How to Get out of Bed When You Are Sleepy as Hell
Surprise! You even get to use the snooze button.
Monday through Friday, my day starts at 4 AM.
At that time of the morning, it’s dark. There is no inkling of daytime to be seen. No muted pink light of the coming dawn. No bird tweets.
It’s literally crickets. There’s only darkness or the cool pale light of a full moon. The bird calls come from owls and there’s often a yell from some unidentified nocturnal creature.
Everything in the world other than the alarm is signaling sleep, sleep, sleep.
But when the weekday comes and you have deadlines, or you’re punching a clock, you’ve got to do one of two things.
- Struggle miserably every single morning.
- Or learn how to use what you have to spring your butt out of bed.
I’ve been waking up at four AM for a long time. It was a struggle at first, but now it actually feels normal. I’ve developed my own system to make it work.
My method is a little bit of science, with a dash of spirituality, combined with a bit of a Jedi mind trick.
My morning routine consists of a series of steps.
Each one is designed to build on the other and create the momentum that gets me up and out of bed each day.
You can take my method and try it out for yourself. It may work, or you may need to tweak it to make it a better fit for you.
You may laugh, raise your eyebrow with skepticism. You may experience an “ah-ha” moment. Either one is fine.
All I can tell you is, it’s working for me. And when you find what works for you, what else matters?
Here’s my step by step wake up process.
1. Use an alarm that makes you laugh or makes you want to dance.
It’s hard to stay sleepy when the beat drops and you get hyped up. It’s also hard to stay sleepy when you’re laughing.
Use these things to your advantage!
- Turn your favorite song into your new alarm.
- Take a snippet from your favorite comedy skit and make it your alarm.
These days I use music, but I used to have an alarm that was a recording of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson saying “Get your candy a… out of bed!”
I like The Rock, plus it started my day off with a chuckle and smile. And I always got up, because you don’t mess with The Rock!
2. Hit snooze.
Yup, you read correctly!
*Cue the laughs and raised eyebrows here*
I know this contradicts everything you’ve ever heard about how counterproductive the snooze button is.
I think the way I use it is how it was originally intended. Or at least how I think it should have been presented. Just humor me and hear me out to the end.
Any tool can be both helpful and harmful depending on how you use it. Many great tools are miss represented by incorrect use. The snooze button is no different.
Most people see and use it to squeeze out a few more minutes of sleep. I think its purpose is to save you in case you end up snoozing after your alarm goes off.
That name “Snooze” is all wrong for our wake up purposes, so let’s rename it to something more fitting.
“The Safety Net”
3. Get out of the sleep position.
I realize that sitting up can be seriously hard to do when you are sleepy as hell. Sometimes it’s like your body refuses to move!
Sitting up is best, but if you can’t do that, just get out of your sleep position.
Here’s what I mean…
- Throw off your blankets.
- If you sleep with socks, take them off.
- If you sleep on your side hugging a pillow, move the pillow away and roll over on your back.
The goal is to make yourself less comfortable and cozy. Anything that is a must-do for you to go to sleep is something you need to undo to wake up.
4. Turn on the lights.
This step is mission-critical!
Do not skip it. Especially if you wake up before dawn.
When you wake in a dark room, your brain is still in sleep mode. If there is light, your brain will get the message that it’s time to wake up and will run your wake-up program in response.
This programming is initiated by light receptors that gauge the brightness of the light around you. If the light is bright, it signals your brain that it’s day time, so you should be awake.¹
5. Ask God to help you.
Again, you may be laughing right now but I’m dead serious.
Philippians 4:6 in the Bible says to pray about everything.
I’ll take some heavenly help any day!
Philippians 4:6 — The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.Feel free to use mine or make up your own.
Talking to God, The Universe, or however you refer to the higher power also gets your mind into thinking mode.
You have to think in order to have something to say. Some of my typical wake-up conversations with God go like this:
- “Lord, thank you for another day.”
- Lord, if you don’t get me up I’m stuck.”
- “Lord, you know I can’t do this by myself. Help!”
- “God, please, please, please help me wake up!” (James Brown inspired)
If talking to God doesn’t work for you, then just talk. A mind that is communicating is awake, so have a conversation with yourself.
6. Think about what you need or want to do today.
It’s time to run through your to-do list for the day.
Once you start thinking about the day ahead, it’s difficult to sleep. Use this tendency to your advantage.
Think of something you’re looking forward to that day. Run those images through your mind. It will excite you and you’ll be ready to get the day started.
If you have something that will take several steps to do, you can start running through the steps. Whatever it takes to get your brain into thinking mode.
There’s some science behind this strategy that will help you too.
You can experience hormonal reactions in response to thoughts and situations that excite you or put you on alert. Adrenaline and cortisol are two hormones that can quickly raise your alertness.
Adrenaline is often released in response to excitement. It can increase blood flow to the brain and muscles as a result.²
This is what happens when you’re sleeping and you hear your alarm go off.
Cortisol is another hormone that plays a part in your sleep-wake cycle, also known as your diurnal rhythm. It is generally higher in the morning when you wake up.³
Put these two hormones together and you have your own biological team working to help you get out of bed.
7. Keep pen and paper on your nightstand for jotting down ideas.
Sometimes I get the best ideas just moments after I wake up.
These thoughts are fleeting so it’s best to jot them down right away so you don’t lose them.
It’s hard to stay asleep when you’ve got the lights on and you’re excited about a new idea that’s so good that you have to write it down right now.
I keep my pen and notebook handy so I can grab these ideas before they are gone.
Remember “The Safety Net”?
You didn’t forget about the snooze button, did you?
If for some reason you still don’t get up, the snooze button will sound the alarm again and give you another chance to get your head out of the bed!
Perhaps you’re thinking that doing all of these could take too much time and slow you down in the morning.
For the most part, going through these mini wakeup tasks is quick, however, there is no rule saying you have to do each one every time.
Most days, I go as far as needed to get my feet on the floor and that’s it. So for instance, if the light does it for me, I stop there and go on with my morning routine.
Use the list as a starting point, adjust it to fit you, and take it as far as you need to get to the goal which is you awake and out of bed.
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Leslie is a success mindset and habits coach. She helps her clients build healthy mindsets so they can achieve mind, body, and spiritual wellness.