I figured out how to wake myself up happily and on time near the end of college: either have a light on a timer, set to turn on 30 minutes before my alarm goes off, or keep the blinds open so the sun wakes me up. An added bonus wake-up trick: put my alarm clock across the room.
I was only able to do that for a couple of years, once I finally figured it out, because I married a night-shifter. I don’t blame him for wrecking my flow; he just works a different shift than I do. Even so, I can’t have the blinds open (he’d actually prefer we get blackout shades), or time a light to turn on, or have pleasant music timed just right to slowly and gently wake me up. No, I have my smartphone under my pillow, my Sleep Cycle app playing a quiet melody with NO VIBRATION.
My half-asleep brain has a hard time with making the right decision (i.e. just get out of bed instead of snoozing or turning off the alarm). My tired-at-night brain also has a hard time making the right decision (i.e. just turn off the light and go to sleep instead of reading another chapter or playing on the phone longer). When there’s a decision to be made, if I’m tired, I will always screw it up, it seems.
These days, the alarm clock of last resort is my three-year-old son. Once he’s up, it’s game over, man. I have no other option but to get up and deal with life as a parent. I’d actually rather he get me up so I’m forced to get a move-on — during the workweek, at least. If he’s not up and around by 7am, either on his own or by me waking him up, I will not be on time to work. End of story.
It was different when I only had myself to deal with. I could just skip parts of my routine — no makeup today! oh, well — and speed to work. With a child in the mix, though, there’s that x-factor that I can’t always plan for. For instance, one day, I had to convince my son that he shouldn’t wear his underwear on the outside. That took longer than I would have expected. Other days, he just doesn’t want to get up (and I can’t say that I blame him).
But I digress.
I wonder how I can take what I learned about my wake cycle in college and apply it to my life today?
Well, for one thing, the data I’ve collected from my sleep app tells me that I sleep better when I spend some time winding down and meditating before bed, and I sleep poorly when I read before bed (presumably because I read too long and stay up too late). So, improving my quality of sleep is one change I can make, since being less tired in the morning will help me make better decisions.
Or I could just be a damn grown-up and get up when my alarm goes off.