Maybe all I need is a good slap in the face.
December 16, 2010 2:16 PM   Subscribe

What are your tricks for waking up in the morning?

Ok so I decided that I want to start going to the gym and the best time is early in the morning (for me). Except, I can't seem to wake up! I keep hitting snooze until it comes to the point where I have to get up for work, and then I go to the gym later in the day. This is not ideal.

Earlier in the year when I joined a Crossfit gym (I'm at a regular "do it yourself" gym now) I was motivated to get up every morning at 4:30 am because the trainer there expected me to show up, and so did everyone else in the class. So I would get up because I was afraid of disappointing them. Obviously, I am capable of doing this.

Now that I'm on my own, I'm simply not motivated to wake up. Even though I regret it later, it keeps happening!

How can I just GET UP?

Oh and going to bed early probably isn't what I need. I'm not failing to get up due to lack of sleep, or any difficulty falling asleep... it's just that sleeping feels so good and I'm unmotivated to crawl out of bed. I can get by just fine with 6 hours of sleep for weeks on end.
posted by buckaroo_benzai to Health & Fitness (46 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
Try moving your alarm clock across the room and turning up the volume so you're forced to get out of bed to turn it off. By the time you're across the room, you're (hopefully) already awake.
posted by Hylas at 2:20 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Try and see if you can get a friend to go with you. As you said, if you know someone else is expecting you it helps you to go. It's also lots more enjoyable to exercise with a friend!
posted by garnetgirl at 2:21 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

as soon as I smell coffee I'm up. Maybe one of those coffee makers on alarm thing?
posted by H. Roark at 2:23 PM on December 16, 2010

I think that waking at the right point in your sleep cycle has a lot to do with it. Something like the Zeo would help with that. I've used one, and thought it was interesting, and helpful.
posted by dpx.mfx at 2:23 PM on December 16, 2010

I have Clocky for when I really need to make sure that I get up. Otherwise I just get out of bed as soon as possible after my regular (annoying, robotic sounding) alarm rings - no hesitating, or I crumble.
posted by analog at 2:25 PM on December 16, 2010

Response by poster: Additional question:

Are there any alarm clocks out there that are super annoying and/or force me to solve some sort of puzzle to wake up? I feel like I have seen this before, but don't know where to find one.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 2:25 PM on December 16, 2010

An option that works for me is to drink a LARGE glass of water before bed. I mean, like a HUGE glass. Maybe a whole liter of water. In the morning you WILL have to pee. You might have to adjust the timing and amount. If you do wake up in the middle of the night and pee, you should drink another glass of water before going back to bed.
posted by pipco at 2:26 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can get by just fine with 6 hours of sleep for weeks on end.

I know this is not what you wanted to hear, but this is most likely the answer. Six hours is doable, but it's not optimal. And while you're required to go to work, the gym is an optional thing. So when your alarm goes off after only 6 hours of sleep, your brain is all like, "Oh, but I don't really have to go to the gym... Sleep is more important... ZZZZZzzzzzzz..."

Basically you need to either go to bed earlier or make the gym an absolute imperative all the way down to your lizard brain. Having a trainer or friend you're meeting there might help.
posted by Sara C. at 2:29 PM on December 16, 2010 [9 favorites]

In college, I used to put my alarm clock in a tupperware container. I'd wrap it a few times with duct tape, if I needed to get up extra-early.
posted by Wossname at 2:32 PM on December 16, 2010 [11 favorites]

Puzzle alarm clock? Are you thinking of this?

I can't seem to find it in stock anywhere, though :(
posted by sprezzy at 2:34 PM on December 16, 2010

Open your eyes when the alarm first goes off and say "Good Morning, World" out loud.

Use this to remind yourself that the extra life you gain by getting out of bed is far more valuable than the minimal comfort (and annoyance!) you gain by hitting snooze over and over again for an hour.

I was first taught this technique as "Good Morning, Buddha," but you should feel free to substitute whatever entity, corporeal or non-, that you wish to greet.
posted by 256 at 2:36 PM on December 16, 2010 [10 favorites]

Putting your coffee maker on a timer and making it the night before does great things for us. If you're not a coffee person, maybe put the lights in your room on a timer?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:37 PM on December 16, 2010

I agree with pipco about drinking lots of water, though if you're a light sleeper (you don't sound like it) you might wake up earlier than you'd like, fall back asleep, and have the same problem all over again.

Also, like me you probably turn your heat down at night. If you're lucky enough to have a digital thermostat, try setting the heat to turn on just before it's time to get up. Maybe this one is obvious I don't know, but once winter sets in I'm constantly snoozing with the rationale "it's friggin' cold out there, but soooo warm and comfy under here!"
posted by maggymay at 2:37 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

No snooze.

Seriously, once you have an alarm clock with no snooze for a few weeks, you'll get up and out of bed on the first buzz.
posted by chiefthe at 2:41 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is a little odd, but my bed is almost two feet off of the ground. When I hear the alarm clock, I kick my legs up, then roll off the side of the bed to land on my feet. Since I often sleep with the alarm clock pointed against the wall and my eyes taped shut (long story), I get bonus points for landing with my hand on the alarm clock. Yes, it is a little close to
I have a morning ritual that I need to share. I call it "The Terminator". First I crouch down in the shower in the classic "naked terminator traveling through time" pose. With my eyes closed I crouch there for a minute, visualizing either Arnold or the guy from the second movie (not the chick in the third one because that one sucked) and I start to hum the terminator theme. Then I slowly rise to a standing position and open my eyes. It helps me to proceed through my day as an emotionless, cyborg badass. The only problem is if the shower curtain sticks to my terminator leg. It ruins the fantasy.
but you would be surprised how much a little motion gets the day started. Then I grab a measuring cup, filled the night before with about a cup and a half of berries already in it, from the small refrigerator and nibble while I wake up. Blood sugar, blood moving, and a little adrenalin from the "can I land right?" first move and I'm awake.
posted by adipocere at 2:42 PM on December 16, 2010 [12 favorites]

I second getting a gym buddy. Does anyone from your class want to continue the morning routine? Email and ask. See if you can carpool or something.

I am not a morning person at all, but I had the best luck with an early morning gym routine when my gym buddy and I were carpooling. She relied on me and I relied on her, and it worked out really well. Once we fell out of that routine due to her late-night school schedule, it has been almost impossible for me to go alone.
posted by aabbbiee at 2:43 PM on December 16, 2010

This sounds crazy but it's worked for me: Get up even earlier on the weekends. Seriously. Now when you have to go to the gym before work during the week, you're actually getting to sleep in.
posted by dhammond at 2:47 PM on December 16, 2010

You want a hard alarm clock? How about Clocky? The alarm clock on wheels that will actively try to get away from you when the alarm goes off.
posted by mmascolino at 2:49 PM on December 16, 2010

I can get by just fine with 6 hours of sleep for weeks on end.

Go to bed earlier.

Seriously, I bet if you polled lots of people with difficult mornings, you'd find that nearly all of them thought they were OK with 6 or so hours, with some coffee, but oh, the bed feels good. It feels good for a reason -- you're not sleeping for a suitably refreshing amount of time and are not easily making smart decisions.

Try it getting 9 hours a night for a week, getting up at the same time every morning. It's just a week. You can do that, right? Then see how you feel.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:51 PM on December 16, 2010 [14 favorites]

This alarm clock requires you to do math before it shuts off. Bonus - on sale right now!
posted by geekchic at 2:52 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry to imply that I habitually only get 6 hours of sleep. I usually get 7-8 hours (even if I did get up on time). I just thought that I'd point out that I have gotten less sleep for days and days and been just fine, so it's something more psychological keeping me in bed and not some biological lack of sleep.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 2:59 PM on December 16, 2010

I have like four different alarm clocks located at various key points around the room.
posted by howgenerica at 3:01 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

This alarm clock will make you leap out of bed and throw yourself out the window while wetting your pants. Perhaps it will help.
posted by scratch at 3:10 PM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Steve Pavlina's methods work for me.

I used to have one of those puzzle alarm clocks, but they are way too easy to cheat. You actually just need to press the right spots on the top of the thing, i.e. where the puzzle would sit when it is complete, and then it switches off.
posted by lollusc at 3:10 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sunrise alarm clock, coffee maker on a timer (must be smellable from your bed), and Adderall.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:28 PM on December 16, 2010

Now that winter has been messing with my sleep schedule I do two things: Take melatonin 1/2 hour before I need to be asleep (.75 mg - a quarter of the 3 mg tabs, dissolved in mouth) and NO MATTER WHAT meditate 1/2 hour and do ~ 5 mins exercise right after I get up. I am free to, and very rarely do, go back to bed after this, but by the time I've done these things my brain is up and running so I can do the rest of my morning routine.
posted by Dmenet at 3:31 PM on December 16, 2010

I'm glad the alarm clock tricks work for some people, but it isn't some kind of universal solution. I can get up and make the sound go away and go back to sleep no problem. If I am particularly unconscious, I'll just turn the damn thing off.

Go to bed earlier.

Seriously, I bet if you polled lots of people with difficult mornings, you'd find that nearly all of them thought they were OK with 6 or so hours, with some coffee, but oh, the bed feels good. It feels good for a reason -- you're not sleeping for a suitably refreshing amount of time and are not easily making smart decisions.

A thousand times this. Waking up should be easy.

Take melatonin 1/2 hour before I need to be asleep

Another option would be to take it a set number of hours before you need to be awake.
posted by gjc at 3:47 PM on December 16, 2010

Okay, obviously not for everyone, but get a cat. For the first two weeks with said cat, feed it as the very, very first thing you do in the morning.

I guarantee you that your new found feline friend will quickly become the most annoying, persistant and obnoxiously cute alarm clock you've ever had. Mine bites my ears to wake me up, for example.
posted by cgg at 4:03 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have started putting an alarm clock in the kitchen. We live in a ground-floor flat, so I'm motivated to get up and turn it off before the noise disturbs our upstairs neighbours. While I'm in the kitchen, I put on the kettle and set out cups with teabags in. I then get back into bed with my partner until I hear the kettle switch off. Then tea can happen, hooray!

I've only been doing this for a week, but it seems to be helping for now.

Also, nthing Cool Papa Bell - which is not to say I come anywhere near following his advice myself, but I should.
posted by daisyk at 4:07 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you should get up at six, set alarm at five and leave 1-2 caffeine pills next to alarm clock with some water. Wake up, down the pills, fall asleep again. Have a second alarm go off at the proper hour, and hopefully the pills will keep you awake.

Can't tell you how many months of work and study this has helped me through.
posted by monocultured at 4:25 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a (not particularly bright) light on a cheap timer I bought at ikea, and it comes on about 15 minutes before my alarm clock. Especially this time of year, having the room already be light makes it way easier to get up. Special bonus: a couple of times I've forgotten to set my actual alarm, and the light was a clue that it was probably time to get up. :)
posted by epersonae at 4:56 PM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

You might need to discover your sleep cycle, which lasts approximately 90 minutes in most cases, and time when you go to bed so that the time when you want to wake up is at the end of one of these, e.g. go to bed at 10:00 p.m. if you need to wake up at 5:30 a.m.

Also take any drowsy-making medication that you are supposed to take at bedtime, two hours earlier so it is not still in your system when you need to wake up.
posted by bad grammar at 5:29 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Two things work for me: having the alarm clock closer to the toilet than to the bed, and stretching. When you stretch after sleeping, it increases blood flow to your muscles. Nothing fancy, just your basic stretching of arms and legs, and maybe bend to the sides at your waist. It feels good, and it takes away some of that leaden, sluggish feeling. I guess you could do the stretching in bed, but the key is to get OUT of the bed. If you're still lying down under those lovely, comfortable covers, come on... why wake up?
posted by wryly at 5:42 PM on December 16, 2010

Many alarms, in different places, staggered to go off at different times, with motivational notes/pictures taped to them.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:43 PM on December 16, 2010

What works for me in working out in the mornings (though at 7am and not 430!) was having a super super obnoxious alarm clock across the room and a workout buddy who's obnoxious too and calls every couple minutes. Between the two of them, I was forced to get up.

Now, it also helps that I'm in an apartment with super thin walls and 3 roommates. I have to get up to turn off my alarm clock unless I want to incur the wrath of all three of them getting their sleep disturbed.
posted by astapasta24 at 6:54 PM on December 16, 2010

"Move the feet to the floor and take four more." During those first four steps I have my eyes closed but as I pull on my socks and underwear my conscious brain takes over and I float towards the first task of the day. I have made this a habit and it seems to work well for me. This way I don't really think about it anymore
posted by bkeene12 at 8:00 PM on December 16, 2010

I'm going to copy and paste from an old reply of mine to a vaguely similar AskMe question:

I used to hit the snooze button all the time. Maybe six times a morning, typically. Then I got one of these clocks.

Instead of an alarm, it plays the sound of songbirds singing. I was unsurprised to find that this is pleasant, especially compared to an alarm (which is called such because it is alarming, and being alarmed is such an absurdly bad way to start your day that I can no longer fathom why it is so popular in our culture).

But I was surprised to find that it wakes me more or less instantly; I thought there was no way a few songbirds would wake me up. Turns out they wake me up much more effectively (and of course much more pleasantly) than alarms do.

Sure, I still hit the snooze button every once in a while, but now I do so pretty rarely, whereas before it would be rare for me not to hit it. And hitting it more than once is very rare; I don't think I've ever hit it more than twice. As I said, with my old alarm, I would typically hit it something like six times a morning.

Plus, when I do hit the snooze now, it's more "Eh, I think I'll nap for a few more minutes", rather than "SHUT THE HELL UP YOU GODDAMN ALARM CLOCK".
posted by Flunkie at 8:48 PM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

There are some cool sleep tracking gadgets that can help wake you up when you are in the least-deep portion of your sleep cycle, which (for me at least) gets rid of that terrible groggy feeling that makes you hit snooze over and over. I used a Sleeptracker and thought it worked really well for this purpose (they have since added other features that I haven't tried because they weren't in my version), but if you're looking for a cheaper alternative, there is a 99 cent iphone app that accomplishes the same thing, and has good reviews.
posted by holympus at 11:58 PM on December 16, 2010

Related to your question- have you thought about doing some workouts at home? For me, it's hard to convince myself to get up early, to go out in the cold and the dark, to turn my brain on to deal with the outside world, in order to work out. I can get up early and work out inside, no problem.

It would let you sleep in a little more as well. If you're in an apartment or other place where certain exercises wouldn't be appropriate (running, jumping, etc.) you can start with the exercises you CAN do (stretches, non-jumping calisthetics, weights) until you wake up enough to go outside/down to the gym for the other exercise.

The nice thing about this is that if you get lazy, at least you got SOME exercise in, instead of none.

Part of this is psychology- it's hard to convince myself to jump the triple hurdle of 1) Wake up early (ugh) 2) to travel outside (ugh) 3) to go work out (why am I doing all this?). Whereas, 1)get up and do some exercise seems like a lot less to my monkey-brain. Perhaps it may be also true for you.
posted by yeloson at 12:33 AM on December 17, 2010

Virtuosic snooze button skillz run in my family. I regularly will snooze until the clock writes me off as a lost cause. There are a few things that have worked for me, however.

Music. This is a bit of a crapshoot because using a radio alarm clock can mean that you will be awakened by some good music that gets your brain interested in joining the waking world instead of your pillow... OR it could be a terrible song that you must! stop! immediately! and go back to the dream world where shitty music does not exist.

Nthing what others have said about physical barriers to hitting snooze. If you live alone, putting the alarm clock in another room works great. In high school, I fabricated a snooze button restriction device using plastic from some of that un-openable packaging material and some glue. Basically made it so that my alarm clock had no snooze button. That meant that the alarm was serious bizness and I was forced to 1) wake up, 2) shut off the alarm altogether and go to sleep or 3) reset the alarm for later and go back to sleep. Eventually I became so adept at doing number 3 that I had to concede that sleep wins against my morning brain. Now I just stay up late instead.
posted by palacewalls at 8:40 AM on December 17, 2010

A lot of the suggestions in this thread have helped me before. Specifically, I keep my alarm far from my bed and I make sure my apartment is plenty warm by the time I need to get up. For a while I would also consume some caffeine and not try to get out of bed until it kicked in. The most convenient caffeine source I ever found was three sprays of Primer (which also helps wake you up by being absurdly minty), but pills or energy shots are also good options. Making sure your bedroom is bright can help a lot, especially if it's very dark when you need to get up. Alarm clocks that gradually brighten are nice, but just having a lamp on a timer is a lot cheaper.
posted by shponglespore at 8:42 AM on December 17, 2010

Honestly, I've gone in the other direction - I used to be able to get up and go to the gym on my own. Then I took some classes and taught some classes, so I couldn't skip. When that went away, I became you. The only thing that's gotten me to reverse this is to do classes again. They're not even classes where someone would pointedly ask where I was, but I feel more obligated.

So, gym buddy or classes or trainer are my recommendations. If you manage to start getting to the gym all the time on your own using these great tips, good on you!
posted by ldthomps at 10:52 AM on December 17, 2010

Seconding this:

I have a (not particularly bright) light on a cheap timer I bought at ikea, and it comes on about 15 minutes before my alarm clock.

This is a crucial component of my three-alarm waking system. I got this programmable timer, set to function only M-F, and it flips on a light a few minutes before my alarm goes off. Getting up in the dark is just awful, and this makes it much easier.

From there, I have a radio alarm clock flip on at the top of the hour, tuned to NPR, so I get six minutes of headlines. Then my beepy-beepy alarm clock goes off. By then I've got light (reptilian brain—check) and I've got information (analytic brain—check), so it's a lot easier to wake up.
posted by waldo at 9:07 AM on December 19, 2010

While your brain is partially awake, you're not fully awake yet.

Seconding: Put a lamp on a timer that turns on well before you want to wake up.
posted by talldean at 12:57 PM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: All very good suggestions. So far I found that setting a lamp to come on 10 minutes before my alarm goes off is working well. I also put a backup alarm clock on the other side of the room but haven't had to use it yet (I get up with the light and my other alarm first).

posted by buckaroo_benzai at 9:28 AM on December 22, 2010

It is not always a matter of simply getting more sleep, in response to some posts above suggesting more sleep and the OP's reply to them.

I have delayed sleep-phase disorder, which means my natural clock is set to "sleep" between the hours of about 2-3 a.m. and 11 a.m. to noon-ish. I can fall asleep any time, but if I set an alarm clock for 8 a.m., regardless of whether I go to bed at 8, 10, midnight, or 2 a.m., I will struggle to wake up. At 8, my body just wants to be asleep. Period.

To get up, I think about it the night before. I set my alarm, and then I spend several minutes thinking to myself, "When my alarm goes off, I will regain consciousness. I will hit snooze once. When it goes off again, I will open my eyes and then I will throw off the covers and sit up and get out of bed." I visualize this happening, think about what the alarm sounds like, and make the decision that I WILL get out of bed. It's kind of like tricking yourself into believing there's something -really- important (like your friends depending on you or whatever) to wake up for. Works for me, in any case, and I have always struggled with waking up.

Anyway, glad to hear you've found something that works, OP! Just thought I'd add this for anyone else reading, because I didn't see it in the thread above, and it's free and works. ;)
posted by po at 7:00 PM on December 22, 2010

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