Some days we all have to be on the ball quickly — even if we've had less than the recommended hours of sleep and want nothing more than to stay under the blanket and snooze. When it comes to how to wake up quickly, caffeine can't be your only fallback plan; it helps to have other strategies, preferably laid out the night before, to get you going as soon as possible. And people who work in aviation, such as pilots or flight attendants, are experts on waking up rapidly, because their jobs combine the need for high awareness with some very disordered sleep scheduling. When it comes to tips for getting up to full mental speed as fast as possible in the morning, there's nobody better to ask.
"During training, our schedules were sometimes quite uncomfortable so waking up properly was always something you wanted," graduate pilot Grigory Shevandin tells Bustle.
If you want to be awake quickly tomorrow morning, paying attention to your circadian rhythms and the correct amount of sleep is a crucial first step. Shevandin says, "Personally the most important thing to me is to get at least eight hours' sleep. If I get less I feel I under-perform quite a lot. I’ve never been a morning person so waking up early with less than that amount never feels good." This may mean going to bed earlier than you'd anticipated. "When adjusting to schedules, I try to plan my sleep in order to be fresh by the next flight, no matter what time of day," says Shevandin.
The rush of adrenalin and panic of a late wake-up call might not work in your favor, though. Shevandin recommends "waking up maybe 15-20 minutes earlier, so you’re not rushing to get things done in the morning. If I have even a little bit of extra time, I start the day feeling a lot more relaxed and it makes a big difference throughout the day. Usually waking up then staying in bed 'snoozing' makes things a lot worse for me personally." This is backed up by research that notes that "drockling," the technical term for dipping in and out of sleep as you gradually wake, makes the body less alert and confuses your internal hormonal clock. "When my alarm goes off, I try to wake up and get up within a short amount of time otherwise I start to feel more sleepy and it just gets more difficult," says Shevandin.
If you want a short, sharp shock, showering may also be a good way forward. Shevandin advises showering after waking, and numerous studies have shown that cooler showers in particular are good for arousing the body's internal systems and prepping the brain for threats and potential issues. Hotter showers, by contrast, may induce sleepiness or more relaxation, which is not what you want on your way to that important 9 a.m. meeting.
Though you may not be flying the friendly skies any time soon, pilot tips and tricks for waking up quickly could be the hack we all need to get us raring to go in the mornings. Wings not required.