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How to Become a Morning Person

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Bypassing the Snooze Button

On any given day, I hit the darn snoozer anywhere from three to six times. What's the big deal? Turns out, besides robbing myself of 30 to 60 minutes of sleep, I'm messing with my system. "It generally takes about an hour to reach deep, restorative sleep. Your fragmented morning dozing actually leaves you more tired," Dr. Haward explains.

My Bedtime Story

Breaking up with Snooze is hard to do. Beep, beep! I want to throw the alarm clock across the room, but I can't, because Dr. Haward told me to put it in the living room. So I have to leave my comfortable bed to turn it off (well played, sleep doctor!). I stumble to the bathroom, splash some cold water on my face, clip the leash onto my dog, Theodore, and stagger out the door. "Go outside and take a walk right when you get up," I recall Dr. Haward telling me. "Bright light suppresses sleep-inducing melatonin." It works; 10 minutes later I feel surprisingly alert. Lesson learned: Once I'm out among the living, I'm fine. But how the heck do I crawl out from under those covers smiling instead of swearing?

Next morning I try an alarm clock that eases me into reality. The BlueMax Sunrise System Model 320 ($129, grows progressively brighter as 7:30 a.m. nears. "Graduating-light alarm clocks are effective, especially during winter, when mornings are dark," Dr. Breus says. When I open my eyes, my mood is a little brighter too (although I would still rather go back to sleep).

On day three, I sweeten the deal with a get-up incentive. If I wake on time, I get to watch my fave show on TiVo after Theodore's walk (a stop at your favorite coffee shop or breakfast with a pal would also work). My oatmeal is a riot with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, and afterward I'm positively cheerful on the subway.

I experience a breakthrough a week later. My early-rising friend Carolina asks me to meet her at the park for a 7:45 a.m. doggie playdate. I'm pretty sure she thought I would say no on a Saturday, but I rise to the challenge. As soon as I step outside, I'm smiling. The sky seems bluer, my down parka feels cozier; I am in love with the morning! When I run into another friend at the park, she nearly falls over and asks, "What are you doing up so early?"

Status Check

Ever since I discovered my inner morning person, I wake up at five every day. Just kidding. But it's way easier to get out of bed most of the time. The night after my two-week experiment ended, I decided to tempt fate and not set the 7:30 alarm. I awoke at a perfectly respectable 8:00! Now I'm typically up and moving at 7:30 on weekdays and 8:30 on weekends. My energy has increased, I no longer doze off on the subway in the morning, I'm in a better mood, and I've even dropped a few pounds, thanks to my new morning running routine.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2010.

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afhoward11 wrote:

Why do all these people who say they get up at 5 am come to this article to read it in the first place? Obviously this is for people who want to adjust their sleep schedule -- read the title. I for one, found the article very helpful and might try showers and meditation before bed.

11/4/2013 04:29:11 PM Report Abuse
joy.carlson wrote:

who the heck is sleeping til 8 a.m?

10/24/2013 03:31:22 PM Report Abuse
dstein2465069 wrote:

Let me get this straight...I have to spend $130 on a machine that makes noise, $223 for a blanket, and another $130 on an alarm clock? Almost $500? Eh, I think I'll stick to being a night owl. Stupid article and not very practical. Who has time to shower or bathe every night before bed, journal AND meditate? I'd rather sleep thank you very much

10/24/2013 01:16:07 PM Report Abuse
bmruddock wrote:

Loved it!! She and I are snooze experts with our alarms.. Perhaps there is hope for me

10/24/2013 11:54:48 AM Report Abuse
cheryle.bussey wrote:

I think this article is timely. I've wanted to rise earlier to get in a workout, but it's been difficult. So, now I have a plan to follow and no chance to fail. Thanks

10/24/2013 09:59:43 AM Report Abuse

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