Reading Time: 10 minutes
It is still dark. I’m under the warm blanket. I see a silly but interesting dream, when suddenly an annoying sound appears and it gets louder and louder. Ohh … already the alarm. I’m snoozing it. Five more minutes… I can close my eyes for two seconds, and again the alarm screams at me. How is it possible that five minutes pass in the mornings in just a few seconds? I will snooze the alarm once more. I curse myself and the world. Even before getting out of bed, the mood has been spoiled.
Is this situation familiar also for you?
I may have exaggerated a bit, but in my habit workshops I hear quite often that the mornings generally look something like this. Snoozing the alarm in the morning is one of the bad habits that they want to get rid of.
At the same time some participants say that they even enjoy snoozing and deliberately set the alarm earlier than they need. They wake up snoozing the alarm, “surprisingly” discover that they can sleep for another half an hour or so, and then go back to sleep with great pleasure. This seems to work for some people.
Of course, some people jump out of the bed together with the first sounds of the alarm and start their day right away. Some even do it at 5 AM to have time for exercising, planning, and learning something new (e.g. Robin Sharma 5 AM Club).
What did I do to get myself out of the bed without snoozing?
I may have been snoozing the alarm a few times in my life, if at all. This getting out of the bed immediately habit started when I was in school. I slept as long as I could. It was not possible to snooze the alarm, because then I would have missed the bus.
Later, however, in the age of smartphones, I got a stupid habit of staring at the phone after shutting off the alarm. Of course, all the notifications must be reviewed immediately. Certainly there were a lot of important emails during the night and a lot of cool memes posted on social media, all of which need to be consumed right away. In the end, it became an even worse habit than snoozing the alarm. Our brain gets a dopamine rush from anything new and the smartphone is offering just that.
I decided to make it more difficult
Since this scrolling habit started to annoy me, I decided to do something about it. I thought how could I make this habit more difficult to do. I decided not to bring the phone near the bed at all. In the evening after setting the alarm I put the phone on the cupboard on the other side of the room. So this meant that I had to get out of the bed and walk to the cupboard to stop the alarm. While standing naked out of the bed in a bit chilly room you somehow don’t want to stare at your phone for a long time. Who would have guessed?
But there was still the temptation to take the phone and get back to the warm bed. To get rid of this I placed my yoga mat in front of the cupboard so I had to step on it first thing in the morning. I used this soft feeling under my feet as a prompt to immediately start my morning stretching and workout. My plan worked. I’m not wasting my time scrolling Facebook anymore first thing in the morning.
The same trick could work to get rid of snoozing the alarm, but I’ve heard that sometimes it doesn’t work. So what else could be done?
Get help from the apps
Instead of being a slave to the phone, you could use this smart machine in your favor. After all, there are millions of useful apps for the smartphone that can help us (unfortunately also tens of millions of apps that do nothing to help us). I did a little research about some sleep applications. Let me highlight some of the more interesting ones.
This app makes stopping the alarm more difficult and offers you a choice of different tasks you need to do to silence the phone instead of simply pressing a button. For example, you can tell the app to close the alarm after you take a picture of your bathroom sink or when you have shook the phone 50 times or when you have solved a math problem or when you have scanned a particular barcode with your phone. After this chosen activity, you have probably come a long way from bed and woken up.
Wakie suggests that instead of the alarm, you can let some stranger call you. I imagine that anyone who doesn’t like talking on the phone at all would be motivated to wake up even before the alarm so they could turn it off and avoid talking to someone. But maybe some people like to talk to a stranger in the morning.
With this app you have to walk a certain number of steps to stop the alarm. Measure how many steps you need to take to reach the kitchen or bathroom. Or how many steps you have to take to run around your house ?
This is an application I use myself. I have a free version of it, which is quite sufficient. It will monitor your sleep and wake you up when you are not in deep sleep. This means that the alarm is not on a specific time, but for example in a half-hour period. I’ve been using it for years and I like it. It can mean that the alarm is sometimes twenty minutes earlier, but waking up is a lot easier when you are not in the deep sleep phase.
Besides, you can find all kinds of wake-up applications. For example, an app that posts something embarrassing to social media when you postpone the alarm, or even an app that takes money from your account if you don’t wake up on time. People really seem to have trouble waking up, as these applications have been downloaded tens of millions of times. Explore and test, maybe you will find something that will help you!
What is the real reason for snoozing?
It is a good idea to find out why exactly we have trouble waking up in the morning. After all, snoozing the alarm is a consequence. The reason is mostly that we haven’t got enough sleep. What is the solution? Very easy – go to bed earlier or take a little nap during the day (what a surprise, isn’t it?). If we really need and want, it should be possible at least for some of us to find the opportunity to go to bed earlier or close our eyes for ten minutes during the day. If you do not have these options, then you should probably make some changes in your life because living at the expense of sleep will ultimately be devastating.
Take a short nap
If you feel very tired during the day, instead of drinking coffee or an energy drink, try finding a way to nap for 10-20 minutes. It may be difficult at work, but you may still find some quiet places behind the corner. Or you can just put your head on the desk for a moment. Put on your headphones and listen to soothing music, some boring podcasts. Or use special apps to help you take a quick nap (search for “power nap”). Many of the modern workplaces have even created special places for napping. It is realized that a rested person is much more productive and more profitable to a business than an inattentive zombie stuffed with coffee. Think about whether you can make this little nap during the day. Agree with your colleagues and your boss that such a thing is necessary and allowed.
Go to bed earlier
But how to get to bed earlier in the evening? Set up a routine and create habits that will help you calm down in the evening and prepare for sleep. First of all, of course, there is the classic tip that everyone already knows (but doesn’t do) – turn off any screens at least half an hour before going to bed. Computer, TV, Tablet PC and of course the phone!
Also, use a blue light filter on these devices, which will make the colors of the screen warmer and dimmer in the evening and will not leave your brain feeling that it is noon. Most phones already have this feature built-in, just turn it on or search for apps that do the same thing (search for twilight, blue light filter, etc.). You can do the same on a computer. This feature already exists in recent versions of the operating systems. For years I have used a program called F.LUX.
If you have been able to get rid of the screens, try to go to bed at the same time every night. This is how the body and brain get used to preparing themselves for sleep. The time for going to bed should be set according to your waking time. Surely you know how many hours of sleep you need to get rested. If you already have a long-lasting sleep debt, the time may initially be even longer. For example, I need to sleep 8-9 hours to be fresh and bright during the day, to last nicely until the evening, and be able to do a workout as well.
What else could be done to get a better sleep?
Often when we get to bed, work and worries start to spin in our head and this keeps our brain awake. I like to read a book to get the daily thoughts out of my head. It works well, but the book has to be carefully selected. It has happened that instead of falling asleep I discover that it is already two o’clock at night, but I still read. This happens when I’m reading a good and very exciting book that I just can’t put away. In my case these are, for example, the books of Dan Brown – I no longer read them in bed.
Also, books full of wisdom that make you think and generate new ideas are not suitable for reading in the bed. Instead, I read, for example, science books or, literature classics that feel boring to me. For example, “The Master and Margarita” was a book that I couldn’t read more than one chapter at a time, and the brain wanted to fall asleep already when I opened the book. It might be the opposite for you, but for me this was an ideal book for becoming sleepy
Sometimes I forgot about the book in the evening, so I created a tiny habit: after making the bed in the morning, I will put the book on my pillow. It is a good reminder. In the past, it happened quite often that after reading I put the book under the bed and forgot it there. Sometimes I found a small library under the bed.
If reading isn’t for you, try listening to something. Either special sleep-inducing meditations or some kind of boring podcasts. Make sure that the audio player stops in some time and is not playing all night.
Sleep is very important to us, having a good rest will make us much more productive, friendly, healthier and better overall. Create habits in the morning that will get you out of bed and evening habits that will get you to bed in time and bring you a good night’s sleep.
Remember, making changes is a long and continuous process. You may not be able to jump out of bed in one week, but you can take small steps every day to make sure you have a good rest and make waking up easier. Make small changes step by step and you will soon prove to yourself that you can wake up in the morning without snoozing the alarm.
Certified Tiny Habits® Coach
Creator of Habits Mastery