Alarms going off. A dog barking in the distance. A wall of frosty air hits you like a ton of bricks, but your body is so stiff you can barely shield yourself from the cold.
No, It’s not the apocalypse. This is a plotline straight out of the science fiction movie going down in your bedroom every morning.
We’re going to be frank here: waking up sucks. And the only thing worse then hearing that alarm go off and prying yourself from the bed, is doing it in the winter.
We’ll never be one of those “morning people” who bop out of bed and perform a few yoga sequences before savoring a green tea while they jot down their gratitude list (all before 6 a.m.). You either? That’s okay. We can still tweak our morning routines to make getting out of bed a whole lot less painful.
- Set your alarm clock to your favorite song, suggested Dr. Tara Zuckerman, psychologist at The South Florida Psychological Group. The first step in preventing a toddler-worthy meltdown when you get out of bed is making that alarm a little more pleasant. It’s only common sense: Aren’t you more likely to respond positively to MJ serenading you than someone blowing a whistle in your face (nonstop until your hit them)? We thought so. And go for something upbeat—we love Adele as much as the next melancholy lover, but hearing “Hello? It’s me” just sends us deeper under the covers.
- See the light. As you begin to bop your head to your favorite song, resist the urge to hit snooze and moon walk your way over to the window to open the curtains. Even if you can’t resist crawling back into bed, that light will begin to work its magic. “Expose yourself to bright light as soon as you can upon awakening,” said Dr Robert S Rosenberg, a board-certified sleep medicine physician and author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day. “If you live in a state where it’s usually dark and cloudy in the morning consider buying a dawn simulator alarm clock,” suggested Rosenberg. “These clocks begin to give off bright light 30 minutes before your alarm goes off. Several studies have shown that when used, people tend to wake up more energetic and go to bed more easily the following night.”
- Wake up and smell the coffee … literally. The aroma of coffee wafting in from the kitchen will pull you right out of your deep sleep, and knowing it’s already freshly brewed and waiting to be poured into your favorite mug will make it that much more appealing. “Set your coffee maker’s timer to start brewing about 10 minutes before you wake up,” said Rosenberg. “The smell of fresh coffee can trigger a conditioned response inhibiting you from hitting the snooze button.” Research conducted on sleep-deprived rats (and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry) showed that simply smelling coffee may alter the activity of some genes in the brain, reducing the effects of sleep deprivation. And since we wake up most mornings looking like sleep-deprived rats, this is one study we’ll put to the test.
- Set your thermostat. One of the absolute worst things about waking up in the winter months is leaving the warmth of your bed to be met by a wall of frigid air—and then sprinting across the ice-cold floor to the bathroom. “If you have a timed thermostat set it so that the temperature begins to increase about two hours before awakening,” said Rosenberg. Not only will it make it much easier to throw off your comforter and head to the shower, but “the rise in temperature increases your core body temperature and helps to avoid prolonged sleep inertia.”
- Stick to a schedule. We wait all week for glorious Saturday morning when we give our alarms the day off and laze around watching Netflix until noon, only getting up to grab our bacon egg and cheese from the delivery guy (which we eat, you guessed it, in bed). But as hard as it may be, resist the urge to sleep later on weekends, advised Rosenberg. “Try to maintain a similar sleep wake schedule on the weekends. If you are sleeping in until 11 a.m. on weekends, you’re going to have a hard time convincing your internal biological clock to get up at 7 a.m. on Monday. This will only further disrupt your circadian clock and worsen your mood.”
- Have something to look forward to. We’re back to that annoying morning person: Part of the reason they greet the day with such enthusiasm is that they’re looking forward to their morning routine—the yoga, the green tea, the gratitude journal. While waking up an hour earlier than we need to isn’t in our life plan at the moment, adding just one thing to your morning routine that you look forward to will help make it easier to drag yourself out of bed. It may be that cup of coffee—but if pumping caffeine into your veins just isn’t enough motivation, arrange another morning activity that will provide a mood boost, like eating your favorite breakfast or spending time with a loved one or pet before work, suggested Zuckerman.
- Prepare the night before. “Pick out your clothes the night before so you can have an extra few minutes of sleep,” said Zuckerman. And don’t stop there: have your gym bag packed, your lunch made, and ingredients for breakfast ready to assemble. Minimizing the number of things on your morning to-do list will make it less daunting to wake up and start the day, and leave wiggle room for one extra snooze cycle.
- Have morning sex. Is anyone going to fight us on this one? Didn’t think so. A little morning sexy time is the foreplay you need to rev you up for the day ahead—it’s something to look forward to, will definitely snap you right out of your groggy state, sets your mood off in the right direction, and warms you up, which solves the whole it’s freezing in your room dilemma. (And you only need to set your alarm two minutes earlier, right?) Plus, we give you permission to count this as a workout, which means you now have bragging rights about how you finally did cardio before work.