I used to have a lot of difficulty waking up in the morning… especially on Monday mornings. I’d hit snooze a million times while cutting everything unnecessary out of my morning routine (i.e showering at night, shaving my head so I wouldn’t have to style my hair, replacing breakfast with an energy drink, etc) so I could squeeze every last second of sleep out of the night. Although I took it out on my alarm clock, my problem had nothing to do with waking up, nor the alarm. Even the best alarm clock would’ve triggered the same reaction.
A lot of it had to do with hating my job. I wasn’t passionate about what I did. How could I be? I worked for the banks. I dragged myself into work every day and put in my 10-12 hours, but I wasn’t a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. That all changed when I blew the whistle on my employer, quit my job, and discovered meditation and yoga.
Now I look forward to Monday mornings. In fact, I wake up every morning feeling refreshed and revitalized, ready to enjoy a productive and satisfying day. If you want to feel the same way, here are 7 “alarm clocks” to use.
1. Meditation and Yoga
I know it sounds new-agey, but I assure you I don’t own any Birkenstocks or tie-dyed clothes. What these practices taught me are gratitude, compassion, and how to calm my mind.
The biggest problem in waking up is going to sleep. When sleep is a deadline, it’s not enjoyable. You’re not mentally prepared to go to bed if you’re stressing about what happened today or what’s going to happen tomorrow. Sit or lie down and take a breath. Instead of worrying about money, bills, your job, family, schedules, projects, and all the other variables in your life, focus on the one important constant: you. Listen to your breath. Feel the air fill your lungs and expand your chest as you breathe in. Allow yourself to sink into the ground and relax as your chest compacts while you breathe out. Nothing else matters in this world except your breath. It’s your life blood. When you focus on it, everything else melts away.
Once you’ve mastered the art of meditation, you can begin to understand yogic principle of positive thinking. You don’t need to pull your legs over your head to learn valuable life lessons from yoga. All you need to do is start thinking positive. Instead of dreading the upcoming day, be grateful you’re alive to experience it. By changing your perspective, you’ll find both sleeping and waking up are no longer a chore.
2. Your Biological Clock
If you pay attention to the elderly in your life (which you should, as they’re a fountain of wisdom), you’ll notice they tend to wake up on a schedule. Older generations had much more rigid schedules than we do these days, so many older people are used to going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This is actually a very a healthy thing to do.
When you’re younger, it’s easy to get into the habit of waking up at the buttcrack of dawn Monday-Friday, but sleeping in on the weekends. People who work late shifts often do the opposite, waking up earlier on their days off. This takes a toll on your biological clock. You should only vary your sleeping/wake times by an hour in either direction (except on special occasions such as a vacation or your house catching on fire). When your internal clock is kept consistent, you’re less likely to be exhausted and sleep through your alarm clock.
A trick utilized by Native American tribes prior to a hunt is to drink plenty of water prior to going to bed for the night. Doing so will activate your bladder in the morning, giving you an extra incentive to wake up without the need of external alarms. It’s also helpful to prevent a hangover if you’ve been consuming alcohol.
3. Nature’s Alarm Clock
We spend so much time indoors as a society that it becomes easy to block out the natural world. The most natural alarm clock in our lives is the sun. If you have a job and lifestyle that allows you to wake up to the natural light of the sun, by all means, leave your curtains/blinds open and go for it. Personally I enjoy being awake to watch the sun rise though.
If you live in a rural area, you can leave a window open to wake up to the light, heat, sounds, and smells of the morning. Birds chirping, leaves rustling in the wind–there’s an entire symphony every morning awaiting those able to rise to it.
4. Soothing Sounds
Now that your body and mind are prepared, you can focus on the physical alarm clock. There’s a plethora of sounds that can be generated by alarm clocks. Never use a sound you don’t enjoy. You should look forward to waking up.
If you’re part of the black turtleneck iCrowd, get an alarm clock/docking station. There are a lot of great options whether you have an old 30-pin connector or the latest 8-pin lightning connector. This will allow you to set your own personalized wake up playlist (or pull a Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and wake up every morning to “I Got You, Babe”). I use my iPhone for an alarm because it allows me to set a message to wake up to. Rather than just naming it “Work” or “School,” I name my alarms “You’re amazing!” and “Wake up like a boss…” to give myself a motivational morning message.
Even if you’re too cool for iSchool, there are alarm clock docking options for your Android or Kindle Fire. If you own a Blackberry, upgrade your pager, Grug Crood.
If you want an old school alarm clock, get a clock radio and tune it to your favorite terrestrial radio morning show. There are options for satellite radio as well if you wanna get bourgeois about it.
5. Tantalizing Smells
Sound isn’t the only way to wake up in the morning. Your nose is just as capable of pulling you out of slumber. Get a coffeemaker with a timer, and set it for 5 minutes prior to your alarm clock. You’ll wake up to the tantalizing smell of your favorite java filling the house.
Once you’re awake, cook up some bacon to get everyone else in the house up. This works especially well if you’re living with me. If you’re a vegetarian, you can try vegetarian bacon, but I refuse to add a link to such a crime against nature. Speaking of pork…
6. From Sensual to Sexual
Morning sex is one of my favorite types of sex. There’s something fundamentally beautiful about a breakfast bump and grind. It makes you feel alive and ready to face the day. If you’re lucky enough to be sleeping next to someone you have a sexual relationship with, make a pact that whoever wakes up first initiates mattress mambo. You’ll both (or all 3, 4, 5, however many of you there are…I’m not here to pass judgment) appreciate each other more and look forward to the morning.
If you’re sleeping alone, being woken up with sexual stimulation isn’t really possible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take care of yourself the same way. Rub one out in the morning as soon as you wake up. It’s just as relaxing, and you’ll reap many of the same benefits (plus it’s the only 100% method of safe sex). Once you spill your bodily fluids, you’ll be more inclined to get out of bed to clean up. If you’re not, your lack of hygiene is probably contributing to your solo status.
7. Rube Goldberg Devices
My personal favorite method of waking up for special occasions involves a complicated series of contraptions that, once activated, launches a chain reaction that ends with a bucket of water being poured on my head. If you’re unfamiliar with Rube Goldberg devices, here are the basics:
Set your phone’s alarm to vibrate on high (or get a retro analog alarm clock for bonus style points) and set it at the edge of your nightstand or dresser so it’ll fall off when activated. Tie one end of a string to the alarm, run it up over a hook on the ceiling then down underneath a hook on the wall above your headboard, and tie the other end to a bucket of water above your head and hook. When the alarm goes off and it falls to the ground, it’ll pull the bucket over, dousing you with water.
Once you have the basics down, you can add even more fun to the equation. Check out The Incredible Machine for more ideas of steps to add.