External Alarm Clocks or Internal Habits.
Dumb Little Man! had a recent post Five Ridiculous Alarm Clocks which I found both amusing and intriguing. Intriguing, because the geeky nerd inside me loves technology and gadgets and the unusual application of such things. Amusing because as someone who spent decades getting out of bed late and being the guy in the office who was always late for work, I know that such crazy alarm clocks are only effective for a short while, if at all.
Often we seek “easy” solutions to our problems from our external world, an elaborate alarm clock to wake us in the morning, rather than the “hard” solution of changing our internal view of the world, or simply reprogramming a habit. But the “easy” solution is very seldom permanent and the “hard” solution is usually easer in the long run.
Most of us think that some people are naturally early risers and some of us like to stay up late, “Larks” and “Owls” as my Mother used to say. But in reality rather than being deeply embedded aspects of our personalities staying up late at night or getting up early in the morning are simply habits that we have picked up as we went along.
And like all habits getting out of bed is an easy one to reprogram once you know how. It is no good just making a firm resolve to get up early, because our habits are controlled by our subconscious mind and when your alarm goes off in the morning you will preform your usual habit and not any new habit you may thing you want to do.
So how do you make a habit then? Repetition. Habits are formed by repeating the same actions over and over until we do them automatically. Until the subconscious mind takes over and we perform the actions with out any conscious effort. So that is what we need to do in order to make a habit of getting out of bed once the alarm goes.
Like Pavlov with his dogs we will create a conditioned response so once your alarm rings you will be up and out of bed before you can even think of pulling the covers over your head and hitting the snooze button.
It is best to pick a time when you don’t have to set your alarm clock for a couple of days. Because having your alarm go off in the morning and not get up is going to reinforce the old habit and break the new habit before it has a chance to take complete hold.
What we want to do is recreate as closely as possible the conditions that normally exist when you want to get up in the morning. And then perform the action we want to become a habit, that is getting out of bed when the alarm rings.
Pick a time, not too late in the evening, we don’t want you to fall asleep for real, when the light is about the same as it is in the morning. Got to your bedroom. Get undressed put on your PJ’s, or stay naked, however it is that you normally sleep. Set your alarm for a few minuets from now and get into bed. Take a deep breath, roll over and snuggle up.
When your alarm goes off: first get out of bed then turn your alarm off, take a deep breath, stretch, touch your toes and go into the bathroom, or kitchen if you need your coffee before you do anything else. Do what you would normally do when you get out of bed. Or at least pretend to do it. The idea is to create a new link in your subconscious mind bridging the time between being asleep in bed and what you do first thing when you get up.
Next do it again. Go back to bed, set your alarm for five minuets time and snuggle under the bedclothes. Then get out of bed once your alarm goes off, take a deep breath and go into the bathroom. Then do it again and again. Remember the key to making a habit is repetition. You need to repeat it until it becomes automatic.
Half a dozen times three or four days in a row will be enough to reprogram your habit from hitting the snooze button and rolling over to getting out of bed and turning your alarm off. For that day on you will automatically get out of bed when your alarm goes off.
You may feel a little silly doing this. Going to bed just to pretend to get up in the morning might seem strange. Especially if you have to explain what your are doing to your family or a room mate. But do it any way. When you are getting up with your alarm every day both they and you will forget any silliness you might have felt.
Just remember when you are getting out of bed earlier you have to go to bed earlier. Earlier risers still need the same amount of sleep.
Changing you habits is easy once you learn how. Learning how to change your habits is easy. The hard part is wanting to learn how to be in control of your habits, because then you will have to accept responsibility for them and not be able to blame “that stupid alarm clock” when you are once again late for work.