entrepreneurs talk about their sleep habits and how wake-up time influences productivity

Doctors and sleep experts think we need at least seven hours of sleep each night to function at our best. Some of us need more (who needs less?). Our sleep needs depend on our age, gender, lifestyle, and genetic predisposition.

Entrepreneurs on their wake-up times and sleep habits

But what about when we get our shuteye—does that matter? To entrepreneurs invested in growing their companies, it does.

While most of the business owners below spring out of bed early in the morning, some sleep in, but burn the midnight oil.

Guess what?

Both groups still managed to build successful businesses.

Dr. Letitia Wright: “You have to roll with the body that God gave you.”

“I strongly believe the time you wake up does not impact your productivity and that you can have working hours that work for you. You have to roll with the body that God gave you. We’re not all early birds and we’re not all night owls. And sometimes, during different stages of your life, you might flip back and forth. All of this is okay and welcome.

I’m naturally a morning bird. However, I do not subscribe to the 5 a.m. club. A person who is a night owl gets better quality and more work done late at night.

Those who tell you that the 5 a.m. club is the only way to be successful in life are not thinking about the needs of everyone. We are all different and our routines and strategies will be different as well. Give yourself grace to be the person that makes sense for you.”

Dr. Letitia Wright, founder of Wright Place Studios

Sarah Noel Block: “5 a.m. mornings have been a constant for me.”

“I read a study somewhere that people who plan their days to have ‘slow mornings’ are happier, and I thought why not try? I started doing it a year ago, and it really worked.

I didn’t have to rush. I got ‘me’ time before I had to rush to get the kids ready or start work. I spend my slow morning working out, creative writing, or sometimes just drinking coffee in bed and thumbing through a book. So, 5 a.m. mornings have been a constant for me for a while now and I’m not going back.” 

Sarah Noel Block, founder of Tiny Marketing

Emily Ryan: “If I can get more than eight hours of sleep, I’m a better business owner.”

“I’m an entrepreneur and run my own busy email marketing agency, but I’m also a parent of small kids, so that majorly affects my schedule.

I do like to wake up a little before my kids to take a glance at my schedule for the day and have coffee in peace, but it’s never before 6 am. I will never be the entrepreneur who wakes up at 4 am or stays up until 1 am – and I’m ok with that.

I’m most productive between 8 am-12 pm and I truly believe that sleep is crucial to success, so if I can get more than eight hours of sleep, I’m a much better business owner.”

Emily Ryan, founder of Westfield Creative

Liviu Tanase: “I can focus better at night.”

“I wake up at around 10:00 or 10:30 a.m., and while I may be in the minority, the lifestyle I’ve built around my businesses works for me.

I live in California and my teams are spread across the United States and Europe. So most nights I’m up until 4:00 a.m. – sometimes later – when other entrepreneurs wake up. During those early morning hours, I work with my team in Europe, who are 10 hours ahead of me.

As a natural night owl, it’s not hard for me to stay up so late. It’s quiet and I can focus better at night. But to function at my best capacity the next day, I need at least six hours of sleep.

Although my mornings start later than most people’s, I can be there for my U.S. team as soon as I wake up. And I make the most of every minute of the day.”

Liviu Tanase, founder and CEO of ZeroBounce

Dmytro Chervonyi: “I find my productive hours early in the day and late at night.”

“I cherish my mornings as they set the tone for the day. I typically rise between 6:30 and 6:45 a.m. This gives me ample time to gear up for the day, savor a cup of coffee, and enjoy the morning drive with my kids to school.

After I drop off my kids at school, I head to the gym. It’s not just about fitness; it’s a time that sharpens my mind and energizes me. Work usually begins at 11 a.m. and stretches until I’ve checked off everything on my list — be it at 8 p.m. or the stroke of midnight.

Interestingly, I find my productive hours early in the day and late at night. However, mornings are for personal tasks and family time, setting a positive tone for the day.

Running a startup, especially as a CMO, requires intense focus and creativity. In my role, I strategize and craft content. When the day’s hustle slows, and my house is quiet in the evening, I perform exceptionally well at these tasks.

On some weeks, I’m unable to get enough sleep during the work week. However, I have Saturdays when I do nothing and rest with my family.”

Dmytro Chervonyi, co-founder and CMO of Forecastio

Saket Jain: “In the morning, spend time with those you love.”

“I get up around 5 a.m. most days and make breakfast and lunch for my two daughters, who are the joy of my life. We use the morning to spend quality time together, share stories, and have true conversations. Instead of dinner conversations, we have enriching morning conversations, because I’m not as distracted and I can be more present. I don’t check my emails or messages until I drop the girls off at school and we’ve spent quality time together.

Family is the reason I’ve become a founder and the reason I have done everything I’ve done. Spending that quality time with the girls and my family is the most rewarding part of my life and fuels my work for the rest of my day.

My best advice for daily productivity is to spend time with those you love in the morning – it will fuel your motivation, mission, and purpose.”

Saket Jain, founder of Impact Wealth Builders and Migrate 2 Wealth

Julie DeLucca-Collins: “Be flexible with yourself.”

“The time I wake up varies throughout the year, depending on the seasons. It’s so incredibly important to be flexible with yourself, especially if you struggle with a condition like seasonal affective disorder, like I do.

Typically, in the spring, summer, and fall, I wake up anywhere between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. – I seem to be more productive during those months. However, the wintertime tends to be tough for me, because it’s so cold and bleak where I live in New England. There are times during winter months when I get up as late as 8 a.m.

Giving yourself grace and room to be flexible is important. You can be productive regardless of what time you wake up in the morning. Take an honest inventory of what works for you.”

Julie DeLucca-Collins, founder of Go Confidently

Pearl Chiarenza: “I prioritize myself before I start pouring into others.”

“I usually wake up around 7 am and spend two hours of quality personal time with myself. I get the day started around 9 am.

After walking my dogs in the morning, I love spending time on my front porch swing with a cup of tea, journaling, reading a book, or just enjoying the quietness before the busyness in the world. I also take time to meditate in my office practicing some activations to create the day I’m looking forward to.

Spending that quality time with myself helps me to prioritize myself before I start pouring into others. As someone who is a recovering, chronic people-pleaser, those two hours of uninterrupted time give me the space and energy to help my clients overcome their struggles.”

Pearl Chiarenza, founder of Women’s Successful Living

Jill Wright: “Notice what hours you are most awake, alert, and productive.”

“I wake up at 6 a.m. I’ve always been a morning bird and at my best in the morning. Through trial and error, and paying attention to my body, I’ve figured out that my prime work hours are between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

One piece of advice I’d give anyone wanting to figure out their productivity routine is to notice and acknowledge what hours you are most awake, alert, and productive. It will make a huge difference in your days!

I’ve learned that after 2 p.m., my brain is mush and not alert. Long ago, I stopped trying to work after the kids went to bed. Now I’m just super productive when I show up at 8 a.m. because I’m well rested and ready.”

Jill Wright, founder of Grow Like a Mother

Amanda Walls: “I used to be a late riser.”

“Generally, I wake up at 6 a.m. every morning. I used to be a late riser, but since I’ve had my dog, Ted, I’ve had no choice but to be awake at this time anyway!

That said, it’s given me so many hours back in my day – by 9 a.m., I’ve had a chance to take Ted for a good walk, go to the gym, have breakfast, check through my emails, and plan out my calendar for the day. So when 9 a.m. hits, I feel much more refreshed, full of energy, and ready to give the utmost to my team.”

Amanda Walls, owner of Cedarwood Digital

Joshua Pearson: “I can use the first hour of the day to exercise.”

“I try to wake up at 6 a.m. every day, mostly so that I can use the first hour of the day to exercise. Ideally, that’s weight training or cardio. But sometimes, even walking the dog is enough to set me up for the day and shake off the tired feeling so that the next four-five hours at least are energized and productive.

There are also days when working 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. are incredibly efficient, too. When the day just hasn’t felt like a workday, this time when the world outside stops can be a great time to really focus and zone in.”

Joshua Pearson, founder of Peaco Marketing

Ashley Mason: “I’m most productive first thing in the day.”

“My daily wakeup time is 4 a.m. and I *love* it. I’ve always been a morning person and find that I’m most productive first thing in the day. I also have a strict morning routine that I love to follow to ensure my day starts on the right foot:

  1. I make a cup of coffee to enjoy while journaling. Journaling helps to clear my mind of any worrying thoughts and allows me to get a fresh start to the day.
  2. I write a to-do list outlining everything that has to get done that day so I know what to expect once I sit down at my desk.
  3. I run on my Peloton Tread — anywhere from 6.5 – 10.5 miles per day — to increase my energy.

All of these items allow me to ease into my day and make sure it’s a great one.”

Ashley Mason, founder of Dash of Social

Lev Tretyakov: “Getting up early gives me enough time for my family.”

“I wake up at 4 a.m. or earlier. Sometimes, I get up earlier when an idea pops into my head mid-sleep, and I need to get it down and get it out before it disappears. If not, I go through my emails and tasks for the day. By the time I eat ‘breakfast’ at around 4:30 a.m., the best ideas of the day are trickling in. When is a better time to test these ideas than when everybody else is awake?

For context, I am more of a morning person and usually awake until around 9 p.m. I cannot stay up late and get anything done, so I space out my work over 10 hours and take short breaks for meals or errands during the day.

Getting up early also gives me enough time for my family and time to attend to my daughter’s activities.”

Lev Tretyakov, CEO and Head of Sales of Fortador

Barnaby Lashbrooke: “I go with what my body wants.”

“A while ago I embraced the fact that humans aren’t generally meant to be awake for as long in the winter as they are in the summer. In fact, you don’t have to go very far back in history to find a time when humans could do very little in the colder, darker months. So rather than trying to force myself to wake up before dawn all through the year, I go with what my body wants, which is waking up early if light allows. 

In the summer that means I get an extra 1.5 to two hours of productive time early on in the day. I find this much harder in the winter, because we were never designed to do it, so I don’t force myself.

I find I maintain much higher productivity in the summer because I get up early but in the winter, not getting up early leaves me less tired and able to have a greater impact during my shorter working hours.”

Barnaby Lashbrooke, CEO and founder of virtual assistant company Time etc

Will Polston: “It doesn’t matter what time you wake up.”

“I’m a morning person and wake up between 5 and 6 a.m. most days.  

I am a HUGE advocate for morning routines as it helps me feel in control of the day rather than the day be in control of me. I have a few simple things I do as part of a short routine when I am tight on time and an extended routine for when I have a little more time. 

Some of the short routine elements are finishing with a cold shower and setting my day up with key priority tasks on a Must Do List. 

Extended routine elements include meditation, exercise, and gratitude.  

I believe it doesn’t matter what time you wake up, BUT it does matter what you do when you wake up. 

Will Polston, business strategist and performance coach. author of “North Star Thinking: Master Your Mindset and Live a Life You Love

Anna Bailey: “My workday starts at 7 a.m.”

“I typically wake up at 6 a.m. and my workday starts at 7 a.m. I find these few hours before 9 a.m. crucial as I can tackle my emails before many people start their day. I then carry out other work tasks until lunch, chatting with members on Pally Talk, connecting with assistants on LinkedIn, and designing social and marketing elements.

My to-do list normally takes priority in the afternoon and I tend to focus more of my time on calls as well. I take my dog Rusty for a walk to keep him happy, and myself energized! I then sit down and plan my schedule for the following day.”

Anna Bailey, founder of Pally Talk

Ed Johnson: “I am part of the 5 a.m. club.”

“For me, it’s all about the early mornings. I am part of the 5 a.m. club. I wake up at 5 a.m. two to three times a week and I find it’s super valuable. It gives me so much more additional time. I find it helps improve my productivity.

It allows me to work more whilst being undisturbed and focused as others aren’t on emails or at their desks during this time. This ensures I can designate my morning to being proactive not reactive.

I am very much a morning person, not a night owl! We have clients in the US, so if I worked later or into the night, I’d get the UK and US times and wouldn’t have my own time until gone 11p.m.! Because of this I find my sleep schedule and work pattern influence how I work a lot.”

Ed Johnson, CEO and co-founder of PushFar

Brad Gall: “I’ve been a night owl ever since I remember.”

“I’ve been a night owl ever since I remember. Anything works better at night, when the world’s asleep! Work or think or just lounge about listening to music, it all gets a very special and distinct flavor when there isn’t the slightest possibility that you would be disturbed or yanked out of this time and place that’s yours and yours alone.

Alas, the modern-day era isn’t very conducive to starting your day at noon, so I was forced to alter my habits long before I even entered the workforce or started a business. But I didn’t want to give up either.

There’s a middle ground that still allows me to catch some of the wolf’s hours: going to bed early but getting up at 3 a.m. That way, I can still enjoy some of that peace and silence, without letting any of my day commitments suffer.”

Brad Gall, founder and owner of BG Electrical & Air Con

Jonathan L. Hasson: “You put in the hours whenever you can.”

“As an entrepreneur, there isn’t much of a work-life balance. You put in the (long) hours whenever you can.

As a father with a young and energetic son, I find waking up (very) early tremendously helpful. Pretty much everyone is still asleep at 4:30 or 5 a.m., leaving me some highly focused productive time. I can then enjoy a family break and jump back on emails and calls after the little one’s off to school.” 

Jonathan L. Hasson, co-founder & co-head of UBQT

Paul Sullivan: “Sleep is the key to everything.”

“I like to wake up around 6 a.m. but also get to bed reasonably early — 9.30 p.m. or 10 p.m. at the latest. I can get to the gym and exercise, which kicks off my day and gives me the energy to focus on running the three businesses I own.

Later nights or missing the gym do make me feel sluggish, and clear thinking is critical to the success of what we do. Sleep is the key to everything, and sitting around binge-watching reality TV shows on Netflix doesn’t get you where you want to be.

Alcohol is also a sleep killer as you get older and impacts your ability to exercise well, so I try to avoid it midweek as much as possible.”

Paul Sullivan, founder & Chief Growth Officer at Digital BIAS

Lawrence Harmer: “Waking up before the sun rises sets me up for the day.”

“I love an early start and find that waking up before the sun rises sets me up for the day and really gives my productivity and creativity a head start. An early wake-up allows me the time to set my intentions for the day and have an ice bath in my garden tub before heading off to the office at 8 am.

As the founder of a web design agency that focuses on the well-being of its staff and clients above all else, it’s important to me to set an example of how a healthy body and mind are vital for creativity.

Living in Cornwall, the opportunity to get out in nature before work really fuels my soul. An early wake-up means I can walk on the cliffs to meditate, or catch the best waves before anyone else is up, and that’s priceless.”

Lawrence Harmer, founder of Solve

Samantha Evans: “I’m at my most creative in the morning.”

“Waking up at 5.50 a.m. every morning is a significant contributor to my success.

By the time I get into the office at 7.30 a.m., I have done 30 minutes at the gym and I’m alert, enthusiastic, and energetic and ready for my morning tasks. Having a plan for the day is key, so I’m proactive as soon as I sit at my desk.

As a morning person, I’m at my most creative in the morning and I time-block my activities to optimize my time throughout the day and avoid drifting into unplanned activities.

I enjoy the 90 minutes that I have before the team arrives, it’s my most productive time of the day.”

Samantha Evans, founder of Humphreys of Henley

Neil Jurd OBE: “I’m not an early bird or a night owl.”

“I’m not a fan of the warrior-martyr approach to business: long hours and cold showers.  I see my business as a long game, and I’m in no hurry.

I wake up at 07:30 and start with at least two cups of tea. I’m not an early bird or a night owl – I think both take years off people’s lives and create stress for their employees. 

I do most of my work between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., but I will occasionally work into the evening. I think better from mid-morning onwards. The working day is also the best time to interact with people, and running a business involves a lot of interaction and conversation. 

I see my business as a long-term commitment, and it’s important that I work sustainably. That means leaving space to eat well, to be a good parent, and spend time with friends.”

Neil Jurd OBE, Founder of Leader Connect and author of “The Leadership Book – A Step by Step Guide to Excellent Leadership” 

Lucy Jeffrey: “I just need to change my mindset.”

“I work from Australia half the year and UK the other half so I have to completely switch my body clock and routine.

When I’m in the UK I tend to wake up earlier and have a productive morning, then I finish at 5 or 6 and switch off.

However, in Australia we have meetings going on till 10 p.m. sometimes, so I go to bed much later. My ‘me time’ is in the morning, so I start work much later.

It’s very strange, but generally I’m productive during both. I just need to change my mindset. For example, I might be less productive in the afternoon, but I know I’m jumping on work in the evening and I will get some really good focus time in.

My genetics say I am an early morning person, so I have to put techniques in place to ensure I stay productive, although it’s not my usual pattern.” 

Lucy Jeffrey, founder of Bare Kind

Rob Woollen: “I’m typically up around 6:30 a.m.”

“Left to my own devices, I’m a night owl.  Long ago, I used to arrive at work just in time to go to lunch with my friends and then work in the afternoon and evening.

As I’ve gotten older (and now have three children and a puppy), I’m typically up around 6:30 am. I do most of my messaging / email in the early mornings, but I still feel that evenings are better for most of my productive work.

Rob Woollen, co-founder and CTO of Sigma

Chris McGuire: “I wake up around 6:00 a.m.”

“My mornings are all about seizing the day! While I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore 5:00 am riser, I’m definitely a believer in the power of an intentional morning routine.

I wake up around 6:00 a.m. to fuel my body and mind. A quick jog followed by a healthy breakfast gets my energy levels soaring and sets the tone for a productive day.

The real estate market can be fast-paced. I’m often ahead of the curve, and this gives me a crucial edge when it comes to negotiations and securing hot properties. This is my prime time for creating content.

The early morning hours hold a special kind of quiet focus, but I wouldn’t call myself a rigid schedule kind of guy. If a late-night brainstorming session with my team sparks a winning investment strategy, I’m all for embracing the night owl in me.”

Chris McGuire, founder of Real Estate Exam Ninja

Connor Ondriska: “I function best with a segmented sleep pattern.”

“I thrive in a biphasic sleep schedule. While most wouldn’t call me a traditional early bird, I function best with a segmented sleep pattern.

Waking up around 6:30 a.m. allows me to conquer that pre-dawn quiet time. This golden hour is pure focus. Perfect for tackling strategic business planning and responding to urgent emails.

After a mid-morning power nap, I hit the ground running again, often with renewed creativity. This midday burst allows me to brainstorm content ideas or record engaging video lessons for our students. Evenings can involve team meetings or industry events.

The beauty of remote work is the flexibility. By embracing this biphasic approach, I maximize my productivity throughout the day. It’s not for everyone, but for me, it’s the key to unlocking peak performance!

Connor Ondriska, CEO of SpanishVIP

Jake Munda: “The calm of the morning motivates me.”

“As an entrepreneur, I’ve discovered that my productivity and general attitude are greatly impacted by the time I start my day.

I wake up at 6:30 a.m., which allows me to begin my day with a routine that sets a positive tone. This early start gives me quiet time for reflection, planning, and sometimes, a bit of exercise before the day’s demands kick in.

I see it as an advantage since my work style complements my morning personality well. The calm of the morning motivates me to take on challenging assignments and improves my concentration. I need this unbroken period of productivity so that I can organize my day and prioritize my activities.

This early routine is extremely important in maintaining efficiency throughout my day. It’s not just about waking up early but making the most of those first few hours. My tendency to wake up early has helped me in my entrepreneurial endeavors since it has influenced how I consistently see possibilities and challenges.”

Jake Munda, CEO and co-founder of Custom Neon

Todd Baker: “I think better and more clearly early in the morning.”

“I’m up by 5 a.m. and in bed by 10 p.m. It is a ritual I’ve implemented because it allows me to get a workout, breakfast, shower, and work started before most people are up. It’s quiet and I have uninterrupted time to get work done.

The peace and quiet and the fact that I am working when others are still asleep also gives me the sense of already winning the day. My brain is engaged and I think better and more clearly early in the morning. I’m a morning person and I avoid having electronics on by 9:30 so I can read and get my next day’s goals and objectives put together.

It took some time to get into this habit but now that I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s a habit and something that if I don’t do, I feel out of sorts and don’t have as productive a day.

It doesn’t matter if you are up early or stay up late – find the time when you work best and have the clearest mind. Then make it a habit so that every day you have the same ritual and are at your most productive when your mind, body, and spirit are working in their most optimal state.”

Todd Baker, lifestyle transformation coach and founder of Project 9 Life  

Steven Underwood: “Waking up early keeps me on track.”

“I wake up between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. every day—largely because I have three small children rather than being part of a 5 a.m. club. This benefits my productivity, though, as I am now more naturally attuned to waking up at this time. My day is much more productive if I have time to hammer through my ‘must-do’ list while looking after small humans in the morning.

Most of my working day in the office is spent on meetings, so if I can get through my emails or any other work before the working day begins, this leaves more breathing space to focus.

I’m not one for late nights during the week, so waking up early keeps me on track. That being said, there are days when I sometimes have to work late, which I know impacts my health and productivity, and I am conscious of this.”

Steven Underwood, founder and Managing Director at Bonded Agency

Riannon Palmer: “I naturally wake before my alarm.”

“I’m an early riser. Over the past few years, I’ve become interested in improving my sleep, which has led me to go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day, even on the weekends. On occasions when I go to bed late and wake up late, I’m not on top form. I can be slow and less productive.

I usually wake up at 6:45 a.m., but naturally wake before my alarm as my body is used to the routine. I exercise before work which helps with my productivity later in the day. When you’re sitting at a desk for most of the day, having an opportunity to let out energy early on is essential for me.

Normally, I can start to work around 8 a.m. My days are usually busy but starting early means I can finish by 7 p.m. Having time to switch off from work is important to help my productivity the next day.”

Riannon Palmer, founder of Lem-uhn, the feel-good PR agency

Maya Manseau: “I often wake when the sun rises.”

“My internal clock has changed over the years, and I think that it’s vital to understanding the connection with long-term success. 

I have an alarm set for 7:30 a.m., but often wake when the sun rises. I set my alarm for that time because I tend to be more of a night owl and I want to allow for enough rest so that I am energized for the day. 

When I’m well-rested, my thinking is much clearer and I’m more productive. For me, the most important thing is to do a check-in.  I intentionally create a life where how I want to feel at the end of the day guides the decisions that I make all day long. When setting an intention I ask:

– Does it fit my vibe?  

– Does it bring me wojo (wonder and joy)? 

– Does it make me want to leap?  Do I feel passionate and eloquent about the topic?

– Do I feel adored?  I want to be around people who adore me and I adore them.

If the answer to these questions is yes, it means that the decision I’m making is in alignment with the intentional life I want to lead. This brings me closer to how I want to feel at the end of every day.

When the answer is no to any of the questions, then I have to think about what my options are. These questions help identify a situation that is a clear no, and one I need to walk away from.

Other times, I get to think about the situation and look at it from a different perspective.  I have the opportunity to negotiate the outcome so that it better aligns with how I want to live my life. Ultimately, I can come up with a win-win solution.”

Maya Manseau, bestselling author, grief guide and the founder of She Creates Peace 

Simon Ursell: “I’m certainly at my best with eight hours of sleep.”

“I get up at 6 a.m. and I’m in bed by 10 p.m. Getting a solid eight hours’ sleep is important for me, but I think everyone needs to find their own rhythm, as we’re all different.

Being obsessed with productivity, I’ve experimented with my sleep schedule over the years to determine what works best for me. And it’s clear that late nights and poor-quality sleep really do impact negatively on how productive I am.  

I’m certainly at my best with eight hours of sleep, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., because when I wake up, I need some time to ease into the day. Exercise and a decent breakfast make me feel great and then by 7 a.m. I’m ready for whatever the day has in store.”

Simon Ursell, Chair of B Corp four-day week environmental consultancy Tyler Grange and Strategic Board Adviser