Do you consider yourself a "morning person"? Does the idea of waking up before sunrise get you excited? Do you cherish your quiet mornings where it's just you, your pj's, and your to-do checklist for the day ahead?
If so, hen this entry ain't for you, because, honestly, I envy you. I wish I could start my days hours before sunrise instead of hours after most of society wakes up. The only thing I know at 5:30am on any given day is that my pillow is unbelievably more comfortable than it was when I went to sleep a few hours prior. And I simply can't resist the warmth of a pillow that has just spent the last 6 hours being contoured to my face.
But, all good sleep must come to an end. No matter how many times I hit the snooze button, my work day still starts at the same time. And although I've tried to reason with him before, my boss doesn't seem to understand my medical requirement to sleep in until 10am, regardless of deadlines and presentations and reports. He tells me that I'm suffering instead from something known as "first-world problems." I'll have to check that out on WebMD later...
In the meantime, to deal with such inconvenience to my sleep schedule, I have started to employ three useful tricks to help shock me into cognizance in the morning:
1. Bright Light
For this technique, one rule reigns: the brighter, the better. I have a window in my bedroom that mostly faces east. I have found that if I keep my blinds set open, then as the sun rises slowly, it slowly lights up my room - and thus, my face - to the point where I get pulled slowly out of slumber even if I still have another 45 minutes on my alarm (if your windows don't face east, you'll need to open more blinds to maximize how much light comes in). At first, this takes some getting used to, as it'll feel like you're being robbed of a precious extra 45 minutes of sleep. But, stick with the sunrise for a week, and you'll find that you will feel more naturally awake by the time your alarm sounds than you would if you instead slept in pitch darkness until it sounded off.
The reason why is simple - you're setting your internal clock to recognize a slow and progressive wake-up time, which gives your brain a few minutes to reduce the chemicals and signals that help you sleep and replace them instead with those that help you wake up and start your day. Otherwise, if you zonk until the alarm goes off, you're essentially playing "SURPRISE WOO!!!" with your body - it's an unpleasant shock to your system that's fueled by adrenaline, which tweaks your nervous system.
2. Cold Water + Your Face
Some people may roll their eyes at this one for being too "archaic," but some things are perpetually true no matter how much times change. When you're barely awake and feeling an inch shy of Zombie Status, a splash of cold water on your face will do wonders to stimulate your sensitive nerves and send a signal of rejuvenation right smack into your neural cortex. This will be just the jolt you need to do achieve the classic Splash 'n Dash. A hands-full splash of cold water into your face, a brisk wisking of the hair, and you're ready to dash out the door to work. It may not keep you awake once you settle into your cubicle, but it will provide you with the system-shock you need to get you up and out the front door to make it to work on time.
3. Coffee. Lots of Coffee.
When all else fails, pick yourself up a relatively inexpensive drip coffee machine with timer (usually $20 or less at your local Walmart) and set that bad boy to start drippin' the black magic at least 20 minutes before you wake up. That way, when your first alarm goes off, your nasal orifices are already packed with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, sending that euphoric signal to your brain that there's caffeine waiting in the kitchen. You might get through a couple snooze alarms, but soon enough the tantalizing scent of your brewed roast will get you rolling out of bed. You'll know that even if you're dead tired, you're just a cup of fog-lifter away from being on point and ready to start your day.
What's your trick to getting your engine running first thing in the morning? Sound off and let us know in the comments below, or email me at Peter@CubicleLife.com. I'd love to try out some of your tricks and secrets for myself!