The annoying buzz of the clock radio startles you out of a sound slumber. Or maybe it doesn’t, and you sleep right through it. Either way you’re in trouble because people who wake to an alarm clock are not getting enough sleep. They are fated to struggle through their morning wake-up and the remainder of the day. To prepare yourself for a less painful wake-up you’ve got to get sufficient sleep. If the techniques outlined below prove to be ineffective or you still feel tired even after successfully incorporating them into your routine, a visit to a sleep specialist may be in order.
Our body is designed to work with the sun. When the sun goes down the pineal gland in the brain starts producing melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us drowsy as the sky goes dark. Melatonin production continues throughout the night, spiking in the early morning hours and tapering off once the sun begins to rise.
Part of the reason your brain knows it’s time to wake up is because it perceives light. If you’re trying to wake up in a dark room you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. It’s like trying not to sleep while taking sleeping pills. If you can sleep with the blinds at least halfway open, the sun can help you awaken.
You need 45 minutes of good strong sunlight to affect your inner clock, but there’s still a lot of benefit to simply turning on all the lights in your bedroom or even just looking out the window for a few minutes.
Of course you may not have the luxury of arising with the sun. You can still trick the pineal gland into stopping melatonin production. There are a number of alarm clocks on the market that will begin to glow and slowly brighten over the course of a half-hour. Using these is a much gentler way of starting the day. Here are few examples:
The Philips Hf3470-60 Wake-up-Light wakes you up by simulating sunrise. Its light gradually increases for 30 minutes before the alarm goes off to gently prepare your body to wake up and feel more energetic at the start of your day.
The BioBrite Sunrise Clock not only takes advantage of your biological clock’s sensitivity to low intensity light, it has a white noise option that can mask distracting sounds and lull you to sleep faster. It can cover up the sound of street traffic or a snoring roommate.
The Morning Sunrise System Model SRS100US helps you wake up refreshed. All you have to do is plug your own bedside lamp into the Sunrise System, choose the settings to suit yourself, and your lamp will imitate sunrise and sunset.
You can also enlist your sense of smell to help ease yourself into a state of wakefulness. Just set your coffeemaker for whenever you need to arise. Then you can allow the aroma of fresh java to lure you away from your dreams.
If you just insist on using sound to bring you out of your slumber you should at least listen to something you like. Instead of having your local shock jock jar you, carefully choosing the music you hear when the clock radio goes off will help you to rise more easily. Be warned – you have to choose music that suits your needs. Tuning into slow New Age music will put you right back to sleep.
If you have to get up and at ’em, John Phillips Sousa and his stirring marches ought to become your new best morning buddies. If you’re looking forward to a non-rushed day, your favorite folk or light rock selections would be better.
Light, aroma, and music can all help awake you gently, but the key to exploiting these is rolling out of bed, getting your feet on the floor, and moving your body. Start getting up at the same time every morning. Trying to get more rest by going to bed early at night doesn’t work because you don’t have any control over what time you’ll actually start dozing. If you establish a pattern of waking up at the same time every day, then you will tend to fall asleep at the time that best supports your wake up routine. Then getting up will be much easier.