When the alarm sounds in the morning, it's temping to hit snooze, but are you doing yourself more of a disservice than you think?
1. Avoid a “false alarm”
Your sleep cycle follows five stages that include: drifting between consciousness and sleep, slowing your heart rate and relaxing your brain, making repairs to your body, dropping your body temperature, and finally entering into REM sleep, the last stop before waking.
This is where you dream the most, and where you sleep the deepest. When your alarm clock goes off, and you are still in REM sleep, you feel groggy and disoriented. You may think you should hit that snooze button and fall back into sleepy bliss, but you’d be wrong.
By snoozing for an extra few minutes, you are letting your brain think, “FALSE ALARM! Back to bed!” Instead of getting a few extra winks, you are actually restarting your sleep cycle and seriously confusing your body.
This is called sleep inertia—a fuzzy, confused sleepy feeling that leaves you more tired and can last up to four hours. Try avoiding this zombie-like feeling by getting up when your alarm goes off, set your alarm for later or even go to bed a bit earlier and avoid this situation entirely.
2. Wake up slowly
Have you ever noticed that when you go to bed early and wake up without your alarm clock, you feel more rested and mentally prepared for the day? Those of us who work might get this feeling only on weekends or holidays. Wouldn’t it be glorious to feel this rested every day?
The reason you feel so good on weekends and holidays is because you give yourself permission to have an easy morning. Jack Johnson said it beautifully in his song “Making Banana Pancakes,” in which he sings, “Wake up slow, wake up slow.” Take this advice to heart!
When we get to bed a little earlier, and allow ourselves extra time to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning and read the newspaper, we wake up more slowly, allowing our minds and bodies to prepare for the waking hours ahead.
This doesn’t mean that we wake up and hit the snooze button! It means that we wake up, and we stay up, but take things slowly before getting started. Getting ready for the day is just as important as preparing for a date or job interview—you have to ease into it one step at a time.
3. Cross items off your to-do list
This one’s a no-brainer. The more time you allow yourself to do something, the more you will get done. To take this to the next level, however, you need to start doing things early in your day.
Even if you have a job to get to and a life to lead, if you start your day by doing something productive—anything from cleaning the litter box to organizing the mail—soon you’ll discover that those items haunting your to-do list are being crossed off more quickly every day.
Make a routine, have a plan and do at least one productive thing each morning. By the end of the week, you may just surprise yourself with how much you’ve managed to get done.
4. You develop feelings of worthlessness and depression
Each time you wake up to your alarm clock and hit the snooze button, it sends a message to your brain: “We don’t need to get up yet;” “Let’s not greet the world;” “Let’s stay here where its warm and safe.” Don’t get me wrong—we’ve all been here, but is this the best way to start your day?
We’ve already covered that when you hit the snooze and go back to sleep, you aren’t actually getting more sleep. To add to the trouble, when we hit that button, we are unconsciously telling ourselves that the world doesn’t need us to wake up. The more we do this, the more it becomes a pattern, and the more likely we are to develop feelings of worthlessness and depression.
It’s time we break this cycle, and get ourselves out of bed when we need to rather than falling into a harmful cycle of “5 more minutes,” and “Nobody will notice if I sleep a little longer.”
These thoughts can build chemicals in our brains that help us to believe that we don’t need to get up to do anything. If we aren’t careful, this can be a slippery slope into some serious depression. So, wake up, and stay up. Your psyche will thank you for it.
5. Routines work for a reason
What all of this comes down to is something fundamental to all of us: when we are kids, we have routines. We have a routine for waking up and for going to sleep.
As we get older, we turn into responsible adults, life gets in the way and we eventually toss out our routine because it just doesn’t fit our lives anymore. But what’s changed?
You grow up and get a job, a place to live and maybe a family of your own, but you still need to wake up and go to sleep. So, why would we not implement a routine?
There is a reason routines work for kids. Whose to say that they can’t work for us bigger kids, too? We need to start waking up at the same time every day—weekends too—and eventually our body sets it’s own biological clock, helping us wake up each morning and fall asleep each night.
When we follow our biological clocks, we start to feel less tired, we notice higher brain function, we don’t have to struggle with our snooze button and soon our entire day begins to work in our favor. We deserve to have the world work for us for a change, but sometimes we need to give it a little push first.
We’ve all had difficult mornings where the snooze button seems like the best invention on Earth. What do you think about giving yourself an extra few minutes? Is it helpful or hindering? Let us know!