Setting Your Sleep (Instead of Your Alarm)
Drifting. Resting. Wandering dreamland.
Peace. Tranquility. Sereni—
BROMP BROMP BROMP BROMP BROMP
Few ways of starting the day are more miserable than being shocked out of slumber by a repeated, blaring clang. To make matters worse, many of us decide to go the masochistic route by hitting snooze. (Because who WOULDN’T want to relive the above scenario multiple times every morning?)
If you’re thinking “there must be a better way,” you probably read the title of this post. But you’re also right! There is a better way.
Let’s look at how we can transform our morning pain into morning gain.
You Snooze, You Lose
After an alarm jolts you out of sleep, hitting the snooze button can feel like the most natural thing in the world. Heck—it’s not uncommon for people to intentionally set their alarms earlier than needed so they can have the experience of abruptly waking up and going back to sleep… just to be abruptly awakened again a few short minutes later.
This may feel good during those fleeting moments, but the strategy is inherently counterproductive. Ideally, your body is at the tail end of its REM cycle (the rejuvenation period of the sleep process) when you first awaken. Getting up at this point will give you more energy for the day.
But drifting back to dreamland shortly after waking plunges the body back into a REM cycle, and when the alarm goes off again, the mind has to make a sharp switch to consciousness. This leaves us far groggier and foggier than if we had just stayed awake.
Exhaustion and willpower don’t work well together; resisting the temptation to hit snooze is much easier said than done. That’s why the time-tested trick of moving your alarm someplace out of reach is so effective. If you’re properly rested, it should only take a few short minutes of moving around for your sleepiness to wear off, so physically getting up to turn off the alarm solves this issue in one simple action (assuming you don’t lay back down again afterwards, of course).
Melatonin is an indispensable ingredient for proper sleep, but devices like your phone, laptop, and television all emit blue light—which actively suppresses the hormone. The longer into the night you stare at glowing screens, the worse your quality of sleep will be.
This certainly isn’t an advocation of banning nighttime device use; sometimes winding down by surfing the net or catching up on a show is just what we need after a long day. But there are small steps you can take to mitigate the harm.
The next time you’re using an electronic device close to bedtime, turn the screen’s brightness down to its lowest setting. This minor change pays big dividends by reducing the blue light your eyes take in.
If you want to take it a step further, decrease the color saturation on your screen. This can be accomplished through menu settings, free apps like f.lux, or by using the night shift mode on iOS devices. Decreasing saturation changes the display’s output to more closely mirror the amount of light given by Mother Nature after the sun goes down. This better syncs with our biological clocks, allowing us to still get quality sleep after burning through a nighttime video game session or online shopping tear.
Schedule Your Success
As off-putting as it might seem, keeping a consistent schedule is perhaps the best thing you can do for the overall quality of your sleep. That means going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning—including on days off.
That means if you have to get up early during the work week, you can kiss sleeping in on the weekends goodbye. That may sound terrible at first, but the benefits more than make up for it.
Here are just a few advantages a steady sleep schedule provides:
- Higher focus
- Reduced insomnia
- Elevated positivity
- Improved immune system functionality
- Better memory
And those perks are just the tip of the iceberg. Sleeping in a couple days each week isn’t quite as tempting when you realize what it requires you to give up.
Make Your Dreams Come True
If you have bad sleep habits, they’ve likely developed across many years. Breaking the cycle won’t happen overnight, so don’t give up at the first sign of trouble.
Why not set a goal to try these strategies for a week? Just commit to seven days—no more, no less. At the end, evaluate how you feel to see if permanently incorporating these techniques will make a tangible difference in your day-to-day life.
A more invigorating rest is within your reach—so long as you don’t sleep on the facts.
P.S. Need further convincing? Check out this article where we get an expert opinion by interviewing an actual sleep doctor!