Is waking up at 4 AM early

Who rises early?

Apple's Tim Cook [above] is a notable and extreme example - reportedly rising at 3.45am to answer emails before heading to the gym at 4.30am. While many CEOs tend to rise a little later - between 5am and 6am, almost all incorporate some kind of exercise and email checking. Few appear to make time for a leisurely breakfast or a crossword. It’s up, exercise, and straight to work. Other early risers include Michelle Obama who works out before doing emails and Anna Wintour, who wakes at 5am and plays tennis at New York’s Midtown tennis club. According to a survey conducted by Fleximize, a UK revenue-based finance provider, Arnold Schwarzenegger sets his alarm to 5am, reads the news and then uses his iPad to check his email. Venture capitalist Brad Feld wakes at 5am, makes coffee, and then feeds the dog before checking his RSS feeds and email. After that, he goes for a run.

It can be easy for people who aren’t CEOs of multi-million pound companies to say "well yes, if I was chauffeured to work like Tim Armstrong of AOL I’d also be more productive and be able to wake up early with no stress". But there are plenty of people who do set their alarms early and who try to seize the day.

Some are just early risers. Others want to get a headstart on the day. There is a kind of peace that exists before 7am, before the nation’s alarm clocks have gone off. This quiet is perfect for writing the report that always gets put off without the distraction of social media or email.

Read: Three reasons we all need to sleep more

Early risers in the real world

Not everyone who gets up early is a CEO with staff on hand to look after their every mood. For James Constantinou, CEO of Prestige Pawnbrokers, his alarm goes off at 4.45 and he might snooze until 5am. He cites many benefits of getting up early: "I’m fresh, alert and brimming with ideas. I put together a to-do list and set myself targets for the day ahead. Everything is quiet and peaceful so I have no distractions. I can catch up and respond to emails straight away and deal with any urgent phone calls. All this before 6am."

He explains that his commitment to early rising also helps his business. "If I left speaking to a client on the other side of the world until normal UK business hours, there’s a good chance their office has closed for the day. I can’t afford to let this happen. I can often do deals and come to agreements very early in the day and head to Hatton Garden knowing I have a number of ducks in a row ahead of the 9 - 5 is hugely satisfying."

But surely getting up so early can be detrimental to the rest of Constantinou’s life? He says that he doesn’t plan to nap, but he sometimes catches up on sleep on his 40 minute commute back to the office. “When I’m working I never feel the need to nap, however, I do make sure I leave the office around 4pm. I feel great for getting home at a decent time and spending quality time with my family. I have to be honest though and admit to going to bed by 10pm or I run the risk of falling asleep in front of the TV."