A Body at Rest Tends to Stay at Rest…
…unless acted upon by an outside force. I learned this law of physics in high school. For years, I lived it every morning when I tried to get out of bed. Like many, I struggled to get my morning started. I often made the tradeoff of more sleep over breakfast. I didn’t realize that I was a trendsetter. I have a strong suspicion that whoever came up with the idea of intermittent fasting struggled with getting up in the mornings too. Until recently that is.
After recently listening to Robin Sharma’s “The 5 a.m. Club” audiobook, I decided to make a change. I used the tips in the book but found it wasn’t enough. I scoured the internet for more tips on how to wake up early but none seemed to work. Then it happened.
Finding My Outside Force
One morning I woke up early. A quick glance at my alarm clock showed it was just past 5 a.m. As usual, I didn’t feel like moving. Joining the 5 a.m. Club wasn’t as easy as thought as I turned over in my warm bed and closed my eyes again. I laid there warm and comfy. But also a little guilty. I had set one of my SMART Goals to be waking up at 5 a.m. each day. However, that seemed like such a long time ago. My body’s current goal was to stay warm and get more sleep. Still, I had set my intentions the night before and decided I had to at least make an honest effort.
As I lay in bed, my mind raced through all the tips I’d tried to help me wake up early. It seemed I’d broken just about every last one of them, again. I didn’t go to bed until midnight and forgot to set my alarm. No need to walk across the room to turn it off. Prior to going to bed, I was thirsty so I had already drank the rest of the water in the water bottle to my nightstand. Things weren’t going as planned. For some reason, all of the tips I had read about the days prior were of no help. I had consistently and routinely found ways not to do them.
The Quest To Find A Hack To Wake Up Early
I started thinking of new ideas that might help me to wake. The first thing that came to me was to simply open my eyes. I rationed that as long as my eyes were closed I would still be in sleep mode. So I opened my eyes and gazed into the darkness of my bedroom. I learned a long time ago, there’s a difference between just having your eyes closed and being in total darkness with your eyes open. It feels like the effort my eyes take to process darkness takes lots of brainpower and puts me in an active state. There was a small study a few years ago that determined when something feels good to our body, we try to avoid being distracted by other senses. This is allegedly the reason we close our eyes when we kiss. In my case, it was sort of the opposite. I was hoping that opening my eyes would have the opposite effect and distract me from the addicting feeling of my warm cozy bed.
Another thought came to me as I lay staring into the darkness of my room. I wanted to use my iPad. The bright light would be irritating to my eyes and may help me slow my sleep inertia. My fear was I would start looking at web sites or social media. That wouldn’t be good. My intent in waking early was to be more productive, not less. Then it hit me. What if there’s a video with bright flashing lights to help wake up. A search on YouTube didn’t provide anything of value. None of the videos I found were meant for helping someone wake up. What I needed was for a video that would symbolically scream “WAKE UP” at me with bright flashing colors. Eventually, I found something close. I turned the volume down on my iPad, so as not to disturb my happily sleeping partner, and watched the video. Sure enough, after about 45 seconds of watching dizzying colored lights quickly flash across my face, I felt ready to get up.
I got up, brushed my teeth, took a shower, and started writing about my experience. Here are my personal, 5 Super Easy Things You Can Do to Help You Wake Up When the Usual Wake Up Early Hacks Don’t Work.
1 Open Your Eyes
As I mentioned above. Research shows that closing your eyes gives some importance to and helps maintain your current state. If you want to “Geek Out” on the details, you can find the technical details here. With a little help, you can find situations in your own life when you do this. There’s obviously the kissing thing. When was the last time you have been kissed romantically with your eyes open? When you have a big laugh, do you close your eyes? Do you ever close your eyes to enjoy a bite of amazing chocolate? I’ll bet you can’t even recall your fondest memory without closing your eyes. If you can, it probably doesn’t feel as good as when your eyes are closed. There’s definitely a difference.
It’s natural and you can use this subconscious behavior to your advantage. Simply, do the opposite when you need to distract yourself from the feeling of enjoying your bed.
2 Make A Game Of Waking Early
Gamification is the process of applying game principles to your life. Turning your adventure into a game is a good way to stay engaged, be creative, and use proven tactics for success. This can be very useful in helping you master the practice of waking early.
Having support can be very helpful when making changes in your life. Creating a habit of waking early is no different. Find someone, a spouse, best friend, or relative to play the game and create a new habit that will benefit you both. Find an accountability partner.
You can challenge your accountability partner to a competition. Gamification of life is great for staying motivated and having fun. Here are some ideas for turning this process into a fun game:
- Make a deal with your spouse that the last person to wake has to do a chore of the others choosing that day.
- Place a small but enjoyable treat on the kitchen table and make a deal with your spouse that the first one to get ready can grab the treat each morning.
- Make a game with your accountability partner to see who can be the first to call the other in the morning after getting dressed. Tally the number of times each wins and decide on a reward for the end of the month (i.e. the winner is treated to lunch by their accountability partner).
- Share when you are successful and state how it helped you each day. View and comment on the successes of your accountability partner. I have a friend who routinely posts an early morning workout photo each day. Once it becomes a habit, it becomes who you are.
3 Brush Your Teeth with Your Non-Dominant Hand
There’s an idea floating on the internet that brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand will help you become smarter. My research on this shows mixed results. I can’t say for sure whether this is true or not. However, I can say that I still believe there is a benefit to doing so.
First, by brushing your teeth, you’re introducing a new state. Don’t you feel refreshed when your mouth feels minty clean? There’s something about the feeling of having clean teeth that can help change our mindstate and help push us out of our sleep inertia.
Additionally, using your non-dominant hand will force your brain to work a little harder. This will help your brain focus on other activities rather than focusing on getting more sleep.
4 Use An Alarm with Randomized Alarm Sounds
Have you ever slept through an alarm? Are you able to stay in bed and tune out your alarm at will? People get used to different sounds over time. You’ve likely done so with your alarm. A simple way to overcome this problem is to use random sounds for your alarm.
This may seem like too much. I mean, how do you do this? Do you have multiple alarm clocks and rotate them? Do you set your phone each night to a random alarm sound? Luckily there’s a simple solution. And best of all, it’s free (with ads of course).
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can use the Loud Alarm Clock. Like its name indicates, it’s pretty loud. But that’s not the most important feature of this alarm. It has pre-installed irritating sounds that are extremely loud, even if your volume is set low. I upgraded for $3.99. Upgrading gives you additional features, but I don’t use them. I upgraded primarily to get rid of the ads.
Just a warning with this app, or similar apps. Your spouse or roommate should be working towards the same early morning routine goals. Otherwise, you may create some tension in the home. On the bright side, you’ll jump out of bed to turn off your alarm if only to keep the peace or to prevent the kids from waking (if you have any that is).
5 Watch A Stimulating Light Video
The goal should be to avoid electronics first thing in the morning. But if you’re going to use your cell phone or tablet, make it work to your advantage. I mentioned not being able to find a video on Youtube that did what I wanted. Creating my own video solved that problem. I decided to add the text “Wake Pray Slay” so it flashes throughout. Powerful inspirational quotes always seem to get me in the proper state of mind. You can easily make your own, but you can also download the one I made for free here.
If you’re old enough to remember when television stations didn’t broadcast 24 hours a day, you are probably familiar with SMPTE color bars. These color bars were used to calibrate their systems. Using bright colors can calibrate your mind to the idea of being awake and energized. Ideally, this would be a last resort, but there are bound to be days when all options are on the table. Using bright colors on tough mornings may be just the trick to get you moving.
Why Will These Tips Work for You?
I’ve tried to come up with techniques that are simple and engaging. I believe that is one of the keys to success. These are some of the hacks I personally used to wake up early to write this article. While I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same success, I hope these tips will at least inspire you. There are many tips and tricks on the internet. Some are helpful, others not so much. If any of these tips helped you, please share your success. If not, please share what creative things you did that finally worked in the comments.
Did you learn something from this post? Did you find it inspiring? Share with a friend and save this PIN to your Goal Setting board on Pinterest.
BONUS: Free At A Glance Printable Calendar 2021
Are you ready to wake each morning with the mentality that you are ready to “Wake Pray Slay”? Download this free Wake Pray Slay 2021 Wall Calendar (PDF). Print and display where you’ll see it each morning as a reminder to “Wake, Pray, Slay” each day.