Ever since I was a little girl, I have struggled with getting out of bed in the morning.
If you’re engaged in a never-ending battle with your alarm clock, you’re not alone. So many people share this struggle!
Especially when you’re in transition—working all day at your regular job and then all night on your “second job” of transition; dealing with the emotional upheaval and exhaustion of a breakup; not feeling compelled by your current career or the demands of your daily grind—it can be hard to get yourself up and into action each day.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you get to the bottom of your eternal challenge, and to break the habit.
Since I worked through these questions, it is much, much easier to get out of bed most days! (I won’t lie. I still have my mornings…) Many of my clients have experienced huge ahas after working through these questions, too.
1. What is your subconscious story for what should happen when your alarm goes off?
[This is the single most powerful shift for many people I’ve worked with on this topic!]
As someone who constantly struggled with getting up, I had a huge “aha moment” the day I first asked myself that question. I realized that I’d always held a subconscious belief that people who “have it together” just leap out of bed and are fully on their way within seconds of the alarm going off—anything else is weakness.
My image was that if only I was disciplined enough (like those Other People), I should be able to go from deep sleep to feet-on-the-floor with near-to-zero transition time. When I actually articulated that story, I laughed out loud and scoffed at how ridiculous an expectation that is!
Ask yourself—how reasonable is it to ask your body to go from a total sleep state to a fully functional awake state?
When you really think about it that way, it’s kind of a ridiculous thing to demand of your body and mind. Imagine a professional athlete going full-force without a warm-up—0 to 60. You would never recommend it! Expecting your body to go from deep sleep to up and at ’em in no time flat makes equally little sense.
When I asked one client (a lifelong get-up struggler) what her wakeup story was, she said, “I’m supposed to be like the woman in the yogurt commercial!” She mimed shooting out of bed with an exuberant stretch and an open-mouthed smile, throwing open the billowy curtains with joy.
Virtually every struggling getter-upper I know holds the belief (unconsciously) that when the alarm goes out, they should be up and out of bed within 30 seconds, ready to go—and it is only because there is something wrong with them that they can’t do that. But the idea of doing that is so atrocious that of COURSE they hit snooze rather than face it!
Get curious about your own story. If it’s an image of the yogurt girl, ask yourself how reasonable that really is. And then you’re ready for the second question:
2. What transition routine would feel really good to you in the morning?
Now that you know your story, design a daily warm-up for yourself.
Imagine if your alarm went off and instead of feeling guilty for not getting up right away, your routine was to lie in bed guilt-free for 10 minutes, allowing yourself to wake up.
You might spend this time stretching, cuddling with your dog or cat (the furry little guy pictured above comes leaping into my bed the second he hears the alarm!), listening to music or the radio (see below), meditating, reading an inspiring quote or watching an inspiring video that sets you up in a good frame of mind, or setting intentions for the day.
The expectation is not that you leap out of bed to fling open the curtains and greet the world, like my client’s yogurt girl, but that you open your eyes and sit up in bed (so you won’t fall back to sleep) and gently warm yourself up for the day.
That’s something you might actually start to look forward to.
3. What do you use as an alarm?
If you have a nasty buzzer ripping you out of sleep each day, no wonder you want to hit snooze as soon as possible—just to make it go away!
Think of the message that sound may be sending to you. It’s a sound of emergency—shouting at you, “GET UP GET UP GET UP URGENT GET UP RIGHT NOOOOOOOWWWW!!!!” at a time when your body has just been completely at rest. What kind of a tone does that set for your morning?
If you are a habitual snooze-hitter, consider giving yourself a new sound to wake up to. My mornings completely changed when I bought a clock radio that woke me up to NPR—because my brain would get hooked in to the story that was in progress.
Some of my clients find that waking to either soothing or upbeat music makes them want to stay awake to hear it, and makes waking up a more pleasing experience. Others like to wake up to affirmations or guided imagery.
The important thing is to find something that’s pleasing (but not so soothing that it puts you back to sleep), engaging on some level to your brain, and invites you into your day rather than giving you a sense of emergency.
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4. What treat can you give yourself once you’re out of bed?
One of the best investments I ever made was a programmable coffee pot. I feel like I have my own Jeeves living with me. It makes me ridiculously happy. It’s so much easier for me to get out of bed knowing that a hot cup of coffee is waiting for me, and all I have to do is stumble over to get it and pour it.
What little treat can you prepare ahead at night to make your morning nicer? Or what activity can you do once you get up?
Will you give yourself 15 minutes to read your favorite magazine? Do yoga? Just sit and breathe? Watch the morning news?
Making your morning routine something you look forward to can completely transform how easy it is to get up for it.
5. How do you feel about your physical environment upon waking?
Design your physical space to be welcoming, and keep it that way. If you are waking up to a cluttered home and a sink full of dirty dishes from the day before, that is likely to color your mood getting up.
Take time before you go to bed to “set the stage” for your day. Even ten minutes of tidying up at night can make a big difference in how things will look and feel in the morning.
6. How much sleep are you getting, and how much do you need? [Thank you, Captain Obvious!]
So many people tell me, “I know I need more sleep,” and then don’t take the steps to get it.
How can you build your discipline muscle to get yourself in bed earlier? What do you need to say no to in order to have enough time to sleep? What bedtime rituals can you put into place to help you look forward to getting into bed earlier at night, and help you wind down?
If you are consistently not getting enough sleep, no wonder your body doesn’t want to wake up.
7. How do you feel about what you are getting up to do each day?
Now, I will say that while it’s somewhat easier for me to get up when I’m excited about what’s ahead, I’ve never, ever been one to bound out of bed (well, not since I was a kid, and even then, only on Christmas morning). So I know from personal experience that how up for my life I am (metaphorically!) is not always relevant to how up I am for it (literally!).
That said, if you feel dread for what your day holds on a regular basis, it’s understandable that you don’t want to get up, and it’s a sign that you need to take the steps to create a life you’ll be excited about.
Here are a few places to start: try five ways to improve your workday that have nothing to do with work; try one of these “multi-win” ways to bring new people into your life; or learn how coaching can help you create a life you can’t wait to get up for each morning.
Want to feel more motivated to get out of bed each morning? My job is to help you change your life into the one you want. Book an introductory coaching session now to start creating a life you’re psyched about.
What strategies do YOU use to get yourself out of bed in the morning? Share in the comments below.