was a good example of a late riser.

@Elizabeth: Glad you enjoyed the post!

@Lair: There is no “one way” that works for everyone. As you say, “it depends on you” for how many sleep hours you need. I am arguing the same point for your sleep schedule.

@Sleep Guy: I agree that Sleep Apnea should be mentioned in this discussion, thanks for adding to the discussion.

@Aaron: Yep- the end of the 9-5 is coming, career customization is on its way to mainstream. Can’t wait until it becomes more widely adopted, it’s up to all of us to push for this with our employers.

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Basil White

September 10th, 2008 - 10:22 am

Your evidence doesn’t support the argument to sleep late, only the argument to awaken naturally. It’s not waking up early that makes you sick, it’s waking up to the external cue of an alarm clock instead of allowing your body to wake up naturally.

Keep an index card by the bed and record when you drop into bed. If the alarm wakes you up, write an X by the time. The next night go to bed five minutes earlier. Repeat until you wake up before the alarm, and keep recording and adjusting your “drop time” until you naturally wake up right before the alarm.

Before long you’ll remember if the alarm woke you up and you’ll know when to go to bed, and you’ll be getting exactly as much sleep as your body wants by playing “beat the clock.” This method gives you the health benefits of sleeping late without quitting your job. -Baz

Derek Ralston

September 10th, 2008 - 8:41 pm

@Baz: You are correct that my evidence also supports awaking naturally, but how can you argue that it does not support sleeping late? Reason #1 (chronotypes), explains that some people naturally wake up 2 hours later than the majority of the population. This means that it is healthier for them to sleep in. The other reasons build off of the first, and provide further evidence that sleeping in can be healthy and more productive for you. And even if this post is also covers the benefits of awaking naturally, I doubt I would’ve gotten to the front page of Digg with a post called “How to Awake Naturally” (=

Great suggestion about tracking your sleep needs/waking up to an alarm, and making small adjustments each day. The main key to this method would be staying consistent and not sleeping in late certain days/taking naps/other things that would make your tracking inconsistent.

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John Donoghue

October 2nd, 2008 - 4:25 am

I’m a night owl computer programmer who’s employer is happy for me to work flex time.

Now all I need to do is get rid of the kids…

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November 16th, 2008 - 9:52 pm

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December 20th, 2008 - 8:04 pm

Yay! another excuse to sleep in!

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Phil Carney

August 9th, 2009 - 4:34 am

Some of the replies to this great article try to give “Night Owls” advice on how to become “Morning Larks,” which goes to show that the the M.L.’s just don’t understand us N.O.’s! We don’t want to be like you! Many of us N.O.’s are very happy the way we live. We are creative, intelligent, and open-minded enough to know that a person can be successful regardless of what time he or she goes to bed and/or wakes up. You very rarely hear N.O.’s trying to convince M.L.’s to stay up late or sleep in. Yet I am constantly hearing M.L.’s chastising N.O.’s and trying to make them feel guilty, or in plain English, like “Losers” for not waking up at 6AM or 7AM. It’s just plain wrong. Taking a look at prisons alone, and all of their repeat inmates, should be a good start to doing some research to prove that waking up early is not one of the major keys to success.


May 19th, 2010 - 1:15 am

time is just an illusion…even Einstein agrees! and one day we will all be six feet under…so stop the fuss dearies!


June 8th, 2010 - 11:58 pm

I am totally a Night Owl, but just sayin, the military wakes up at what, 4:30am? 5am? I’d say their behaviour and ‘productivity’ are pretty high up there…


November 9th, 2010 - 12:49 pm

Thank you for this article, something I can really relate to. However I’m not going to use this as an excuse to wake up late, BUT I can now be unapologetic to friends and family why I MEET them in the middle in the colliding of our schedules. And prove to still be productive in a non linear timeline.

Well anyway, thats coming from someone from freelance work in the ‘creative’ Film Industry.


January 31st, 2011 - 1:39 pm

@Phil Carney: Right there with you! Some of us are just wired that way.
@Basil White: Conversely, try to set the alarm for later in the morning; going to bed earlier does not help Night Owls.
@Clayfoot: That’s why Night Owls have curtains.
@Lair: Sorry, but I’ll bet the lives of our most creative people contradict your comment.
@Lynda: Night Owls are less likely to join the military, so those productive people are already predisposed to rise earlier. Also, regulating people’s sleep schedules helps keep them in line and more efficient to the organization.


February 3rd, 2011 - 8:57 pm

@Yehudit: You don’t have to sleep late to sleep in. The statement that “going to bed earlier does not help Night Owls” begs the question: the only way you’d know whether the time of day affects your cognition is to get the same amount of sleep at different cycles of the day. The rest of this article re-re-phrases “extra sleep is good for you.” Alert the media!


February 6th, 2011 - 6:06 am

@Basil: this is my point. You suggested only setting the clock earlier, without the option of trying out the opposite direction. While it is possible to include the idea of sleeping longer, it is commonly accepted that to “sleep in” means sleeping later. The article constantly refers to sleeping later, i.e., its definition of “Night Owl” says that those people go to sleep and wake up later than the general population. I would say that the title is a little misleading.

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