Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Secret to Waking Up Early

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Let me preface this by saying that I have never been a morning person.  Waking up in the morning is not an easy thing for me to do, but I have realized how beneficial it is to have the entire day to get sh*t done after a few morning classes (and before class even starts).  I have 8am classes every day of the week, so this practice is something I am constantly working on.

I have tried every method of "making yourself a morning person" out there, and I could not find anything that actually worked for me.  Then I stumbled upon the secret to waking up early:

Calculate your wakeup time.

This is the single most important thing to do.  The science: a full sleep cycle runs about 90 minutes.  When you wake up feeling groggy and more tired than when you went to bed, it’s almost always because you interrupted a sleep cycle.  5-6 sleep cycles is considered a full night’s rest, but you can get away with 3-4 if you’re older (younger people need more sleep than older adults!) or that’s the way your life works.  The website sleepyti.me will calculate what time you should wake up if you go to sleep immediately, as well as what time you should plan to fall asleep if you have to get up at a particular time.  It takes me about 10 minutes max, but everyone is different, so this is something to consider.


Other Helpful Tips

1. Choose a new alarm sound.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had the same alarm tone for a solid several months.  Having the same alarm sound for too long is bad because your brain associate that sound with hitting the snooze button and going back to sleep.  Pick something that’s not jarring or obnoxious, especially if you have a roommate/bedmate.  Something that starts out slowly, then picks up a little and turns into something a little more upbeat

2. Get out of bed within 1 minute.  I toss the covers to the side and stretch my legs and back a little, then get up.  I am that person who has always had to set 4+ alarms to go off every 5-10 minutes because I fall back asleep.

3. Adopt a habit that triggers your brain and body that it’s time to begin the wakeup process.  Personally, the first thing I do as soon as I get out of bed is put saline in my eyes, splash water on my face, start the tea kettle.

4. Other good examples are: dabbing on a dot of a scented lotion (not too much, so you don’t assault your sense of smell), packing your bag for the day (for me, this doesn’t require a lot of thought, so it’s easy to do when still waking up), putting in contacts, drinking cold water, getting your outfit together, taking a shower, dynamic stretches, etc.  Anything that doesn’t require excessive brainpower, but is easy to do first thing and is something you can commit to doing every morning.

5. Create a morning routine to follow your trigger habit.  My routine looks like this:
    • Put saline in my eyes
    • Rinse my face
    • Start the tea kettle
    • Get my outfit together
    • Fix up my tea
    • Drink my beverage while making a list (see below)
    • Make and eat breakfast
    • Get dressed/fix hair and makeup
    • Quick email check, reply to only very urgent messages
    • Pack my bag for the day
    • If I have extra time, I will read a little (either for class or for leisure)
    • Leave!
    • Other ideas for a morning routine: yoga (I’m trying to figure out the best way to fit this into mine!), walking your dog (if you have one), reading the newspaper, going for a run/working out, making your lunch…
Tips that I have found useful:
    • Don’t check social media.  This is the first thing I’m tempted to do, but the rest of the day is going to be interactions with other people, so I like to save the mornings for my own time.
    • The list that I make during my routine is a “3 Things” list: I write down 3 things I want/need to accomplish during the day, and 3 things that I need to do by the end of the week.  The next day, I like to take at least 1 thing from the previous day’s Week list and add it to my Day list.  My lists usually look like this:
Day: 30 min work on paper X, 30 min chem reading, organize desk drawers
Week: finish paper X, do chem homework problems, start paper Y


    • It helps me to have the tea setup ready to go the night before so all I have to do is press start.  I make sure there’s a clean mug, fill the kettle, and put a tea bag next to my mug and spoon.
    • For maintaining your trigger habit, it’s really helpful to write yourself a note!  A “Start tea J” sticky note has been sitting on my desk for awhile, and seeing it every morning has helped me make it a habit.

32 comments:

  1. These are some great tips! I never thought to change my alarm sound. I also need to back away from the social media in the morning lol.

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    1. Changing my alarm sound was so helpful! It totally changed my brain's automatic "shut it off NOW" response.

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  2. I'm one of those people who cannot hit the snooze or my entire day is off - and I'm all groggy. I jump out of bed the moment the alarm goes off.

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    1. I am the same- as soon as I fall back asleep, I inevitably wake up right in the middle of another sleep cycle and am out of it for the rest of the day!

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  3. Another secret- Having a baby that never learns how to sleep! :) I'm not a morning person, but am always up early... Great tips though! :)

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    1. Definitely true for many! I'm not a mama yet (still in college), but I know having a baby awake in the early morning would get you up! :)

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  4. I love the scented lotion idea, I think I'm going to try that! I definitely agree that you need to just throw off the covers and stand up out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off, or you risk lulling back to sleep.

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    1. Absolutely! Standing up, turning the light on, and leaving the bedroom are my first orders of business.

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  5. Great tips! Not checking social media as soon as I get of is always hard!

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  6. Great tips, I am a morning person and if I need to get something done I get up earlier rather than trying to stay up late at night!

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  7. great tips lily! i love the productive feeling i get on days i get up early and mornings are so peaceful for getting things done!! =)

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  8. Love these tips! It's super hard to get up early, but its definitely worth it!

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  9. Lovely tips! I have to say I hate early morning starts, I love routine though.

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  10. I'm actually pretty good when it comes to waking up and sometimes don't even need an alarm but great tips!

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  11. Coffee is definitely part of my morning routine. I am not very good at waking up when my alarm goes off. Usually the kids are playing so I just lay there and take a minute to stretch before heading into the chaos.

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  12. This is helpful to me! sometimes I feel like i'll fear a routine but even not having a routine is a routine! hummm But one thing that I do agree about is the social media first thing in the morning! I'd have to agree with you and will consciously suspend that habit! thanks!

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  13. I always feel more productive when I wake up early as I can get more things done.

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  14. I love waking up early! I feel so motivated

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  15. I hate waking up early lol but I have been lately since I really need the time to myself to work on personal deadlines before my family wakes up. I have to be business woman and super mommy. I do admit I feel more productive when I wake up early (4 a.m) but I do love the static energy of late night while creating art.

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  16. I definitely needed these tips! Waking up early is definitely not easy for me!

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  17. Great times for people that can't wake up in the morning. I'm a total morning person I never really sleep past 6.30 :-)

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  18. Love these tips! I hate getting up early (probably because I am up so late) :)

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  19. Such great advice! I totally suck at waking up with enough time to get ready though! I have been trying to wake up at 4:30 on days I go to LA (I have to leave by 5:!5) and on the days I'm at home, I try to wake up at 6. I'm hopig to get more into a routine!!

    Definitely needed this advice and the sleepytime calculator!

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  20. I need to change my alarm sound because i seem to be struggling lately and insomnia is getting on my nerves

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  21. I am so wanting to be able to actually get out of bed by 5:30AM....I am definitely going to try some of these tips. Thanks for sharing.

    Thrifting Diva
    www.thriftingdiva.com

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  22. I've always calculated my sleep time in increments of 90 minutes and people think I'm crazy. I'm glad someone else realizes the effectiveness of it.

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  23. I love having a morning routine. When I had a later shift, I use to sleep in every morning and wouldn't get anything done. Even on my days off, I find myself way more productive in the mornings than before. Great tips. I am going to check out the sleepy time website, so I can get a great nights sleep.

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  24. These are some great tips. I really need to work on just getting my butt up as soon as the alarm goes off. I lay there as long as possible! LOL!

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  25. I LOVE these tips! Usually it's my kids dragging me out of bed but I would love to set a morning routine to help make it a little happier ;)

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  26. I love these tips and I could certainly use them!

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