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Ask Chicagoist: Help Me Wake Up!

By Thales Exoo in Miscellaneous on Feb 22, 2008 8:44PM

2008_02_askalarm.jpgAsk Chicagoist,

So you mentioned that everything's about winter right now -- well I agree. I can't wake up. Nothing seems to be able to convince me to get out of bed, and it's really getting to be a problem. What can I do to convince myself to crawl out of bed in the cold winter months?

Rip Van Winkle

Good morning, Rip.

We suppose going to bed earlier has already occurred to you? If not, give that a try. Granted, if you're like us and your middle name is "insomnia," that won't really help out too much. But we'll assume you understand that the human body actually needs sleep (or so we're told), and aren't just trying to exist on a complete lack of sleep. Not too confusing as to why you're not waking up in that case.

But more likely, we understand, is that it's cold, it's dark, it's February, and it's not spring yet. And those facts are annoying and make staying in bed way more appealing than waking up, working out, standing at the bus stop, and going to work -- in the cold. Well. Do it anyway? Once you're up and moving, and have consumed a pot or two of coffee and are going on about your day, the wonderful cocoon of warmth that is your bed will be but a distant memory.

Our favorite tricks? Get a coffee pot with a timer and have it start brewing ten minutes before your alarm. The delicious aroma (get some good, local Metropolis or Intelligentsia coffee to brew in it) will help penetrate your sleep and wake you. Also make sure you have to actually get out of bed to turn your alarm off, avoiding the incessant snoozing trap, which is bound to just annoy the piss out of significant others, roommates, pets, and people in neighboring apartments.

We think waking up is all about tricking your cold brain into warming up and starting. If you're able, exercise immediately upon waking. Depending on your degree of "morning cloud" this might not really be feasible -- we would probably injure ourselves if we tried to work out in the morning, as we can barely form words and make it to the coffee pot, nevermind holding a conversation or actually running without falling down. Shower right away, or let your brain zone out a little bit longer by watching your favorite morning news program or getting a head start on your daily internet time wasters. It's all about willpower, we assume, and the battle between sweet comfort and doing what you have to do.

Actually, if you like gadgets, we love this little gizmo called the Sleeptracker. It's a watch you wear at night that tracks your sleep patterns. You input what time you want to be up by, and a window of time that you'll permit the watch to wake you in (so 30 minutes before the alarm time, for example), and the watch will wake you anytime in that window that you enter into the lightest phase of your sleep cycle. That ensures the smoothest wake up possible, because you're practically awake anyway. If you don't enter one of those light phases before your alarm time, it'll just go off as jolting and annoying right on time. We were surprised too, but it really does work -- with the caveat that it's best used when you can ensure a full night's sleep, don't have anyone waking up before you, and don't have pets.

What tricks do you use to get going in the morning?

Image via laffy4k

Can't stay awake? Need some advice? Email ask(at)chicagoist(dot)com.