Thursday, April 11, 2013

how to get up earlier

I love the early morning hours.  I love being up before everyone else, I love the sunshine that comes in my east-facing window, and I love having time to putter around before starting my day.  I'm only eighteen and I'm already puttering?  Let me just go get my dentures and walker to save some time later...

No but seriously, getting up early is the best way to start my day right.  If you have trouble getting out of bed before 10, or if you'd just like a little help getting up that extra half-hour early, read on.

#1. Black-out curtains and earplugs.  I live on a college campus.  Last year, I had parking lot lights blazing through my blinds all night.  A pair of blackout curtains solved that problem, and a package of disposable earplugs helped on nights when the frats next door were practicing their screaming.

#2. Open those curtains.  Wait, what?  Yeah, that's right.  When I used blackout curtains, I would set my alarm a half-hour earlier, and rouse myself just enough to pull open the curtains.  As I fell back asleep, the light growing in the room helped draw me out of slumber more naturally.  Now that I don't have major light problems, I just keep my curtains open, and I automatically wake up with the sun.

#3. Listen to your body's needs for sleep, but don't hang on its every word.  There are times I could really go for an extra 2 or 6 hours...but I have learned that exactly 7.5 is best for me.  If I laze around longer, I feel unproductive and slow the rest of the day.  Sometimes I even wake up feeling more tired!  This is because you cycle in and out of deep sleep, and you'll only feel refreshed and rested if you wake up while you're in the lighter mode.  For me, between 7 and 8 hours is my window of opportunity.  Find yours.

#4. Don't do dumb stuff right before bed.  Don't drink caffeinated coffee or tea.  Don't bike five miles.  Don't stare into a computer screen (if you can help it).  We all know this!

#5. Consider a routine.  For people like me, this really works.  I take a hot shower and do a bit of yoga to wind down before bed.  In the morning, I slide out of bed and head straight to the sink to brush my teeth.  Those simple repetitive actions get me in the mood for going to bed and waking up, respectively.  If you're a creature of habit, develop relaxing practices to help you get to sleep earlier, enabling you to wake up earlier.

#6. Reboot your inner clock.  I've had mixed results with this one, just to forewarn you.  But the idea is, don't eat anything for 16 hours before the time you want to wake up.  Set an alarm, and as soon as you get up, eat breakfast.  Your body's internal clock will reset to "time to wake up!"  Now, my metabolism won't let me go 16 hours without eating, but avoiding eating late at night does seem to help me bounce out of bed in the morning.

Will you try any of these strategies?  Are you an early bird or a night owl--or both?  What helps you wake up?