I used to stay in my bed until the last possible minute before I had to get myself together to go to work in the morning. On weekends, I would stay cuddled close to my blankets and sheets until at least noon. In either case, I would do so whether I was already awake or not. I just had this thing with maximizing my time in bed, thinking that the longer I stayed there, the better.
But then my life became more hectic than ever. I was working lots of hours (because I am an adult), and by the time I came home there was little I wanted – or could bring myself – to do besides rub one out (because I am perpetually single), watch a few episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, and pass out. It became apparent that I didn’t have much of a choice but to wake up earlier if I wanted to be productive at all during the week outside of my work life.
It’s difficult, for sure – if you’ve habitually stayed up late and then risen late for as long as you’ve been able to – to kickstart a habit of getting up earlier than you have to – especially without the crowd-funding. Money makes anything easier. But it can be done.
Here are a few life hacks to help you wake up early, and stay up early.
Power down before you go to bed.
When I was working on becoming a pseudo early bird, people often told me to turn off all of the screens I watch at least an hour or so before bed. This is impossible for me, because everything I interact with besides human beings has a screen, and I don’t have a girl around my apartment every night to do non-screen-centric things with. I even read books from a Kindle screen. I assume many of you are like me, and that turning off the screens isn’t much of an option. But powering down in the metaphorical sense is beneficial. Stop working and, if you can, actively thinking, a little while before you go to bed. You’ll sleep better, and be better prepared to get out of bed when your alarm goes off.
Hide your alarm.
I use the alarm clock built into my mobile phone. I used to sleep with my phone on my nightstand, and when I first started trying to awaken early, I would roll over, grab my phone, turn the alarm off, and set it for a later time. It’s easier to get out of bed and stay out of bed if you place your alarm somewhere where you have to physically exit your bed to turn it off. Lately, I’ve been hiding mine in a different place every night. Sometimes I wake up remembering where it is, but other times it really helps get me going if I have to search for it by sound for a little bit.
Do something active.
I’m an anxiety-prone person, and exercise helps a little bit to control that type of thing. Since I was getting home later at night, I’d abandoned post-work running and the gym. Now I do it in the morning, before I go to work. If you can get yourself out of bed and into some trainers, and then out the door, you’ll have an easier time waking up. And you’ll feel better the rest of the day. That’s why they put showers at the gym.
Do something productive.
If you’re not trying to work out in the morning because you have to save energy for your post-work softball game or whatever, it helps if you plan to do something productive when you wake up. If you start your day by accomplishing something, then the day can’t be a total failure, no matter what. I like to write a few words of something I’m working on to get my day going. You might want to do some laundry or something, or dedicate some time to a productive hobby. Or sign up for DailyLit, and set the email to come in at 7am.
Turn up the bright lights.
Open your curtains as soon as you open your eyes. Once the light pours in and invigorates you a little bit, you’ll be less likely to pull the covers over your head to try and fall back into your slumber to try and resume the dream you were having where you weren’t ruining everything with your high school sweetheart. If it’s still dark out, turn your lights on. You may even want to look into purchasing a Vitamin D light or lamp. Those exist!
Use a sleep app.
They make apps that can monitor your sleep, and sense when you’re coming out of your slumber. When this happens, they wake you up gently. This makes for a more pleasant morning, I think, according to science. And it’s helpful to check through your week’s sleep record, to decipher things you did in the moments before sleep (or even earlier) that helped or hurt your rest period.
Jump out of bed.
And punch the day in the face. If you spring out of your bed with aggression it can take less time to snap out of the veil of grogginess that envelops all of us when we first wake up. Maybe even do some push-ups and situps immediately, as well, to get the blood (and the ladies, eventually. I’ve heard ladies like abs.) flowing.
Drink water, immediately.
The body dehydrates during sleep. If you crush a full glass of water immediately upon waking, it will help you wake up faster and feel more rejuvenated. This is especially crucial if you got hammered drunk the night before.