What happens when the alarm shatters the silence of the night and brings your sleep to an abrupt end?
If you wake up annoyed and groggy and have a hard time getting out of bed, you share this predicament with one out of every two persons.
It need not be this way. You may be able to overcome this quality-of-life problem quickly. There's one exception, though. If you're suffering from a severe illness (including severe chronic fatigue), you may first require the services of a medical professional.
The Hardship-Wake-Up ScenarioHere is how you may experience the beginning of your waking hours if you are energy-challenged early-on.
(1) Your alarm startles and annoys you. It "gets on your nerves," which is a stressful way of waking you up.
(2) You grope for the clock in the dark and shut it off as soon as you find it.
(3) You know you must get up now. But feeling tired and somewhat depressed, you start negotiating with yourself. Your internal dialog may resemble the one that follows:
A Costly Habit
The delaying tactic described above is even worse than its reputation for several reasons.
One, it prolongs the agony. Remaining in bed and trying, but failing, to get up is depressing, and it often sets a foul mood for the entire day.
Two, the extra time spent under cover won't generate an "energy bonus." It can't rev us up because the nightly sleep cycles — around five for most individuals — are getting more and more shallow. We can't get into periods of energizing deep sleep as the morning approaches. We will, at best, drift in and out of episodes of shallow slumber.
Three, remaining in bed squanders the sleeper's most precious resource — time. Facilitated by repeated use of most alarm clocks' insidious "snooze" features, "just ten more minutes" expands easily into 30, 60 or even more minutes of lost time. Sadly, we hang on to this bad habit even though we often lament about "never having enough time."
The waste of time (the "stuff that life is made of" according to Benjamin Franklin) is even more deplorable than most laggards realize.
In 365 days of dilly-dallying in bed for an average of 30 minutes, we lose 182.5 days — the equivalent of 4.5 forty-hour work weeks (slightly more than one month).
Thus, no longer tarrying in bed for 30 minutes every morning is tantamount to gaining more than one "bonus work month" per year. And no longer wasting an entire hour equals gaining more than two extra months annually.
For many individuals, rising without delay is the best way to tap our single largest "time reserve" — the interval between waking up and getting on our feet.But can we really get ourselves to rise promptly upon awaking? Take heart! Chances are excellent that we can — even if we:
If we permit ourselves to be guided by the best strategies known to us today we can forever give up the dismal Hardship-Wake-Up Scenario in favor of either the Just-Do-It Approach or the step-by-step Easy-Rising Strategy. Which one is best depends on the individual's circumstances.
The Surprisingly Doable "Just-Do-It Approach"
As the term denotes, this approach boils down simply to "just doing it." As such it may appear to be ludicrous to individuals for whom getting up has been a lengthy, unpleasant daily struggle. But please continue reading anyway. Here is what you do.
(1) You silence the alarm, take a few deep breaths and stretch yourself gently in all directions. This feels good and activates your brain and body.
(2) To get into a positive mindset, take an additional minute to silently express your gratitude for some of the things you value in your life (such as the gift of another day; your ability to walk, see and hear; the roof above your head; the support you are getting from family and friends; the job or other opportunities you have; the great country we live in ... etc.).
(3) Now, after one or two minutes of priming, you "just do it," getting on your feet without even the slightest discomfort. You can probably do it in one smooth and easy rolling or pivoting motion or any other way you like.
"Just doing it" is the approach of choice for turning over a new leaf — any leaf.
This is exactly what my father-in-law did to quit smoking. He had been hooked on nicotine for decades and probably never thought that he could get rid of this addiction. But he did!
One day he simply decided to give up his daily dose of 20 "coffin nails." He threw out the "cigs" remaining in his possession and never touched another again. To his great surprise, it was easy for him to make this supposedly extremely difficult lifestyle change. He just did it. "No big deal," he said.
Mr. Carr's Astonishing Success
In my search for practice-tested tips for individuals wishing to kick the habit of overstaying their bedtime, I came across The Allen Carr Easyway to Stop Smoking. In this bestselling self-help book, Mr. Carr describes how he had instantaneously kicked a 100-cigarette-a-day addiction. He "just did it" - without any problem (and without hypnosis, nicotine patches or gums, inhalators, nasal sprays or needles).
In his short book (first published in 1985) he merely relieves his readers of the fears commonly associated with kicking the nicotine habit (suffering withdrawal problems, difficulties coping with stress, having to give up pleasure, etc.). Then he tells them to "just do it." That's it — that's his "method."
The reason for his 90-percent success rate (based on the three-month money-back guarantee for participants in his half-day seminars) is that he convinces his followers that they can do it without adverse consequences and should, therefore, do it right away.
Based on this same simple success formula, Mr. Carr also wrote:
A "Method" that Works
My wife, Ruth, had never heard of Mr. Carr's approach but unknowingly used it to overcome her early-morning distress of long standing.
It had, for decades, taken her almost an hour to gather the strength necessary to drag herself out of bed. But in the morning after having proofread my manuscript for Wake Up to Abundant Energy: 113 Ways to Make it Easy to "Rise and Shine," she got up immediately.
This did not take any superhuman willpower or strength, nor was it an uncomfortable experience, nor did she stumble when she took her first steps. Only one thing was different that morning: she had been convinced that rising right away was not difficult at all — and so she "just did it."
Six months later a famous holistic physician in New York recommended that she forego consuming sugar as well as wheat and other grain products containing gluten. He based his recommendation on a thorough blood analysis.
This meant that she would have to give up favorites such as cookies, cakes, bread, breakfast cereals, whipped cream, ice cream, most fruits (the particularly sweet ones), orange and other fruit juices, soft drinks, dried fruits, etc.
She was assured by the doctor's nutritionist that other patients had succeeded in making this dramatic lifestyle change "cold" — and so she did just that from one day to the next.
The payoff was huge. Her health improved dramatically. Her scary coughing fits dwindled down from dozens a day to just a few. Her Candida infection disappeared. And her weight dropped from 150 to 135 pounds in four weeks. She has remained svelte ever since.
"Just" giving up anything we want to discontinue — including lingering in bed after the alarm rings — appears to be the preeminent approach for action-oriented individuals.
In the best case, they will succeed instantaneously. They will be surprised how easy it is to accomplish what they had formerly assumed to be impossible, such as to rise promptly without getting into drawn-out arguments with their doubting selves.
Having succeeded once they know they can do it again. Having validated the power of "just doing it," they'll probably also be able to help persons who are close to them to duplicate their success.
In the worst case — if "just doing it" does not work out as expected — they can congratulate themselves for having dared to try this instantaneous approach. They can try it again later, or use the more gradual step-by-step strategy described below.
The Step-by-Step Easy-Rising Strategy
In the Step-by-Step Strategy, sleepers move to wakefulness at a slower pace. Rather than getting up right away, they spend about five minutes going through a seven-part action-step sequence.
Because the steps are low, climbing from one to the next is almost effortless. Even severely energy-challenged individuals waking up in dense brain fog can do it. After having silenced the alarm, please proceed as follows.
(1) Take five slow, deep belly-breaths. This will, in less than half a minute, revitalize your brain and body by eliminating carbon dioxide and other waste products from your cells and bringing their oxygen supply to daytime-action-ready levels. You'll be amazed at how much this will energize you if it's done right (see next box).
(3) Smile to yourself. Do it even though nobody will see it in the dark. Because of the "wiring" between your facial muscles and the hypothalamus (one of the brain's major pleasure centers), this will push your mind even more toward an empowering feeling of happiness.
(4) Wiggle your toes. Exercise them with minimal effort —just enough to put your body slightly in motion. Slowly bend them upward while belly-breathing in. Then slowly curl them down as you exhale.
(5) Stretch your arms and legs. Extend yourself in all directions to give your energy another boost. Begin gently. Then gradually increase your tension until it makes your body feel great. This is an indication that your increasing blood circulation has flushed waste and fatigue out of your body tissue and saturated it with a revitalizing oxygen supply.
(6) Now rise! After no more than five minutes of preparation, you're more than ready. Take a few more deep breaths and then "just do it." Get up with an easy sideways rolling motion. Or sit up and swivel to the side of the bed. Plant your feet on the floor and start walking —slowly, if necessary, to avoid dizziness.
(7) Let there be light! Open the curtain or let artificial light flood your room. This will halt the flow of the "sleep hormone" melatonin. You've completed the transition to your daytime operating mode.
Congratulations - you did it! You made getting up a snap rather than the drawn-out aguish it used to be. To master the process, you divided. You solved the problem by breaking it up into seven practically effortless baby steps.
Now, after having validated the procedure, rising will never be a problem again. From now on every day can be a positive experience right from the start.
TIP: Practice this procedure during regular daylight hours so you'll be able to perform it in bed upon waking up.
How to Make the Step-by-Step Strategy Even Easier
What can you do if even the Step-by-Step Strategy does not make getting up as easy for you as you wish? A lot! You can make this strategy more effective by adding one or more of the following steps to your early-morning routine.
(a) Prepare to sleep well. Set the stage for rising easily by getting a good night's refreshing sleep the night before. Taking appropriate action the day before can make the biggest difference in how energetic you'll be when you get up in the morning. Read 14 Steps You Can Take TODAY to Make Getting Up a Lot Easier TOMORROW on this website, EnergizingLife.com or follow the complete procedure in Wake Up to Abundant Energy (an IMMEDIATE "download" for $4.77).
(b) Modify the procedure. Change the Step-by-Step Strategy to meet any special needs you may have. Examples:
(c) Rehearse getting up promptly. Do this three times a day for at least one week. Lie on your bed right after dinner, when you are somewhat tired after the evening meal. Set the alarm to make it ring in three minutes. Practice getting up immediately every time after shutting it off. Because of the conditioning effect of this type of training, it is just as effective as it was for Pavlov's dogs.
(d) Use a "progressive" alarm. Choose one that plays soothing music transposing you first to semi-somnolence, and then sounds the "real," louder alarm after a few more minutes. Or use a clock that imitates the dawning of the day with a steadily increasing output of light, followed by gradually intensifying sounds.