Thursday, February 3, 2011

Waking Up

Why is waking up so hard?

This morning, I awoke to my backup alarm clock. I am always worried that I will sleep through my alarm clock, or that I will turn it off in my sleep, or fail to set it properly when I go to bed. So I always set two alarms to increase the probability of setting the alarm correctly and not sleeping through it. This morning, I was glad for the extra alarm, since I don't remember turning off my first one (I checked later, it was set correctly...I must have dismissed/snoozed it in my sleep)

This brings me to my second point. When you wake up, you should always snooze your alarm. If you start turning off you alarm first thing when you wake up, then you will develop habits to turn off your alarm more efficiently. You will literally be better able to turn off your alarm with your eyes closed while asleep (The metaphor for really easy things that come second nature to you: “I could [insert action] with my eyes closed/fast asleep”). However, if you always snooze your alarm, then even if you accidently snooze your alarm in your sleep, then you will have more chances to wake up when your alarm goes off again and again.

This brings me to my third point. You should always have a battery powered alarm. Just in case the power goes out and your clock resets. Also, you should change the battery in your alarm clock at some point in your life... (J/k, you should change it more often).

But in all seriousness, I think that the only guaranteed way to wake up is to set two battery powered alarm clocks. Then you will never sleep through your alarms. Unless it is Shabbat, or you are really tired...

This leads me to my fourth point; the gist of this blog post. Why is it so hard to wake up? Ok, there will be some morning people who will respond: "What are you talking about?", so let me rephrase the question: "why is it so hard for some people to get up?"

My thinking is that it starts with going to bed too late in the first place. The logic is that if you aren’t a morning person, you are a night person, which means you are up late (AKA up past 10). Perhaps people have an affinity for doing work at night, or doing some activities in the night time, and therefore prefer to stay up later. With their lack of a good night's sleep, they have trouble waking up in the morning.

However, I think another piece to the puzzle has to do with your mind's alertness. Sometimes I fall asleep and swear to myself that I will wake up and start working on some project. However, when I actually wake up, I no longer feel motivated to work on the project. It’s as if I haven’t thought about that project in hours (har har). Clearly, when I awake, I am not in the mindset to want to do things that I previously thought I would when I was fully awake. I failed to take into account my future mindset and therefore set goals that were unrealistic.

This demonstrates that when I wake up, I must be lazier and less motivated then when I go to sleep. But this doesn't explain why when I have to go to the airport, or do something important; I always wake up on time and urgently. There has to be more psychological factors going on to sleep that I am not considering. Perhaps when we fall asleep when we know we have urgent/exciting things to do, they are always in our minds, and therefore we wake up from a usually less relaxing sleep?

Either way, when I wake up, I usually give myself 5 min before I decide whether to fall back asleep or not. Usually when I wake up, I always default to sleep. But after 5 minutes, I find that the decision becomes more realistic as my mind's gears start turning again.

Any thoughts?


Noah said...

So, I just leave my alarm clock on the other side of my dorm room, requiring me to get out of bed to turn it off/snooze, at which point I am awake (a feet hitting the floor thing....). Granted, I also tend to wake up 3 minutes before my alarm, regardless of when I set it for, so I may just be weird.

Abba said...

There is a lag between a mind asleep and a mind away, the transition is usually not instant (it can be shortened if there is severe danger, if you wake up and the room is on fire, you wake up really fast) there may be anywhere from 5-15 minutes until one can focus on immediate needs and even longer before one can "face the day" (Some people need to daven first, some need a cup of coffee etc before real creative thinking can begin) We can train ourselves to wake faster and, with routine, we can be fully awake faster.
As for the alarm clock issue. I think you should set the alarm for when you need to be awake to be on time for your day's activities and never use the snooze alarm. Just get up when the alarm goes off. A battery backup should help if there is a power failure. As for human failure to get up, I agree with Noah, put the clock across the room and be forced to get out of bed to turn it off. There are no end to the excuses as to why we want 5 more minutes of sleep. Just get up and get on with the day. And try to go to bed early enough so you feel rested in the morning.

Benjamin L. Miller said...

Nature Knows Best
Ogden Nash

I don't know exactly how long ago Hector was a pup,

But it was quite long ago, and even then people used to have to start their day by getting up.

Yes, people have been getting up for centuries,

They have been getting up in palaces and Pullmans and penitentiaries.

The caveman had to get up before he could go out and track the brontosaurus,

Verdi had to get up before he could sit down and compose the Anvil Chorus,

Alexander had to get up before he could go around being dominant,

Even Rip Van Winkle had to get up from one sleep before he could climb the mountain and encounter the sleep which has made him prominent.

Well, birds are descended from birds and flowers are descended from flowers,

And human beings are descended from generation after generation of ancestors who got up at least once every twenty-four hours.

And because birds are descended from birds they don't have to be forced to sing like birds, instead of squeaking like rats,

And because flowers are descended from flowers they don't have to be forced to smell like flowers, instead of like burning rubber or the Jersey flats,

But you take human beings, why their countless generations of ancestors who were always arising might just as well have spent all their lives on their mattresses or pallets,

Haven't inherited any talent for getting up at at all, no, every morning they have to be forced to get up either by their own conscience or somebody else's or alarm clocks or valets.

Well, there is one obvious conclusion that I have always held to,

Which is that if Nature had really intended human beings to get up, why they would get up naturally and wouldn't have to be compelled to.