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The 5 am Challenge

In this episode I talk about the 5 things I learned from waking up at 5 am for a week. I also challenge you with implementing the knowledge I drop to make you more efficient and productive and give you back your afternoons to enjoy life.

That’s my happy 5:29am face

I give you my 5 key lessons as well as a huge list of things to do to fill that extra time to get a jump on the day when everyone else is asleep.

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Key Lessons:

  • Caffeinate but not too much.
  • Checklists and how to prioritize your actions.

Things to do at 5 am:

  • Learn from YouTube
  • Get to Inbox Zero
  • Talk to people in foreign countries

Listen for the rest of the key lessons and all 15 things to do at 5 am to power-up your day.

The Challenge: Wake up at 5 a.m. for the next 5 days and report on your successes and failures.

Want to learn more about waking up at 5 am? Check out my video below.

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70 responses to “The 5 am Challenge”

August 13, 2019 at 7:00 pm

I want to play this game

February 14, 2018 at 10:27 am

I need more idea to smash my goal this year

February 3, 2018 at 5:10 am

After six months of trying this (with a fair amount of off-days), I’m pretty confident with my lessons learned.

My routine has been as follows:

Wake at 5
Exercise straightaway (20 min avg.)
Shout “Hey Siri, resume podcast” (mix of JRE, Chris Ryan, Brian Callen – easy listening, nothing too work-like)
Cook some breakfast (mainly eggs)
Brew something warm to drink
Journal (5 minutes)
Take a shower etc.
Head to work with a podcast playing in the car (business/marketing based)
Arrive to work at 08:30 and make some coffee
Plan the day while it brews
Start working on something I love while I drink it
Then it’s 09:30/10:00 and who knows what’s happening next?!

Save caffeine for work – drink chamomile (or something) with breakfast. Just feels better for me.

Use Siri for activating podcasts (avoiding the screen during 5-7am also feels better for me).

Try to always make the bed before leaving – feels like I always have that to return to no matter what happens in the day.

Invest in a yoga mat and kettlebells to enable easy at-home workouts (saves time, money, and there’s no need to wash/dry gym wear all the time because I get to workout in my comfy sweatpants)

Invest in a few good pairs of comfy sweatpants

No matter what happens in my day, I have already had my “me time” in those first two hours – I am generally much more receptive and open minded to whatever the day brings.

I’ve been at my most productive in work and recently received the biggest promotion of my career to date. Not certain if the 5am thing is connected but there ya go.

I have lost my “gaming nights” as a result because I fall asleep at 9pm almost every day. I make up for this by gaming on saturday nights and sleeping in until 7ish on Sundays.

Oh – if you live in a cold area like me, turn up the heating in the hallway and bathroom before bed – makes it much less daunting to get outta the nice warm blankets.

It’s probably worth saying that I have always been a morning person, so I may be at an advantage to do this – but I’d recommend giving it a good try to anyone who has the chance.

Much love.

December 19, 2017 at 2:12 am

As I know, commonly adults should have 7-7 hours 30 mins sleep. I am curious when we should go sleep for health.

Wayne Farrell
January 20, 2018 at 9:24 pm

Hello Iana
Some people can get by on around 5-6 hours sleep a night. It’s different for everybody. For me, I’m awake at 4.30am each day. I do, however, manage to get around six and a half hours sleep per night. A few times a month, I have a treat that I call my “No Alarm” day this allows me to wake up whenever my body wants to.

December 4, 2017 at 8:59 am

I landed on this podcast and I really like the challenge. I am going to try it starting tomorrow. There is so much that I never get round to doing and I think that this is a great chaleenge for me.

Darrell Ellis
December 1, 2017 at 6:17 pm

I am still cracking up about the aliens probing the booty comment! Great podcast!

Stevie Black
November 20, 2017 at 3:11 pm

I wake up every day before 5am. It’s easy when you grow up on a farm and have a list of chores to do before the bus takes you to school. It’s in my DNA. Still, as I get older, it’s harder to pull off without caffeine.

My successes are always in the get-prepped-for-the-day / stay-abreast-of-the-news / get-more-done-before-the-phone-rings area. My failures are in the too-granular-too-early / tackle-the-most-important-thing-first thing / get-stuck-on-email areas.

Side benefit to 5 am wakeups?
Commuting before the ugly starts to happen on the roadways! Design work: brainstorming visuals and creative writing is always better starting early.

Downside: Tacodeli hasn’t started delivering yet.

November 12, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Was introduced to your blog/podcast by my Fiance and we are both obsessed with you now! Thanks for your awesome advice and tips, can’t to wait to see where our actions from your lessons take us!

Thomas Knoll
September 20, 2017 at 7:24 am

This has always been my solution to waking up early. For the past 6 months, I’m at 4:30am every weekday:

Dean Shoven
November 18, 2017 at 3:12 am

I think 4:30 is too early, not good for body.

Matt B.
August 31, 2017 at 7:20 am

I meditate in the nude from 430am to 5am on my 10th floor balcony facing sunrise..then I do 200 jumping jacks. it’s 10x clarity and makes me feel free and unburdened.

Noel Evans
October 15, 2017 at 7:06 pm

Ok, Matt B., do you put on pants before you attempt the jumping jacks? If not…..ouch!

July 26, 2017 at 6:47 am

I LOVE your podcasts!! Thx so much for all this work that you have done, helping people! 🙂
My first day working @6 am and its amazing! 🙂
I cant work @5 so i change for 6

June 28, 2017 at 11:33 am

I got up at 03:30 am for 3 months straight. Circumstances in my old Job changed so much that I could not afford the train tickets to work anymore, so I had to travel at times where the train company would not ask to see passengers tickets. Long story short. I was alone in the office from 5 am up to 9 am and learned front end development. After the 90 days I got a job as a web developer ( doubled my income ) and started a side hustle. You get so much more done, when you have blocks of time where you can get into deep work.

September 2, 2017 at 1:04 am

Your story is so impressive! Congratulations! ?

September 2, 2017 at 1:05 am

The question mark was a smiley face.

September 19, 2017 at 11:50 am


7 Mile Marketing
June 14, 2017 at 6:39 am

A friend told me once that brain is acting better on an early morning, so waking up early like 5am is the best time to study or organize things. Most of the people do not know the bad effect of taking caffeine at night as they choose to stay up late to do the planning. And because of this article, I conclude that waking up too early is way much better than staying up late at night to plan everything. I will surely try the challenge that you are giving us Noah. I am sure the result is great. Cheers!

June 11, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Don’t join the military. Getting up at 0500 is a fact of life in the military

Bub lol not
June 9, 2017 at 10:09 pm

So hard

May 11, 2017 at 7:04 am

Been doing a 4:40am challenge and it’s been amazing. Having a 2-year old who gets up at 5:45am doesn’t provide me with much time to myself in the mornings to get shit done…

November 6, 2017 at 10:16 am

Exactly my same problem LOL. My little one has a “mom-is-awake detector”. If I am up at 5:30 he’ll be next to m within 1 hour maximum :)))) But eve 1 hour of me time is precious!

JC Deen
April 24, 2017 at 6:12 pm

6:29 I rose this morning… 1 minute before I had to fork over the money I promised to my good friend if I didn’t make the deadline, but got the text to him just in time.

one day in the books, brah

Yisroel Reiss
April 20, 2017 at 8:37 am

Hey, Noah.

??? ?????

Living in Israel, I love that you are taking Hebrew classes.

By the way, I spent a long time learning Hebrew before I moved here and I found Pimsleur tapes were what helped me the most.



April 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

It’s 4:59 am. I’m up. Day one begins. Game on. Thanks for the podcast!

Noah Kagan
April 19, 2017 at 9:05 am

welcome aboard.

Aratrika Rath
April 6, 2017 at 12:25 am

I have been waking up early to study math. Yes math at the age of 29 for my GRE for grad school?. I do this so that I don’t have to come back from work and study.

April 4, 2017 at 2:08 am

Hi -thank you very much !! I am pleased and try to do this next week ! It is amazing idea that I have on my mind but it sound so unreal.

Please let me know what is this classes that you are taking online with people from foreign country?

Thank you.

Take care!

April 1, 2017 at 10:50 am

How great that this was a successful challenge for you! As you know, people have different Circadian rhythms and not everyone is meant to be an early riser. Some of us do the tasks you’ve listed much more happily late at night, after the majority of the world has gone to sleep. It seems wiser to honor one’s personal cycles than unnecessarily forcing oneself to change what works for them.

March 31, 2017 at 2:43 pm

I have a job where I am required to be at meetings and be super productive until 9 or even later in the evening. Do you see your program achievable for that long of a day?

Todd Russenholt
March 30, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Noah, Awesome podcast man !! I’ve waking up at 4am instead it total helps me for more productive day…
If you want a morning buzz liquid B12 and D3 softgels and 33 oz of room temperature water. Drinking more water will help your energy throughout the day.
I have a morning routine
1. Meditation
2. Breath work
3. Affirmations & IAM statements
4.Then I write for about 2 hours.
5. Drink more water.

March 28, 2017 at 7:30 am

This was great! You do such a great job of catching my thoughts, I’m going to push my start to 4am for a week and see the difference.

About 7 years ago I began managing my team in Europe and have started almost everyday at 4:30 since then. The best part is that my afternoons are open for exploration and family time because I finish nearly all my work before lunch.

This schedule is especially beneficial for me on the weekends, quiet time with the wife before the three little ones get up is priceless 🙂

@Christiaan, anchoring your attitude with music works really well for me also. Instrumentals help me get into the right state of mind first thing, I bet everyone has their goto music choice.

March 28, 2017 at 6:37 am

This was great! About 7 years ago I began managing my team in Europe and have started almost everyday at 4:30 since then. I get nearly all my work done before noon which leaves my afternoons open for exploration and family time. I’m so glad I started getting up early for all the reasons you mentioned.

Christiaan, anchoring your attitude with music works really well for me also. Instrumentals help me get into the right state of mind first thing, I bet everyone has their goto music choice.

This schedule is especially beneficial for me on the weekends, quiet time before the three little ones get up is priceless 🙂

David Alexander
March 27, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Aha I feel 100% the same! and while I also agree when you get up early that morning energy can get so much done there are times where my productivity, creativity etc are on another level late at night when noone is calling, emailing or bugging me. 🙂 Love your work! Keep it up!

March 23, 2017 at 4:43 pm

I agree. Getting up early could be the most important thing you decide to do. If you use the time to invest in yourself (health, wealth, and wisdom) you will see a huge ROI.

March 22, 2017 at 11:50 pm

Hi Noah,
Thanks for the nice episode, I thought I am the only one which is doing this!
I’m doing this now for about 5 years everyday (at the weekends maybe 6 or 8), and this is my productivest time of the day. then I work on my side projects before getting to work. I go to bed between 10 and 11 pm.
What i would like to know, which alarm do you use? I use a wake-up light, which start with some quiet sound (to wake up “naturally”), but additionally I use a backup alarm, which is really loud: wakes up my fiance too, so i have to get up before this alarm goes!
The newest challenge for me is to wake up before 4 am (about 3:30 am), every 3 to 4 weeks. In this mornings (or night) I get the really big stuff done. I had to it one time because I had to do some work on my production website and didnt want to affect my customers with too much downtime. It worked out, but at the evening i was really tired. So this is maybe not for everyday, but from time to time this works really out! Noah, try it 😉

Best Regards
Arek from

Todd Russenholt
March 3, 2017 at 5:08 pm

Awesome podcast Noah, Try 800-1000 mL of water with lemon at room temperature. Will fill you up for a great couple of hours.

About Caffeine I suggest Noah, try Cacao Powder drink works very well for 4 hour kick with no caffeine crash.

March 1, 2017 at 9:02 am

What time do you go to bed to wake up so early?!?

Noah Kagan
March 1, 2017 at 10:19 am

Around 9-10. I found 7 hours of sleep is my sweet spot.

Barry J Kurtz
February 23, 2017 at 2:03 am

Thanks Noah. I’ve always been an early riser and used to wake up at 5 AM every morning but fell into my optimal sleep pattern about 10 years ago.

I usually go to sleep between 9 and 9:30 PM and wake up naturally around 12 -12:30 AM. For the next hour or so I watch TV/videos or read blog posts or a book. Then I go back to bed.

Just before drop off to sleep my brain seems to goes into overdrive. Things that have been on my mind come into focus and I wake up and spend the next hour or so writing, doing work, learning something new or just being creative. I’m never sure where this will go but I make sure to write down as much as I can as fast as I can as I know if I don’t, I will never remember any of it the next morning.

Eventually I get very tired and fall back to sleep, usually by 3:30 AM. Then I wake up around 6:30 AM and I’m out the door by 7:15 AM for my commute. I have coffee around 9 AM and 2 PM. On the weekend my 2 PM coffee is often replaced by a 30-40-minute nap. I’ll take a longer nap if I need to go out later than 9:30 PM. I alternate caffeine sources from coffee to oolong tea to yerba mate depending on my mood.

I rarely feel tired during the day and the output from my early morning overdrive time can be astounding. I sometimes surprise myself.

My suggestion is to listen to your own rhythms and figure out what works for you, even if it doesn’t fit what other people think.

Keith James
February 17, 2017 at 8:59 pm

Always get up around 5 or so but I think I’m more of an evening person. I just take too long to get moving. I do find there are considerably less distractions. For me, it’s a great time to write copy or sketch out a marketing funnel. Kind of starting with a fresh look on the day.

Either way, make your bed no matter what time you get up. Still can’t do the cold water thing although I do try.

February 9, 2017 at 3:35 pm

I love it! I’ve been waking up around 5am for most of Jan & Feb this year. The early wake up is by accident. I’ve changed my diet to eat super clean and for the most part, cut out alcohol. I go to bed around 9:30 and wake up around 5 (so I get my 7.5 hours of sleep). I have so much energy now when I wake up (I rarely consume caffeine). I head straight to the gym, come home for breakfast, read and prepare for the day. I feel so much more productive & happier with this routine. Thanks for the awesome podcast!

January 30, 2017 at 6:39 pm

The first time I did a challenge like this I did it for 6am – and the things I learned were really similar to yours. Getting to inbox zero before I usually would have even woken up was probably the biggest one.

I also look forward to international trips, because every time I get back the jet lag forces me back into this mode for weeks.

January 30, 2017 at 1:39 pm

I thought I am the only one who still enjoys a good talk with strangers online.I mean, for the love of Saint Gabriel trying to build business doesn’t equal no fun.
About your experience, I woke up at 4 am for one year.
I had to travel every day 2 hours( two trips) to high school.It wasn’t fun back in the day.It still didn’t taught me not sleep late.

Hitesh Sahni
January 27, 2017 at 3:23 am

Hey Noah! Great, inspirational podcast. You mention towards the end that you might not carry on with the 5am challenge.

I think a lot of people might view it as difficult to keep up in the long-term, simply because it requires such a readjustment of a person’s lifestyle, and therefore might not bother trying it in the first place. This would be a mistake.

You touch on this in the podcast, but one of the main benefits of something like this is not just waking up before other people, but learning about when you’re most productive and creative. Once you’ve learnt this, you’ll work more effectively from that point forward, whether you keep on waking up at 5am or not.

Kurt Davis
January 26, 2017 at 9:12 am

Love this. For so long I’ve operated in peak mode early morning and go workout in the afternoon. I like the idea of pushing it even earlier and then take off some time in the afternoon. This is a good idea.

Sean Kruzel
January 26, 2017 at 5:11 am

Waking up early and consistently is key! However I often burn out after a couple days because I don’t focus on going to bed early enough. I’m a former Hedge Fund Portfolio Manager, entrepreneur and MIT grad; I used to love operating on almost no sleep. Now I realize it kills my productivity. I created this calendar to help nudge me to a more productive day:

January 26, 2017 at 6:23 am

Agreed. You’re body will crash unless you don’t give it some prerequisite hours of sleep.
Also, cool program. At least reminds you that you’re only human and need to sleep.

Noah Kagan
January 26, 2017 at 7:06 am

This is interesting Sean. Thanks for sharing.

Didn’t really feel comfortable sharing my google calendar with a random site. What happens after I do?

January 26, 2017 at 7:25 am

Noah! Great to hear from you! The website currently just needs that permission inorder to create a new calendar called ‘DeepSleep’, it creates a daily calendar event based on your age and wake up time that gives you the Dr recommended amount of sleep. Nothing fancy and it only reads your default timezone from your calendar. Unfortunately Google’s permissioning is a little heavy handed. It is easy to delete your account and deauthorize access. I just made the website to help scratch my own itch to modernize how data can help me sleep better.

January 26, 2017 at 3:37 am

Cheers! It reminds me to set this up again. 🙂

Coffee absolutely does not work for me.. I always get this kickback in the afternoon.

The best psychologic bit of waking up at 5am is that you always feel ahead. This gives you so much confidence, that you always feel bigger than any circumstance.

Most important is that you find a BIG JUICY REASON why you want to wake up at 5am. So you can chose between Snoozing or your BIG JUICY REASON.

Indeed the best thing of waking up at 5am is that there is so much spare time in the afternoon! I love it 🙂

The best working routine for me:
Waking up by alarm, drinking 0,5l water, shutting down my alarm clock and start watching the video clip of Justin Timberlake “Can’t stop the feeling” and doing a follow the leader movement session. Just copy all the movements you see in front of you. You definitely become a different person in 60 seconds where your energy starts flowing physically and mentally 😀

Noah Kagan
January 26, 2017 at 7:07 am


I LOVE the song selection 🙂

Christiaan Oosterveen
January 27, 2017 at 4:50 am

Thanks! I have chosen this song to “anker” an active physical state in my body, so by doing a lot of dancing on this song (yes this is a comfort zone crusher) I set my body and brain the trigger to wake up and be active. Very effective!

Christiaan Oosterveen
January 27, 2017 at 4:56 am

Edit: And a quick “wake up” visualisation exercise before sleep really does the job! Plz google on Da Silva Method for waking up without an alarm clock. It is bloody scary, but this trick really works. Just takes 3 minutes at night.

Or for the people who are really hard-wired to stay snoozing: Just practice yourself to wake up energetic and fresh.

Set a timer with your prefered alarm sound (I prefer one which is linked to my BIG JUICY GOAL) and just pretend yourself waking up 12 times for one hour. Now your brain is wired to react active to your alarm sound and you will have a “trained” wake up routine. 😀

January 25, 2017 at 9:23 pm

I had lunch/drinks with Tom Nunan ( Oscar winner for Crash , Bulls Eye entertainment) who is crazy busy — he gets up at 4am.
Met Anthony Zwicker (showrunner, creator of CSI) — he gets up at 3am, OPENS his local Starbucks on behalf of Starbucks staff so that he can get writing at 4am. He wears shades to minimize distraction.
Mentored now by Ron Peterson (veteran screenwriter, ex story editor for Paramount when it was called Gulf and Western) who gets up at, you guessed it, 4am. Everyday.
So now I get up at 4am. My first script never happened, second script took 5 years, third script with Ron took 2 months while waking at 4am. I finished it on deadline 12/25/17 at 4am.

January 25, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Just to finish, that’s with family of four, working full time job — Shash.

“Fow in tha mownin’ ” = game changer.

January 25, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Finished on deadline 12/25/16 (correction)

January 25, 2017 at 7:26 pm

It’s so hard to not give up on this challenge when usually you woke up at 10 am). I tried several methods and none helped. But 2 days ago I find a tricky clock alarm app where you have to deal with math(12-3=?). Sounds creepy but this is what really helped. What about you guys, what helpED you to deal with 5 am ?

Thank you Noah,

January 25, 2017 at 12:00 am

Heard about your podcast through Neville Medhora’s recommendation (he wrote a great piece on you btw).
Woke up at 5 too. Just wanted to say thank you very much for the podcast notes, please keep doing them.

Noah Kagan
January 25, 2017 at 6:49 am


Nate Desmond
January 27, 2017 at 7:58 am

Agreed with both. Being tired isn’t productive, but waking up early isn’t about being tired.

I generally aim for 7.5 hours of sleep (6 when busy; 9 when not busy) – sleep cycles are generally ~90 minutes depending on the person. On good days I try to go to bed early enough that I wake up rested at 5am. Normally I go to bed later and later throughout the week (thus waking later also) and then shift back to an early bedtime over the weekend.

January 25, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Love that!

Michael Probert
January 24, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Love this. I had a stretch a while back of getting up at 5:30 and those days felt amazing getting a head start but I fell off the wagon.

I’m hopping back on the 5am train with you!

Andrew Vaughan
January 24, 2017 at 2:58 pm

im really loving noahs podcast a punchy, to the point and actionable event. i listen at 1.25 speed on my phone and noah talks way too fast but DONT change a thing!

January 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm

I wake up at 4:45am, no problem with 5 🙂

January 24, 2017 at 10:20 am

I’m in the middle of my 5.25 mile run at 5:00 am. I do have the advantage of living in a warm weather state, Florida. I follow that with a 10 minute ab workout. My challenge now is to work in 30 minutes of meditation. I’m glad you mentioned checklists. I love them but admittedly don’t use them consistently. Need to fix that.

Pooja Thakur
January 24, 2017 at 9:20 am

That was really cool. I mean I always try to wake up early morning, but couldn’t able to make it happen. Your post has inspired me a lot and now I have modified my strategies towards achieving my goal. Much thanks 🙂

January 24, 2017 at 8:51 am

Welcome to the morning… this is not a challenge to me…

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