Snoozing and losing

Originally Published: October 3, 2003
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Dear Alice,

I have the biggest problem getting out of bed in the morning. I set 2 alarms and I still go right back to sleep. For this reason, I am always running late to work. Do you have any suggestions on how I can make myself get up earlier in the mornings?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Gabi

Dear Gabi,

Rest easy. Problems sleeping and waking up abound these days, and so then do suggestions for improving the quality of your slumber. Allowing more time for sleep, going to sleep earlier, standardizing your bed schedule (including during weekends), and making adequate time for your going to bed routine can all help you rest better and wake up more easily.

But, speaking specifically of waking up in the mornings, here are some techniques that might help you wake up more readily:

  • Go the distance. Place the alarm clocks further away from you, so you have to get up to turn them off.
  • Mix it up. If you're used to waking up to music, switch it to the buzzer and vice-versa. Also, using the radio static rather than an actual station might be more jarring and more effective.
  • Let there be light. Leave your curtains open and let the sun gradually wake you up in the morning. Or, break out the light timers that usually only surface during the holidays and attach one to your bedside lamp for a less leisurely awakening.
  • Harness the power of technology. Many cell phones have an alarm clock on them, and it's amazing how much more quickly we'll jump to an urgent-sounding 8:00 a.m. phone ring than to an 8:00 a.m. get-out-of-bed buzzing.
  • Rise to the occasion with good vibrations. If your cell phone has a vibrate option, sleep with it inside of your pillowcase or under your pillow to have a more physical wake up call.
  • Order a wake-up call (from nature). Drinking lots of water before you hit the sack will present an urgent reason for you to get out of bed once you've opened your eyes.

But don't nod off just yet. Persistent difficulty waking up in the morning can also be a sign of other problems. If you're getting to bed early enough, but are still tired when you awake, it might be a sign that you're not getting enough "good" sleep. These fitful nights can be caused by everything from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea to Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, commonly known as ADD). A health care provider can appropriately assess these symptoms; see the Related Q&As below for more information.

Finally, don't underestimate your own powers of positive thinking. Identify what you can look forward to: the people you'll see, the work that needs finishing, or even just that first swig of coffee (see numerous T.V. ads for proof that this has rousing powers). Whatever your pleasure, focusing on these activities rather than the blare of your alarm clock can make it easier to throw back the covers and face the music.

Alice