My Favorite Wake Up Hack

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Have trouble waking up on time or at all? Have you developed a super human ability to completely tune out that blaring alarm clock right next to your ear? And, when you do finally wake up, are you refreshed and ready for your day, even after a short night?  Here is my free(!) and powerful wake-up hack that works without an alarm clock and puts you on your best footing for the day ahead.

I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. 

Unlike some, I get pretty solid, consistent sleep without needing to try too hard. 

  • On airplanes? Absolutely. 
  • Tent camping? Sleeping on the ground or a picnic table? Ahh, fresh air & stars.
  • Bed of nails? Will report if/when but probably.

Sure, like everybody, I’ll have a bad night now and then, and there was that one time when I didn’t sleep for a week straight. But 99% of the time, I’m clocking 6-7 solid hours starting around 10 minutes after I lie down–sometimes 11 minutes.

It’s always been like this for me. It likely has something to do with me being male and a morning person, which are two traits which tend toward better sleep profiles, apparently.

If anything, I used to have problems on the other side of the sleep disorder spectrum – trouble waking up on time, fresh and ready to face the day.

This was an issue during my high school and college years where course loads, athletics, and part time work, and general mental and physical development all required extra sleep but seemed to never allow for enough of it.

So, waking up was hard some days.

After college, my job meant traveling to foreign countries, where red eye flights, jet lag, and late night sales outings could really ruin your day at the office.

Over time, I came up with a nearly foolproof wake-up-hack that could get me out of bed and ready for the day regardless of hours slept. 

Ditch the Phone. Wake up Without An Alarm Clock

This hack relies on an internal clock without the need for an alarm clock. This is such a great feature, because bringing your mobile device to bed with you is a terrible idea for plenty of reasons we’ll go into some other time.

So, ditch the alarm clock and leave your phone in another room. Start enjoying the deep, peaceful sleep so many people are missing these days and wake up ready to go.

My Reliable Wake-Up Recipe

Here’s the trick. It’s really only 2-3 steps, but who doesn’t like a good listicle?

  1. Your Nighty Night Routine Doesn’t Factor In Here
    Your bedtime routine doesn’t really impact this trick, I’ve found. This works on those good nights when you are in your favorite PJs and reading a book feeling so proud about how you’ve already laid out tomorrow morning’s clothes on the floor next to your bed. At least, this is what I’ve heard from others…

    It also works after you come dragging home from the 10 pm dinner and drinks and 12 pm night out with the European sales team the same day you arrived from California.

    As long as you can find your hotel room, you’ll be fine.
  2. First, some visualizing
    Before drifting off, lie on your back, look up at the ceiling and think for just 30 seconds about what time you need to wake up, why, and the first thing or two you’ll need to do upon arising. Visualize all this in your head.

    And, this may not be for you, but I say allow your mind to surface all of the anticipated and overblown imagined horrors of the next day. You are probably stressing about them subconsciously anyway. This is a limited-time exercise in consciously dumping all of that garbage, so you can really rest. It’s different than worrying. It’s more like an inventory or naming exercise.

    Get it out of your system and move on to the next steps.
  3. Do Like Bill Haley and The Comets
    Once you’ve terrified yourself, stop.

    Still lying on your back looking at the ceiling, hold your physical hand up, so you can count on your fingers.

    Targeting your wake up time, count backwards or forwards on your fingers, enumerating each of the whole hours you should be able to squeeze in between now and reverie.

    So, if it’s midnight and you need to be up at 6, count backwards or forwards on your fingers, naming each of those 6 whole hours. Eg, “1 am, 2 am, 3 am, 4, am, 5 am, 6 am.” Do this a few times until you feel your mind is convinced. Huh?  Weird, I know, but I’ve realized over the years there’s a difference between simply doing the exercise (doesn’t work) and fully convincing myself I’m actually going to get 6 hours of sleep.

    This works for a regular 8 hours just like it does for an emergency sleep of 2-3 hours.
  4. Pause for Gratitude
    After the counting exercise, pause and be grateful for how many hours of sleep you can look forward to. Even on a short night, be thankful for the fact that you get at least what amounts to a 2 or 3 hour nap. I mean, what if you had to face the day after no sleep at all.

    This is probably just a long way of expressing something about the power of positive thinking, but it really is an anxiety buster.

    Focus on the good you will get out of the next few hours, not the negative or lacking aspects of a short night.

    And, if you’re looking forward to a full night of sleep, say a prayer or have a thought about how lucky you are to be in a safe place with a roof (hopefully?) and nothing to do but sleep & dream for the next 7-9 hours.
  5. There’s always something to look forward to…
    I know, I know. More Polly Anna. Sorry; not sorry!

    When I was a kid, the thing I looked forward to the most in the morning was cold cereal.

    These days, it’s more like that first cup of coffee or getting outside early enough to catch a glimpse of Venus glimmering all alone against the pale blue morning light.

    There’s always something you can look forward to, no matter how small the delight nor how bad the rest of the day threatens to be.

    Focus on that one thing to look forward to. Make it your final and only thought and drift off.
  6. Rinse/Repeat As Needed
    “Didn’t work, Turney! I want my money back!”

    Worries still got you wide awake? We’ve all been there. Just go through the exercise again, from start to finish. Have you been awake for the last hour or two? Revise the numbers and try it again.

    By the way, my method comes with a 100% money back guarantee. If it doesn’t work, simply return it to the manufacturer in original container with proof of purchase.

Worry Not About Tomorrow

I believe my method works mostly on the power of positive thinking to counter our natural tendencies toward anxiety and stress. These are the real killers they say. Just about anything you can do to resist worry is pure health.

There’s something else here about being physically present, which is increasingly difficult in a digital-mobile age. This is where turning off your screen and counting on your physical fingers helps your mind be where your body is–safe and warm in bed.

Here’s to our health and a good night’s sleep, no matter how short.