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Best Way to Wake Up

If Waking Up Is the Worst Part of Your Day, Try This Sleep Doctor's 1 Simple Trick

Smiling woman in Barcelona enjoying a cup of coffee at the balcony

In a perfect world, you'd get out of bed naturally at the same time every morning. You'd feel refreshed, energized. You wouldn't even want to hit the snooze button and crawl back under the covers because you'd be so ready to start the day. Sound familiar? Yeah, me neither.

For most people, waking up during the weekday grind isn't a fun thing. It can feel almost impossible to get out of bed when your alarm goes off for the first (or ninth) time. Waking up shouldn't have to be such a drag, but what can you do to make it better?

One solution comes from Rafael Pelayo, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine. And, lucky for us, it's something you can do tomorrow morning — no fancy light-up alarm clocks needed (although they do look pretty cool).

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What's the secret? It's simple: "You have to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, something you look forward to," Dr. Pelayo told POPSUGAR. This is a little easier if you enjoy whatever it is you do on a daily basis — work, classes, taking care of kids — but you might not, and even if you do, that may not work every day. No matter how much you might love your job, it's not at the forefront of your mind first thing in the morning, when all you want to do is roll over and go back to sleep.

In fact, starting with something smaller and more specific is even more effective. "I recommend doing something you enjoy first thing in the morning," Dr. Pelayo said, before you get dressed, brush your teeth, or even get out of bed, if you can. It doesn't matter what it is, he said: reading, eating breakfast, playing an instrument, or even just watching a funny video.

Doing something you really enjoy will help you feel more awake physically, sure, but even more importantly, it gives you a reason to wake up, and specifically a positive reason. If the only way you can get out of bed is by threatening yourself ("You'll be late to work! You'll miss the train! Traffic is getting worse!"), waking up becomes something negative, something you dread. It starts to feel like an obligation, which it definitely is — but that doesn't mean it has to be a bad one. Doing something you love first thing reframes the morning. Before, you had to wake up; now, you get to wake up and do this fun activity. Before long, you'll start to associate the morning with something positive, which gives you energy and stops you from reaching for the snooze button.

If you're still having trouble, be a little stricter and set a rule for yourself. "I tell people that if they skip the activity, or oversleep it, they can't do it again until the next day," Dr. Pelayo said. Harsh, maybe, but a way to keep you on track and accountable. It also forces you to look forward to waking up the next morning, no matter how rough today was.

The best way to wake up, then, has less to do with what alarm you use or what time you set it for and more to do with your mentality when it goes off. "If you hate waking up, you'll learn to hate your alarm, no matter what noise you use," Dr. Pelayo said. This trick gets to the heart of the problem. Planning a favorite activity first thing in the morning, or focusing on something you're looking forward to later in the day, will help you feel more energized and even excited for your wake-up call.

Image Source: Getty / martin-dm
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