The snooze button. What a great invention. It gives us the ability to say ‘No, world. Not right now.’ and shut our eyes and return back to dreamland.
Then, 9 minutes later you are ripped out of that world and back to reality. So you squeeze in another 9 minutes. Then another. Until you push it a little too far and say ‘Shit, I’m going to be late!’ then dash around trying brush your teeth while you drink tea that’s too hot and tastes funny in your minty mouth.
What a great way to start your morning!
For many years, this was how I started my day. Always in a rush, always stressed, always flustered. But in recent times the button has become an unused feature on my alarm clock. A vestige of a time when I felt out of control and was stuck in a rut.
What follows is an explanation of why you too should end your relationship with the snooze button as well as a way to wake up feeling energized. I’ll be challenging you to put this into practice so you can start your morning relaxed, alert and ready to kick the days butt. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Your sleep cycle
When we sleep we go into different ‘stages’, ranging from light sleep where we are still aware of our surroundings to deep REM sleep where we have our dreams.
We will cycle through these stages throughout the night, going from light sleep to deep sleep and back in roughly 90 minute cycles. We need around 8 hours sleep on average to feel rested, which is about 5 cycles.
As our bed time approaches, whatever time that time may be, the sleep hormone melatonin is released. As the amount of this hormone builds we feel sleepier until we begin our first cycle. Throughout the night the levels of this hormone will fall and the levels of cortisol and dopamine (hormones that make us feel alert and give us energy) will rise.
Why do you feel so groggy in the morning?
In a perfect world we’d wake up naturally, when our cortisol levels reaches the peak. This would allow us to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. Unfortunately we rely on rude awakenings by our external alarm clocks. Often this has us waking up from a deep sleep part of the cycle, meaning our body is totally not ready to wake up as our hormone balance is out of whack for waking up.
That groggy feeling is called Sleep Inertia and can impair everything from our ability to perform physical tasks to our creativity. In bad cases this can sometimes last for 2 or 3 hours of your morning. We’ve all been there.
Won’t snoozing help correct that balance?
No it doesn’t. When you snooze you are telling your body that the thing that woke you up is not a problem so you can remain in deep sleep. It is possible to fall into a deep sleep very quickly in this situation. Often we can have dreams in those 9 minute intervals.
The next time your alarm goes off you will feel the same, if not worse than you did before as nothing has been done to correct the balance. Often people will try snoozing again in hope of waking up feeling awake and well.
What should you do instead?
Get up straight away. If you feel you need extra sleep set your alarm for a later time since you would have usually snoozed that time away anyway or go to bed earlier. Fragmented sleep is worse for you than a full nights sleep.
How to wake up feeling great
Once you understand the cycle, it is possible to train your body to wake up at any time with the correct hormone balance. Follow these steps to wake up feeling great:
1) Have a set sleep and wake up time – The most important thing to remember is that your body loves routine. Your circadian rhythms work over a 24 hour period which is ideal as there are 24 hours in a day. If you wake up at 6am Monday-Friday you should also wake up at that time on the weekend.
This may sound crazy to you as you feel like those weekend lie-ins make you feel great but I guarantee that once you get used to going to sleep and waking up at the same time you will feel amazing.
2) Have a ‘wake-up rountine’ – You shouldn’t be trying to make decisions first thing in the morning (such as ‘what should I eat?’). Have a morning routine where you always do the same thing that helps improve your health and wake you up. I have a free challenge that helps you do this which you can get to by clicking here.
3) Have a ‘night time routine’ – As well as a routine that helps you wake up, you should also have a routine that helps you nod off peacefully. Reading, relaxing, keeping it dark and avoiding caffeine are all things you should implement. While this subject would require a whole new post, it’s important to note that one of the reasons you stay up late is not because you aren’t tired, it’s because of your actions in the evenings.
Why you need extra sleep on the weekend
The reason you sleep extra on the weekend is because you are ‘catching up’ on missed sleep during the week. Every week you become chronically sleep deprived as you don’t get enough Zzz’s. Your body is so tired that it needs to spend overtime in dreamland.
Although it’s making you feel better for now, chronic sleep deprivation (even if you are ‘catching up’ over the weekend) can lead to lots of health problems as you age.
Instead, you should aim to get at least 8 hours in bed every night. Aiming to get your bed time within an hour every night.
My challenge to you
Go 28 days without pressing the snooze button!
Use the 3 tips above to help you get into a good routine. It will be difficult at first. You may find it hard to get to sleep early enough, especially if you’re used to staying up late. If that’s the case just focus on the early wake up first, then avoid all caffeine the next day. This will make you feel very tired for a day but it’s for a good cause. Get to bed as early as you can the next day and wake up at the right time.
A great book you can read to inspire you on this quest is ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod. It has a great morning routine that you can implement
If you get really good at this you can even train your body to wake up early without the need for an alarm. Don’t try that too soon though, I don’t want you blaming me for sleeping in.