The “5am Club” is a concept that has interested me for some time, especially as a person who often finds themselves most active during the twilight hours. I’m a night owl, and I tend to be a day sleeper and night dweller at heart, so the notion of getting up at 5am to start my day felt like an excellent challenge. I wanted to try it out and give you an impartial view of what this lifestyle looks like.
Robin Sharma wrote the book, The 5am Club: Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life.
This book is excellent if you have time to read it, and it clearly sets out how you can reclaim your day with an early start, and by completing the “Three 20s” . This consists of 20 minutes of exercise, 20 minutes of reflection, and 20 minutes of learning each day, as soon as you wake up.
In this overview of the 5am Club, I’m excited to take you through what the 5am Club is, how it works, and the pros and cons that come with this lifestyle. That way, you can see if it would suit you and be the right choice for you.
What Exactly is the 5am Club?
The concept of the 5am Club comes from Robin Sharma’s book of the same name. It is a lifestyle concept that was created and popularized by Sharma. The concept is very simple; you get up at 5am every day and spend an hour performing three 20-minute tasks.
The tasks are referred to as the “Three 20s”, and it consists of 20 minutes that are spent in intense exercise, 20 minutes for reflecting on your goals and ambitions (journaling), and 20 minutes spent learning something new (such as studying a new skill). It has to be done in this order, and many who have used this method claim it has improved their life.
Robin Sharma explains, “Living the same week a few thousand times and calling it a life. I need to tell you that too many among us die at thirty and are buried at eighty.”
Sharma refers to 5am as the “Victory Hour”. For those who are in a standard work routine (such as a 9am-5pm job), joining the 5am Club typically means waking up an hour earlier than normal. The above quote is a perfect reflection for why we are encouraged to embrace this additional time. The “Victory Hour” gives people in the 5am Club time to reflect, improve, and decide how they want to better our lives.
Furthermore, 5am is considered to be one of our most valuable times. It is when we will have the least interruptions – a perfect hour that we can claim to ourselves. The world is still quiet, everything and almost everyone else is sleeping, and we have the gift of time to reconsider our routines. Personally, I resonated strongly with this aspect because part of the reason I’m a night owl and stay up so late is because I’m staying awake throughout the quiet ‘wee hours’ of the night, so that I can embrace the peacefulness of the world around me. Being awake when everyone else is sleeping feels like a special extra gift of private time.
The hours following 5am (most notably 5-8 in the morning) are supposed to be the best for peace and focus. Therefore, a strong notion within the 5am Club is that we do our most important tasks immediately following the Three 20s. While the “Victory Hour” is great for improving productivity throughout the day, it is especially effective in those first hours afterwards.
How to Do the Three 20s
Robin Sharma believes that one’s genius is all about their habits. The Three 20s, also known as the 20/20/20 Method, is a great daily habit and an integral aspect of the 5am Club. This is the Victory Hour, and the most important part of your day so that you can face it with more energy, motivation, and a clearer mind. But how do you perform each of these 20-minute tasks?
The first 20 minutes should be spent engaging in intense physical exercise. This could be a jog around your neighborhood, 20 minutes of jump rope, advanced yoga for 20 minutes, or hopping on an exercise bike or treadmill so that you can get your heart pumping. This wakes up your mind and body up so that you are more alert, and there are plenty of benefits of a good morning workout.
The second 20 minutes are spent reflecting. This can be done through meditation, breath work, reflecting while journaling, determining your current goals, or quiet contemplation. Regardless of the way you prefer to do it, the important thing is that you look within yourself during this time of reflection. It leaves the mind and body in a state of calm, helping you to channel your focus.
The final 20 minutes should be spent learning and working on your personal growth. You can take this time to read, learn a new skill, hone in on an existing skill, or study a topic that interests you. This helps to get your mind working, keeps your brain active and helps it warm up, so that you’re ready for the day ahead. Think of it as preheating the oven before you cook.
What are the Benefits of the 5am Club?
Becoming a member of the 5am Club does have quite a few advantages. This is namely in the sense that it is a perfect exercise in the concept of self-control and self-reliance. It gives us a stronger sense of discipline that encourages us to take control of our lives because the concept of the 5am Club extends to every aspect of our life – not just the Victory Hour.
The purpose of the “Three 20s” is to motivate us and get us in the mindset to tackle our most essential tasks, and ensure that we are in the right mindset for optimal focus. Therefore, you often see massively increased levels of productivity in the 90 minutes immediately after the Three 20s followed by generally improved productivity throughout the day.
Through the 5am Club, we are more likely to adopt better and healthier habits, such as going to bed earlier to accommodate the additional hour in the morning, which prevents late night snacking. You also get the added advantage of higher propensity for physical fitness and well-being thanks to the 20 minutes of exercise first thing in the morning.
What are the Drawbacks of the 5am Club?
Any lifestyle change comes with its own set of potential cons that we have to be aware of before we start trying to adapt to it. The first is that this change does interfere with our internal body clock, the circadian rhythm that controls our sleep-wake cycle and keeps us functioning. For those who are naturally inclined to be night owls, it can cause havoc for your natural rhythm. For those of us who like to rise with the sun, being awake when it’s dark might feel disorienting.
The abruptness of an additional hour awake also has the potential to lead to a faster rate of burnout. Considering that burnout is already an epidemic within the corporate world, getting up earlier can lead to pushing yourself more than you need to at work. Plus, many people who get up an hour earlier don’t go to bed earlier, which can lead to sleep deprivation or what’s known as ‘sleep debt’.
If you want to join the 5am Club, but you’re not able to go to sleep extra early to accommodate this plan, you might want to rethink the plan altogether.
Sleep deprivation is harmful because it leads to an increased risk of heart disease and weight gain, in addition to negatively impacting productivity levels.
Is the 5am Club Worth it?
Robin Sharma says, “Limitation is nothing more than a mentality that too many good people practice daily until they believe it’s reality.”
Is the 5am Club a good idea? Well, yes, it is. The important thing is that you remember to go to bed earlier so that you don’t end up sleep deprived, as you want to be able to face each day with a fresh mind. It’s a healthy and effective lifestyle change that I found to be deeply beneficial to my workday as well as my general life. However, I did make changes to Sharma’s plan when I tried it.
As a night owl, I am naturally more awake at night, and my brain ‘comes alive’ late at night, so the concept of waking up at 5am just doesn’t work for me. I just can’t go to sleep early enough. When I tried to, I was groggy, unable to focus, and it wasn’t working. Instead, I worked the 5am Club around my routine. Instead of getting up at 5am, I got up an hour earlier than I normally would – implementing the Three 20s so that they worked with my routine.
What we can take away from this is that if the 5am Club doesn’t work for you, because you don’t work 9am-5pm or because you’re a night owl, it’s perfectly fine to modify it. The practices, foundations, and beliefs behind this lifestyle can be altered and adapted to fit your life. It’s about finding your own “Victory Hour” and practicing the three 20s first thing when you wake up, and embracing the outlook that Sharma so passionately expresses within her book.
The 5am Club is a lifestyle that really can change your life for the better. However, more than the “5am” part, I like the “Victory Hour” part. The concept of the Victory Hour when you first wake up is great because it gives you time in your daily routine to reflect on what you want in life, breathe and let go of negative thoughts, learn something new, and to give yourself the energy and motivation you need to face the day. Life can be trying, and the 5am Club is a way to find solace in an increasingly harsh world.
If you’re wondering if you’re a night owl like me before you try out the 5am Club, you should consider a DNA test from CircleDNA. It gives you a great deal of insight into your genetic makeup, your chronotype, and it can even help you to determine if you’re someone who is naturally an early riser or if you’re more inclined to stay up later. Your genetic sleep reports from CircleDNA will tell you if you’re genetically more likely to be a night owl or morning lark.
I’ll leave you with one final quote from Robin Sharma: “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.”
- Karen Iorio Adelson. This Slight Change to Your Mornings Can Set You Up For Success. Tonal. Published August 19, 2022. Accessed February 11, 2023. https://www.tonal.com/blog/optimize-morning-routine-tonal-book-club
- Medic G, Wille M, Hemels M. Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and Science of Sleep. 2017;Volume 9:151-161. doi:https://doi.org/10.2147/nss.s134864
- The 5AM Club. Robinsharma.com. Published 2019. Accessed February 11, 2023. https://www.robinsharma.com/book/the-5am-club