Sabotaging myself with lateness and over-sleeping
December 22, 2016 3:03 PM   Subscribe

I've always had difficulty with waking up early and being on time. I've struggled through school and lost jobs because of this. I'm on the brink of being fired again despite my best efforts and I'm feeling desperate and furious with myself. Help!

I'm in my 30s and I've always been a night owl. However, no matter what time I go to bed, I often end up oversleeping for school or work. Even when this ruins my day, and causes people to lose respect for me by wasting their time, it's as if no level of shaming or despair is enough to make me be more in control of myself in the mornings. I'll often hear my alarm go off and have this groggy, false sense of confidence that I'll get up--- and then I don't, and fall back asleep. This keeps happening.

The sleeping and lateness issue has been a life-long pattern, but it has become worse over the past few years. During that time, my mother passed away from cancer and my girlfriend and best friend of 10 years broke up with me. In response, I threw myself into a new job and grad school because I didn't want to be paralyzed from grief and I wanted to move forward with my life.

I really like my job and would want to grow within the company. My boss has criticized me several times for being unreliable and unprofessional for coming in hours late without any advance notice--- which I couldn't give, since I was unconscious and didn't plan to oversleep. I don't know how to salvage this and I don't know how much information I am willing to disclose about my health issues, or even if it would help. I'm scared that I can't keep a job while I'm like this, because I can't promise any employer that this is a temporary issue or that I know how to resolve it. I'm ashamed that I'm like this--- of course no one wants to get up in the morning, but as an adult, I should be able to get up and go to work everyday like everyone else.

Some more background: I live alone with two cats. I've struggled with depression and anxiety on and off. I started taking Lexapro and Remeron about six months ago, and they have helped me fall asleep quickly and generally feel more clear-headed. I also see a therapist twice a week.
posted by selene_sophia to Human Relations (42 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
You say you hear your alarm go off and then go back to sleep - have you tried setting more than one alarm? Putting your alarm across the room/house? Using an alarm clock app that forces you to do math or photograph something in your kitchen? A vibrating alarm clock that will shake you out of bed? A sunrise alarm clock? An alarm clock + sleep tracker app that wakes you at the end of a sleep cycle?

It's possible there are other issues here, but the first/easiest fix would be a technological one with your alarm. If you have tried all these things, I apologize - just wanted to suggest it since you didn't mention it.
posted by jouir at 3:17 PM on December 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

How much sleep are you typically getting every night? It could be that you're just radically underestimating the amount of sleep you need, and you need to start going to sleep earlier. But if not, I think you should talk to your therapist or general practitioner about seeing a doctor who specializes in sleep issues. It's one thing to oversleep a little bit, but if you're coming in to work hours late, I think that indicates a real issue. And if you are seeing a doctor to try to address it, you might be able to tell your boss that and buy yourself some time.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:20 PM on December 22, 2016 [13 favorites]

Can you relate to this description of delayed sleep phase disorder?
posted by she's not there at 3:27 PM on December 22, 2016 [8 favorites]

I agree with the suggestion to see a doctor. I once worked with a guy who had a sleep disorder and he worked with HR to sort something out. I'm not clear on the details but I know allowances were made for him. It's possible that the sleep you are getting is not actually quality, uninterrupted sleep, even if you're not aware of it.

I have trouble oversleeping (though not to the same extent) and I rely on multiple alarms to help me wake up.
posted by bunderful at 3:35 PM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've never done this myself, but I've heard about other people doing it. Train yourself to respond by practicing waking up to an alarm. Block out some time in the evening when you're not tired, lay down in bed, and set your alarm for two minutes in the future. When it goes off, immediately sit up and get out of bed. Repeat the process for an hour or two. The idea is to creat a subconscious habit: when you hear the sound of the alarm, you sit up and get out of bed.

Some other ideas: go to bed and set your alarm for the same time every night. Set multiple alarms, in different locations. Look into a wake up call service (that seems like it should be a thing), or maybe just check into a hotel and ask for a wake up call. Talk to your therapist. Talk to a sleep specialist.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:35 PM on December 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

When I need to be up early, I set two alarms. One by my bed, the second in the bathroom where the sound annoying bounces off the tile set 5 minutes later. Physically having to leave my bed makes me much more likely to not go back to sleep. Tip #2, only give yourself enough time to get up, get ready, and get out. If I leave too much time, I start trying to bargain with my sleep-addled self for "a few more minutes" and that never ends well.
posted by cecic at 3:39 PM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: See a doctor, and tell your boss you're seeing a doctor. This makes it clear to your boss that you take this seriously and are going to do what it takes to get it straightened out. Try all these strategies (and "I'm an adult so I should be able to do this" is not a strategy), but get experts on board and work on damage control at work.
posted by gideonfrog at 3:40 PM on December 22, 2016 [28 favorites]

I think you should first try something with instant results so you don't lose your job. Firstly, Lexapro and Remeron are both sleep-inducing. I took Lexapro, and would've tried Remeron for my insomnia but for its side effects. While on Lexapro, I was constantly drowsy, but it decreased the quality of my sleep when I did actually sleep.

For the long term solution to waking up late, you should try readjusting your circadian rhythm. I think I suffer from DSPD (I think my natural cycle is 26 hours, not 24 hours), but with the help of F.lux/Twilight, eating sugar at night and eating first thing in the morning sometimes, I can get myself to sleep. I have not tried a blue light in the morning, or other things that people do to reset their rhythm.
When I live by myself, I tend to sleep at really odd hours. Living with roommates encourages me to go to sleep at a regular time.
posted by kinoeye at 3:43 PM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: One small anecdata point: I once dated someone with "lost job lost car ended up homeless"-grade depression and not-getting-up issues, and Remeron was one medication involved in that final serious downhill slide. Make sure you are making a big enough deal about this to your prescriber and therapist so they can reassess. Depression lies, and tries to say you shouldn't tell them about your shameful sleeping problems because they can't possibly help. That's not necessarily true.

Also, if you can, have a sleep study done. They now have ones where you go in and get all wired up and then sleep at home and take the gear and data file back the next day.

And you don't say that you've tried solutions that match how high-stakes this issue is. Set five alarm clocks. Put the last one outside or inside your shower stall so the neighbors will a) come knocking b) call the police on you if you don't get up and deal with it. Pay a neighbor to come ring your doorbell until you answer. Get a sleep lamp (or a smart home lightbulb assuming you have a smartphone to control it with) and light your bedroom up like a football field every morning if you have to.

Make sure you are prioritizing sleep and absolutely dedicated sleep hygiene over everything else. Your social nightlife can wait a few months. Watching TV/screens after 8pm can wait. Starbucks will miss you, but you can hang out in the spring. Make sure you are getting real daylight sunshine light into your eyes (and onto your forearms, for Vitamin D absorption) first thing in the mornings and again in mid-late afternoon (harder to do this time of year, if you're in the Northern hemisphere, but find a way). Rigid wake-up and bedtime 7 days a week, no deviations.

If you can do this for long enough for your body to get the hang of it, your sleep cycles should* re-swizzle so that you are naturally reaching a wake state around the same time every morning. You may find, as you do that, that you have a slightly inconvenient wake-up window (maybe an hour before you have to get up), and that means you have to suck it up and get up early because you just don't wake properly at the time you'd prefer. You may also find that you need to be going to bed, at this point in your life, a lot earlier than you'd like. You will also need to suck this up for a while. Once you have a firm handle on your sleep and your depression, you can mess with the routine in small bits.

*If that's not at least starting to happen within 20-30 days you really really do need to pursue medical investigation.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:44 PM on December 22, 2016 [24 favorites]

That's messed up! Am so sorry! You have to go to bed early. And keep multiple alarm clocks.

WITH RED BULL BY THE BED. In arm's reach.

Oh yeah this: Remeron was one medication involved in that final serious downhill slide

Antipsychotics can make you apathetic to everything, are you sure they're for you?
posted by benadryl at 3:45 PM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's possible you may have apnea and are not getting good quality sleep. You should speak to a doctor about that. Remeron can also cause sleepiness, I believe, and it may be that you need to adjust your meds.
posted by praemunire at 3:47 PM on December 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

Nthing seeing a doctor-- you can start with your primary care provider; no need to go straight to a sleep specialist just yet. The doctor might give you an Epworth Sleepiness Scale or recommend taking a two-week sleep log (which you could start now) to get a better idea of what's been going on. If you think that your mental health could be a contributing factor (and based on what you've written, it sounds like it may be), bring it up at your appointment as well.

This may or may not help, maybe one of those light alarm clocks could make things easier. I know that natural light helps me wake up.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 3:48 PM on December 22, 2016

Best answer: I used to have this problem too, right down to missing work and it being an issue. Here are the things that helped me:

Slowly moving the time that I get in bed forward to get to sleep earlier

Using multiple alarms: one to get it into my brain that it's almost wake up time, one to tell me to get up, and a failsafe to tell me that if I don't get up then, I'll be late. I also set it so that they get gradually louder, so the last one is extremely loud.

Using the Sleep Cycle app on my phone. So good, so worth it. It is 99 cents, and wakes you in your lightest phase of sleep so you're much less groggy. After I used it for about 4 months, it's just easier to get up.

Other things that helped me break the pattern of being late to work:

Laying out absolutely everything I need the night before, and I mean everything. Outfit down to shoes, socks, jewelry, prepping lunch and putting it ready to go in the fridge, cold brew concentrate that stays in the fridge so I can just grab it, putting everything I need in my work bag the night before and putting it in the same place.

Taking my shower at night instead of in the morning. If you can do this, it has changed my life! It's another thing that for me always took more time than I realized, so when I woke up late it was a choice between showering and going in even later or not and stinking at work which is stressful.

Having to go breakfast like Kind bars ready and one in my bag in case I forgot.

I also started taking L-theanine before bed, a supplement recommended by a psychiatrist that "promotes relaxation," and my sleep has been much better with less grog.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 3:50 PM on December 22, 2016 [21 favorites]

One thing you might find very effective is an alarm clock app that forces you to answer math questions - this prevents you from turning it off in your sleep. Combine this with a backup alarm on the other side of the room.
posted by mikek at 4:00 PM on December 22, 2016

You need to step your alarm clock game up. They make alarm clocks that go on the run and alarm clocks that shake the bed and alarm clocks that light up and alarm clocks as loud as a jackhammer. You should set multiple alarm clocks and none of them should be within arm's reach of the bed so you can't just hit snooze and go back to sleep. Stagger the alarm times so there's no temptation to get back in bed once you've turned the alarms off.

I'm going to have to add my voice to the others saying to beware of Remeron. I can attest to the fact that it works great until it doesn't-- it has a tendency to poop out and no longer have any positive effects, although the insatiable hunger side effect still stuck around for me. In the long run I would definitely recommend getting a sleep study done and having your sleep doctor prescribe all sleep related medications, even if you are currently getting your prescriptions from a psychiatrist.
posted by fox problems at 4:22 PM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

You didn't mention hitting the snooze alarm or not - if hitting snooze over and over is a problem for you, I had success by building a little barrier over mine with bits of plastic and superglue so it was impossible to depress that button.
posted by bluesky78987 at 4:22 PM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding fairlynearlyready's night before prep suggestion, including the shower. I'm a night owl and super groggy in the morning and a shower the night before to replace a morning shower (plus a super quick once over with a damp cloth in the morning if it was a warm night then deodorant plus a little bit of perfume) has been a life changer for me also.

I'm up and out the door in 10 minutes max (turn off my 2 alarm clocks but leave the third on because it's blasting my favourite radio show really loudly to pep me up, brush teeth, apply deodorant, tie hair into tight bun cos it's the fastest hairstyle for me, I get my eyelashes tinted so it already looks like I'm wearing a little makeup so just moisturiser (I don't wash my face in the morning)+ a little bit of concealer under my eyes if there are big bags+ BB cream+ blush applied with a couple of dabs of a big makeup brush), put on my already laid-out clothes, grab my pre-packed bag, grab my pre-packed lunch and ice coffee from the fridge, then eat a muesli bar and drink the coffee on my way to work. That extra sleep time is fantastic.

A lot of those bedside clock alarm radios (particularly 90s second hand ones on ebay) have a radio alarm setting that can go really loud (much louder than a phone) and the radio sounds slightly distorted at that volume. They are much better at waking me up than a phone alarm.
posted by hotcoroner at 4:28 PM on December 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'd say if you can get it modafinil is A+ great stuff for forcing your sleep schedule to stay in place. Problem is that it's expensive and can be hard to get doctors to give you. I did find it helped a hell of a lot more with me getting up and awake than sleep aids did with getting me to sleep.
posted by Ferreous at 4:37 PM on December 22, 2016

Second Lyn Never. But, just want to say that that 100% compliance at night isn't always easy or necessarily possible. But it's important, and if you need some kind of help with that, maybe consider it.

Here's why: I've also struggled with sleep forever. (Maybe a third of my questions are related to it in some way.) Tried everything you can imagine. I did eventually manage to get myself up mornings, regularly, using a combination of techniques - took down my curtains, so the morning light hit my eyes; used darkness therapy at night; valerian root, l-theanine, Sominex (from the drugstore, if you don't have that); of course, sleep hygiene (I set an alarm to remind myself to start winding down, getting ready for bed, etc). I didn't want to take prescription medications, at all; had had a terrible time with zopiclone, and was terrified of the benzodiazipine prescription I'd been given. And I didn't use it, and I was so proud. Ah, I thought, great, I did it, it's fixed.

Except no matter what, I still wasn't falling asleep reliably. Which led to, basically, chronic sleep deprivation - only a few hours of sleep a night, over weeks. Then months. And then, horrible early morning wakings. Like *early*, 3-4 am, with a jolt, heart racing, as if I were being chased. Really struggled to get back to sleep, rarely succeeded.

My best guess (after reading a bit) was that the sleep deprivation from my efforts to be solid in the mornings, without being 100% consistent at night (because I just couldn't make it happen the way it needs to happen), was causing weird cortisol surges at night - a "second wind" before bed, and then those awful early mornings. I felt horrible - tired, achy, just awful; I was operating at 30% capacity, felt like I was moving and thinking through molasses. I was too tired to do anything during the day that would tire me out appropriately, at the right time.

So I decided I was going to ignore the advice to "restrict sleep" and avoid napping - heavily evidenced behavioural strategies, gold standard, etc - because it wasn't fucking working. I let myself nap when my body wanted it. I started taking half a gram of lorazepam before bed - very occasionally, and with reluctance, but on the nights I needed it, I just did, I decided. I started feeling better, because I actually got some sleep. Maybe not *ideal* sleep, but enough so that I was functional during the day (because I hadn't been). The "second wind" and morning wakings stopped.

It's still touch and go, because I've only been at this for a month, but on the whole I am much, much better off than I was for the better part of a year that I was fighting the good fight. And now, I can exercise and be more active during the day, so that I can more easily exhaust some of that energy by night-time. I'm hoping to get myself into a good rhythm and leave off the lorazepam asap, but I feel like, sometimes it's just smarter to take that kind of help if you need it.

So yes, see a doc and get some kind of script for backup. (Hypnotics, which are used for sleep issues, I have found to just mess me up - the side effects made the next day feel no different from sleep deprivation, really. Which is why my doc went off-label. There are risks with both, but you've got to weigh the pros and cons of going with nothing. Talk about different options.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:37 PM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Just a note on Remeron - as others have said, it's super-sleep inducing, but a lot of people find, counterintuitively, that it's less sleep-inducing at higher doses. My doctor thought this was nonsense because it didn't make logical sense, but every single account I'd read online from people who had taken it said that was the case, and I've found it to be so. If Remeron is helping in some ways, you could try increasing the dose if you're not already on 45mg, and see if that brings it back to a sweet spot that's makes it less soporific, but enough to still get you off to sleep at night.

But yeah, if you're routinely hours late for work, definitely see a doctor (I say this as someone who hates early mornings, has spent most of my life being late for things, and is self-diagnosed with delayed sleep phase thingummy. But my lateness is more like 10 minutes late, and now I've got a job where I can rock up at 10.30am instead of 9am, things are much better. So hours late? Yep, this isn't just common-or-garden tiredness).
posted by penguin pie at 4:46 PM on December 22, 2016

One idea I haven't seen here yet is that there's a few Android apps -- I'm primarily thinking of Sleep as Android -- that will make you scan a NFC tag (you can buy NFC tags off Amazon very cheaply as stickers, etc.) before it will shut off. You then would literally have to get out of bed and scan the tag, which you could put on the other side of your apartment or house, before shutting it off.
posted by WCityMike at 4:53 PM on December 22, 2016

in the realm of anti-depressants, perhaps ask about bupropion (welbutrin) it's one of the few anti-depressants with a stimulant effect. It was basically the polar opposite of remeron for me, gave me energy and didn't make me want to eat non-stop.
posted by Ferreous at 5:02 PM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also have DSPS. It presents different symptoms than sleep apnea in certain cases- for sleep apnea when you are able to sleep all you want, you are still tired. With DSPS, you would likely feel great and slip into a night schedule naturally when not around other humans.

When I did research on it a while ago, I found some evidence that it might be covered by ADA (if you are in the States). This means you could get accommodation. The first step would be get a diagnosis. That is likely a GP visit plus a sleep doctor visit.

To save this job, I would talk to your boss asap and lay everything out. I've been a manager and I didn't always want to know personal details like what a medical issue was. But to know an employee did have an issue and was trying to address it was so much easier to deal with than a person that was awol.

Another option is to get a job that is later. My most restful time was when I had a job starting at 5:30 pm.

I now work at a startup. I've slowly let people know about it being pretty vague unless they asked questions about it. I often work 11am to 8 or so or I've slept too much on a weekend and woke up at 9pm on a Sunday and head in around two or six. I get so much work done because I am alone and get to think. I'm able to do all this because I have a reputation of working hard and getting results.
posted by Monday at 5:06 PM on December 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

Reading through your question, it's time to go to a doctor- remember, when something is affecting your quality of life it is OK to go to the doctor and say "hey, this is really affecting my quality of life."

That said, you probably have to get up tomorrow so here are some things that work for me- a person who struggles to get up, but probably not to the same level. (Go to a doctor! :) )

Winter sucks for getting up- SUNSHINE makes a huge difference. Vitamin D supplements work for me, over winter, as does sleeping with the curtains arranged so the sun shines in in the morning. I'm contemplating a lamp that emulates the sun for next winter. This process catches me by surprise every year "ugh I can't wake up in the mornings any more- oh- it's winter. right.")

I've had success evicting my phone from my room- it now lives in the bathroom across the hall. I have to get OUT of bed to switch off the alarm, I can't mindlessly scroll through the internet until late at night.

I find myself saying "just lie here in the warm while you think about what you'll wear today... zzzz" so I have to set out my clothes the night before.

Showers wake me up and help me get MOVING in the morning- if I don't shower it's like I'm stuck in slow motion mode.

Knowing how long each chunk of my morning routine will take helps me not be late- I know what to throw out of the routine to cut time. My essentials are shower and dress.
Good day: shower, shave, dress, eat breakfast while reading (and hair is drying in towel), return to bathroom, make up, teeth, etc.
slightly shorter: breakfast, then shower, make up, teeth.
shorter: bring breakfast to the bathroom.
shorter again: cram food into mouth. Shower/dress then leave. Have tea at work.

Try to get to work for half an hour earlier than you need to- build yourself outrageous buffers.

Medical, just can't get out of bed, tiredness, is something that is worth talking to your work about. Lateness is, unfortunately, perceived as very unprofessional and a character flaw- it's associated with laziness.

You've said that you do hear your alarm- this is good! Set lots of alarms, and force yourself to get out of bed. I know that "yep I'll get up" lie that your body tells you- don't believe it.
posted by freethefeet at 5:10 PM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

A couple of things that have helped me:

Put out a glass of water and a caffeine pill by your bed, and set an alarm for an hour before you actually want to wake up. When that alarm goes off, take the caffeine pill and go back to sleep. Have another alarm for when you want to wake up for real.

Get a programmable thermostat and program it so your bedroom is uncomfortably hot in the morning. If your heating system can't do that on its own, add a space heater hooked up to a timer so it turns on an hour or two before you want to wake up and stays on until you've actually left for work. Hang a blanket in the doorway to trap the heat while still allowing the cats to come and go.
posted by shponglespore at 5:19 PM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you are hours late because you are falling back asleep for hours then something is off either with your meds or elsewhere in your sleep universe, so you should speak to a doctor.

But until then, since you live alone, the 2 best things that worked for me were radio or music alarm clock that I actually didn't turn off. I kept it set pretty loud and would lay in bed listening to the song. If its some ipod alarm clock speaker thing, make sure to curate a good wake up playlist, like with a bunch of pop punk or something. No relaxing music allowed.

Also, I found that if I went to bed at the first tingle of tiredness, I would fall asleep, then wake up at some point in the middle of the night. At that point i would get up and fart around for maybe an hour (no screens though) and then I'd be tired and go back to bed for 2-3 more hours and had an easier time waking up.

Both of these worked really well for me when I lived alone, but were a bit disruptive while living with others.
posted by WeekendJen at 5:52 PM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

So, this was me a couple years ago! For sure go to your doctor, get checked for sleep apnea, work on going to bed earlier consistently; those are great. It would be great if one of those or a clocky or a sunrise alarm clock turned out to work for you.

NONE OF THEM EVER WORKED CONSISTENTLY FOR ME. I was struggling with mental illness, plus just my general biology, and I never won. Never. If that is you, you can do what I did: get a home health aide. They are for people who need assistance completing tasks of daily living like getting out of bed. If you are, like I was, about to lose your job, then you need assistance.

It doesn't have to be forever (it is fucking expensive, but not as expensive as BEING UNEMPLOYED), but it can be until you figure everything else out. I don't have one now bc I have a combination of different medicine and different schedule, but that took a long time to work out. I will also say that telling bosses, etc, "I'm adding a home health aide to my medical treatment" gets the seriousness of the issue across in a way that "I overslept because I have depression" never did for me.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:57 PM on December 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

What I do:
* I set three alarms on my phone, which I keep by my bed. These are set for several minutes apart and go off before I absolutely need to get up.
* I keep a loud alarm clock on the other side of the room. This is set for the time that I need to get up to be on time.
* I have a bottle of water ready, so that I can rehydrate at some point. I usually drink a bit of water before I allow myself to snooze before the main alarm goes off, otherwise I just chug it after getting up.
* I allow myself one hour to get ready before I need to leave the house.
* I aim to arrive at work 15 - 30 minutes before my start time, so that I don't have to stress about being late and can be fully prepared for my day.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 6:16 PM on December 22, 2016

I struggled with this FOREVER to the point where I would have friends/family call me on the phone for really important things, like my PhD prelims, to make sure I got out of bed. Finally, I decided to be super systematic in how I attacked this.

First, I forced myself to get up at a consistent time every weekday. No sleeping a little late one day and a little early a different day because of my work schedule. Same time, every weekday, no exceptions.

Second, I set two alarms on my phone. The first one is kinda quiet and gentle. When I hit snooze, it goes off again 5 minutes later. I never register the first time, but I do hear the second time. I always hit snooze a second time. Five minutes after that, the second alarm goes off. I hate it -- it's the sound I hate most in the world (a loud pinball machine). I play a bit of a game with myself -- how long can I lie there before that second alarm goes off? Counterintuitively, this game wakes me up, because my brain is focused on how much time has gone by. Sometimes I just sit up if I'm not ready to get up or to get out from under the covers. However, I am not allowed to turn the second alarm off until I am out of bed.

Third, when/if the second alarm goes off, I absolutely require myself to get up. No exceptions, ever. The first time you make an exception, you are screwed.

Fourth, I use the same combination of alarms when I am out of town, at the same timing. Consistency is important. I travel a lot for work. This was an important tip I learned from an old Ask.

Fifth, I allow myself to sleep in only 1 hour on the weekends. No more, ever. I do allow myself to take naps on the weekends, in the afternoon as long as the nap begins before 5pm. I love naps! If I need to catch up on sleep, I relish a nap -- but no laying in bed for long periods and no starting a nap after 5pm. This is probably the most important step -- it helped the most to reset my internal clock.

Sixth, I take a 12 ounce glass of water to bed with me. When I get out of bed, the first thing I do is drink the entire thing. The act of drinking helps wake me up, but also getting some fluids in my system after a night of drinking nothing seems to help. I flail with my arms at night, so I have to keep my water away from my bed, but I think it would work better if I kept the water on my bedside table, and sat up and drank it before my most-hated-sound alarm went off. Either way, drink a bunch of water when you get up.

Seventh, after implementing all the above, I go to bed whenever I'm tired. I have high levels of anxiety (diagnosed and medicated) and if I think too much about going to bed, I have a panic attack and can't sleep. So I go easy with myself at night -- I just go to bed when I'm tired. If you rigorously enforce the above, your sleep time will naturally follow.
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:21 PM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would pay someone $15 a day to show up at your front door at the time you want to leave, so they can visually confirm that you're awake, haven't gone back to sleep, and are dressed and ready for work. This person should be willing to knock/ring the doorbell until they get a response.

This may seem expensive or over-the-top, but if you look at it as an investment to preserve your salary, it's a small price to pay for continued financial stability. Having a real, live person making sure I'm up and out of bed in the morning has been the most effective for me.
posted by delight at 6:41 PM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Former sleep medicine PA here. You need to see a sleep specialist. There are a number of sleep disorders that could be impacting you and for which there is treatment. Certainly a circadian rhythm delay is one but there are others which need more further evaluation through a consult with a sleep doctor (or PA/NP!).
posted by teamnap at 6:56 PM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have the same problem. I also struggle with depression. What works for me:
  1. Night before, put glass of water and caffeine pill by bed (or stimulant of choice)
  2. Set two alarms: (A) Alarm 1.5-2 hour before you need to get up and (B) when you need to get up
  3. Place alarm clock (or phone) far enough away from bed that you need to get up to turn it off.
  4. When first alarm goes off, take caffeine pill (or stimulant of choice). Placing alarm far away will ensure you don't turn it off in your sleep without taking the stimulant.
  5. Go back to sleep
  6. When second alarm goes off, stimulant should have kicked in and will make waking up much easier.
This isn't the ideal solution, but it works so much better than anything else I've tried.
posted by Anonymous at 6:59 PM on December 22, 2016

I have problems falling asleep. I will literally be so tired I'm nodding off but then crawl in bed and bam I'm awake. My issue is severe anxiety so I just read until I fall asleep. Sometimes I just get a couple hours and can't get up in the morning. This pattern is usually a sign that something is out of whack or my PTSD symptoms are flaring and I need to ramp up self care. If it goes on beyond a few days, I go back to my doctor ASAP. If this post is wonky it's because I haven't been sleeping the past few days.
What gets me up is the same things most have posted above.

Alarm clock across the room so I have to get out of bed to turn it off.
I also have my bedside table lamp on a timer so it pops on right before my alarm goes off.
Exercise early in the day has helped me wake up better the next morning when I do it.
Have a friend (my sister) call and put a different ring tone on my phone so it jolts me awake. You could try having them bang on your door.
Yes please discuss this with your boss before you lose your job. Good luck.
posted by It'sANewDawn at 7:55 PM on December 22, 2016

Super-heavy sleeper and habitual snoozer with sleep apnea, here. When I absolutely, positively have to get up at a certain time, and I know that I'll be fighting sleep deprivation, an entrenched schedule, etc., I sleep in my bra and stick my phone in there, set to vibrate. The feeling of my hard plastic phone buzzing against that part of my anatomy is (for me) so unspeakably horrid that it jolts me into wakefulness with zero hope of ever falling back asleep. (Just thinking about it is making me want to cross my arms over my chest. Uggggh.)

Obviously, YMMV with this. I'm guessing there are lots and lots of people in the world who'd find the sensation pleasant, or at least not as live-bees-up-the-nose horrible as I do, for whom this trick won't work.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:07 PM on December 22, 2016

as mentioned above, delayed sleep phase disorder is something that I think more people have than realize it. There is such a stigma attached to sleeping in, that you're selfish or lazy, it can be really hard to figure out that what you need to do is get your sleeping in at the time your body likes to do it. I have a pretty extreme case - I sleep from around 6am to 2pm, and once I figured out that if I plan my life around it, everything go so much better. I work the night shift now and sleep like a rock, whereas when I tried to work or go to school days I was a total insomniac, and it was dreadful. This doesn't necessarily help your immediate problem, but eventually finding out if this is a problem that can be solved by changing the time that you go to bed and get up may be something to consider.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:39 PM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Coffee with a good friend is the only thing that gets me jumping out of bed at lark hours. Things that help: cold tea waiting for me, head near a east-facing window so the sun spikes my serotonin first thing, cold shower, brisk walk, dark quiet bedroom. Long game: no artificial lights after sunfall — not even a peek at your phone! — plus daily weight lifting, no sugar, low slow carbs.

*If* all those things are in place, I can fall asleep by 10 or 11. But if one or two are disrupted, I'm back to night owl insomnia land. Probably a negative feedback loop of genetic factors, depression and sleep irregularity. It's well documented that going to sleep after sunset disrupts the body's natural cycling of critical hormones like melatonin, prolactin, leptin, cortisol, insulin, dopamine and serotonin. Some of us are more sensitive than others. Nothing to be ashamed of, but it does make life in our early bird society harder.

Can you work part time at home, negotiate later hours or move closer to work? I'd do a sleep study and get a note. Buy yourself some time, show your boss you have a phase disorder.
posted by fritillary at 11:42 PM on December 22, 2016

but with the help of F.lux/Twilight,

I favor redscreen for osx. F.lux doesn't turn of the green pixels.

The light-based alarm clock helps too, and someday I should get a 'human grow lamp' like my friends S.A.D. lamp.

I find it helps to exercise and need to get serious with weights, a stationary bike, or a gym.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:15 AM on December 23, 2016

Best answer: It doesn't sound like sleep hygiene or alarm clock practicalities are going to resolve an issue this extreme. It is very possible that your natural sleep cycle is such that forcing yourself to conform to a different schedule could be a legitimate drain on your health. I think it makes absolute sense to rule out medical reasons for this, see a sleep specialist, etc. But barring a change, I would seriously look into work opportunities which allow for a later start time.

I am a complete early bird, and am at my cognitive best from 4am-8am, and am practically unable to stay awake beyond 8pm. If things were organized differently in society, and I had to start work at 9pm everyday, no number of alarm clocks, setting out my clothes, staying off my devices and using Flux would do a single thing for me, and instead I would literally feel like I was having a heart attack, the strain of staying awake a little later can be that extreme for me. (I do sometimes feel that way at parties or shows that are late by definition.) And putting myself in your shoes, I would feel like practical suggestions for environment control would be seriously patronizing.

Changing jobs might be less strenuous and harmful than forcing yourself to conform to these semi-arbitrary early societal wake-times, which absolutely do not work for everybody. Just a thought, which might not be do-able at all, depending on your field and preference.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 6:50 AM on December 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Tell your boss you understand this is a problem, and that you're taking steps to come to work on time. Then, you should:

(1) Start using good sleep hygiene.

(2) Follow the above MeFite suggestions regarding alarm clocks.

(3) See your primary care physician. Explain what's going on and ask for:

-a complete physical (meaning, all the blood work behind the physical)
-blood draw to check your thyroid
-blood test to check for Lyme disease
-referral to a sleep specialist
~you may also want to ask about getting a prescription for a stimulant drug to keep you awake during the day

Good luck!
posted by emilynoa at 8:04 AM on December 23, 2016

I see a lot of good things up above like multiple alarm clocks of different kinds and sleep/health questions. But on first scan, some things that I didn't see:

Consistency. You need to *always* go to sleep early, and *always* wake up at your new wake up time. Yes, that includes the weekends. Going to sleep early 1-3 nights in a row won't help your lack of waking when you night-owl on other nights. Depending on what's happening in a day I need to wake up between 06:00-07:00 on most weekdays. Initially I would always have my alarm set to 07:00 even on weekends - not that I wake without issue I have loosened up to allow an 08:00 wakeup time. But I never go to sleep without an alarm set. Before this, I might sleep well after 10:00 on weekends.

Self-reward. Ok, this was mentioned, but definitely needs to be repeated. You need to *want* to wake up, rather than want to avoid punishments for not waking up early. Your body/subconscious doesn't learn well for avoiding nebulous things which don't have immediate negative feed back. Your body/subsconscious *does* learn well when you have an immediate payback.

For me, the self-reward is as simple as I'll smile and think to myself "Thank you for waking up!" It sounds corny to type that, and Ms. nobeagle will rib me again for this when she stalks my comments. But I believe that's a big part of why I switched from being someone that failed consistently with just one alarm clock to waking up with just a vibration watch. The second part of the self-reward is I was waking up early specifically to run (which I like). However even when injured and I know I won't be running waking up early is no longer an issue for me.

TLDR: You need to give yourself an immediate reward upon waking up early. You need to keep waking up early even on the weekends. It's just what you do.
posted by nobeagle at 11:39 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm here to third delayed sleep phase disorder (DPSD) as a potential cause of your issues. It's a real problem, and one that is treatable, both in the sleeping phase (melatonin, as well as other soporifics), as well as in the waking phase (modafinil--IMHO the best drug invented in the past 50 years).
posted by yellowcandy at 10:08 PM on December 23, 2016

With melatonin, I think dosage is all over the place since it's a largely unregulated supplement or something, so some research and tinkering may be helpful.

see also
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:17 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

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