How to Wake up Early: Day 16

by Crystal on November 22, 2008

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series early rising


Image by shoebappa via Flickr

Day 16, and I’m now waking up early even on the weekends.  Loving how much more I can get done in the silent hours – although today there’s a gale outside so it’s not so silent.  Still, there’s something about the time before the sun – and everyone else – gets up.  It’s strangely addictive.

I’ve discovered one more trick since I compiled the list for my last post, and am re-sharing two more gems of wisdom from a forum on the topic.

So, here’s the new, amended list:

  • Routine/Habits.  First thing in the morning, I chant “ABCDE” – A is for “Arise” (ie get up instantly, see below); B is for “Bed” (make it, so you can’t climb back in); C is for “Clean” (Shower etc); D is for “Dress” and E is for “Eat”.  Sometimes I do things differently, but I never change the first two, so they’re programmed to automatic – by the time I’m awake enough to think, they’re done.  That’s the trick, really – train yourself to react instantly to the alarm and you’ll be standing up with an already made bed before your mind gets up enough to beg for five more minutes.  At that stage, it’s easy to say no.
  • Planning.  Have as much laid out as you can the night before, but also know exactly what you intend to do first when you get up.  This is similar to the last one – you want to be able to move straight into doing it without having to think, because for the first little while, even though you’re standing up and moving around, your brain will still be in neutral (or even reverse)!
  • Light.  Your brain tells you to wake up via hormones, which it starts sending out when it gets light.  Look out the window, or if you can afford it, get a dawn simulator alarm clock.  I can tell you, my boyfriend hates mine, because it’s all but impossible to sleep through – even without noise!  (It also makes daylight saving a LOT easier).  Mine is the Lumie Bodyclock.
  • Go easy on food & drink the night before.  You don’t want to go to bed on a full stomach, and you definitely don’t want coffee or alcohol in your system, or you won’t sleep deeply enough to rest properly.  I accidentally gave up coffee shortly after I started this, and I’ve noticed I’m sleeping much better without it.  Even if you don’t want to go that far, give yourself at least 5 hrs without it before you go to bed the night before, and finish your eating off at least 3 hours before, so there’s no digestion or stimulation going on.
  • If you have to get up early, but can’t get to bed 8 hours beforehand, try to fit in a half hour “nanna nap” the day before.  You’d be surprised how much it helps.  If you can, allow for one in the afternoon you’ve had to get up for, to catch yourself up a bit.  No more than an hour, but half an hour is best.
  • Still feeling drowsy?  An apple is supposed to be a better wake-up aid than a cup of coffee.  I’ve tried it, and yes, it does work better.  The other trick to get the brain cells going when the yawns set in is to find a quiet place and bounce up and down for 30 seconds.  Sounds stupid, I know, but just try it and you’ll be surprised…

…and now for the new stuff

  • You can actually pre-program more than just your alarm clock to help you wake.  When you get into bed and turn out the lights, tell yourself (silently to yourself is fine) that you’re now going to sleep deeply and well, and will wake up full of energy before the alarm goes off.  Alternatively, you can put in that you’ll wake up full of energy at xxx o’clock.  It actually works for me.
  • If you know ahead of time how much earlier you have to get up, you can gradually train yourself into it by getting up a bit earlier each day.  I had an early start this week, so I spent 3 days getting up earlier: 4.30am (my usual, now), 4am, 3.30am and then on the day, 3am.  I wasn’t nearly as wrecked this time as I usually am.  Of course, now I find myself waking up with a ‘usual’ time closer to 4 o’clock, but that’s ok, gives me even more time to do my stuff before I go (I’m even fitting exercise in, now!  ok, maybe only sometimes, but still…)
  • A lot of people over at the digital point forums swear by drinking lots of water before you go to bed.  Then nature takes care of getting you up.  I like to have a drink anyway, because you dehydrate a lot overnight.  Plus I leave a glass of water by the bed and drink it as soon as I’m up (after A and B: see above).  Not sure if that helps with waking me up, it’s just a habit of mine.
  • Another digital point gem is to have the alarm clock as far away from the bed as possible, so you have to get up to switch it off.  I’ve used this one in the past, and it can work – but only so long as you don’t get up, switch it off, and crawl back under the covers.  Which I’ve also done, although not on this trial, and not (much) since I got the Bodyclock.
  • Besides my dawn simulator, there are all kinds of new variations on the traditional alarm clock that are meant to make it harder to switch off.  There are ones that move around so you have to chase them from under the bed (try going back to sleep after that!), helicopter type ones that have a flying bit you need to retrieve, a hanging one that retracts towards the ceiling every time you snooze it, and even a Rubiks cube one that won’t shut up until you solve it (I’d be stuffed, although there are You-Tube videos on how to solve a rubiks that make it look easy)
  • Writing this, it occurs to me that the main difference between those times I got up and the times I crawled back under, was that I had a very clear reason why I wanted to get up at that time, and I knew I couldn’t leave it any later.  Trying to cheat the system by setting it for half an hour before I had to get up usually meant I snoozed it for a half an hour, until the REAL deadline came up.  So, having a clear reason why is another one.

Being a weekend, and having stayed up late last night with the other half, he wanted me to stay in bed this morning, but I decided that having worked so hard to create this habit, I was going to keep it alive and get up anyway.  Nothing stopping me from going back for a snooze later if I need it, but that habit is the thing that makes it easiest in the morning.

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