If you are among the 57% of Americans who hit the snooze button each morning, getting out of bed in the morning can be the hardest part of your day. When successful, getting up on time can be the catalyst that makes a productive day. When unsuccessful, it can often create more stress for the rest of your day.
Would it make you feel better to know that there are scientific words to describe your battle? Dysania is the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Similarly, Clinomania is an excessive desire to remain in bed. Both of these describe the battle against sleep inertia, or the groggy, sleepy-eyed feeling you get when you first wake up.
Every morning doesn’t have to be a rude awakening. Before you go to Michael Scott’s extreme measures, follow our tips to help turn those morning blues into a successful day.
Let the Sunshine In
Why is it so hard to get out of bed?
Pennsylvania State University sleep researcher Jordan Gaines Lewis explains that the biggest reason why we want to stay in bed after our alarm goes off is that we are waking up earlier than our bodies want us to. She explains to The Sleep Matters Club, “Our circadian rhythm prefers that we rise with the sun, so a 5 am alarm to make sure we get to work on time isn’t exactly natural for us.” So, is there anything we can do to adjust our circadian rhythm?
“Bright light is the most powerful time cue for influencing the circadian rhythm,” according to sleep physician Neil Kline. We have a couple different ways that you can use this knowledge to help with your ongoing struggle.
First, open your blinds before you go to bed. This can help natural light come into your room and slowly wake you. If you can’t sleep with the blinds down, consider smart blinds like Serena by Lutron, which you can schedule to automatically open at a certain time to help you wake up.
Many of us have to wake before the sun, especially in the winter. If this is you, instead of a regular alarm clock, you can opt for a light alarm. These ingenious devices can gradually lighten your room to wake you up naturally. Philips even sells a line of wake-up lights that simulate sunrise and sunset and make it easier for 92% of users to get out of bed.
Lastly, another way to adjust your circadian rhythm to your needed sleep-wake schedule is with light therapy glasses like Re-Timer. These goofy looking glasses are meant to help re-adjust your body’s circadian rhythm when it doesn’t line up right with your needed sleeping schedule. Wearing Re-Timer for 60 minutes in the morning can help you fall asleep and wake up earlier.
Try an Alternative Alarm
Rather than a traditional alarm clock that is easy to sleep through or snooze, try waking up to a new type of alarm. Free smartphone apps will let you answer trivia, jump up and down, or solve puzzles to disable your alarm, rather than just hitting a button.
Puzzle Alarm Clock lets you solve puzzles or do solve math equations to turn off your alarm, while Wake N Shake makes you shake your alarm clock to turn off the alarm. Smartphone app BetterMe uses social humiliation to help with your wake up goals. If you fail, the app automatically posts your failure to your Facebook wall.
If that doesn’t help, consider an alarm clock that runs away from you, like Clocky. This cute little alarm clock on wheels will run away if you snooze, forcing you to get up and chase it.
Let’s Get Physical
Training your body to do something active right when you get out of bed, is a great way to trick your body into waking up. Consider doing some sun salutations, stretching, or doing a full-on exercise routine when you roll out of bed. If you prefer baby steps, you can even do the first couple yoga poses or stretches while laying in bed to ease yourself into it.
Social guilt is a great motivator. One way to up the ante is to schedule your workout with a friend or a personal trainer. Adding an element of accountability is a great way to trick yourself into actually getting up. I know that if someone is waiting for me, I am definitely more likely to get out of bed so that I don’t leave them hanging.
There are lots of benefits to exercising in the morning. A Belgian study even found that exercising before breakfast can help you burn more fat throughout the day.
A Pleasant Aroma Could Be Key
While you technically can’t be woken up by a smell because you can’t smell while you’re asleep, you might be more likely to stay awake when your alarm goes off if a good smell catches your attention. There are a few different ways to utilize your sense of smell in the wake-up process. You can go with an authentic smell or an artificial one.
For an authentic aroma, get a coffee maker with a timer that will automatically turn on and make your coffee in the morning. As a benefit, for the more than half of Americans who wake up with coffee, caffeine has been shown to lessen sleep inertia, helping you to feel less groggy.
If you aren’t a coffee drinker, or you want to have a wider selection of aromas to choose from, you are in luck. Try a smart home aroma diffuser to schedule bursts of fresh, fragrant air. You could even buy a glade plugin and a smart home plug to rig your own for a fraction of the cost.
Another option is to use an aromatherapy alarm clock that will start diffusing your preferred smell a few minutes before your alarm goes off. A crowdfunded company called Sensorwake makes alarm clocks that use scents to help you wake up in a better mood. An already available model called Lexibook by Sensorwake CS100 Olfactory Radio Clock offers three scents: mint, coffee, and bacon. The upcoming, and still funding Sensorwake Trio will have about a dozen scents to choose from, including orange juice, patchouli, and chocolate.
Let Water, Food, or Chewing Gum Help You Get Up
There are a few different ways to use food and drink to your advantage when you have trouble getting out of bed.
First, If you drink the right amount of water before bed, you will have to go to the bathroom when you wake up. Once you are in the bathroom, you are already out of bed, and awake. However, don’t drink too much water. You may have to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
Second, set a water bottle or glass of water on your nightstand before bed. Drink this as soon as you wake up. This helps to increase your metabolism and the 10-30 seconds of focused activity is a great way to trick your brain into waking up.
Third, for many people, a tasty favorite breakfast is something that can help to motivate you to rise up out of bed. Try preparing a favorite breakfast the night before so that you have something to look forward to.
The next suggestion is to chew a piece of gum when your alarm goes off. Chewing gum has been shown to give you a cognitive boost. Coventry University scientists found that chewing gum reduced feelings of sleepiness. So, after your alarm goes off, pop a piece of minty gum to draw blood flow to your brain and help slay sleepy feelings.
Last, reward yourself. There’s nothing like a token economy to motivate children, adults, and dogs alike. If you make it out of bed early enough, reward yourself from time to time, with a breakfast treat from a favorite restaurant or bagel shop. You deserve it.
Try Journaling When You Get Up
Consider putting a journal on your bedside table.
On average, you have four dreams per night. The best way to capture your nighttime inspiration is by taking a minute to record your thoughts as you wake up. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had the craziest dream epiphany, only to forget what it was a moment later.
While we are still a ways away from video recording our dreams, the best way to understand your mind and get your brain working is to keep a dream journal, to jot down thoughts when you just wake up.
Whether you write about a dream, stream of consciousness thoughts, or just how you feel, or creative writing, this can be a good way to start the day and get your creative juices flowing. It can also help you to know what is going on when you experience deja vu later in the day.
Find Something Happy
If you are amongst the 46% of Americans who check their phone before getting out of bed, and you still find yourself fighting sleep inertia, you might want to re-think what you are browsing. Here are a few ways that you can help to feel a little better about getting out of bed.
Instead of checking Twitter, which can cause some pretty negative feelings right when you get up, make it a rule to only check Instagram in the morning.
Find something to boost your mood before you get out of bed. Checking Reddit’s Eye Bleach or reading some comics can be a great way to wake up and keep a good mood. Jason Zook from Wandering Aimfully loves reading Calvin and Hobbes as part of his morning ritual. It helps him to start his day with positivity.
If music is your preferred medium, Spotify even has a Wake Up playlist created with help from Music Psychologist David M. Greenberg to help boost your morning wake up routine.
Try the 90 Minute Rule
Use your natural sleep cycle to your advantage with the 90-minute rule. Your sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes. To wake up in the lightest part of your sleep cycle, try using 90-minute increments. Pick what time you need to be awake in the morning, count back in 90-minute increments, then you can know what time you need to fall asleep by. Make sure you give yourself enough time to fall asleep on top of that.
There are even a few apps that will calculate and set your alarm for you. Here is a website and an app that will help you to calculate.
This video from In59Seconds explains it all.
Fitness bands and apps like Sleep Cycle can map your sleep pattern and wake you up when you are in the part of your sleep cycle where you are easiest to wake when sleep inertia is least.
Find a Routine that Works for You
A bad wake-up experience can ruin your day. While you may never consider yourself a morning person, these tried and true suggestions can help you fake it ‘til you make it.
Whether or not you try one or all of these suggestions, rest assured you are not alone in your quest. Try what works for you and don’t give up. Stress-free mornings are out there. Go claim them.