Problems getting up in the morning. Very frustrated!
May 15, 2015 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Lately, I have been caught in a very frustrating chain. Sometimes I wonder why I even set my alarm, because I always smack the snooze, often multiple times, and usually wake up at a less than desirable time, feeling bad about it.

I know I have a choice whether to get up or not, but I don't know if it's the medication I'm on, or laziness, or whatever, but I just have extreme problems getting up. I was thinking that I don't want to get up and face the day since my bed is a place of comfort, so I go back to bed, and then feel horrible that I did it. I am making the same mistake on a daily basis, which doesn't even make it a mistake anymore, but a choice. Right now I am at a point where I feel I have little or no control over this which is not an empowering feeling. I don't want to give myself permission to sleep this much. I don't want it to become the norm.

I have looked all over for tips on how to beat this, but I know that the solution can only come from within. My goal is to sleep for seven to eight hours a night. Not the nine to eleven that I am getting. I notice that when i get five or six hours (on a work day), I feel much better than when I get too much sleep. Is this strange? Does anyone else feel like they need to make a herculean effort to get out of bed in the morning? The first thing I do is look at the clock and think ‘Oh, I can sleep for fifteen more minutes’. I want to stop doing this, because it snowballs. Even when it’s near noon, I still want to stay in bed, not because I’m tired but because I’m so overcome with inertia from deciding to continue sleeping.

I am not in a good way right now. I am not feeling good about my actions and am feeling like a weak person for continuing to do them. I may be a sleep addict, but I want to shake this. Any advice would be extremely helpful.
posted by Thanquol180 to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to consult with a sleep clinic to find out if there are problems with the quality of sleep that you are getting. Not all sleep is equal.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:39 AM on May 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

I notice that when i get five or six hours (on a work day), I feel much better than when I get too much sleep. Is this strange?

Not in the slightest. I'm comfortable with anywhere from five to eight, but if I get more than that, ugggh.

Do you wake up in the middle of the night at all? That could be throwing you off (and you may not even realize it).
posted by Etrigan at 10:40 AM on May 15, 2015

Getting out of bed when the alarm goes off is a learnable skill, like driving or cooking. Some people are always going to be better at it than others, of course, and some people just naturally find it easier than others. But doing it habitually makes you better at it. Barring sleep disorders, of course, you just need to do it every day such that it just feels normal to get up as soon as the alarm goes off. I used to be a snooze-hitter but at some point I just got so fed up with it that I made it not an option. So take that option off the table. For one month, you turn off the alarm and stand up immediately. You shower, or drink coffee, or do whatever you do first thing in the morning. You want to get to a point where you don't think about it, you just do it. You don't have to like it, and you can pretend you're a robot if it helps, fake it until you make it. One foot in front of the other. Every morning. Eventually it will be a habit.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:44 AM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Have you tried practicing waking up?

Maybe if you can get in the habit when you responsible brain is active, it will be harder for your morning-bed-is-comfy-brain to override?
posted by sparklemotion at 10:52 AM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

When I was oversleeping like this, it was a sign of sleep apnea.
posted by wintersweet at 11:00 AM on May 15, 2015

Could this be a symptom of depression? You sound angry at yourself and less than thrilled about going to work.
posted by yarntheory at 11:01 AM on May 15, 2015

Try the following for 30 days: drink no caffeine, drink no alcohol, drink a lot of water, and go to bed at the same time every day (probably 9:30-11pm, depending on when you need to get up). You could also try doing some exercise in the morning, like running for 15 minutes. Try to keep it up for 30 days. I think a sleep specialistic is going to tell you to do something like this, to reset your rhythms.
posted by deathpanels at 11:06 AM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Don't underestimate whether it could simply be habit. In college and immediately later I was a multiple snooze alarm sort of person. But at the same time, I never had a job with hard deadlines at that time. And if I blew off a class, there wasn't any large immediate repercussion. At the same point, in high school on the weekends I was a life guard who usually opened the pool at 5:45am on the weekends. I was 5 minutes late, once during two years. So clearly I was capable of waking up.

Currently, I set my alarm (pebble watch; vibration, no sound) earlier than my wife's alarm so I can get up, feed and walk the dogs, and then get back in time to "wake up" and have morning coffee with my wife. This allows me a reasonable about of time to have a morning run later, which I want. If I don't wake up early, and instead actually wake up with my wife, feed and walk the dogs after we have coffee and I don't have enough time for a run, which I currently think sucks.

After a few times of setting my alarm, thinking a strong "Yay, thank you body for waking up. We'll have a great run today." and then getting up has trained my body so it's no longer difficult or tempting to hit the snooze on my alarm (and that snooze is only 2 minutes long!). As much as I'm not a morning person, there's something I want from getting up.

Find something that you really want to do by getting up earlier; that will make it easier to train yourself. Remove from your brain the "option" of hitting snooze; you will get up no matter how much it sucks. And you'll thank yourself for it. And that thanks will make it easier to make the habit.
posted by nobeagle at 11:35 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've always struggled with getting up in the morning. I'm a night owl. Aside from making unwise negotiations with the snooze alarm with time I don't have to spare, my primary problem is turning off my alarm without waking up enough to acknowledge I need to get up. The only solution for me is to keep my alarm clock in the bathroom so I physically have to leave my blanket cocoon to turn it off.

Also, don't set your alarm with enough time to fit in a snooze cycle (even the kind that leaves you rushing). You want there to be no other option than to get up and get moving.
posted by cecic at 11:36 AM on May 15, 2015

I use an iPhone app called Sleep Cycle. You put the phone on the bed near you; the app uses the phone's accelerometer to monitor your motion while you sleep, and wakes you with gentle music when you're already almost awake, within a configurable period just before the time you set.

It works really well, and more to the point here it shows a graph of your sleep quality each night which can be illuminating – e.g. here's my sleep last night, as you can see it was deep until 5 when the goddamn cat got me up for food, and then I got back to sleep about 6 and the app woke me up gradually at about 8.

My other tip, which I've given here before and use when I absolutely have to get up early e.g. to catch a plane: get a loud wind-up alarm clock with a real bell and put it in the bathroom sink. The bell in the sink is incredibly loud, and once you're at the sink you might as well wash your face, and then you're awake.
posted by nicwolff at 11:41 AM on May 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

Of course it could be any of the things people have suggested, so this is just another idea!

There's an idea that we all have an amount of sleep we need every night, and if you get less than that then it adds up to a 'sleep debt', which leave you feeling sleepy during the day and you need to make it up at some point. The book I read about this (a very good book, but old now: The Promise of Sleep ) suggested a period of learning about and resetting your sleep debt. I believe it suggested committing to getting at least 10 hours of sleep (or restful lying in dark silence in bed) per night for at least two weeks. That's extreme, but it's short term. The idea is that at the end of that period you should have 'paid off' a lot of your sleep debt and you can make conscious choices about how you manage your sleep in the future.

The reason I think this could be useful for you is that you say you get 5-6 hours of sleep per night on work nights - that's a pretty small amount and most people (not all, but the vast majority) could do with more. When you lose the absolute imperative of having to get up for work you just don't have enough motivation to get out of bed because your sleep debt is so crushing. If you can reduce that debt and even out your sleep times a bit you'll probably find it easier to get up.

Personally, I would try to do the two week sleep reset - go to bed early enough to get 10 hours of good sleep before getting up for work. Do this every day. Aim to get up at the same time each day (it's good sleep hygiene). After two weeks, gradually slip your bedtime later until you hit the sweet spot where you can get up and feel OK, but you're not lying in bed awake for large portions of the night (which is what happens when you truly get enough sleep every night). You should then find it much easier to get up when you don't have to go to work. You'll also have a bigger margin of error - if you do need to get by on less sleep for a few days it will make you feel less bad.

This was revolutionary for me - I didn't realise that struggling to stay awake in early afternoon seminars wasn't normal and that bouncing out of bed at 7am on a Sunday was possible.

If this doesn't work, it's probably time to think about all the great suggestions you have about sleep disorders.
posted by kadia_a at 11:48 AM on May 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

I did this sort of thing when I had untreated sleep apnea. Now I've got CPAP and I hit the snooze bar once at most, usually not at all, and I'm rested in about 6-8 hours. I have literally lost the ability to sleep 12-13 hours like I used to on weekends.

Start the process of getting referred to a sleep medicine specialist. Then record yourself sleeping overnight. There are lots of reason for snoring, but only a few reasons for any gasping or breathing interruptions.

These sleep-tracking apps are great, too, but they don't work if you don't obey their chirps and blips to go to bed on time. Give that a try. The other thing is so-called sleep hygiene-- stop eating, drinking, watching TV, or using a computer for an hour before bedtime. It sucks to give up some of those activities, but you can listen to music/podcasts, read books, etc.

The process to get where I am today with CPAP and 7 hour nights was completely worth it. I don't have the wellspring of new energy that some people talk about, but I don't nod off everywhere I go and waking up is easy, where it used to be hard.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:49 AM on May 15, 2015

Weird. This very morning I thought that I should ask this exact question soon.

I always wait until the last second to get out of bed, often meaning that I don't have a chance to shower or eat etc before I leave the house for the day. Sometimes I get up and then get back in bed too.

Sometimes making my coffee brew itself so it smells good when I wake up helps. Not always.

Right now I just pack a granola bar, buy coffee on my way to work, and shower the night before. I have no other solutions to offer you. I just live with it.

I will be watching this thread for suggestions.
posted by sockermom at 12:00 PM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

On the days you hit the snooze button, do you have to work? If not, stop should statements. Sleep as long as your body needs and don't feel guilty.
posted by Fairchild at 1:16 PM on May 15, 2015

I am making the same mistake on a daily basis, which doesn't even make it a mistake anymore, but a choice.

No, it isn't a choice but a habit. It takes a strong and active decision to do differently tomorrow morning than you did the many previous ones. Your morning-self can't be trusted with any such decisions, so you need to change your default action when the alarm rings from "hit snooze" to "go make coffee". Your morning-self can't produce such a change by itself, so you recruit your evening-self for the task. This is what sparklemotion's link is about.

It's very practical: In the evening, you set your alarm 5-10 minutes ahead, lie down in your bed, and when the alarm rings you get up and go to the kitchen. In the evening that's a such a piece of cake that it feels silly, but just do it five or ten times anyways. I used this method a long time ago to reset a bad sleep schedule, and the result was startling. The morning after, I found myself in the kitchen boiling coffee water by the time my sleep-fuzzy mind started to clear up.

That made me realize what a simple creature I am and how other simple habits play into my actions. For example, when I haven't been to the gym in a long time, getting there takes an act of will and I go long stretches without exercise. When I'm in that habit, I often find myself on my way before I've even made a firm decision about whether or not I should go.

I think the method outlined above might be useful more broadly than just to bypass sleepy-you to get yourself out of bed. The principle is: Form a habit when it's easy for you to do so, not when you need the habit in order to do what you otherwise wouldn't. In your case, getting out of bed isn't the only issue, you also tend to go back to bed even after you're fully awake. So maybe you shouldn't restrict your habit-making to waking up, but extend the training to getting into the shower, putting clothes on and getting out of your house? You might feel ridiculous and it will take an hour or two, but what does that matter if it helps you solve your problem?

Also put your clothes out in the evening, pack your bag, and generally have everything prepared to make your morning as simple as possible. You need new paths-of-least-resistance, and those are paths which are straightforward and which you have repeated until you follow them without thinking.
posted by Herr Zebrurka at 1:43 PM on May 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have this exact same problem! I actually did a bunch of research this week and came up with a plan that (I hope) is sustainable and helps me feel like a normal person again. It seemed like the most resounding advice came down to consistent sleep/wake times and NO SNOOZE. I'm pretty lazy by nature and know myself well enough to now that much of the advice out there is too ambitious for me (like, I'm never going to set aside time to "practice" waking up). I have to appeal to my own laziness and love of sleep. So I came up with two big motivators to push me past the two biggest problems:

Getting to bed at a decent time. (This might not apply to you since you say you are already getting too much sleep every night, but I'm leaving it for others with similar issues.) If I love sleep so much and I like being alert and productive at work, why the hell do I push back against bedtime like a defiant toddler? Think about how good your bed feels in the morning and remind your nighttime self about it. Spoil yourself instead of making it a chore. Start looking forward to going to bed the same way you dread getting out of it.

Waking up without hitting the snooze eight bajillion times. This one is a lot harder but if you've gone to bed at a decent time, you're halfway there. For this one, I'm trying to remind myself how annoying it is to get up and deal with an energetic dog first thing before even getting to enjoy a cup of coffee. I get to work late almost every day and usually look like shit because I barely had time to do my hair and makeup, much less shower. So I'm promising myself that I will get up with enough time to enjoy a cup of coffee without doing ANYTHING productive. Just some quiet time to myself to ease into being awake.

Here's my new "routine" to accomplish these things:

1. Some basic sleep hygiene: no caffeine after noon, no more looking at my phone in bed, don't go out on weeknights too often, try to make sure I don't start a movie/tv show that's going to end past bedtime.

2. Aim for 9 hours of sleep OR 7.5 hours. You may have heard the research about the 90 min sleep cycle; this is how a lot of those apps work and I've found I feel better when I wake up in one of these windows of time. I have to wake up at 7, so I'm aiming to be in bed and asleep by 10pm or 11:30pm, whichever makes the most sense for that particular night. 10 is ideal, but there's some flexibility so I don't feel like I've failed if I'm out with friends and get home at 11.

3. Drink some hot tea in the hour before bedtime. Maybe one drink or a small bit of mj if I'm feeling too wired. Take a warm shower if time permits so I don't have to take one in the morning. This is part of my "spoil myself instead of making it a chore" advice. Also if I take a shower at night, that's even more free time in the morning!

4. Download a sleep app similar to the one suggested above and turn it on right when I get in bed so I'm not tempted to check twitter or whatever. If I am woken up gently during a light sleep cycle, it is much easier for me to think clearly enough about my new goals and to remember my comfy robe and cup of coffee and how good it's going to feel to get ready without rushing. Pick a soothing ringtone and set it to fade in. I also set 3 snooze allowances of 5 minutes each just in case. And for some reason, having to click a button that says "I'm awake now" or whatever holds me accountable to not go back to bed. Get out of bed and immediately make coffee (coffee on a timer would be better, but I don't have one).

Hope this helps someone out there who's lazy like I am, but also sick of feeling like a zombie all day!
posted by a.steele at 1:51 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I go through periods of this too. It can be really hard to break out of, especially if I don't necessarily have to be up at a certain time, or if I know that I could get away with skipping whatever I'm getting up early for. The following things have helped me:

x. I have a 500 mL bottle of water next to my bed. I drink half of it before I go to sleep and drink the other half when I wake up.

x. I open my window to let in all the fresh air

x. I make sure my blinds are open before I go to sleep, so that I get some natural light coming into my room once the sun rises.

x. I keep my alarm (my phone) on the other side of the room, so I have to get up to turn it off. I usually include a big stretch (arms towards the ceiling) with this, which helps get the blood flowing.

x. I get into the shower as soon as I can. All I have to do is make it to the shower, and the shower does a lot of the work in waking me up.

But above all, I think that the thing that helps the most is getting into a good routine, so that you'll probably wake up at the right time even without an alarm. I always feel my absolute worst when my alarm wakes me in the middle of a dream, but my absolute best when I wake up when my mind wants me to.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 2:07 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had this problem a few years ago and I actually got fired from my job because of it. Don't be me.
posted by tacodave at 2:38 PM on May 15, 2015

What meds are you on? This is not a personal failure. This is NOT a personal failure. Many, many meds have this side effect, and so does depression, which is NOT under your control.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:51 PM on May 15, 2015

You're not going to feel like getting up as long as you're lying in bed. There's no way to make that happen. On thing that makes it manageable for me is to stretch a lot. Stretching brings more circulation and oxygen to the muscles and helps mitigate the heavy feeling in your limbs.

Another thing that helps: I tell myself that I just need to sit up. The thought of throwing off the covers and standing up is just too much. Don't think about walking to the bathroom, washing up, or getting dressed. Just sit up, and then take the next step.

But the most effective thing for me is to put the alarm clock across the room so I have to walk over there to shut it off.
posted by wryly at 3:35 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I recently bought a little coffee machine on a timer that I keep beside my bed. I use it instead of an alarm on days when I can afford to risk that the smell of fresh coffee and a bit of gurgling might not be enough to wake me. (It always is, though.) So I wake to the smell of fresh coffee, and tell myself that I don't have to get up; I just have to start drinking the coffee. By the time I've finished the coffee, I'm awake, and it's much easier to get out of bed.

If I go back to sleep instead of drinking the coffee, I end up with cold coffee, which is sad.

Also, I no longer allow myself to use an alarm that has a snooze option. That way, if I don't wake up fully when the alarm goes off, there's a danger I go back to sleep for too long, and end up late to work. Worrying about this creates just enough adrenalin to wake up properly.

My body seems better at waking up when there's no safety net.
posted by lollusc at 7:28 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks you everyone for the advice. I am on medication for Bipolar 1 and Major Depressive Disorder, the meds being Neurontin, Buspar, Lithium, Seroquel, and Celexa. I also take Vistaril as needed. Yeah, it would be good to get rid of the snooze option. That thing is the devil, and it's so easy to hit. Also, I often get up a few times to go to the bathroom, even though I don't need to, so i don't know why i do that. Is it OCD?

Thank you all for your help!
posted by Thanquol180 at 9:49 AM on May 17, 2015

Most of those meds, maybe all of them, have sleepiness as a side effect. It's a wonder you're able to get up and go to work, honestly. I think that this has little to nothing to do with your willpower or your habits. Anyone on all of those meds who gets out of bed at all is basically a hero.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:11 PM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am going to suggest something that goes against most of the accepted knowledge and anecdata, because it happened to work for me. I expect that the suggestions above are more likely to work for most people, but I stumbled across this, so it's worth a try.

Part 1: set multiple alarms, for example your radio alarm clock but also several alarms at five or ten minute intervals on your cell phone

Part 2: set a light on a timer to coincide with your first alarm, or open your blinds (depending on your latitude and window position, the point is, it should get bright in your bedroom)

Part 3: drink water right before going to bed

Part 4: set your first alarm for an hour before you have to get up, but let yourself press snooze a few times

I have found that I hate, hate leaping out of bed and rushing about. This pattern allows me to have a slower, more gradual wake-up, without slipping back into actual sleep. Because of the light, the alarm that keeps going off, and needing to pee, you won't be super comfortable, but you don't have to rush yourself either. I find I hit snooze (or the equivalent, acknowledging the phone alarm) maybe twice or three times now on average, for a total of 10-15 minutes, and then I'm up--still 45 minutes than I otherwise would be.

I would also strongly suggest having something funny queued up to watch over breakfast. Laughter always helps me wake up, and having a habit of doing something enjoyable right after getting up is another thing that will make getting out of bed easier.
posted by sarahkeebs at 5:04 AM on May 21, 2015

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