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I Swear I’m Not That Lazy

February 8, 2011

I have a big problem with waking up in the mornings.  Not as bad as an I-hate-my-life-I-just-wanna-sleep-it-away problem, but worse than the usual wah-I’m-so-comfortable-I-just-wanna-stay-here feeling that a lot of people wrestle with when it’s time to leave the pillow fort and blanket cocoon behind for a Carnation Instant Breakfast and the sterile glare of office lights.

I’ve always been a sleeper inner.  I was the kid in grade school that had to run after the bus every day because I couldn’t get out to the stop until I heard the school bus lumbering down the street.  I looked like a scrub at school because I couldn’t get up in time to put myself together in any sort of reasonable manner.  I slept until the last possible second (and beyond) and then finally hauled my lethargic body out of bed and threw on the first thing I grabbed before brushing my teeth and bolting out the door.  Even in high school, when looking cute was of the utmost importance, my ass was in pajamas a good 75% of the time.  No wonder the boys weren’t beating down my front door.  Well, that and the fact that know-it-all chicks with loud mouths aren’t so much the high school boys’ fantasy.

It’s easy to chalk to that up to laziness or irresponsibility.  At that age it’s not uncommon to give in to what you want instead of doing what you have to.  Even through of college (round 1) I slept through my morning (and afternoon) classes.  At that point in my life it was even easier to blame it on an outside source.  Namely Bud Light and/or a love affair with my message board that would keep me up until the wee hours of the morning.  The last two years I was living in Tulsa I was extremely unhappy and looking back I think that the staying up late and sleeping in was also a symptom of moderate depression.

Here I am now, a full on grown up at 27 years of age.  I’ve proven myself responsible, if still a bit lazy.  For 3 years I took a complete college course load (round 2) while working 30 hour weeks at a restaurant.  I even made it on the Dean’s List my final semester (for the first time since fourth grade, holler!).  Although I still have bouts of mild depression when I become overly stressed, in general I love the shit out of my life and I have all the desire in the world to get up and LIVE.

But I fucking can’t.  Every single morning is an exercise in futility.  When I go to bed I tell myself that I’m going to wake up when Scott gets out of the shower, because that gives me enough time to be up and get ready and make it to work on time with at least minimal amounts of makeup and attention to what I look like.  I go to bed at a decent hour and tell myself that tomorrow will be different.  I know that I have to get up so I’ll be able to.

Then as soon as I hear the shrill beep that indicates it’s time for me to fulfill the previous night’s promise I justify why I don’t have to and begin the daily game of whack-a-mole with my snooze button.  The justifications are sleep addled and half the time they’re completely nonsensical and somehow tied to the dream I’m having.  As soon as I fully wake up, right as I should be leaving my house, my head clears and I get all pissed off at myself for letting this happen again.

Every damn day.  How do I make it stop??

I’m a resourceful child of the 20th century, so I google that shit.  Google can answer any question in the whole wide world.  They inform me that there’s a natural supplement, courtesy of Rise-N-Shine Inc (makers of other notable ingestibles like Go Away Grey and MenoPAUSE Chill Pills) that I can take before bed that has delayed release and will wake me up in the morning.

Google also pointed me toward an article in The Daily Mind, a site aimed giving “Eastern wisdom to make the daily grind more meaningful.”  They give such thought provoking tips like relaxing and going pee before bed, keeping your room comfortable and quite.  When it comes to actually waking up they advise that it’s best to wake up and exercise, breathe deeply, have something to be excited about and (my personal favorite) be grateful for not dying. Perfect.  I was going to hit snooze for an hour, but now that I realized I’m alive I have all of the energy in the world.

The problem with this site and many others I looked at is that they have tips for what to do before bed and what to do once you wake up, but nothing that tells me how to peel my eyes apart and put my feet on the ground.

I did find one article that seems to accurately understand the problem and even offers a way to fix it.  A guy named Steve Pavlina wrote a blog post titled How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off.  He describes the bad decision justification really well:

The wrong way is to try using your conscious willpower to get yourself out of bed each morning.  That might work every once in a while, but let’s face it — you’re not always going to be thinking straight the moment your alarm goes off.  You may experience what I call the fog of brain.  The decisions you make in that state won’t necessarily be the ones you’d make when you’re fully conscious and alert.  You can’t really trust yourself… nor should you.

If you use this approach, you’re likely to fall into a trap.  You decide to get up at a certain time in advance, but then you undo that decision when the alarm goes off.  At 10pm you decide it would be a good idea to get up at 5am.  But at 5am you decide it would be a better idea to get up at 8am.  But let’s face it — you know the 10pm decision is the one you really want implemented… if only you could get your 5am self to go along with it.

The solution he offers is that you should practice getting up when the alarm goes off until it becomes rote memory and not a conscious decision.  Which means that when you’re at home during normal daytime or evening hours you put on pajamas (way ahead of you there, Steve) get in the bed and pretend that you’re asleep; you set the alarm for 2 mins from the time you lay down and basically walk through all of the steps of waking up.  I haven’t tried this yet but it’s really the only thing I’ve found that even acknowledges the poor decision making process that I struggle with daily.

The only issue that I see is one that pretty much pervaded all of the sites that I looked at:  you have to consistently go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.  That’s not really a problem during the week, but when it comes to the weekend I want to be able to stay up later and be social with my friends and I’m a huge fan of weekend afternoon naps.  Also, Scott and I are planning on starting a family soon and I’m pretty sure I could read the article aloud and explain the entire principle to an infant 20 times over and they still won’t give a shit that I need a consistent sleep schedule.

After more and more googling I came across psychology blogs and message boards with hundreds of people saying they have similar issues.  I visited a bunch of sites and saw diagnoses like narcolepsy, apnea, delayed sleep phase syndrome and a bunch of other disorders that I may or may not have.

One thing became clear though…lots of other people have this same problem and the obvious answer of “more discipline” may not be enough.  People spoke about how it began when they were kids and they chalked it up to irresponsibility.  But after awhile it became obvious that it was more than that.  To the point where they’ve overslept so much it has cost them their jobs repeatedly.  This is a huge fear of mine.  I’m late to work every single day.  At this point I’m lucky enough to have a supervisor who is flexible and isn’t super picky about what times I work as long as I hit my hours each week.  But that may not always be the case.

What can I do to fix this??  Oversleeping seems like such a silly benign problem to complain about; one that’s easily fixed with quick advice like “go to bed earlier” or “don’t allow yourself to use the snooze button.”  I wish it were that easy.  It’s like my brain is working against me and I don’t have the necessary control to do what I want.

This shit sucks, y’all 😦

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 8, 2011 6:51 pm

    I have this same problem. My whole life. Swearsies. It really isn’t a solution but I just plan to snooze for one hour. Oh, and in college I never took classes before 11am unless it could be absolutely avoided. Those mandatory 9:10ams really didn’t do so hot in .. some things just can’t be changed.

  2. February 8, 2011 8:41 pm

    It could be genetic. You might even get it from both sides. I mean, your dad has never ever been a morning person, and I’ve only gotten moving because I don’t have a choice. I hit the snooze button as many times as I possible can. There are times when Bill starts the shower and has to convince me to get moving. BEFORE I KILL THE RAIN FOREST BY WASTING ALL THAT SHOWER WATER!

    It’s gotten a little easier as I get older, but not much.

    The only reprieve was that period where I took those lovely little prescription pills that gave me fake-energy. I’d be all “I know it’s 4AM but I have to VACUUM!”

    I loved those pills.

  3. JoanManuelPhila permalink
    March 25, 2011 9:28 am

    Reading your blog has made me realize that you are a female version of me. The more I read the more I smiled thinking, “that is so me.” I was succesful at getting up at 5:30am when I hired a personal trainer at the gym but that lasted a whole month before I came up with another great excuse to stop going. I do dream of the day when I can to get up have breakfast and make it to work by 8:30am.

    • March 25, 2011 7:05 pm

      I honestly got in an argument with my husband about this last night. We’ve begun a bit of a routine where he wakes me up. Once I’m out of bed I’m fine, if a little foggy. But he doesn’t like doing it…I’m not particularly receptive and he doesn’t want to have to be responsible for what I should be able to do myself. Which I understand to a certain extent, but it’s really difficult for him to grasp that I *can’t* just get up. He sees that as the solution, as if it’s just a choice that I don’t want to make. Which can’t be the case because every single day I want to make the right choice and then when the alarm clock goes off the dream induced justifications start. I think around 1:00am that I finally got him as close to understanding as I possibly could. So right now we’re starting a routine of him firmly waking me up and making sure I’m on my feet before he walks out the door. We’ll see how it goes…
      I also dream of the day when I can get up and enjoy breakfast. I googled the shit out of this one day and there really are a bunch of people that have similar problems. Maybe the solution is to go to some sort of sleep study thing. It just seems drastic, but I guess I’ve already admitted that this is a problem that feels beyond my control. I’m glad that there are other people out there that understand though because for real, I hate that I feel so inadequate about this. It’s something that millions of other assholes can do without a second thought and it’s a struggle EVERY SINGLE DAY for me. Thanks for speaking up!!

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