This morning I ran out of coffee creamer so I hope this all makes sense, if not… meh. I’m just a week into my new weekday morning routine. If you’re unfamiliar or don’t remember how I described it, it’s simple.
- Go to bed around the same time every night, with <=30 minutes deviation.
- Set alarm for ~4 sleep cycles (~90 minutes each) + 20 minutes ahead of when I get into bed.
- Wake up within 30 minutes of alarm going off, allowing for a couple snoozes or time in bed with the light on to fully bring myself back to reality.
- Morning cleaning routine.
- Coffee. Must have coffee.
- Write. Unless something went sideways with the above steps, there should be time for this. If not, do something else stimulating enough to stay awake while consuming coffee.
- Proceed with the day.
That’s the idea. Yesterday was a bit rough as I woke up at a more in-opportune time and shut off my alarm. Since my travel to work was going to be different and more forgiving this week, getting up an hour and a half late wasn’t such a big deal. I don’t want to make it a practice though, as this is the whole habit I’m trying to break: getting up at the last minute and rushing.
My old routine was chaotic because it left no time for deviation and frankly was frustrating. I had just enough time to do the bare minimum and that was it. No time to myself, whatsoever. After becoming more and more frustrated with it, I vowed to never do it again. I did some reading on how to “hack” my morning routine and while a load of it was crap or not useful in the least bit, the parts that stuck with me the most were about sleep cycles and morning stimulation.
A human’s standard sleep cycle is roughly 90 minutes in length, from stage one (light sleep) to stage four (heavy/REM/dream sleep). The idea is that if whatever wakes you up in the morning does so as you’re coming out of a sleep cycle and returning to light sleep, you’ll have an easier time waking up. For the most part, that seems to be pretty true. I’ve found it just as easy to wake up when my alarm goes off at 3:30am as it does at 5:00am (provided I went to bed at 9:00pm the night before). I usually grant myself four cycles for anytime I go to bed after 9:00pm and five cycles any time I go to bed between 8:00pm and 9:00pm.
But wait, you say… that’s only 60 minutes, a sleep cycle is 90 minutes! You’re right, it is. With the shorter cycle option, I find I have to give myself a bit of slack in the morning, by roughly 15-20 minutes. In this case, I’ll set three alarms, 15 minutes apart (ex. :00, :15, :30) and make each one more annoying than the one before it. See, I can sleep through a lot of noise in the morning hours once I’ve been through a sleep cycle or two. I’ve been tested and the doctors agreed. After one relaxes a bit in bed and has been sleeping for a bit, a lot of the stimulants and distractions from falling asleep are gone so submerging into deeper sleep is easier and more fulfilling. Thus, as deep as you go into REM sleep, it takes time to come out of it. Usually I’m aware it’s time to wake up when alarm three comes around because I seem to have trained myself to subconsciously understand that alarm one and two are warning shots that my warm, sleep-filled experience is about to end.
The Best Part of Waking Up, Is (Sometimes Not) Folgers In Your Cup.
I find that most of my tiredness (or the feeling of being tired) seems to come from how and when I’m woken up in the morning in relation to my sleep cycle. I executed my five-cycle option last night and with ~7.5 hours of sleep, I feel rested. Of course, I’m wishing I had my coffee, and Starbucks will have to help me out as I drive into work this morning. A good morning stimulant isn’t always a bad thing. Some people can’t drink coffee because it’s too much caffeine and gives the anxiety or they don’t like the taste of it. I get it. I didn’t used to like coffee, either. I still don’t unless it has creamer.
One of my alternatives was Red Bull. I used to buy them by the case from a wholesale store (Costco). While roughly half the price per can as a convenience store or other local grocery chain, it was still Red Bull. It lost it’s luster after drinking one every day of the week, sometimes twice a day. Coffee is warm and creamy (after I add my creamer, of course). In the winter, this is an especially friendly feeling. In the summer, I’m more of an iced tea kind of guy. I’ll go Starbucks and get the largest, most caffeinated tea they have and have them sugar it up—I can’t stand unsweetened iced teas. Usually this is some kind of breakfast/black tea.
As I wrap this post up, I’m really wishing I wasn’t out of coffee creamer. A clear oversight on my part, I knew I was out when I poured, yesterday. I know I could drink it black, but I already said I don’t like the taste of black coffee. Perhaps I’ve been ruined by sweet tastes thanks to the likes of Starbucks and other espresso-shooting vendors. Maybe I have. Sue me. I’ll pay you in Starbucks cards, anyway.