‘Extreme Larks’ Share Their (Very) Early Morning Routines

Some get right to work. Others watch the sun come up and listen to the birds.

Darren Staples / Reuters

The Life of a Person Who Wakes Up Really, Really Early

New research suggests that extreme early risers—people who wake up before 5:30 a.m.—might be more common than anyone expected, Olga Khazan reported this month.

I used to work on the space-shuttle program and, as a crew leadman, I would roll down NASA Causeway often before 3:30 in the morning, even though my work shift began at 6:30. If I was scheduled for a special event such as a convoy (bringing the spacecraft to the launchpad), I would get up even earlier. I wrote my best engineering documents in the very early hours of the morning, and the same goes for reading my Bible—I always retain so much more.

I thought I was an oddball, and it delights me to know that others have this sleep pattern, too. I am retired now, but am still up early to cook the men’s breakfast once a month in our church.

After reading your article, I realized how many beautiful sunrises I see.

Evan Peck
Mineral Bluff, Ga.

It’s 3:04 a.m., and I just read your article. I’m thrilled that I slept until three. I have been an early riser for many, many years and fit the profile to a tee.

Thank you for the article, it cleared up a lot of questions for me. I thought I was the only one with this “problem.”

Marie Stevens
St. Augustine, Fla.

It’s so exciting to find out that I am not alone! I’ve always woken up between four and 4:30 in the morning. People ask me why, and I have no explanation. I just shrug and tell them I must have been a farmer in another life and got up early to milk the cows.

“But what do you do at that hour?” they ask. I catch up on the latest news or read. If the weather is nice, I take my coffee out to the backyard, watch the sun come up, and listen to the birds. I love the peace and quiet, and knowing that I have the whole day ahead of me.

When younger family members tell me they sleep in until 9:30 or 10 a.m. on the weekend, I just shake my head: “That’s crazy! The day’s half over.” The term super lark is new to me. I always thought of myself as a robin.

Nancy Northcutt
Bellevue, Neb.

I have always been a night owl—even as a child I found it hellish to go to bed early. I would flip and flop for hours. As I grew up a bit, I found that I didn’t need that much sleep, so I kept late hours and a day job. You can only do that so long.

I could never find work at night that paid a living wage. However, for three years I worked for a 24-hour pharmacy during the overnight hours. It was the most wonderful time in my life. I was healthier, I ate better, lost weight, and slept for eight hours every day.

Rebecca Schatte
Houston, Texas

When I was young, I shared a room with my older brother, who, if allowed, could have slept the whole day through. He would complain to my parents that I was up by 4 or 5 a.m. every day. I would move around our narrow space, entertaining myself, making noises as part of my narratives—galloping horses, Western gunfights, etc.

My first two marriages were failures because I married women who were both somewhat like my older brother.

It wasn’t until I found a religious system of beliefs that encouraged rising early that I found people who were like me, or at least were able to relate to how easy it was for me to get up, bathe, read from the scriptures, and practice yoga and meditation. With those relationships, I found real personal success. I would do the wake-up duties—getting the sleepyheads up for morning practices.

Now, as I progress through my 70s, I sometimes find it beneficial to take a nap or two in the afternoon. But I am still an early riser, and I love it!

Karta Purkh Khalsa
Kansas City, Mo.