How Adam Rippon stays productive on a 'scary' small amount of sleep

Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon is not a morning person.

"I would much rather never [wake up early]," Rippon tells CNBC Make It.

Instead, he finds that he's able to thrive and get a lot done late at night.

Although that often means skimping on sleep or pulling an all-nighter, thanks to a flexible schedule a reliable skincare routine, Rippon has found ways to make it work over the course of his career.

"It's scary how little sleep I can get and still look like a human being," he says at an event in New York City promoting the Delta SkyMiles American Express Card.

Growing up, Rippon recalls having to wake up extremely early to squeeze in hours of figure skating practice before school.

"When I first started training, my mom had a key to the rink, that's how early we'd get in," he says.

Later, when Rippon was preparing for the 2018 Winter Olympics (where he took home a bronze medal) he was able to switch his training schedule to the middle of the day. But those early morning wake-up calls still haunt him.

"Maybe my body is rejecting the idea [of waking up early], I know my mind does," he says.

These days, Rippon has retired from skating and is focusing on personal projects, including a book out in October and a YouTube channel. His day starts whenever he stops hitting snooze, which is usually at 8 or 9 a.m.

"If you're in the double-digits, you're taking it too far," he says.

When he wakes up, the first thing Rippon does is check his phone to read the news on Twitter and check out Instagram.

Then he follows his multi-step skincare routine, which he streamlines down to just a Lab Series moisturizer, tinted sunscreen from Supergoop and a BB cream from It Cosmetics for when he's just "running out during the day," he says.

For breakfast, Rippon drinks celery juice, a health habit that he recently picked up and is trying to maintain.

"If I forget it for too long, then my stomach gets upset, so I keep it consistent," he says.

(Although this particular blend of green juice has blown up among health-conscious celebs who claim it has "detoxifying" abilities, nutrition experts say celery juice isn't a miracle elixir and there's no evidence it does anything for your health.)

On days when a juice isn't an option, Rippon says he'll have yogurt or something light.

After breakfast, Rippon is out the door.

While Rippon's morning might seem pretty straightforward, his real productivity hack takes place at night, he says. Rather than replying to emails throughout his day, which can be overwhelming, he says he waits until after hours to answer.

"Because people are sleeping and getting ready for bed, I know people aren't going to get back [to me] right away," he says. "It feels a little bit like a safer space where I can get things done."

Similarly, given how frequently Rippon travels, he often waits until the final hour to pack for a morning flight.

"I'll procrastinate to the point where I won't sleep and I'll pack all throughout the night, which is an awful habit," he says. "But, you know what, I don't miss my flight so it's fine."

Not everyone has the luxury to follow this unconventional schedule. That said, it's true that some people function better at night, while others are more productive in the morning. Sleep scientists call this your "chronotype," and it has to do with your body's circadian rhythm or internal clock.

In general, adults need to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, and it doesn't matter whether you skew early or late, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

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