A Reply to Marcovich's "How to wake up by 6:30 every morning - for the serious procrastinator"
So you want to rule the world. Or maybe not get fired from your job. Whatever. You need to wake up.
Marcovich's sleeping pills, cola and pop tarts, radio, movies, auto-start computer with comedy is clever and had the benefit of being somewhat pleasant. But as you all know 1419 isn't about pleasant. 1419 is the cruel hammer of fate crushing you into submission until you cry uncle.
Sleep is a reflex, and it can be nurtured by good sleep hygiene (which is elaborated upon elsewhere, but it follows the idea of Pavlov's conditioned reflex - consistent sleep time, the bed as a unique sleep stimulus, and so on).
Your goal then is to weaken the strength of the sleep reflex. A reflex, as you know, is controlled by the antecedent stimulus. In this case the warmth, softness and quiet of your bed and bedroom are controlling stimuli. So is your lying position. You must now reverse these things. Painfully.
COLD, HARD, LOUD, STANDING/SITTING - the ingredients to a painful awakening
The first thing is to throw the blanket off of you. If you are lucky enough to have a sleeping partner this is a bad strategy. Take the blanket off of just yourself. Enjoy that cold air. ARgggH!
The bed can't be made harder, but you can get out of it without really awakening. Move out of bed and go sit in a chair. This defeats the positional conditioning of lying in bed. Not recommended if you sleep in a sitting position (but that would undermine good sleep hygiene. But I've been known to sleep in chairs while studying.)
Loud noise is problematic, again, with a roommate, lover or sensitive neighbors, but you can put on earphones with almost anything on them to get your wakefulness reflexes engaged. Play it loud. No classical music or joni mitchell. Joni Mitchell is for pussified men who don't complain when their dates are late. That's not you. You want some fucking Real Music.
Marcovich recommends sleeping pills, and as I've recently discovered the antihistamine Benadryl packs a nice sleep inducing wallop - as well as not interfering with your psychotropic meds (or so I've been told). However, I think you can eschew abusing OTC drugs by simply focusing on the forced awakening (in addition to good sleep hygiene) techniques I mention before.
But caffeine is a good way to get your ass out of bed. Marcovich talks about coffee like it's too much trouble but there are ways around this.
The first is to simply make the coffee the night before. Drink it cold and black. Nothing says "foul mood evil bastard" like drinking cold coffee on an empty stomach. It's terrifically effective as well at getting you up.
But, what, if like many you don't have the will to drink cold black coffee? You can microwave it, or even easier you can resort to caffeine tablets.
A caffeine tablet and some water next to your bed table can easily be done almost before anything else. You can wake up to your favorite alarm, take your pill and water, and get right back in bed and see if it's enough to wake you up. Many times it might be enough.
Many times you want to wake up early to do something: go jog, go to work, and so on. Your clothes then are the next step in the process. But the clothes are themselves sometimes cold and not inviting. A simple solution is to wear them to bed. They'll be nice and toasty and you won't have to put them on in the morning. I couldn't sleep for many years with clothes on unless I was drunk but after camping for several weeks and sleeping in my clothes I got over it. You can too.
An easier way to achieve the same thing is to warm up your clothes in the dryer or by a heater but this requires going to the heater and warming them up, or worrying about starting a fire with your clothing. Could be bad.
Another alternative is long underwear. Old fashioned, but effective.
HEAT AND COLD
The shock yourself awake method assumes that you are sleeping in an unheated area - a tent, a car or just the central heating is off. But another method can be used to get you out of bed: make the transition from bed to non-bed easier by heating up the area outside the bed. Put your space heater on a timer or set the central heating on 98F.
Probably the most effective technique for a quick brutal wake up is the shower. This is probably due to the nudity which tends to be cold, the warm shower, and then the cold getting back out. So it's probably mostly the cold, although the warmth of the shower and the stimulation therein can't hurt. If you are incredibly tired though a really warm shower can practically put you to sleep standing up so make sure you've got 200mg of caffeine in your stomach first.
COMEDY OR THE SCREAMS OF THE DEAD
But marcovich's advice is probably most novel when it comes to the autostart VLC with humor option. Why does this work? Essentially this is a pattern of responding. You are responding to the comedy by watching it. You are also supposed to be eating your pop tart and drinking your jolt cola too, which is also a respnse. In a sense he is suggesting simple, easy responding as a way to get you out of bed. These are good things. But unless the auditory stimulus of the comedy is sufficiently loud we have the "incorporation into dreams" problem (you simply dream about Chris Rock instead of watching him). And, problematically, you are still in bed - albeit struggling to be awake.
My strategy is to generate a lot of responding to the aversive clocks you will set to piss you off.
MULTIPLE ALARM CLOCKS
I have a small digital alarm on my watch. I have a digital clock alarm. I have my phone alarm. My watch alarm has three alarm times. My phone and clock only support one each. The trick is to set the alarm times slightly staggered - five to ten minutes apart. If you set them all to go off at the same time then you will simply get up, turn them all off, and go back to bed. Trust me, I've learned that one from hard experience. So one clock goes off at 4:55 am. Another goes off at 5:00am. Another one goes off at 5:05 am. And so on. The mere act of responding to the alarms is often enough to get me awake. Ideally you have an alarm clock both close to you and across the room. The one close to you is so that you don't miss it. I prefer to have my watch alarm go off first. Then when the one across the room goes off you are still half-awake and won't miss that. Getting up to go turn it off makes it easier then to go sit down instead of getting back into bed. You can then sip your cold coffee and think about the cruel injustice of the world.
Variation: MMM suggested that hiding the alarm clock may make searching for it even more effective.
SLEEP HYGIENE AND CONSTANCY
One of the elements of sleep hygiene in consistency. If you want to be able to wake up at five am every morning then you've got to do it every single day of the week. Weekends included. If you like to stay up late on the weekends going out you have two choices: disco nap or sleep debt. In any event, don't sleep in. Get up, tough it out, and then go to bed earlier the next night. If that's not an option, get the disco nap. A key component of reconditioning your sleep reflex is retraining it to the new clock - five AM. If you are less than assiduous in your conditioning the reflex will run you, and you will not run it. You must dominate your sleep needs! If your sleep needs get out of control and sleep with your girlfriend you'll need to kick it's ass. But be a gentleman about it and buy it a beer afterwords.
The trick to constancy means that the sleep reflex needs time to adjust. It needs, I think on average for me, about two weeks to adjust to any new schedule. So look at about fourteen good sessions to get your reflex in shape.
BRINGING THIS ALL TOGETHER: 1419's PAIN AND SUFFERING METHOD
You will not have a happy, easy, comedy watching, pop-tart eating morning with my method. You will suffer. You will be angry. You will not smile. However, you will be awake. And since you are on your way to your six figure salary, jog for that marathon, or training for that ass kicking you are going to deliver who needs a good attitude anyway? Real Genteel Men are Assholes, or so I've read.
So you can start the prior night by (ab)using Benadryl or not. I recommend simply going to bed whatever time you normally do, without sleep aids. Follow the prescription of "good sleep hygiene" (see elsewhere) but basically don't do anything in bed but sleep. Place cold coffee, water, caffeine tablets next to your bed. Set your clocks. Put your clothes next to your bed, or put them on before going to bed. Sleep. Wake up. Eat/drink caffeine. Take shower. Turn off alarms. Be angry. Listen to angry music. Go to work/jog/write.