During most of college, I had an awesome sleeping habit. My alarm
was set for 7:30 am every day, without exception. And, every day,
without exception, I would wake up at 7:28 am, two minutes ahead of
It didn’t matter when I went to bad the night before. 10:00 pm,
2:00 am, it didn’t matter; though, if I had stayed up late, I would
get sleepy sooner and go to bed earlier next time.
But near the end of college, that magic broke. I started
struggling to maintain a decent wake schedule, waking up closer to
10:00 am, even with a normal day-time job.
Although I still don’t have the amazing abilities I had in college,
I was able to get myself back to a good wake schedule. Here’s how I
Reinforce your alarm response
On a day that you have some extra time, set your normal alarm for a
few minutes from now. Get in bed, close your eyes, and relax. As
soon as your alarm goes off, jump out of bed. Yes, really: jump.
Don’t just roll out—be active. Repeat this several times.
This is especially useful if you find yourself sleeping through
your alarm, and not remembering that it even went off.
Align your eating schedule
Your sleeping rhythm is affected by several inputs, one of those
Eat breakfast soon after waking. I usually eat something within 10
minutes of waking, although an hour or so might be just as good.
Don’t put off breakfast! It tells your body that this is a time to be
Don’t eat right before sleeping. If you must eat something, keep
it small and light. Fat and protein extend your digestion, and will
make you sleep in. Avoid simple carbohydrates as well, as they will
keep you awake.
Fast to make drastic adjustments
If your sleep schedule is way off of where you want it to be, skip
dinner. The lack of digestion lets your body sleep more easily, and
you’ll be more likely to eat a larger breakfast in the morning,
kicking your digestion into full gear.
If you constantly struggle to keep your sleep schedule set, you
might consider fasting (dinner) on a regular basis.
Get plenty of sunshine
Sun shining on your skin creates vitamin D and other chemicals that
are essential to effective use of other nutrients, good mood, and even
your sleep cycle.
If you work inside most of the day, take regular breaks to go
outside. Walk around the building at the least, or find some nearby
landscaping that you like and lay down in the sun.
If you really can’t get natural sunlight, many people recommend
full-spectrum lamps as fairly good substitutes.
Have something to look forward to
If you go to sleep with nothing but worries, you’re much more
likely to want to sleep in. The day has nothing positive, so why not
put it off, right?
So, about 30-60 minutes before you go to bed, think of one or two
very positive things for the coming day. Then, make sure to visualize
those as vividly as possible as you fall asleep. When your alarm goes
off in the morning, you’ll wake up excited, even if you’re not
consciously thinking about those things.
Don’t try to come up with something positive once you’re already in
bed—you’re likely to fall asleep before you do, or to not have enough
visualization time for them to sink in well enough. Take the time to
prepare for tomorrow!
You might be in genuinely stressful or negative situations right
now that are near impossible to avoid thinking about. That’s okay;
acknowledge it, but always keep it in terms of some form of
improvement, and make something to look forward to. Your life is your
own, to make better, or not, as you wish.
Set your alarm, get out of bed on time, eat early, enjoy the sun,
and think positive, every single day, even if it’s a weekend, holiday,
or vacation. Good, well-chosen habits are a key to success.