The Science of Waking Up

If you’re anything like me, then you probably struggle to get out of bed in the morning. This morning was pretty bad (though still fairly typical for me, sadly enough…). Somewhere amid the obnoxious beeping of my 10 alarms set at random 5-15 minute intervals, my cruel consciousness lurked, knowing that it was supposed to be pulling me out of slumber. Instead, it just softly lifted my finger and pressed the snooze every time.

For an hour.

There is something about getting out of bed that is bizarrely difficult, especially when it starts getting cold out. I don’t know if my bed is just infinitely more comfy than everyone else’s… but I just can’t resist the urge to stay where it’s warm and cozy. I’ve even tried putting my alarm across the other side of the room under my desk. When it goes off, my body just slumps over to it, presses snooze, and crawls back under the covers. It probably is as much a result of craving extra sleep as it is about not wanting to leave that happy place…

These days there are all sorts of things that can help you get out of bed in the morning. There are “Sleep Cycle” phone apps that sense when you are moving and try to wake you up then instead of when you are in a deeper sleep. That way you will feel more awake when your eyes open! Some people use stimulating alarms that try to get their brains active to get out of bed—usually using math problems that always seem to be way too easy to actually do much stimulating… And finally, a friend of mine had an app that required him to scan a bar code in order to turn the alarm off. He put the bar code on his bathroom mirror, which proved to be extremely annoying once when he spent the night on our couch after going out and was miles from his bathroom mirror the next morning…

These solutions probably work for some people, but it turns out there is an actual biological reason that we don’t want to wake up in the morning and often remain tired throughout the day. I think by now everyone is aware that 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal and actually crucial to human health because that is the time our cells use to regenerate and fix all the stupid things we did to them throughout the day. But actually, the original sleep cycle for humans was based on sun cycles. In general, once the sun went down, it was a cue to our bodies and we would become tired and rest until sunrise. Historically, humans even had a period where we woke up in the middle of the night for an hour and then went back to sleep. This was observed as late as the medieval period, but no one really knows what the purpose of that was—although apparently it is the most productive state of mind to accomplish things.

I don’t think I will be changing my sleep hours or waking up in the middle of the night to gain more energy in the morning, but maybe I’ll try out one of those apps… Unfortunately, I think the only one that would actually work for me is the bar code. Yay…….

Check out this link for more information on all the sleep cycles and why we always seem to be so tired: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390443866404577565781327694346

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Categories: Science Update | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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