14 Oct Up and at ’Em: Wake Up Energized Without the Snooze Button
Before we were blessed with his invention of the light bulb, the human race benefited from an average 10 or more hours of sleep because their sleep cycles were regulated completely by daylight. The light bulb, combined with other bothersome inventions — including deadlines, reports and the 60-hour work week — has slashed our average shuteye to just over six hours. Now, instead of waking up with a good stretch, many of us reach for the snooze four or five times before dragging ourselves out of bed.
It may not seem possible, but the habitual “arm-flop to snooze button” morning method can be avoided. With a little training, some self-motivation and possibly a few ingenious contraptions, you can minimize the morning grog and evolve into the proverbial lark.
Amend your sleep schedule
Your brain’s sleep schedule is dominated by your circadian rhythm, which motivates your body to sleep about every 16 hours. However, sleep deprivation can result if you get less than one hour of sleep for every two hours of consciousness. The best way to prevent dazed and confused mornings is to get the sleep your body craves. If you don’t, you’ll develop a sleep debt that affects work performance, mood and health. Start by:
- Reserving at least 7 hours for a good night’s sleep and sticking to it.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day — even on weekends and holidays
- Limiting naps to 30 minutes or less
- Keeping your sleeping quarters quiet and dark. Even seemingly small disturbances like the LED light from your alarm clock and random noises that fail to wake you can cut your quality of sleep
- Avoiding big meals and alcohol right before bed.
Train yourself into a new regimen
When you’re just waking up, your brain is controlled by your most basic immediate needs. Instead of thinking logically, “I need to wake up to prepare for an important meeting,” your body tells you “you’re still tired. You need rest.” At this point in the morning, our bodies will likely be the victors. However, some have conquered this problem by practice.
Try simulating an early morning without the snooze alarm when you’re already wide awake. Wait until its dark, pull on your PJs and practice leaping from the bed immediately at the sound of your alarm. Repeat the routine until you no longer have to think about the action steps and you’ll stop bargaining with yourself in the morning.
Once you’re out of bed, get your blood flowing immediately. Workout in the morning, sing, walk your dog or race your spouse to the bathroom. Physical activity will jolt your brain awake.
Find novel motivation
Did you notice that when you were little, you had no problem waking up early on your birthday or Christmas morning? Apply the same principle each morning. Rather than focusing on a dreaded routine, give yourself something to look forward to as soon as you wake up:
- Promise yourself a breakfast treat or a specialty cup of coffee
- Splurge on shampoos, scrubs and shower fixtures that make your morning prep an indulgent activity.
- Make plans for early morning social activities.
Get a new toy
The compulsion to sleep-in isn’t a novel one — that’s why several alarm clocks with features that top simple bells and whistles have rolled, flown an sonic boomed their way into the marketplace. Here are a few that look promising:
- Nifty alarms: Nanda Home developed Clocky and Tocky. When these alarms go off, the devices thrust themselves off your nightstand and roll about the room until you catch and turn them off. The Flying Alarm Clock operates on the same principal — except in the air. Also consider the Sonic Bomb and the Puzzle Alarm Clock.
- iPod app: The Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock application tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up gently when you’re in a light sleep phase.
- Imitation sunlight: These dawn simulators trigger chemical releases in your body that act as a natural wake-up call.
Some proponents of inward reflection believe you can simply tell yourself when to wake up and your body will comply. There is some scientific backing to this, which is often referred to as a “natural alarm clock.” This inner wakeup call is caused by a burst of a stress hormone called adrenocorticotropin, which is released because of the unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking from your slumber.
Undergo an Eyeball Transplant
Studies show that your tendency to be a night owl or an early bird is, in part, based on your genetics. Those with darker colored eyes have more difficulty waking up in the morning than their blue-eyed counterparts. This is the result of the chemical our bodies release when our retinas sense sunlight. Though this method might not be a feasible fix for another millennium so, the scientific reasoning behind it might get you a late pass for work.