15 People Who Prove You Don't Have to Wake Up Early to Be Successful

British Shorthair cat wakes up on the table
By Rachel Sugar

Look up habits of successful people, and one thing comes up over and over: Successful people wake up early.

But before you attempt to reprogram your sleepy brain, consider this: While, yes, early birds do get some worms, naturally late risers get some perks, too.

One Spanish study suggested that night owls who sleep in may be more intelligent than their day-bound peers, and Italian researchers found evidence that "evening types" might be also be more creative.

It may not be compatible with a standard office job, but as these 15 people prove, waking up late is definitely compatible with success.
15 people who prove you don't have to wake up early to be successful
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15 People Who Prove You Don't Have to Wake Up Early to Be Successful

In the grand scheme of things, 8:30 a.m. barely qualifies as "sleeping in," but in the context of business, it's virtually afternoon. 

In The Wire, Peretti — who also cofounded The Huffington Post — breaks down his incredibly civilized morning routine. "I usually sleep in to about 8:30," he explains. Then he separates out the business or sports section of The New York Times ("the only two sections my wife lets me take"), grabs New York magazine, and heads for the subway.

Schulz is hardly the first writer to find that she's at her most alert when everyone else is at their most asleep. Not that she's necessarily happy about it. "I sometimes think I would give anything to be a morning person," she writes in New York magazine.

Instead, her writing brain kicks in at about 10 p.m., she explains. Just after 3 a.m., she's faced with a choice. "If I put my work away and go to bed, I will fall asleep almost instantly, and can be up and functional again by nine." Or she can stay up for the rest of the night, napping for a few hours "from six to eight, or eight to ten."

The mayor, who is known for his occasional tardiness, has been upfront about his ideal schedule. "I am not a morning person," he once confessed on the campaign trail. "I think we should reorient our society [to] staying up late, but I don’t think that's happening right now."

While de Blasio's schedule — including his oft-discussed 9 a.m. gym sessions — is hardly unheard of, it's a far cry from the larkish routines of recent predecessors. Bloomberg was known to jog at 5 a.m., and Giuliani was in meetings with senior staff by 8 a.m.

Flaubert, whose "Madame Bovary" helped define the modern novel, began his days at 10 a.m., according to Mason Currey's book "Daily Rituals."

Upon waking, he'd ring for the servants to bring him his newspapers, his mail, a glass of cold water, and a filled pipe. Temporarily sated, he would then "signal for his mother to come in and sit on the bed for an intimate chat until he decided to get up."

"I'm usually up pretty late," Ohanian tells Fast Company — on average, he's not in bed until 2 a.m. —  "so I try to be up by 10 a.m." 

Then, it's first things first. "The first thing I do is use the bathroom, then I make some coffee," he says, before correcting himself. "No, the absolute first thing I do is feed my cat because he usually wakes me up."

Like Flaubert and Box CEO Aaron Levie, the modernist legend woke "about 10 o'clock," according to Currey's "Daily Rituals." 

Then, his biographer Richard Ellman reports, Joyce would eat "coffee and rolls in bed," and then lie there, "smothered in his own thoughts," until about 11 a.m. Sometimes, these thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of his "Polish tailor," who would "sit discoursing on the edge of the bed while Joyce listened and nodded."

In an interview with Lifehacker, Lehman, CEO of the annotation site Genius (formerly Rap Genius), admits he's not much for the sunrise. "But if I do happen to wake up early — and especially if I go to the gym first thing — I make sure to tell everyone about it," he adds.

The second he wakes up, he's checking the internet — Hacker News and Twitter, to start — which he considers "a true guilty pleasure!"

The "king of fashion" isn't necessarily a late-riser — he's just a person who rises only when he's had seven hours of solid sleep. 

"If I go to bed at two, I wake up at nine," he explains in Harper's Bazaar. "If I go to bed at midnight, I wake up at seven. I don't wake up before — the house can fall apart, but I sleep for seven hours."

To get the most out of his seven hours, he wears a "long, full-length white shirt, in a material called poplin imperial," made especially for him.

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