Weekly Challenge: Night owl turns early bird

I’ve never been a morning person. I was a girl who wanted to stay up past her bedtime reading books, and snooze until my alarm clock yelled at me for the 10th time. I used to set out my school outfit the night before, and wake up at the last minute to throw everything on and head out the door. 

As an adult, I fall in and out of struggling to wake up in the morning. I tend to always need five more minutes of shut eye, which turns into me running out the door, forgetting half of what I need, not eating breakfast, and getting where I need to be a minute late. This habit has worsened over the winter, and in order to get my life back on track, I challenged myself to wake up an hour earlier than normal every day for a week. 

My weekly schedule differs by the day; there are some days I have to be up at the crack of dawn, and others when I can snuggle in and sleep a little later. However, regardless of how early I wake, I feel the same desire to press snooze. 

I decided I needed some extra help, and purchased a children’s alarm clock on Amazon: the “Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock.” The clock is essentially a sphere that gradually lights up to resemble the sun rising a number of minutes before the alarm actually goes off. I was able to Amazon Prime the clock to my house the next day. 

According to sleep expert and associate professor at John Hopkins University David Neubaur in The Washington Post, the exposure to morning light from sunrise alarm clocks has alerting effects, and helps reset the circadian rhythm to keep humans biologically synchronized with the 24-hour day-night cycle. 

The first night I slept, I was anticipating the digitized sun to light up my room, and woke up well before the sound went off. However, it worked. I was energized, ready to start getting ready, and felt much more awake throughout the day. The following night was the same, and I felt as though my alarm clock was a miracle worker. 

However, I think my curiosity about the clock’s power might have been distracting me from my urge to keep sleeping as the week went on. The first time I wasn’t awake before my alarm went off, I clicked snooze a few times. Less than on a regular basis, but I’m not innocent. I ended up having to allow myself to lay in bed and watch TV before getting the urge to get ready and head out, but I still felt more awake than if I would have spent that time sleeping. This seemed to repeat itself on days with a later start in my schedule. 

By the end of the week, I started to get into the habit of a morning routine. Once the light lit up my room, I went and turned my big light on which helped me get my feet on the floor. I made breakfast, even if it was as simple as a granola bar, and I played music while getting ready. These may seem like small things, but they were things I always rushed or didn’t have time to do and appreciate. Thanks to this challenge and my alarm clock, I am going to continue to push myself to wake up an hour early, but cheat days may be permitted if I keep up the good work.

Write to Mercedes Kauphusman at mercedes.kauphusman@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: Many people struggle to wake up in the morning, and a sunrise alarm clock (pictured) might be a way to improve a sleeping cycle. Experts say the exposure to morning light has alerting effects and resets the circadian rhythm. (Mercedes Kauphusman/The Reporter)

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