TikTok's '5 To 9' Trend Has One Potential Health Risk

It's hard to pinpoint when sharing morning routines became a thing on social media. But there's definite allure in the beautifully presented clips documenting a.m. routines complete with quiet time, exercise, nature walks, cooking, and doing makeup. When you're surrounded by a culture that glorifies productivity and getting things checked off a to-do list, morning routines provide the much-needed gentle space to invest time in yourself and to start your day right. As explained by biological psychologist and behavioral neuroscientist, Namni Goel (via NBC News), "The morning is a critical time that can set the tone for the entire day." 

But at what cost? This seems to be the question on some experts' lips with the new TikTok morning trend "5 to 9 before 9 to 5." Slightly different from the individual morning routines that were already being shared on social media, this a.m. trend promotes waking up at 4.30 a.m. (or somewhere around there) and having a complete four hours to yourself to indulge in self-care and chores before you actually start your work day at 9 a.m. Influencers are seen documenting everything from making their beds, meditating, and drinking a glass of water to going on a walk, hitting the gym, jotting down tasks for the day, cooking, and doing skincare in these videos. While there's nothing wrong with maximizing on the number of hours you spend awake each day, health experts are also concerned about one potential health risk from this trend — not sleeping enough.  

The average adult requires a minimum of seven hours of sleep

This new TikTok trend might not be the best idea for everyone, according to sleep scientist Vanessa Hill. As Hill shared in a TikTok post, "I'm a sleep researcher and I can't emphasize enough how much you should not be sacrificing your sleep and your overall health for some ultra-productive morning routine to do productive things at 5.30 a.m. in the morning." 

Also, much like with the 'That Girl' Trend On TikTok, the "5 to 9" routine could be giving rise to guilt or self-critical thoughts in people who aren't able to wake up that early in order to be productive. Speaking with the New York Post, habit scientist and dietitian Dr. Gina Cleo shared that while having a 5 to 9 morning routine could boost feelings of self-achievement, it can also give rise to unrealistic goals that center around being even more productive than you need to be in a day. "Potential harms can include sacrificing sleep for 'productivity,' trying to fit in too much in a day, feeling inefficient when your body needs a sleep-in or rest, being too focused on your routine and consequently neglecting listening to your body's needs," she explained. 

The average adult needs at least seven hours of sleep a night in order to be able to function in a healthy manner, and no morning routine should get in the way of quality sleep. 

TikTok's '5 to 9' trend might be better suited for natural early risers

Some of us simply can't roll out of bed at 4.30 a.m. and get through an entire day without feeling groggy and lethargic. Others actually prefer using after-work hours to exercise, take a walk, do the laundry, or read a book. According to Dr. Cleo, this is perfectly fine. Going against your natural inclination (and bodily needs) just because someone else is doing it is a classic example of following a TikTok health trend that is risky for you. 

"Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health, so if you're naturally waking up just in time to get ready for your 9 to 5 job, then don't feel bad that you haven't achieved anything more in the morning. Night owls generally complete their chores, study, exercise, etc. after their workday, not before," offered Dr. Cleo (via New York Post). 

One the other hand, if you generally like watching a sunrise or sitting outside with a cup of coffee and getting in an hour of reading before you have to start your day, the trend might be perfect for you (provided you're still getting seven or more hours of sleep at night). It's all about finding what works for you and your particular lifestyle. Having a morning routine can be healthy, but it doesn't have to start at 5; getting even just one or two hours to yourself before you have to rush to work can be just as beneficial.