Are you the kind of person that dreads getting out of bed?
Do you find that, no matter how much sleep you’ve had, you’re always tired? Are you constantly hitting the snooze button? Have you ever woken up totally refreshed and wondered how you did it?
Giving Up Coffee
Just over two years ago I decided that I wanted to know what life would be like without coffee. Coffee is something which is easy to reach for when you need a pick-me-up during those drowsy points throughout the day. Tiredness is your body’s natural way of telling you when you need some sort of energy input or revitalisation. All too often we reach for the most unhealthy and convenient of fixes.
Before I managed to fully give up coffee I made one previous attempt and like most people I suffered from the usual headaches, withdrawal symptoms, and mood swings, and as a result, I went back to the coffee fix.
The second time I had a bit more of a game plan. Any point where I would normally have coffee, I would instead have a 100% natural fruit smoothie drink, to replace any cravings that I had. It worked like a charm! I didn’t get any headaches or any of the usual symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.
After I gave up coffee I found that I started to sleep like a baby! I very rarely wake up during the night and I tend to wake up more refreshed. The amount of sleep I needed dropped considerably too.
Waking Up Before The Buzz
A few years ago I noticed that I started waking up just before my alarm was set to go off. I mentioned this to a few people and they also said how they had also had similar experiences. This got me thinking about whether I needed an alarm clock at all. Would I be able to program my body to get up at the times I needed? Have you ever woken up just before the alarm went off?
The trouble is I’d be stubborn and not wake up until the alarm went off! I’d snooze over and over again and not get up until the last possible moment I had to. The other problem with snoozing is that I’d end accidentally switching off the alarm by mistake and then wake up two hours later whilst screaming “oh crap!” Then I’d end up rushing to get ready and arriving at work unwashed, with fuzzy hair and not smelling to great. 😆
Just before the end of last year I decided that I wanted to do some experiments around this. Firstly; I hid any clocks so I couldn’t see the time. Secondly; I didn’t set any alarms. The plan was that before I fell asleep I would repeat in my head, with clarity and power, the time I wished to arise.
There were several reasons for this method and why specifically I hid any visible clocks. My theory is that my body knows when to get up. It’s inbuilt into my genes. Using this method I allow myself to wake up naturally. Upon waking, because I wouldn’t be aware of the time, I would let myself stir out of sleep naturally. When I got to the point that I felt like I didn’t need to go back to sleep again, only at that point would I check the time.
Doing all of this would mean that I was waking when my body was ready to arise and would do so in accordance with its natural internal clock. You know the theories that we sleep in 90 – 120 minute cycles and we have very specific phases of sleep e.g. REM. So the natural rising method would mean that I was waking up exactly as my body dictated rather than an external jolt disrupting my natural patterns.
I found that 9/10 I would wake up at the time I had programmed into my mind give or take about 15 minutes. Also, because I wasn’t snoozing the clocks, I was much more focused throughout the day and I didn’t feel the afternoon drowsiness as much. I also noticed that I was yawning less and that my concentration span grew.
The problem I face is that currently I have to be up at 4.30 on the weekends to do my early morning radio show whereas during the week I can be more flexible about the time I wake up. So, for now, I’m going to continue to use the alarm clock when I need to but where possible, if I can avoid using it, I will.
You may find that you don’t have any flexibility so this may not work for you. I do recommend that you do try it when you do have some flexibility such as the weekends.
I can’t say with any degree of certainty about whether snoozing is good for you or not. Common sense would suggest that it would be a good idea but my gut tells me otherwise; as does my experience. I can’t help but feel that ‘alarming’ yourself unnaturally out of sleep is detrimental to your health and contributes to all sorts of stress issues. Doing it repeatedly is even worse!
If you think you’d benefit from doing this you firstly have to get real! You cannot expect to go to bed at 3am, wake up naturally at 6am, and feel zesty! That isn’t going to happen. I found out through the experimenting phase that I would wake up naturally after 6 – 7 hours of sleep. I also know that it takes me, at most, about 15 minutes to get to sleep.
With that information I know that if I have to be up at 8am then the latest I should get into bed is 12.45am. I’m not a believer that you have to have 8 hours sleep a night. I do believe that in this case quality is way more important than quantity. If you’re sleeping poorly and find you have very broken sleep then you may want to look into sorting that out first before embarking on this road.
Natural Alarm Clocks
There are many natural alarm clocks on the market and I have one such device which is one of those sunrise lamp varieties. I find it especially good during the winter when the mornings are dark. Regardless, I still find it an unnatural method to use. I would definitely recommend them over conventional alarm clocks any day but I feel like this method is the best way to go if you need to be alerted awake.
So start by testing how long you sleep naturally and using that as your guide. Before you go to bed say with clarity and power what time you would like to arise. Remember to hide your clock and don’t set any alarms.
You may wake up in the middle of the night. I did a few times and I just went back to sleep. I could tell from the ambient light through the curtains what time it was. If it was still dark I didn’t worry and I went back to sleep. If it was light then that was a good indicator that I was awake at the right time. That part doesn’t matter though. I promise you, you’ll know when you’ve woken up at the right time. I know deep down that we do have an inbuilt mechanism in our bodies that knows exactly what time it is. (While writing this it got me thinking about whether people kept in isolation are able to tell the time?)
As you wake up you’ll reach a point where you won’t want to go back to sleep again. You’ll hit a point where you’re just enough awake to be fully aware and won’t be able to put your head down again. Get out of bed, do a few stretches and then check the time.
It really is that simple to do. It is worth doing if you want to feel more alert during the day and you’re a bit fed up with being groggy and disorientated all day long.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and what the results are if you do adopt this method. Feel free to share them in the comments.
Update: If you have an iPhone try Sleep Cycle as it’s a fantastic app and really helps to get you up at the right time i.e. when you body is in the right phase.