Some advice I got asked today reminded me that it’d be a good idea to list some of the tricks I know for avoiding oversleeping, so avast! Here they be.
Just a quick reminder first though: It’s NORMAL to want to oversleep during the first week; polyphasic sleep can be a bear to adjust to and you WILL be exhausted at first. Don’t freak out, but also don’t assume that you’re such a superman that you won’t need any of these measures. Nobody’s that tough, yo. Sleep dep is quite an exquisitely sucky experience in large quantities — you can read more about it over here, if you like (we’re old friends ;).
It’s always better safe than sorry when it comes to oversleeping — you don’t want to go through all that trouble and then have to start over!
These tips run from the Simple to the Nigh Ridiculous — the trick is, what works for you? So be smart: Think about what wakes you up the fastest and take advantage of it. As an example, last time I did this, I programmed my computer to reboot when I had to wake up — it wasn’t loud, but it launched me out of bed like tightly packed marshmallow from a potato cannon. Be creative.
Click “Read More” for the list.
- Do this with a buddy if you can! My first tour with Uberman I did with a friend, and without her it would have been so much harder and more miserable.
- Have plans. A Huge Effing List Of Things To Do is essential in my experience, and the more of them are either physical or picky work, the better. Cleaning and organizing are fantastic, especially if you’re lucky enough to be able to have music to do it to. Space out your sedentary activities and try to keep the long boring things for periods of time that you usually aren’t tired. During your tired times, you want to be scrubbing the silverware, out rollerblading, grocery shopping, cleaning the floors, polishing all your shoes, etc etc etc. Also, any regular activity you can engage in during a time when you’d normally be asleep is a huge boon. (Sadly, most after-hours activities are clubs, which aren’t much fun sober, and naps and alcohol don’t really mix! …I would still kill for a late-night roleplaying group in my area, heh.)
- Try not to eat within the hour before you take a nap. It’s harder to wake up on a full stomach, seriously.
- Two alarms are better than one. Four are even better than two. For a real punch, set some to loud radio, some to annoying static, and stagger them one minute apart.
- If you’re like me and you can shut off an alarm and be back in bed before you ever wake up, do the above, but make each one that goes off farther away than the last one.
- Don’t sleep on your bed; beds are too cozy. You’ll be tired enough to fall asleep darn near anywhere, but you don’t want to get too comfortable. Good alternate places are the floor, an easy chair, your car, or outside on the lawn if you can get away with that.
- Don’t sleep in total darkness. For the first week, leave the lights on all night, or at least one light. It’s lots easier to wake up when the room isn’t dark.
- Leave something to do right where you can see it when you crack your eyes. Start something interesting right before you go to bed, or make yourself some food, or whatever, and leave it right where you’ll see it as soon as your alarm goes off — this’ll help get you back into doing-stuff mode.
- Set up a music player of some sort right next to you when you lay down, queued up with a good “wake-up song”. As soon as you crack your eyes, hit “play”. (This worked great for me — I used Placebo’s “Pure Morning”, which is prosaic as hell, I know, but hey, it worked.)
- Does the phone wake you up? See if you can get someone to call you at precisely your wake-up time. (The Internet is a great networking place for this, since you probably know someone for whom your 2:20 a.m. is right in the middle of their day.)
- If you’re really lucky and can get a Live Human to help you out, almost nothing works better than a knock on the door, shake on the shoulder, and a few minutes of conversation (or something to do with said human). There might be an opportunity here, too, for nearby Ubermen who may be willing to drive to your house at 2 a.m. for five bucks! ;)
- Plan something PHYSICAL for the first half-hour after you wake. Walk, exercise, clean, organize, fix your bike, whatever. Don’t get up at 2 a.m. and go sit on the couch with a book — you’re doomed if you do! (In fact, Steve Pavlina and I both discovered that this is true even after the first week…it’s always a bit tougher to get your body going in the middle of the night. I found that I had no tiredness and no trouble at all, as long as I planned to get up and get my blood moving, first thing. After that, I could sit around all night with no problems.)
- This is a weird one, but I’ve seen it work: If you really can’t wake up, try this. Before you go to bed, prepare a bowl or wide-bottomed glass half-full of cold water (add an ice cube to keep it cold). Balance it on or next to your body, where you won’t knock it over just by breathing or twitching, but where it’s nonetheless guaranteed to soak you if it does tip. Now tie a string to it, and tie that string to your wrist — preferably the wrist of the hand that you’re going to move to turn off the alarm. You get the idea, right? ;)