Episode 52: October 14, 2008
by Stever Robbins
Today's topic is waking up. A listener wrote in:
How do I wake up in the morning? I hit the snooze button a dozen times and still don't wake up. Tired-me knows I should get up, but stubbornly refuses to open my eyes and get out of bed.
Listener, please forgive me for not knowing your name. I have to get up at 6 a.m. for my new job. Your message arrived early in the morning. I was groggy from waking up so I kinda, accidentally, sorta deleted your message by accident. Oops.
As you can tell, waking up is hard to do. I read once that morning people are only 10% of the population. But because they get to work earlier than the rest of us, they control everything. They keep us off-balance by calling 8 a.m. meetings. On Monday. That is the true definition of Evil.
That's because the rest of us don't know how to get up early. "Why not use an alarm clock?" You just don't understand. For some of us, our bodies just don't wake up. They simply refuse. They know at a deep, cellular level that too much morning air can turn you into a chipper, optimistic "morning person," and that would be a tragic betrayal of our pessimistic, fatalistic, cynical selves.
Sleepwalk through the morning
Your question itself has a problem. You ask about waking up early, as if it's possible. It isn't. Trust me. But my in-depth studies have found a solution: sleep walking. When the alarm goes off, don't think "ugh, time to get up." Keep your eyes closed. Get out of bed, keeping your eyes closed. Smile and hum to yourself. Since your eyes are closed, be careful not to step on the beer can, the two-week-old slice of pizza, or the underwear that's probably clean. Head to the bathroom. Brush your teeth and shower, still with your eyes closed, relaxed, dreaming of warm, fluffy things. Like a pillow made of goose down... or your fuzzy rabbit slippers.
You'll find about halfway through your shower, you'll suddenly start to feel more awake. Keep your eyes closed and lazy until you naturally feel the "wake up" call of your body. Then open your eyes and get on with your day.
See, the secret is rhythm. Your guilty feet might got no rhythm, but your sleepy body still does. Your body has a sleep cycle of 45 to 90 minutes. At some points in that cycle, you can wake up easily. At other points, you can't. My sleepwalking technique (and yes, I really do shower while sleeping) really just lets your brain go through the rest of your sleep cycle. The cool thing is that you're just conscious enough that you instantly know when your body's ready to go.
When you use the sleepwalking technique, make sure to move all breakable objects away from the path between your bed and the bathroom. And remember to take off your fuzzy rabbit slippers and pajamas before getting in the shower.
Stretch and think happy thoughts
You can also do things that feel lazy and sumptuous, that get your body moving through its cycle. I like stretching. Trainer Tyler gave me a set of morning stretches. Sometimes I roll halfway over and stretch out my chest when I first wake up. Then I keep rolling, plop onto the floor (ugh. That wasn't the floor. That was the pizza.) and, still asleep, arch and flex my back to get the circulation going.
When you start to feel a glimmer of consciousness, don't just open your eyes and get on with your day. That would be forcing things. Instead, mentally review all the things you're excited about today. Riding in your new car. Seeing that special someone you love so much. If you can't think of anything, think about what you love in life in general. Bluebirds. Ladybugs. Brown paper packages tied up in string (that have been vetted by the Department of Homeland Security, of course). If you truly can't think of anything, go back to sleep. You'll enjoy it better.
Speed up your mental voice
As you ponder the things you're looking forward to, start speeding up your mental voice, talking about those things. Say, "Gee, I can't wait to try on the new lycra-and-plaid pants that Bernice gave me for my birthday!" If you insist on thoughts like, "I don't want to get up" or "It's so warm in bed," just tack on a new, exciting ending. It doesn't have to make sense. It just has to lead to more energy. Try it. It works. "I don't want to get up up and away, I'm superperson!" or "It's so warm in bed on the beach when surf's up! Cowabonga!" The secret is to get your mental voice speeded up and having fun.
I hope this helps. The alternative is swapping brains with someone who has insomnia. After all, if they could have your sleepiness at night, and you could have their insomnia in the morning, life would be perfect. Now open your eyes, growl or snort like the Sabre-Tooth Stud-Muffin you are, and go LEAP into your day!
This is Stever Robbins. E-mail questions to email@example.com or leave voicemail at 866-WRK-LESS. Conquer your e-mail with my audio program You Are Not Your Inbox: Overcoming E-Mail overload at YouAreNotYourInbox.com.
For information about keynote speeches, workshops, or other appearances, visit SteverRobbins.com for details.
Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!