• Have a drink. Drinking water as soon as you wake up will help stimulate the body and help you stay awake. I always keep a glass of water on the nightstand, ready for that morning sip.
• Program the coffee maker. Relatedly, programming the coffee maker to go off so that coffee is ready for me in the morning is a big help. The sound of the grinding and the scent of the coffee are big pick-me-ups. If it's still too tough to rouse yourself for a cup, put the pot near your bed. There's nothing wrong with having a bit coffee in bed as long as you actually wake up to drink it and refuse the impulse to linger there for hours.
• Drink something before you sleep. By the time your alarm goes off, you will probably have to use the bathroom and won't be able to go back to sleep comfortably.
• Don't allow yourself to reason with yourself. This is probably my biggest wake-up mistake. I resolve the night before to wake up early, but of course, my groggy 6 a.m. brain tells me that it's better for me to get enough sleep or that the world will wait if I rest for five more minutes (which inevitably turns into forty-five). You can convince yourself of a hundred different reasons to stay in bed when you're still tired, even if it's not really the best course of action. Try to shut off all that "logic" and force yourself to make getting out of bed a physical, automatic routine. Train yourself to respond immediately to the alarm without relying on conscious willpower. This article suggests using daytime exercises to instill the habit of getting up right away.
• Have something to look forward to. It's much easier to get out of bed when you focus on something you actually want to do instead of on the drudgery of what you must do. Try setting aside a few minutes in the morning for a ritual that will help you look forward to waking up. Maybe it's coffee in bed, the time to flip through a design magazine, or a shower with a special soap. Or, if there's nothing ritualistic that strikes your fancy, try to think of a getting-up reward the night before. Maybe you want to read another chapter in that book you can't put down, or perhaps you want to treat yourself to a fancier-than-usual breakfast. Whatever it may be, try to give yourself something that will help you start the day right.
• If you wake up before your alarm goes off, get out of bed. If you go back to sleep or wait for the alarm, chances are, you'll feel drowsier. Follow your natural sleep cycles, seize the day, and embrace those extra minutes if your body tells you it's time to get up.
• Do something active. You may not have the time or energy for a full-blown exercise routine every morning, but get your body moving somehow. Bop around a bit more than usual while you get ready in the morning or add a few minutes of jogging in place to the routine. I take three minutes to dance to whatever pop tune is striking my fancy. (Today's was particularly good.) If you can't even muster the energy to get out of bed, just force yourself to wiggle around under the covers or tense and un-tense your muscles several times to get your body in gear.
• Take a shower as soon as you get out of bed. The water and change in temperature will get your circulation going. I also recommend a shower gel with mint or some other invigorating scent to help make you more alert. I've also heard of keeping a peppermint or lemon by your bedside to help facilitate the wake-up process through aromatherapy.
• Remind yourself of what you have to do. Fixing these things in your mind at night might make it harder to relax and get to sleep, so it can be helpful, both as nighttime catharsis and morning wake-up, to note your to-do list on a small whiteboard or a piece of paper kept on the nightstand. It will help you feel at night like you have those things handled, or at least noted, for the following day, and it will give you more reason to get up in the morning.
• If none of this works, there's the obvious tip of setting the alarm clock across the room.
Do you have any secret wake-up weapons?
(Image: Lydia Brotherton/Robert's Rooftop View Over Berlin)