Ah the salad days of my youth, when waking up from slumber required nothing more than a slight beam of sunlight, or a soft call from my mother; nothing more was needed for me to spring from my bed, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to take on a new day full of joy and excitement.

(Well that’s how I remember it, okay)

Since those days, however, waking up has become something different; something to be dreaded; something to be rebelled against on weekends, and indefinitely delayed with snooze buttons. And when I do eventually convince myself that my sweet slumber is less important than the mundane activities I have laid out ahead of me, I resolutely drag my sorry corpse out from under my covers. Bleary-eyed, I grope weakly for the light switch (my last hope in these dim moments to shock myself into some sort of alertness). Then, all is white, and my pupils dilate painfully, bringing me into the land of the living once more.

There has to be a better way.

This morning, I slept through my alarm, and only managed to wake up with a half hour to get showered, dressed, eat, and bike to work. My morning was terrible, I didn’t eat, and narrowly avoided a fatal collision with a jogger in my mad rush to be at work on time. However, for the last two months, mornings like this have been few and far between. This morning prompted me to write a post about what I’ve been doing lately (and did wrong today) to improve my mornings , and reduce my JMR (jogger manslaughter rate).

1. Never Hit Snooze. Ever.

I’m still convinced that had I never had an alarm clock with a snooze button, I’d be able to wake up like a kid on Christmas. Unfortunately, snoozing has become a firmly ingrained habit, to the point that I can set my alarm clock across the room from me and still manage to hit snooze without getting out of bed. (I don’t know how it happens. Just call me Mr. Fantastic). However, on the odd morning where I wake up and realize I do not have time to hit the snooze button (which involves noticing the time, remembering what day it is, and comprehending how much I have to do to get ready, all before my hand hits the snooze button) and I do get up, I find that I’m much more alert and comfortable than when I get up after snoozing even once. Lately I’ve been applying this with reasonable success. I have more presence of mind and don’t need to worry about getting trapped in an endless cycle of poor sleep and strange ┬ádreams that involve ringing things.

This morning, however, I slept straight through my alarm. The snooze button was, therefore, not the culprit. Bringing us to…

2. Do Something in the Morning

Having an actual reason for getting up in the morning helps an awful lot, especially if that reason is something better than going to work (/school). Back when I was getting ready for my grading, I was waking up to complete part of my requirements. While this was a more motivating reason than the job I was later attending, it was not all that exciting (“Yes! 160 more pushups!”)

One thing I do like a lot is eating, especially breakfast foods. One of my fondest summer memories is family breakfasts on the Georgian Bay: eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, fried potatoes, or whatever else we saw fit to have that day. I’ve thus taken to making large (occasionally too large) breakfasts. While I’m sure my cholesterol has gone up (lol I’m 19. What do I care? I’m going to live forever.) having something to do in the morning that I enjoy is an awesome motivator to get out of that dastardly bed!

This morning, I fully intended to make toad in a hole (fried egg in a hole in a piece of bread) and pancakes, along with a bowl of cereal (Reese Puffs) and fruit. I didn’t get to do this unfortunately (my breakfast consisted of a single plum. There is no emoticon to show how I feel about that). The intention, however, was there, so surely this could not be the culprit either!

This brings us to…

3. Be Less Comfortable

So this part requires a bit of an explanation, as I kind of stumbled upon this. I used to never like making my bed- no, I hated it. So I never did it. At some point last year, some switch inside me flipped, and I grew to really admire a properly made bed. So I began going out of my way to not only make my bed, but to make it as near to perfect as I can. This meant hospital corners and a very tight tuck. I did not go so far as to involve a ruler in these antics, and I never achieved a bed that I could bounce a quarter off of (damn fitted bed-spread…) but I did achieve something that gave a feeling of serenity to some deep, mildly-obsessive part of me. Sleeping under the covers of such a bed, however, invariably destroys all of that work. While it is not a terrible concession to re-make the bed in the morning, during a couple of particularly warm nights, I decided I would be better served by sleeping on top of my bed with a small blanket. I found that I got both a better sleep and I was more alert when I woke up, nearly recreating the readiness I felt as a child. I was not, however, overly comfortable (key plot point).

On Sunday, I participated in an event called the Spartan Sprint in Toronto (which they naturally held in Oro-Medonte Township). Not only did I race, but prior to that I volunteered all day as a gladiator (using a pugil stick (giant Q-tip) to knock people down as they neared the end of the race; thousands of people). By the time I got home on Sunday night, I was exhausted and starting to really feel the days exertions, so I was in need of some comfort. I felt there was no harm in sleeping under the covers. And like most addictive things, the first hit was just great. I slept well, woke up on time, and Monday was just fine. However, as I progressed along this path, the ugly side of the covers showed themselves. Literally. I hadn’t made the bed Monday morning, and so it was all too inviting come Monday night, and I made the mistake of sleeping under the covers for a second night in a row. Thus, in seeking the womb-like comfort of my loose, unmade bed, my entire life fell apart (more or less). I did sleep in two hours after all…

While this post should be viewed as a glaring indictment of the life-sabotaging “comforter” industry, it should not be viewed as critical of sleeping in, in general. It is nice to do when one has such a luxury, and probably has health benefits (sleeping for an unlimited period of time rather than a limited one certainly seems like it would help balance out one’s sleep schedule). I’ve just found that the three things listed here have been very effective at helping me break my addiction to oversleeping.

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