How to Wake Up Easier

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Benjamin Franklin once said, "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." But let's be honest here, does that ever really happen in college?

I don't know about you, but I rarely go to bed early. "Early" in my mind is 11 p.m., and most nights I go to bed around 12:30 a.m. When I have to get up for class, it's always a struggle. So I was wondering if there is any way I can improve my mornings. It would be great if the sound of my alarm wasn't an agonizing reminder of all the work I have ahead of me that day. 

In my last blog post, I talked about napping. One of the side effects of taking a nap is waking up with "sleep inertia," which is that horrible groggy feeling you get sometimes when you wake up. It makes it impossible to get out of bed. Luckily, there are several ways to reduce sleep inertia.

The first thing you can do is find an alarm that will gradually wake you up. Instead of a fast, harsh ringing, soft tones that slowly get louder will make getting up much better. Hans Von Dongen, PhD, research assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said that sleep inertia is worsened when you are woken up abruptly. Von Dongen said, "It forces you suddenly into a mode that your body isn't prepared for." He recommends Serenity Zen's alarm clock, according to an article by Melissa Gotthardt on Oprah's website.  

Another habit to make getting out of bed a breeze is to try to reset your internal clock. In other words, make it a habit to get up a little earlier than usual. I also briefly discussed the sleep cycle in my last blog post. Here is the cycle: 

  • Stage 1: This stage lasts 2-5 minutes. It is where the mind is transitioned into sleep, and thoughts are loosened up. 
  • Stage 2: 50% of sleep time is spent in this stage. Energy and stamina are strengthened in this stage. 
  • Stage 3 & 4: 30% of sleep time is spent here. These stages are called "Slow Wave Sleep." It is when your body stops releasing cortisol, and stress is lowered. The mind is cleared of excess information.
  • REM Stage: 20% of sleep time is spent in this stage. This is the point in the cycle where the most recent memories are transferred from the hippocampus to long-term storage in the brain. 
The sleep cycle takes about 90-120 minutes to complete. If the cycle is interrupted early or in between stages, you will feel groggy and unrested. So if you typically are having a hard time waking up, try setting your alarm for 30 minutes earlier. You might be interrupting stage 3 or 4, which are really deep stages of the sleep cycle (Gotthardt). 

Here are some more quick fixes to try and make waking up better, according to an article by Melanie Pinola on "LG's" website:
  • Stretch right when you wake up
  • Set up a morning routine that you'll look forward to 
  • Prepare breakfast in advance
  • Heat your room so it isn't freezing when you have to get out of bed
  • Let the sun shine through the window
There are a lot of ways to improve waking up in the morning. Hopefully these adjustments can make our days start off a little better!

Photo by FunnyJunk/Google Images

1 Comment

I never really used to consider myself a morning person but since getting to college, my 8 AM's are not nearly as bad as I was expecting. I usually go to bed late (around 1 AM) and for whatever reason the nights that I know I have an 8 AM the next day I typically get to bed even later. Stupid, I know, but even in high school I noticed that I somehow felt more alert waking up early with less sleep. The same has been working for college and I don't drink coffee or anything I just sometimes nap throughout the day. I'm curious as to why this is but regardless, I definitely can attest to the fact that an alarm that gradually wakes you up helps a lot. My iPhone alarm wakes me up every morning with some calm ringtone that is loud enough to get me up. As opposed to my old alarm which was loud and high pitched, I'm a lot calmer when I turn this one off. Unfortunately my roommate sleeps for literally 75% of the day so I get ready in the dark with the blinds shut. It isn't until I walk outside that I really feel woken up. I found an interesting link with ways to brighten your morning including having a small amount of sugar (such as in your coffee or cereal) which can help you have better recall memory that day!

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