Editor’s note: Could simply adding an enriching or challenging activity – or giving up a bad habit or dependency – really make an impact on your workday? The CareerBuilder writers decided to find out – we each picked one thing to add on or give up for one workweek to see how it affected our workplace productivity, mood and success. We’ll be blogging about our experiences throughout the next several weeks (that is, if we make it through the challenge in one piece).
Whenever I encounter articles with headlines like, “How <awesome person> starts their day,” for some reason, I always have to check them out, and I’ve read more of those articles than I care to say.
I’ll be the first to admit how much I try to identify with those articles. Not only that, but the examples make me question how my average day is structured. “Hey, I like taking breaks, too. I’m just like Larry Page!”
However, despite all that research, I’m not sure my days have been improved as a result. Such plans are so subjective. Beginning the day with a workout will help some people, but what about the rest of us who love our beds? I mean, really love our beds? Not to mention that beautiful “snooze” button that actually refreshes us…
It’s worth noting something here: One thing that’s absent from every “optimized” day you read about is the “snooze” button. The articles never begin, “My alarm goes off at 7:10 but I usually get out of bed at around 7:30 because I hit ‘snooze’ an average of three times each morning.” Perhaps the very smart/influential know better than to admit something many would associate with weakness… or, maybe, that group of people knows how terrible snoozing actually is.
Indeed, everyone seems to be in agreement that the “snooze” button is horrible for your sleep schedule, your body and your productivity. Well, almost everyone. A quick Google search (my and Larry’s search engine of choice) and sleep and productivity will hit you with some harsh realities:
- When you hit “snooze” repeatedly, you fragment what little sleep you’re adding to your night. Saying “five more minutes” four times in a row is NOT the same as saying “20 more minutes” once.
- If you actually fall back asleep, you may begin a new sleep cycle and feel even worse when you’re awoken again.
- Once you’re up, you really can’t get back to the good, recharging stages of the sleep cycle unless you’re ready to rest for another hour or two.
- If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’ll wake up during the wrong part of your sleep cycle. As a result, you’ll be cold and even more unwilling to leave your warm and cozy bed.
- That feeling you have to fight as you wake up? It’s called sleep inertia, and snoozing can prolong your battle with it.
Armed with this knowledge, some brand new pillows (because why not) and new techniques to wake up, I stopped hitting the “snooze” button for one week. Here’s how everything went down:
I don’t think I could’ve had a more challenging first day. Not only was my alarm set half an hour earlier than usual, but I probably only got four solid hours of sleep. I blame “The Last Man on Earth” and my new pillows. To wake up, I read an article on Cracked about something awesome (obviously), and I got out of bed 10 minutes later. All things considered, by the time I got into the shower, I felt OK.
So, I guess I failed on a technicality, but I didn’t actually use the “snooze” button; I just happened to check my phone the instant my alarm went off. To try and get going, I played a few rounds of the Impossible Breakfast Simulator. It’s the only game on my phone and it’s… bizarre. Gaming actually made me feel more tired for some reason, though it could have been a number of things. Once I got out of bed, I turned on some lights and ate. That made me feel much more alert. During my commute, I still had the urge to close my eyes but I didn’t give in.
Last night, I took a nap and “snoozed” like a king. I was willing to indulge myself since that event – and it was an event – was separated from the morning by an entire workday and then some. Once again, I did a little light reading as I woke up. After about 15 minutes, I felt pretty good and got my day started.
I gave myself five minutes to relax in bed before I did some pushups. They were much, much harder than usual. I don’t even think they woke me up. Once I was done, I felt tired in a different way, but perhaps I was a little less sleepy. The thing that helped me the most was letting some natural light into the room, eating and reading one of my stories. By the time I got in the shower, I was awake for around 30 minutes and I felt much more alert than usual.
I read for about 20 minutes before leaving my bed on this morning. I also let light into my room immediately and sat up to read rather than retaining my normal position. As I made my way to the shower, I felt much more alert and awake than usual. My inability to “snooze” made me more mindful of my bedtime and, for once, I think I got enough sleep the night before.
Give the “snooze” some rest
I can’t say enough for giving myself more time to wake up in the morning. Once I gave the process of waking up the respect it deserved, my mornings became easier. If jumping out of bed and into the shower works for you, by all means, stick with it. If not, try easing yourself into being awake. It may not make you a morning person, but it’ll do you good.
Since I stopped living/dying by the “snooze,” I’ve only used it twice: The most recent time was on Saturday night when a two-hour nap turned into a five-hour one. Generally speaking, I don’t feel any more tired than usual and, by the time I make it to the shower, I feel pretty alert and awake. I attribute this to finding out firsthand what helps me shake off my slumber and/or ease into the day. Again, tips, preferences, et al. are subjective, but this is what works for me when I need to get going:
- Give yourself at least ten minutes to wake up. Rather than trying to get more rest after your alarm goes off or immediately hurling yourself in the direction of the shower, just lie in your bed and be awake. A smoother transition between rest and activity seemed to help me out.
- Reading as I woke up was something I tried to do consistently, and it almost made sure I had a good buffer between being asleep and being fully awake. If you don’t have a backlog of articles you’ve been meaning to check out, go to Facebook and find one after you wake up.
- If you have time to eat before hopping in the shower, you should. Only have enough time to add a bowl of cereal to your routine every other day? That’s great, because even that will give you time to wake up and figure out your day.
- Let the sunshine in. Move your curtains aside, pull up your blinds and open a window. You’ve basically been programmed to respond to the din, fresh air and natural light that’s outside. Scholars believe it’s called “evolution.”
Playing a game on my phone really didn’t make me feel better, and the jury is still out on exercise (though we’ve established it doesn’t work for some people). However, it takes different strokes to move the world, and what works for me may not for you.
Originally posted at http://advice.careerbuilder.com/posts/losing-the-snooze-5-days-without-10-more-minutes-of-sleep