Are You A Morning Person Or An Evening Person? Discovering The Early Risers

Get up early, get things done
Morning from A Year In Space

Are you a morning person or an evening person? I've been a morning person since I had to get into the office at Goldman Sachs at 5:30 am in 1999. More than 24 years later, I'm still a morning person.

One of the ways to make more money is to work while others are sleeping or playing. You don't have to be smarter than anybody else. You just have to do things other people aren't willing to do, like get up before the sun rises to work on your side hustle.

One evening, after a particularly long session of tennis, I passed out on the sofa at around 10:15pm while watching the TV program, The Blacklist. Like clockwork, I woke up at 3:30 am and decided to write a post until 5 am.

I then wanted to use this opportunity to see who else was up during the wee hours of the morning. The easiest way to find out was to simply switch on my Uber driver app and drive from 5 am until 7:00 am.Inline image 1

Who Gets Up So Early?

Besides an ex-financier turned personal finance blogger, here are the profiles and fares of the seven people whom I picked up before sunrise. I've always been curious to know where people drive to at this time of the day.

$31.84/hour net of Uber commissions to do research for this post

Passenger #1, 5am: A grandmother catching a 7am flight out of SFO back to San Diego. She said airfare doubles if she took at 30 minute later flight. She was staying with her daughter and son-in-law who is a doctor. They just bought the house for $1.85M (I checked it out when it was for sale in 2014) and have a couple kids, one and four. Race: Latina. Estimated age: 65+.

Passenger #2, 5:34am: A female pool rider, but I cancelled on her after waiting for five minutes because another pool rider was waiting. The grace period is two minutes before I can cancel and earn a fee. Race: Unknown. Estimated age: Unknown.

Passenger #3, 5:36am: A female pool rider who was opening up a Dick's Sporting Goods store at 6am. I learned the pay for cashiers and grounds staff is around $8/hour, and up to $10/hour for a senior cashier. Race: Black. Estimated age: 20.

Passenger #4, 6:05am: A female rider currently a student at SF State opening up a Noah's Bagel store. She says cashiers there make $12.25/hour. The baker gets in at 11:30pm the night before to make all the bagels. Race: White. Estimated age: 20.

Passenger #5, 6:21am: A grandmother visiting from South Carolina. She was staying at an AirBnB and taking a ride to her son and daughter-in-law's one bedroom apartment to help take care of their three week old baby. Race: White. Estimated age: 65+.

Passenger #6, 6:29am: A female grandmother who was leaving her daughter's 4,000 square foot home to go to work as an elderly care facility property manager in downtown San Francisco. Race: Asian, Chinese. Estimated age: 65+.

Passenger #7, 7:01am: A female who was leaving her apartment to go to work as a registered nurse from 7am to 3:30pm. She was running late. Race: Asian, Korean. Estimated age: 40.

What are the common themes of morning people?

  • All seven passengers were women.
  • Four out of the seven passengers were caregivers (two grandmothers, one elderly care property manager, and one registered nurse)
  • None of the passengers made more than the median national income, except for perhaps the registered nurse, who probably makes around $91,000 compared to the median household income of $78,000 in San Francisco.

Analysis Of The Themes Of Early Risers

Seven passengers doesn't make a trend, but in my past experience picking up riders in the early morning, the passengers tended to skew female as well.

It's wonderful to have grandmothers come and help take care of their newborn grandkids. I also think it is wonderful those passengers who went to work were willing to get up so early to make extra money.

~$10/hour working retail is not a lot, but if you can make an extra $50/day and then go to school in the afternoon for three to four hours, why not? You'll not only gain an appreciation for money, you'll also develop a strong work ethic that's void of entitlement.

I love working in the morning before the world wakes up. Why wait until you're completely exhausted after a full day's work to work on your hobbies? Pay yourself first!

Use The Extra Time To Get Ahead

Just two hours a day of extra hustling for 2.5 years allowed me to create Financial Samurai into a site with enough momentum to let me leave my job. It is actually crazy about how much reward has followed since.

If you're a night person, that's great too. The point is to consistently put in the extra hours during the times when people are sleeping or playing to get ahead. That's what Sean Cooper did to make an extra $40,000 a year freelancing on top of his day job to pay off his mortgage in three years.

San Francisco Sunrise 7:15am
SF sunrise At 7:15am during Winter. It's time to call it a morning and go home.

It Takes Effort To See The Sunrise

It takes effort to see the sunrise. Conversely, it doesn't take much effort to see the sunset. Once you develop the habit of regularly getting up early, getting ahead becomes so much easier.

Here are a couple attributes of early birds:

  • Tend to procrastinate less according to a 1997 study by veteran delay researcher Joseph Ferrari of DePaul.
  • Tend to be happier according to a 2012 University of Toronto psychology paper.

Here are a couple attributes of night owls:

  • More partial to bad habits like smoking, drinking, hanging out with people they shouldn't.
  • Showed slightly higher intelligence according to a 1999 study by Roberts and Kyllonen.

Are you a morning person or an evening person?

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26 thoughts on “Are You A Morning Person Or An Evening Person? Discovering The Early Risers”

  1. Night owl here, sort of. I used to stay up REALLY late and sleep into the afternoon. Nowadays, my sleep schedule is more normalized, but I still stay up later than I wake up early.

    To be honest, I hate waking up in the mornings. Some people have that morning energy, but I am not one of those people. Attempts to train myself to wake up early have been spectacular failures. No matter how long I sleep, I feel exhausted if I have to be out if bed before 7:30.

    So I get stuff done during the night instead. When it’s pitch black outside and everything is silent, I feel like I can concentrate a little more without people bothering me. Of course, if I have to be up in the morning, that all goes right out the window and my blogging, investment research, and second job are all done when I get home from work.

    The fact that there are people at the gym at 6 AM hurts me on the inside. Mainly because I love sleep. I can only think of that Lewis Black standup routine from 2004 (it was on last night and I haven’t seen it in years) where he talks about how he failed Economics in college because the class was at 8 AM. He grabs the professor by the collar and screams “Why are you teaching this at this ungodly hour!? Are you trying to keep this shit a secret!?”

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    1. haha, that was awesome ARB. I definitely failed a silly journalism class in college because it was at 8:30 and couldn’t for the life of me make it on time. It’s so ridiculous to think about now but hey, I had priorities back then!!

  2. I will be one of the few here that favor nights over mornings for work. It always seems that my brain runs best at night (9 PM until 2 AM) and I always struggle in the mornings. It’s pretty common for me to go to bed about 1 AM and get at about 8 AM during the week and go to bed at about 4 AM and get up at about 10:30 AM on the weekends. I find that everything is very quiet during the nights allowing me to focus on what I really want to work on (side hustle real estate business, developing technical skills, reading, personal finance and retirement equations) and mornings full of distractions. I also tend to not feel great in the mornings and have found working out to be immensely better for me at 5 PM than at 7 AM.

    I gotta say infomercials don’t really apply to me from the poll though. :-P I don’t watch TV and haven’t done Cable since I went to college. Talk about a way to help focus.

  3. I’m a tradesman who lives in Chicago. In bed by 20:30ish every night and wake up at 04:00. I like to workout before work because I’m not really a people person and despise the afternoon gym crowd. Work starts at 06:30.

    The people I see on my way to work:

    * Yuppies walking their dogs (please keep moving here though, construction is through the roof!)

    * Yuppies running

    * Waiters/cooks opening diners

    * tradesmen walking with their lunch boxes

    * I also see the same 5 people every single morning lined up waiting for the gym to open at 05:00. There’s an older woman who hits on me :-)

    Wouldn’t trade the early morning lifestyle for anything! The only bad part is Saturday nights I’m usually falling asleep at 21:xxish, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

    1. Insightful! What exactly do tradesmen do? How old are you?

      I’m impressed with people who work out at 5am! I like to work out after work is done by 9:30am, eat an awesome lunch, and pass out for 30-60minutes after. Nothing beats a nice siesta food coma nap!

      1. Merry Christmas! I’m posting a day late, but I logged back on here. Tradesman = plumbers, Iron Workers, Pipefitters, Elevator Constructors, Electricians, Carpenters.

        I’m an Elevator Constructor and I love it. It’s arguably THE most skilled, but I won’t pat my own back too hard. In all the trades you’ll find extremely hard working men who are precise and get the job done.

        I’m 30 and at a crossroads in life. I have a question for you if you don’t mind.

        Currently have 0 debt, 0 kids, 30,xxx in cash (fully fund my roth, 5% goes into my 401k, have an annuity and a pension in 30 years too). I’m a veteran and have access to the VA loan. I’ve been renting the same apartment for 5 years now. Part of me wants to buy an apartment and live in it for a couple years, then buy a house with the VA loan and use the apartment to generate revenue. What would you do?

  4. I am not a morning person. Being productive @ 8am is just a real struggle for me. Luckily I now work in tech and not much happens before 9.

    Previously I used to work for one of the original SF boutique Investment Banks and getting into the office @ 5:30am was a real downer. I was miserable for 12 months.

    Between 11-4 is when I do my best work but I can go till 7 if needed. The days of 50 hours plus per week are thankfully well behind me. It’s really not great for your health, family or personal relationships. The key I’ve found is finding the right balance.

  5. My natural tendency is a night person. It’s always been easier for me to stay awake late. But it definitely isn’t the most productive time after a long day at work. I am a heavy sleeper in the mornings and a lighter sleeper overnight so I don’t naturally snap awake in the morning. I wonder if one of those sleep monitors would help me find an easier length of sleep to target in terms of waking up based on my sleep cycles.

    Anyway I agree the early mornings are such a peaceful time to work and concentrate. Your research from driving early morning is quite fascinating. Amazing they were all women!

    1. You make a VERY good point about productivity after a long day at work. It doesn’t make sense to me to wait to work on your side hustles after being out of the house for 12+ hours. All I want to do is relax, eat, and read at night.

      By waking up early to focus on your hobbies, you are essentially PAYING YOURSELF FIRST!

  6. I wake up at 5 every morning. Even on weekends I wake up at 5 now. I don’t like it on weekends though because I do go out with the guys Friday or Saturday night. My routine now (did it just 1 hour ago) is to wake up at 5, eat a sweet high carb breakfast, go to the gym, come back eat a protein rich breakfast, than I feel sleepy. I’ll then catch another 1 1/2 -2 hours of sleep until 9 or 10 am.

    Even in college I used to wake up early. I like the peacefulness in the morning. The air feel crisp. The streets are clean and quiet. I used to eat breakfast alone in the cafeteria since non of my friends woke up that early.

  7. I would hope that an RN in SF would make way more than 78k. California is supposed to be the highest paying state for registered nurses. When I was visiting California, I spoke to a respiratory therapist who told me that the starting pay at Stanford hospitals for RNs right out of school was $55/hr.

  8. My schedule changes with the basketball season. In season ( fall and winter ) I become an evening person because the games are at night. In the off season I am more a morning person as coaches clinics and camps are typically morning and mid day affairs.

  9. Thias @It Pays Dividends

    Well the trend matches our home – my life is much more of a morning person than I am even though I have been transitioning to a morning person more due to my work schedule. But sleep routines are still a little out of whack since our daughter was born so it is a balance of sleep and getting up before everyone else to get things done before work.

  10. Dominic @ Gen Y Finance Guy

    Definitely a morning person.

    Never been one much for sleeping the day away. I grew up with my grandfather as a kid and he was up at 4am every day. He always got more done by 9am than most got done all day. Guess I picked that up from him.

    Usually I am up by 5:30am almost everyday. There is a rare occasion that I sleep in until 6:30am, but I have to be exhausted for that to happen.

    Then there are the random days that I wake up at 4am like this morning…and that trend can sometimes last for a few weeks. Not sure what causes the shift.

    I never set an alarm clock, I wake up to the internal one.

  11. I’ve been a morning person the past 2-3 years. Having a child helps make the shift. I found that by getting up early I can get a workout in before it gets too hot here, as I often exercise outside and it’s deep in the tropics here. I also find it easier to go to bed at night vs when I’d work out in the evening and couldn’t get to bed until very late and would be exhausted the following morning.

    Tomorrow I plan to get up at 4:00am which is earlier than most days.


    1. Same here.

      Wasn’t much of a morning person until our son was born. Now I’m up at 5 every morning to get things done in the calm before the daily storm.

      Not to stereotype, but makes me wonder if you saw more caregivers because many of them have gone through the baby care mental adjustment and reached the same conclusion of the value of early rising.

      1. Maybe. If I juxtapose the early risers with the after 11pm passengers, the contrast is stark.

        The early risers are all nuns compared to the tipsy, boisterous, perhaps up to no good evening drivers.

        Think about the type of folks coming back after midnight or 2am. What are they up to?

  12. I’ve settled in on a routine that puts me in bed and asleep around 11:45pm and I’m up around 6-6:30. It started because I didn’t have a set work schedule but now it has adjusted slightly earlier because of kids, they are a little more unpredictable… fortunately they keep to similar wake up times around 6:30-7am so I can beat them to the punch.

    I like mornings because they’re calm, you can ease into the day, and if you wake up with an idea, it’s fun to run with it while others are asleep. I feel like I’m getting ahead. :)

    I’m very very jealous of the caretakers!

  13. I have got up early for years I stopped for a while when I first got married because my wife does not get up early and instead stays up late. After a whIle of staying up with her I decided it just isn’t for me and started getting up early again and have felt much better, get much more done, and recently started driving for lyft early in the morning as well. In just a few hours a day I can make what I used to make driving all night Friday and Saturday. Plus the people are a lot better to deal with on their way to work then on their way to the bar. Though unlike you Sam I have mostly male passengers in the early morning hours here in Florida.

    1. Hi Tyler,

      Good on yah for trying to match your wife’s schedule. You might have the perfect combo actually. You hustle in the morning, and she hustles at night, so as a team, you guys are utilizing the 24 hours much more efficiently without getting in each other’s way!


  14. I’m very much a late-evening person. Have never managed to get into the swing of a morning routine, even eating breakfast makes me feel ill so I’ll often get up later and then have lunch as the 1st meal of the day.

    I wish I were one of those morning people who can get up at 5am and go for a swim before work, but it’s just not something I’ve ever been able to maintain unfortunately.

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