Perhaps the biggest problem plaguing my adult life has been my inability to wake up at the first buzz of my alarm. I always have big dreams of getting up at 6 a.m. to take a run, eat a healthy breakfast, and tend to email before heading off to work. With that said, any delusion of becoming a morning person bursts upon my first fumble toward the snooze button to silence the grating sound of my iPhone's ringtone. After that, I press snooze again. And again. And again. I'll stop now, but let's just say that my personal snooze button record is a touch over two hours.
So, why do I need a change? I live in New York City, and for all the options New Yorkers have for food, things to do, and things to see, we have an inverse amount of free time. Simply put, I want more hours in my day, and the morning would be the ideal time to work out, read a chapter in a book, and prepare healthy food for the day. Plus, there's that whole getting-to-work-on-time thing. As someone with an hourlong commute, my office reputation would skyrocket if I were only able to get up at least two and a half hours before the office doors open. For me, that wakeup time is 6:30 a.m., targeting an office arrival time of 9 a.m.
With my health, professional reputation, and drive for self-experimentation in mind, we partnered with Dunkin' Donuts At Home to test if I could finally change my snooze-button-lovin' ways by applying a few simple life hacks to my routine over the course of two weeks. Did it work? How much pain was involved? Did it ultimately make me shun the morning altogether? Read on to find out!
Hack #1: Wake Up One Minute Earlier Each Day. Change Your Alarm Tone To A Song You Like. Place It Clear Across The Room.
Ah, yes, it all starts with an alarm clock! Or, as my generation likes to call it: a phone. I only had two weeks to conduct this experiment, so for the sake of ~*science*~, I decided to make five-minute adjustments to my wake-up time. I normally get up at 7:45 a.m. on a very well-behaved day, so that means I'll almost hit my target of 6:30 a.m. by Day 14.
Currently, my alarm is a high-pitched sound that most animal species would consider torture. Should I change it something more pleasant? Yes, please. Should I move the phone across the room so I have to get up to hit the snooze button, thereby becoming a thinking human before I do? Well, I've always known to do that, I just never wanted to.
The Verdict: Mixed results.
I have to confess that I got too ambitious with setting my alarm ahead and tried to target 6:45 a.m. on the first day. Don't do this! You aren't nearly as strong in changing your habits as you think you are. Naturally, no matter how far my alarm is from arm's reach, and no matter how soothing the wailing of Björk is in the morning, getting up an hour earlier mostly made me want to silence my alarm. After the first day, I decided to be more conservative with my self-grandeur and play by the rules. And... it actually worked? Sort of? I would still manage to hit the snooze button on some days, but by Day 9, I was actually managing to get out of bed before 7 a.m., which hasn't been the case in years.
Moving the phone away from my bed definitely helped, but I'm unsure whether or not I'd recommend the alarm-tone hack to friends. By waking up to songs I like, I was prone to convincing myself that I was still dreaming. And if there's one more thing I don't need in the morning, it's another excuse to get back to dreaming.
Hack #2: At The End Of Your Morning Shower, Alternate Water Temperature Between Hot And Icy Cold For 30 Seconds.
Leave it to the folks over at Entrepreneur to bring us a productivity-inducing hack so torturous that it's banned in a number of U.N. member nations. OK, I'm exaggerating, but this is a method only for folks who mean serious business. It's for the doers of the world, the creators, the... OK, now I sound like one of those Silicon Valley types that actually does this sort of thing.
The Verdict: "No, no, no. OK, OK, all right... This is great! I'm going to do this tomorrow." :: Next day :: "No, no, no..."
Those entrepreneurial money-makin' types are on to something! This method indeed ups your energy, makes you more alert, and I will dare say, made me more productive for the remainder of the day. However, you will really not want to do it. It doesn't matter if the shower hack led you to making a million on the stock market and saving puppies the day before. You still won't want to do it the next day.
Hack #3: Make Your Own Overnight Iced Coffee.
Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! Despite the general irresponsibility chronicled in the majority of this article, I am someone who typically makes her coffee at home. Iced coffee, however, has been one thing that I've been willing to pay $4.50 for. For this experiment, I mixed Dunkin' Donuts coffee grounds and water in a French press and allowed it to sit in the fridge overnight. I had my doubts about the overnight method, but rest assured, readers, it is truly delicious and it seemed to be stronger than what I normally buy.
The Verdict: Yes, please. Best hack to hack my habit.
Preparing iced coffee is now a nightly routine and I hope to keep on keepin' on until it gets too cold to drink iced drinks. And when that time comes, I can use the same grounds to create my morning cup of the good stuff.
Hack #4: Get Out Of Bed. Do As Many Pushups As You Can. Wait 30 Seconds. Repeat. Wait 30 Seconds. Do It Again. Feel All-Powerful.
Despite my proven superhuman power to nimbly cross my room to hit the snooze button and flop back in bed in under a millisecond, this power will not be harnessed for the evil of morning floor pushups. I don't think this is the kind of power I want to feel.
The Verdict: The walrus above outperformed me.
Enough said. Never again.
Hack #5: Set An Alarm For 10 p.m., And Lay Out All Of Your Morning Essentials When It Rings. Hide Your Electronics And Wind Down.
Going to sleep at a decent hour is where all morning people begin. This habit benefits you in two ways: (1) you sleep sounder with the smug realization that you are more organized than 99 percent of the human population, and (2) morning time is a breeze given that you did everything for yourself. Plus, by putting electronics away and winding down the old-fashioned way, your body will thank you with deeper sleep.
The Verdict: This is the solution to all of my problems. But my physical and emotional attachment to my laptop outweighs all dreams of self-improvement.
I told myself I was going to be honest when I began this experiment, so here it is: Removing electronic devices from your bedside and taking time to unwind before bedtime is the solution to all issues one may have with waking up. But some of us have a problem commonly diagnosed as chronic laptop-must-be-on-lap-itis. And I am one of the (self) diagnosed. So although I knew in my mind that this was the silver bullet, I found myself unconsciously spooning with my MacBook Air despite all intentions to give my laptop some breathing room by leaving him in the living room.
Just kidding! That's most definitely NOT me, and probably never will be.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may never be that person who takes a run in the morning before work, who’s synced her REM cycle with her circadian rhythms, or who pens the next great American novel in the hours before clock-in. But a few of these hacks have made my morning more enjoyable and even given me something to look forward to.
I found that iced coffee waiting in the fridge is a much greater deterrent for hitting the snooze button than say, pushups and showers that alternate between "AHHHH!" And "OW! OW! OW!". And as I mentioned above, I realize that preparation, earlier bedtimes, and exiling electronics at night are the actual solution to my problem — not morning self-flagellation.
But we all have our vices, and instead of the numerous other self-destructive activities I could engage in, I choose to watch YouTube in bed at 11 p.m. I accept that about myself, but I am attempting to reel in that bad habit and detach myself from the perils of the internet after 10 p.m..
In conclusion, I'm now regularly getting up around 7 a.m. without a battle against myself. My quest to become a #perfecthuman ensues, but by actually taking the steps to change my morning habits — instead of just entertaining lofty dreams of perfect human activity — I've learned to be more forgiving of myself. Oh, and my workplace rep is on the up-and-up and I no longer have to blame the train. I'll thank the coffee for that.
This post is sponsored by Dunkin Donuts At Home .
Images: Sophie Klimack & Katie Cropper Klein / Bustle; Giphy (5); Creative Commons (1)