Help me not be a pain in the ass in the morning.
October 4, 2012 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Help me be a morning person! Or at least a waking-up-like-a-goddamn-adult person!

I hate mornings. Not necessarily because there is something bad about that time of day, I'm just really, really awful at getting out of bed. It has always been this way, from crying down the stairs to kindergarten, to being constantly late for school, to, nowadays, showing up to work at 9 A.M. on the dot. This has been going on as long as I remember, so there's nothing remotely recent that is causing it. I eat probably too little, but it was the same when I ate too much. I have a vitamin regimen overseen by my doctor, who is a good doctor. I am mentally balanced and physically healthy (if out of shape.) I do not have sleep apnea.

I get up at, say, 8:10 (after hitting snooze for about an hour and a half,) brush my teeth and take my vitamins, stumble into my clothing, kiss my girlfriend, pet the dog, and I'm out the door by 8:25. I skip breakfast -- how are people hungry before 11 A.M.? -- which is bad because I need to gain weight. I have a fast metabolism and we're doing the no-simple-carb thing. The diet keeps my chronic stomach issues at bay but also makes it difficult for me to keep on weight.

So, help me, MeFites! If "suck it up and get your ass out of bed" worked, I wouldn't be asking this. I know there's general things like "give yourself something to look forward to in the morning!" but I'm not sure how to do that: I hate, hate, hate mornings and things associated with mornings (washing up! eggs and coffee!) I am confused and lethargic and not "awake" until maybe halfway through my commute. I would like to not be a grouchy son of a bitch for an hour a day, every day, especially considering I can be spending the mornings having quality time with girlfriend and dog.

I feel like I'm doing all the appropriate sleep-hygiene things:
  • I go to sleep and wake up at (roughly) the same time every day
  • I get about eight hours of sleep a night
  • I wind down exciting activities well before I go to bed
  • I try not to eat past 9 P.M. (with varying degrees success)
  • I hardly ever drink caffeinated drinks (doctor's orders,) and don't drink them past late afternoon when I do.
  • I take melatonin before going to bed.
NB: Showering in the morning is out of the questions for reason I'm not even going to try to get into. Exercise is ... on the table. I really need to exercise. I know. Moving the alarm clock out of reach means I just sleep through the alarm clock.
posted by griphus to Health & Fitness (68 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
I know the feeling. I long for the weekends when I just get up and laze whenever I feel like it.

I moved the alarm clock across the room, then I set it on annoying static. Trust me, my first impulse is to get out of bed to shut the damn thing off.

Then I have to pee, and then my morning starts.

I take the morning pills and vitamins with some milk. That's a good way to ease the tummy into taking some food.

I jump into my workout clothes and trot on my treadmill for 30 minutes. That get's my heart going.

Then I hop in the shower and get ready.

I grab some fruit and I drive to work.

Once at work I get coffee and make my breakfast. I brought a toaster in, so I can make toast if I like. I also do egg and veg cassaroles that I can bring in on Monday and nom on all week. I can also make eggs in the microwave. Our kitchen is fairly well stocked.

And that solves my morning issues for me.

Have you looked into light therapy? If it's really, truly not sloth, it could be light. I get a bit bummed out as the days get shorter and it really helps.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:58 PM on October 4, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah, I've got a lightbox that I haven't used since the massive doses of Vitamin D kicked in. It helped with my mood later in the day, but it doesn't do anything about waking me up (I tend to fall asleep under it.)
posted by griphus at 2:01 PM on October 4, 2012

Feed and walk your dog in the morning, right after you wake up. Pets make excellent alarm clocks.

If you are using a computer at night, use f.lux to adjust the display.

Go to bed earlier. Give yourself something to look forward to going to bed at night.
posted by hooray at 2:02 PM on October 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

Counter intuitive as it is, but I've found waking up EARLIER has made me more of a morning person.

To be fair, I also have kids so I'm kinda forced to be up early for that reason a lot of days. But I used to HATE being awake before 8. Now I enjoy it, especially on weekends. Having a long morning has made everything so much more pleasant.

So, what I'd try to do is get your grumpy time out of the way earlier so you have quality time with your girlfriend and dog before you leave for work. So, set you alarm for an hour or an hour and a half earlier, do your snooze thing, get out of bed at 7:30, do your grumpy thing, have half an hour of not-grumpy time that you can use for some quick exercise, bring food with you on your commute since getting up earlier might shift your hunger, and still get to work by 9 on the dot.
posted by zizzle at 2:03 PM on October 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

You get 8 hours of sleep and snooze for an hour and a half. Does that mean 8+1.5, or is the 1.5 included in the 8?
posted by teragram at 2:04 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Because it's so narrowly feasible, this isn't so much a recommendation as a data point, but if you are already on ADHD medication that is not Strattera and you are looking to switch, you might consider discussing it with your doc as it has miraculously cleared my mornings of exactly the type of anguish you describe above.
posted by invitapriore at 2:04 PM on October 4, 2012

How does your dog sleep? My dog starts getting very cuddly when my alarm goes off, and nuzzles into me until I pet him. It's a pretty nice way to wake up.

If your dog's internal clock is on more of a morning schedule, try letting him sleep in bed with you. Or, since I assume that your girlfriend is taking care of the dog's morning needs currently, maybe you could do it instead. Knowing that a living thing is depending on you being awake to care for it might be a better motivator than being up just for yourself.
posted by phunniemee at 2:05 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

The snooze button is really counter-productive; you're sabotaging 1.5 hours of quality sleep. Break the habit and force yourself to get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off. It gets easier with time.

It helps to have something you really look forward to in the morning. For me, that's pancakes and coffee.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:06 PM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I used to shut all blinds and sleep in complete darkness and be completely unable to wake up in the morning, until I started leaving my blinds open just enough for the sunlight to pour in every morning and the light wakes me up - even on overcast days. I used to snooze my alarm for at least half an hour, and now I actually wake up before my alarm goes off.

I'm still not a morning person, but at least I don't feel groggy getting out of bed and starting my day. It was an unintentional transition, but I do notice that my a.m.'s have been a lot more tolerable.
posted by ohmy at 2:06 PM on October 4, 2012

Response by poster: You get 8 hours of sleep and snooze for an hour and a half. Does that mean 8+1.5, or is the 1.5 included in the 8?

The 1.5 is included in the 8. I think "hour and a half" was a bit of hyperbole. Maybe it's actually 45 minutes.

How do you sleep without it?

I do not, for all intents and purposes. I've had getting-to-sleep issues forever and without melatonin, I'd just be laying in bed and staring at the ceiling until 3 A.M.
posted by griphus at 2:08 PM on October 4, 2012

Do you have a smartphone? It sounds a bit strange, but I find that the one thing I feel like doing early in the morning while in bed is browsing on my phone -- and the harsh light of the phone then wakes me up further until I feel like I can get out of bed. It's a little something I can look forward to in the morning besides the having to get ready for work rush.

My partner is invaluable in this regard, because he usually climbs on top of me in the morning and won't get off until I agree to go shower/get up. He's rather unusually patient though.
posted by peacheater at 2:09 PM on October 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

Oh, another connection I've made that helped me is that late-night noises that don't wake me up can still detract from the quality of my sleep. I have mostly solved that problem to my satisfaction with earplugs (NB: there is a high likelihood that you will become dependent on them, so keep that in mind). Same deal with light and sleep masks.
posted by invitapriore at 2:11 PM on October 4, 2012

Can you adjust bedtime/alarm time so you can get 8 hours before your alarm first goes off? (you knew that was going to be my follow up suggestion.)
posted by teragram at 2:12 PM on October 4, 2012

I'm forced to be a morning person and the deal have to go to bed wayyy earlier than you want to. If you need to sleep 8 or more hours, like I do, you have to factor in the 'winding down before sleeping' and 'actual going to sleep times' in there. It's terrible but it's the only thing that works- bore the shit out of yourself to go to bed early, get up early, now you are also up early on weekends and conditioned to go to sleep early. It's a drag, but it works.
posted by bquarters at 2:14 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about accepting that you're not a morning person, and building your life around the way you actually are, instead of trying to fit yourself into a morning person's mold? There are plenty of jobs that don't require starting work at 9 AM. I'm an extreme anti-morning person as well, and I finally gave up trying to work 9-5 jobs and am much (MUCH, MUCH,**MUCH**) happier now.

As for gaining weight, nuts are great for that because they are portable and keep well, and you can nibble throughout the day, adding up to quite a few calories. At home you can keep avocados and add a slice or two to nearly everything. Lots of calories from "good" fat, delicious, and versatile.
posted by parrot_person at 2:14 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: ...and building your life around the way you actually are, instead of trying to fit yourself into a morning person's mold?

I've actually tried this! I've had numerous jobs starting at weird hours and ending at weird hours. What happens is that "morning" just becomes a relative thing where I still have trouble getting up, but now it is at 4 PM instead of 7 AM. Also, it totally fucks up my social life as most of my friends are working some semblance of 9-5.
posted by griphus at 2:16 PM on October 4, 2012

At one point, I found that taking a 5 mg tablet of Melatonin made me groggy in the morning, so I switched to taking half a tablet and was able to sleep basically as well but with less grogginess in the morning.
posted by kate blank at 2:18 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

IANAD, but I think it's the hitting snooze for so long that's doing it.

I notice that if I get up literally the second my alarm gets off (as in, alam goes, I swing my legs out of bed and immediately stand up), I wake up faster and feel much, much better than if I lie in bed doing that horrible drowsing-but-not-quite-asleep thing for hours. Sacrifice the instant payoff. Maybe you should get one of those sleep cycle apps for your phone and see if you can set the alarm for a good point in your cycle, then try getting up as soon as you hear it.

Otherwise, perhaps you could try setting your wake up time for an hour or so earlier, so you have more time before you have to leave the house to potter around and wake up properly? Some people just need more time to charge up.
posted by fight or flight at 2:19 PM on October 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

If it is not grogginess but genuine morning specific hatred, then I don't know what to tell you about getting up because the things that get me out of bed are warm showers and having breakfast because if I can't be sleeping at least I can be delightfully warm and god damn I will do just about anything for a feast. Even exercise.

What motivates you several hours later to not be anguished? What do you look forward to once you are out of the anguish mode?
posted by skrozidile at 2:24 PM on October 4, 2012

Ugh, this is me too. It sucks.

The newest thing I'm trying (after setting my iPhone to six different alarm sounds, ringing every 15 minutes... and turning them all off in my sleep) is my brand new clock radio set to either loud-ass reggaeton (Peppy! But kind of annoying first thing in the morning!) or NPR, which activates my brain by thinking about whatever they're talking about.

Fingers crossed this works. I'm only on day 2.
posted by functionequalsform at 2:28 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

A few things:
You might tinker with scaling back the melatonin a bit.
Consider getting a sunrise clock (like a light box, but it gradually brightens to bring you out of REM gently)
Stop with the snoozing. When the alarm goes off, GET UP.

Have you been evaluated for possible sleep apnea? Do you ever feel rested in the morning?
posted by canine epigram at 2:36 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Two ideas:

1. Wake up to a sound that you REALLY HATE and can't turn off without being fully conscious. It's possible you may even train yourself to start waking up before the alarm just to avoid it.

2. Maybe stretch in bed when you wake up? If you do a YouTube search for "bed stretch," lots of videos come up. Since you don't actually have to get out of bed and many of these stretches are pretty gentle, it may make it easier to wake up gradually and get out of bed when you're done.
posted by chickenmagazine at 2:36 PM on October 4, 2012

I've had getting-to-sleep issues forever and without melatonin, I'd just be laying in bed and staring at the ceiling until 3 A.M.

If you are still having srs insomnia issues you should maybe switch up your ADHD meds.
posted by elizardbits at 2:38 PM on October 4, 2012

How do you do if it's a vacation and not work? As in, if you have to get up for a drive or get onto an airplane?

What I used to do was set my clocks earlier (this was before cellphones -- all my house clocks were set at least 5 minutes earlier than real time). I was the 7 minute shower person, but I had to have that extra coffee/bathroom thinking time before that all took place. I am the "if you need to leave at 8:00, tell me you need to leave at 7:30" sort of person when we go on trips.

The time is relative. If I have to be somewhere in the morning, I will get up and do it. I may not enjoy it, but I will do it. I have done it at 4:00 a.m. and I have done it at 6:00 a.m. and I have done it at 7:00 a.m. My husband starts work at 9:00 a.m. but he gets up at 6:00 a.m. to have time to himself. I guess it depends on your priorities, you can train your body to get up at any time as long as it's important to you.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:40 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think the snooze is counterproductive. You don't like waking up, but you're making yourself do it more and building more grouch and unhappiness when you hit that snooze button!

I almost always wake on my own now, same time every day (unfortunately weekends too), but for days that I really need to be up by a certain time I started using a timer on the tv to wake me, set to a morning show, and keeping the remote out of reach. It's a slower, less harsh wakeup and I can watch in bed for a few minutes while I wake up.
posted by mrs. taters at 2:42 PM on October 4, 2012

I used to be like this (from my teens through mid twenties). The main thing for me was to recognize that I didn't wake up immediately at an alarm and it took almost two hours to 'wake up', so I had to factor that into my alarm time. In practical terms this means my first alarm is set for 3 hours before I need to leave the house. I set multiple alarms on my phone about 20 minutes apart over the course of an hour or so, and around the 1.5 hour mark alarms on the other side of the room (like someone suggested upthread, set to the radio on static and very loud). By the time that one was going off, I was awake enough from the previous alarms to not sleep through it.

I also learned during the same time period that my natural sleep cycle is about 4 hours long and I am naturally inclined to wake up very easily after 4 hours, but if I wake up at 6 or 7 hours I am a horrible mean person and very groggy and don't really get going for the entire day. So now I 'chunk' my sleep out over the course of a 36 hour period into 4 hour segments. This works for me because I have a weird work schedule (live on the US west coast, work primarily with western europe, so I am often in the office at 3AM), but it might not work so well in your case. I also had to train myself to fall asleep faster, which sucked. Earplugs helped.
posted by par court at 2:45 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you have an iPhone? I hate mornings a lot, too, but the sleep cycle apps that fight or flight mentioned above have made a difference for me. I use one called (wait for it) Sleep Cycle. Bonus is that I really like the sounds you can pick for the alarm and it also wakes you up with a bright screen.

Another alarm clock you might look into is the Zen Alarm Clock. (The model I have is the Digital Zen Alarm clock.) Basically a bell chimes gradually for about 10 minutes, going from once every few minutes to once every couple of seconds. What's nice about it is that you get a built-in snooze as soon as it goes off, the wake up is slow and the bell isn't jarring. My partner hates it because she gets up after me, and the whole ten minutes of bell things wakes her up, however, it sounds like you're the one that gets up last so it may work. There are apps that simulate this (I sometimes use one called, even more creative than the last, "Alarm Clock") so you could give it a shot and upgrade to the real thing if you like it.

Pressing the snooze button more than once makes me really drag; I can't say I'll ever be a morning person but finding a better alarm clock worked for me. I absolutely can't stand obnoxious alarms and hiding them across the room doesn't work for me, I'd rather just wake up to something pleasant. And seconding the laying in bed looking at the phone to wake up gradually, I look forward to reading the morning news and checking my e-mail enough that I can talk myself into doing it even if I don't have to get up, and it generally leads to me being too awake to fall back asleep.
posted by thesocietyfor at 2:48 PM on October 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I wish I could find it now, but there was an article I read about 3 years ago that talked about how getting up immediately when your alarm goes off simply takes practice. As in, go into your bedroom right now, set the alarm to go off in a minute, when it does, get up out of the bed instantly, reset the alarm, and keep practicing until it becomes a natural response to your alarm going off.

I am personally not a huge morning person but I've recently started getting up an hour earlier than usual to go swimming before work, and I've found that to be a lot easier than I expected. I think part of it is that when I get up I put my bathing suit on under my clothes, so I have already committed to swimming. And part of it is that swimming is about the most pleasant exercise I've ever encountered. And the other part of it is that if I get my ass into the pool on time, I get the reward of sitting in the hot tub after my workout for about ten minutes. Which is a damn fine thing to do first thing in the morning, and I find that I arrive at work completely ready to face the day, which never happened before.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:54 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing the dump the snooze habit. When I did that it made it much harder to get moving. Now I listen to 10 minutes of NPR - enough to become reasonably conscious and then get up. As soon as I move the cats are all excited about breakfast?! now?! and that's pretty much the end of being permitted to sleep. Your dog mus be WAY mellower than my cats about being FED NOW.

My son, who is also not a morning person and needs to gain weight drinks a protein shake in the mornings - seems to help him be functional in the first half of the day.
posted by leslies at 2:56 PM on October 4, 2012

I am the girlfriend here.

I am a morning person. I no longer "help" griphus wake up early because it turns into nagging. Which ruins the morning for both of us.

Thank you all for the suggestions and keep them coming!
posted by Blisterlips at 2:57 PM on October 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

The article rabbitrabbit's talking about is this one by Steve Pavlina.

(I have not tried this method, but I have the morning snooze/rage blackout problem too. In the winter, a sunrise alarm clock helps. I agree that non-obnoxious alarms are better. If I can get myself to drink a bunch of water as soon as I'm half awake, that helps too.)
posted by clavicle at 3:05 PM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Co-q-10 in the morning can help chemically wake up your brain.

You also might consider over-the-counter digestive enzymes to help you gain weight and ease your tummy issues. Gaining weight did a world of good for my chronic insomniac son who was too thin most of his life. Digestive enzymes played a key role (in his case, they were prescribed by a doctor).
posted by Michele in California at 3:12 PM on October 4, 2012

What about drinking a big glass of water either before bed or when your alarm goes off? When you have to go to the bathroom, stay out of bed.
posted by kat518 at 3:15 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was like this my entire adult life until about a year ago. Here's what helps me:

* Immediately upon waking up, I grab my laptop and do some e-mail. That gets my brain engaged.

* I take 1mg of melatonin at night. I used to take 3mg, but that seems to have been too much, and left me groggy the next day.

* Really really really try to get off your laptop at the end of the day. I hate this part, but I've found that using my laptop somehow translates in my brain to "it is daytime." I assume it's the light.

* Try to force yourself to eat in the morning. I can barely stomach any morning foods, and am not naturally hungry until about 2PM. But I find if I drink orange juice in the morning and eat a bagel with butter before 11, my whole day shifts: I eat earlier = I sleep earlier.

* Try to create the conditions so you know it's morning before you wake up -- for me that means leaving the window open at night. The traffic and sirens etc. in the morning wake me up gradually. The sun will help also, so open your blinds too.

Good luck. It's a terrible problem: I feel your pain :-)
posted by Susan PG at 3:15 PM on October 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

The only thing that has helped me is an alarm clock app called Sleep If U Can (Android, not sure about iPhone). You take a picture with your phone beforehand, and the only way to turn off the alarm is to take the same photo again. No snooze.

I've set the required photo to the bathroom sink, so by the time the alarm is off, I can go straight to the shower.

I was a chronic snoozer too, but after 3 weeks of the new alarm, I'm waking up naturally right before it goes off.
posted by hwyengr at 3:16 PM on October 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

You need Wake and Shake, an iPhone app that literally sounds like someone is being mauled by a bear and forces you to shake it vigorously for a minute or so before it goes off.

My boyfriend can sleep through damn near anything and regularly did several hours of snooze each morning before he got this. Works like a charm, though speaking as the person sleeping next to him, I sometimes have half-remembered mauling-related dreams.
posted by ella wren at 3:17 PM on October 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

I am also a person who cannot gain weight nor wake up in the morning.

Nthing the Sleep Cycle gives you a chart showing how much you moved during the night, so I'm motivated to look at those stats when the alarm goes off.
I also can get up if someone has prepared a nice warm breakfast or cup or tea. Especially if I just sleepwalk into the common room and sit curled in a blanket while sipping and slowly eating.
Responsibility can do it too, so maybe get your dog used to peeing at that time, and you be the one responsible for letting him out.
posted by whalebreath at 3:24 PM on October 4, 2012

Oh -- three more things:

* You need to actually wake yourself up, when you get up. You need your brain engaged. If you're not feeling awake til midway through your commute, your body is going to want to wake up *then* the next day. If that's 9, then 8 will always feel bad.

* It can help to have a funny/odd/meaningful ringtone for your alarm. I tried lots of alarms -- the gradually-louder type, the gradually-brighter type, and the godawful annoying type. I slept through the first two, and the last put me in a bad, jangled space for hours, which made me resentful and self-pitying. Now I use "interesting" sounds on my phone -- jungle birds, spacey echoing sounds. For whatever reason this too engages my brain and helps me wake up.

* Having one drink (alcohol) right before bed can help too. I do that when I have to get up at a really ungodly hour. But I find I need to fall asleep within a half-hour of finishing the drink, otherwise the sleepy effect wears off and I backlash into total wakefulness. This happens to me on night flights: if I can't fall asleep after one glass of wine, I am screwed for the entire flight.
posted by Susan PG at 3:27 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you thought about a commitment contract? There is a website ( where you set your goals and then put money on the line in the form of a donation to a hateful cause if you don't meet your goal. For example, say you are a Republican. On the website you commit to donating some amount of money to President Obama's re-election campaign if you fail to achieve the goal you set (e.g., lose weight, decrease smoking). The contribution to the hateful cause happens because you have registered your credit card and the amount to be donated with the site when you establish your goal. You can also nominte a referee to help keep you from cheating.

I haven't used it personally, but it seems like putting money and a cause you hate together could help motivate change. Of course, you can cheat, but why? This is *your* goal you're working toward.
posted by jasper411 at 3:31 PM on October 4, 2012

Here is what worked for me: Find an exercise class that meets early. 6:30 or 7 a.m. Pay for it in advance. (Expensive is better in this case, for the motivation.) Lay out your workout clothes the night before. Wake up ungodly early. Sleepwalk through getting dressed and getting to class. Exercise. (Outside is nice.)

Being done with your workout at 8 am is one of the finest feelings in the world.
posted by purpleclover at 3:39 PM on October 4, 2012

Does Apple sleep in your bed? My husband thinks he might not be getting quality sleep because of the restlessness of our dog in the bed.
posted by spec80 at 3:46 PM on October 4, 2012

I am also a groggy, not fully functional morning person, and I just get up earlier to give myself time to fully wake up. So I wake up at about 6:30 to be ready to leave at 8:30. Only about half an hour of that is actual preparation time. I wake up, take a shower, noodle around on the internet or read for about 45 minutes, put on my clothes and fix my hair, make my tea, tidy up, mess around on the internet some more, then leave at 8:30. This makes me feel better about getting up and getting ready since I know I'll have some "me time" before heading into work, and the me time is more important/interesting than an extra hour of fitful sleep/dozing.
posted by yasaman at 4:00 PM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I seem to recall a study that said melatonin was effective for most people at incredibly small doses, much lower that the standard commercial dose. How much are you taking right now? Have you tried cutting it in half for a week?
posted by barnone at 4:07 PM on October 4, 2012

Seconding everyone talking about figuring out your personal sleep cycle. When left to my own devices, I sleep ten hours a night, every night. Sleeping eight hours makes me pissy and cranky and groggy. But six and a half and I pop out of bed, more or less functional (although definitely in sleep deficit, which becomes apparent after a very few days of it.) It's all about figuring out the lighter points in your sleep cycle and waking yourself then.

Also, a sleep study might be useful if you haven't done that. Sleep apnea is no joke, and - despite common wisdom - does not necessarily have a thing to do with body weight. My dad has terrible apnea because, according to his doctor, he has a really big tongue.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:18 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

No snooze, and getting up earlier, is working for me; "no snooze" is actually one of my goals on HealthMonth for October. I have horrible mornings if I get up at 7 (need to be on the freeway by 7:45), but getting up at 5:45 somehow makes things work better.
posted by catlet at 4:41 PM on October 4, 2012

I overcame the snooze button back in university by setting my alarm clock time 2 hours fast (and adjusting the alarm time as well). I would wake up, go to turn off the alarm, see "9am", freak the fuck out because I was going to be late for class/work/whatever, jump out of bed, and then once I was actually awake remember that it was really 7am and carry on with my day in a normal fashion. I also used one alarm clock beside the bed, and an extra one across the room, set 10-15 minutes later.

Once I got into the habit, waking up quickly got a lot easier. Now, as long as my schedule is regular, I have no problems. (If my wakeup time is variable or I don't have morning commitments, I still snooze and get grumpy.)
posted by snorkmaiden at 5:12 PM on October 4, 2012

I skip breakfast -- how are people hungry before 11 A.M.? -- which is bad because I need to gain weight. I have a fast metabolism and we're doing the no-simple-carb thing. The diet keeps my chronic stomach issues at bay but also makes it difficult for me to keep on weight. [...] Exercise is ... on the table. I really need to exercise. I know.

I would make exercise your top priority. I have the same problem, and the thing that's made the biggest difference for me is barbell training. On training days sleep takes care of itself -- not only do I get tired early, it's a full-body kind of tired that leads to deep and immediate sleep, and thus to getting up faster in the morning -- and if I'm going to the gym three times a week I tend to get better sleep on off days, too. This also helps with the eating thing, because it revs your appetite up.

I'd suggest a compound-lift beginner's program like Starting Strength or Stronglifts. If you can, get a workout partner and arrange to meet before work M/W/F; that way you have to get up early or you're letting someone down, you can channel your morning grumps/groggies into your workout, and your breakfast can just be a quick whey protein shake. Grab a bucket of slow-absorbing casein powder, too, and make a shake every night right before bed.

If exercise in the morning just won't work, you can do it in the evening. The main goal is to wear yourself out in a way that'll also address your hard-gainer issues. Pretty much nothing pays off the way exercise does... good luck!
posted by vorfeed at 5:37 PM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I share your pain. The ONLY things that together work for me:
  • Half a 5 mg melatonin pill (the full dose makes me feel like death when waking up unless it's a day I can sleep in)
  • Going to bed 2 hrs before I need to be asleep (1 hr for reading, 1 hr for actually falling asleep because it's usually super-hard for me)
  • Have the coffee pot ready to go, and just needing to be turned on
  • Bag packed, clothes picked out, lunch made
  • Sound machine app on my phone (I'm partial to rainfall)
And then, in the morning, like some others suggested, I check my mail and Facebook from my phone in bed because the light wakes me up. If I get up when I'm supposed, I'll have time for coffee MeFi. When I was younger, I used to just get up, brush my teeth, get dressed and go, but nowadays, I need more time to get my head together before venturing out into public where folks expect me to be coherent at 8am. I agree that I would cut down on the snooze button time.
posted by smirkette at 5:52 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just started my first real 9-5 job and it took me almost a month to really get into the schedule.

1) You might need more than 8 hours of sleep. I find 9 is optimal for me.

2) I love the snooze, esp. on weekends, but if you hit it for 90 minutes then you're not getting good deep sleep during that time. I've settled on one snooze 15 minutes before I actually have to get up. This is enough that I feel like I'm getting a tiny bit extra sleep, but I'm also getting quality sleep almost up until wake-up time.

3) I eat breakfast, just a quick bowl of cereal or toast. It takes me less than ten minutes to eat. I eat quickly but not scarfing. I can get dressed, put on makeup, eat and out the door in 25 minutes. It does help wake up my metabolism. I'm not hungry in the morning either, but I'm usually crabby for longer if I don't give my body food to wake it up.

4) Even with all this stuff, it takes about 30-45 minutes for me to be really awake. I take public transit to work, and it's great to be able to have that time to let my brain just wander and wake up more. If you drive in right now, it might help to switch if you can.
posted by nakedmolerats at 5:57 PM on October 4, 2012

I ponied up my five bucks to ask a similar question. (Though I don't use the snooze button.) Responses were helpful!
posted by mlle valentine at 5:57 PM on October 4, 2012

Try to eat as soon as you wake up. How are people hungry before 11 A.M.? Our bodies are used to eating before 11 A.M.

Since you are not used to it start small, eating a little something even if you aren't hungry. If you can keep that up for a while you will start to wake up hungry. It isn't necessarily fun but it gets me out of bed most mornings. (The next trick is making sure you have breakfast food you want around).

The other thing that has worked for me is feeding the cats as soon as I wake up. As I just said in another thread, they're like alarm clocks with no snooze button. You could start feeding your dog or taking her for a walk at the same early time every morning. She will likely learn that schedule and use various means to convince you stick to it.
posted by mountmccabe at 7:40 PM on October 4, 2012

Of course you will want to consider your dog's personality and if you expect she would wake you up by nuzzling you, giving you a big slobbery kiss or something like starting to bark and chew up your shoes.
posted by mountmccabe at 7:44 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm much more alert at work when I ride my bike in or go to a really early class at the gym. It's possible by adding that to your schedule you'll be more tired at night and sleep more soundly.
posted by Bunglegirl at 7:59 PM on October 4, 2012

Two weeks ago, I could have posted a good 55% of this question. (Not the problems going to sleep part, but definitely the 'I hate mornings').

I changed my alarm clock. It's now one of those Zen Alarms where it rings a chime in a progression.

I don't hit the snooze button anymore because I haven't been shaken awake. I'll make more changes, but my mornings are an easy 6:30am wakeup instead of an oh god it's 8:20-urgh.
posted by msamye at 8:37 PM on October 4, 2012

I've had some success with the Steve Paulina method - haven't actually practicised physically, but spending time mentally visualising what I'll do when my alarm goes off. It was also helpful to record my sleep patterns with a Sleeptracker watch and understand them a bit better.
posted by paduasoy at 11:02 PM on October 4, 2012

I was totally you, and I'm not now, but honestly the only thing that really changed it was having kids.

However, I would nth those who have mentioned drinking lots of water. This helped me a lot before kids - I think a huge amount of morning grogginess is down to dehydration.
posted by iotic at 11:22 PM on October 4, 2012

I am also not a morning person (cough, understatement). I've been trying some things lately that help me get up and to work without being overly cranky.

I drink a glass of water right before I go to bed. If my bladder is full in the morning, I don't mess around with the snooze alarm as much. If I get the timing right, I wake up a few minutes before my alarm, which is oddly satisfying. I can just turn it off and think, "I didn't need you today."

When I lie down, I think of at least a couple reasons to get up and moving in the morning that are good for me. They are totally selfish reasons and not something I need to do for someone else. The simplest of these is that I'll feel better and not be rushing out the door in a panic to catch public transit on time. I can get to the bus stop and enjoy reading for a bit outside.

I've been using a biofeedback trick a counselor taught me in college (mentally do a "my right/left limb is warm and heavy" mantra for each limb, belly, etc helps to physically relax more). I think the consciously relaxing more and not going through my endless to-do lists for home and work just as I'm drifting off helps me to get better sleep.

I can appreciate how other folks might want food in the morning, but I don't even want to see it until I'm hungry, so I understand what you're saying there. When I do get hungry, it's generally for savory things instead of sweet. Perhaps a breakfasty/brunchy food that's less traditionally American might appeal to you and would help you achieve your desired weight.

(I read a lot of the sleep hygiene threads here and still struggle. I appreciate folks here talking about this and not just dismissing the night-owls or just saying take Ambien or whatever pill.)
posted by lilywing13 at 12:58 AM on October 5, 2012

Does melatonin generally have a hangover/zombie effect on users the next morning? Are there alternatives? Is this something you can look into?

When I was at university I had hideous insomnia - think regularly tossing and turning till 5 or 6am, and I tried a number of sleep aids, though not melatonin. I found that with a lot of them, I was a zombie even after eight or even ten hours sleep.

I hate waking up but have gotten much better at since posting a similar question in 2010. I try to fill my mornings with good stuff, none of which I can actually enjoy unless I get my ass out of bed on time. If I get up on time, I am able to have a coffee, wash my hair, check my email and Facebook, and not have to sprint to the station. Positive reinforcement. And one major negative reinforcement in that I got a new job where latecomers were not looked upon kindly.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:22 AM on October 5, 2012

I tried the Steve Pavlina method someone mentioned above. It worked. For a while, anyway.

Another time I gave my husband a spray bottle of water to keep on his side of the bed, and the instructions to start squirting me with it if I didn't get up right away when my alarm went off. That was pretty motivating.

I'm not saying it was FUN. But although I love love love the snooze (and indulge until the early afternoon on Saturdays), I do find I am more awake and lively and even happier in the mornings if I get up without repeatedly hitting that damn button.

And you'll find you get better quality sleep if you don't rob yourself of an hour and a half of it every morning. Start setting your actual first and only alarm for 8:10, find a spray bottle if need be, and be done with it. The extra benefit is it makes you really appreciate weekends :)
posted by lollusc at 6:32 AM on October 5, 2012

I feel like eating breakfast has made me more of a morning person. So seriously, try eating breakfast. Even if you're not hungry. Although, also, you can make yourself hungry: just stop eating several hours before you go to bed. Or skip dinner. When you wake up, pour yourself some coffee and eat an egg, or a chicken breast, or some cheese, or whatever. Digestion and circadian rhythms are linked.
posted by mskyle at 7:57 AM on October 5, 2012

Oh, one other thing. I see you're winding down exciting activities before bedtime -- does that include lights and screens? I have delayed sleep phase syndrome (which means trouble getting good sleep, which exacerbates the morning rage), and my sleep therapist's Number One piece of sleep hygiene advice for me was to turn off all the overhead lights and close the laptop (which also has f.lux running on it) by 9pm at the absolute latest for an 11pm target bedtime. This is hard, but it works.
posted by clavicle at 8:04 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by lalochezia at 8:22 AM on October 5, 2012

Definitely 2nding vorfeed! If you want to get to sleep better and wake up better, there is nothing like weight training and/or (for me) Bikram Yoga. As s/he recommended above, Starting Strength is a great intro barbell training book.

When you are doing intense exercise, the sleep problem solves itself. This works better than any fancy alarm clock. Plus... there are those other 100 million benefits to exercise...
posted by kellybird at 8:54 AM on October 5, 2012

I have a horribly loud alarm clock that's sitting one floor below me, next to a glass of water. It does not shut up (it's one of those old fashioned ones with two round bells on top). To make it stop, I have to walk, climb down the stairs, and get to the living room. Then I make myself drink the cold glass of water. Then I feel like fuck it, I'm awake, I might as well start my day.

I give myself two hours to get ready for work, which includes ample time to fuck around and eat breakfast like an English lord, which I enjoy. I try to go to bed at 9:30 and read until I fall asleep.
posted by Tarumba at 11:24 AM on October 5, 2012

My brother-in-law got hypnotized for this issue. He was the same way w.r.t. snooze buttoning it for an hour, and he said the morning after the session, his alarm went off, he swung his feet out of bed, stood up, and said, "WHOA." He also said it wore off after a few months, so he goes for refresher sessions periodically.
posted by disconnect at 11:47 AM on October 5, 2012

Drinking a large glass of water before bed can help. Even if the need to pee isn't enough to wake you up, it will mean you aren't as deeply asleep and also have a compelling reason to get out of bed.

Another idea is to set two levels of alarms. My first alarm to go off is my very quiet watch alarm. If I wake up and turn it off, I can then turn off my insanely loud cell phone alarm before it goes off a minute later. The cell phone alarm is so loud, and I hate it so much, that turning it off (going through several layers of menus on the screen) feels like defusing a bomb, and I even get an adrenalin rush from it. I am very awake after completing this simple but time-sensitive task.

It might be worth it to find out how long a sleep cycle is for you. For instance, if I take a nap, I wake up almost exactly three hours later, every time. I also feel less groggy when I wake up after six hours than seven, so it might even be worth getting a bit less sleep if you can find a time to wake up that matches up with a time when you are in a light sleep.
posted by starfishprime at 7:08 AM on October 6, 2012

I'm also one of these people. I'm fascinated by the idea that hypnosis might work! That's awesome! Nthing the dehydration issue with anecdata: I recently had a procedure done that required me to drink a gallon of water the day before. Despite going to bed at 2am and peeing every 2 hours between then and 8am, I was truly refreshed and rested at 8. Usually I feel like someone has stuffed my brain cavity too tightly with horsehair and then dipped me in lead.

Something else that worked for me is sleep phase chronotherapy. This requires that you be able to work from home for about a week to do the initial forward-shifting, and it only sticks until you break the habit (by getting the flu, in my case). But it did allow my body to pretend that 7am was a totally reasonable time to get out of bed. YMMV, as usual.
posted by katya.lysander at 2:45 PM on October 6, 2012

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