Wake Me up Before You Go-Go

I firmly believe that every single person has one incredible talent. Every individual has one thing they can do that blows all the competition out of the water. Some people are natural theoretical physicists. Others create awe-inspiring works of art. Still others are always able to find primo parking spots wherever they go.

I defy you to find a spot that's any closer to that house.

I defy you to find a spot that’s any closer to that house.

It took some time to identify my talent. For a while, I thought it was my uncanny ability to attract flying objects — balls, Frisbees, birds, etc. — to my head if I happened to be walking nearby. But it has since become clear that the one thing I’m really, really good at is being asleep. I can sleep circles around people. Although it helps if I’ve had a beer or two, I can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, and stay that way.

I feel kind of bad about this, because a lot of people want very badly to be able to fall asleep in a timely manner and stay asleep. Understandably, they get annoyed or even angry when they hear about my innate skills. If I could pass along any tips I would, but as far as I can tell it’s just something I can do. The same way a dog can learn everything about you by sniffing your crotch, or a slow loris can be the cutest thing on the planet but also full of toxin.

They're so cute that I don't even think words when I look at them. I just make this

They’re so cute that I don’t even think in words when I look at them. I just make this “Agghhhuuugghhh” sound in my head.

Aside from the occasional inconvenience of falling asleep 10 minutes into movies (and once in a movie theater), my unconscious life is pretty good. Except for one teeny tiny thing.

For the life of me, I can’t wake up. I’ve tried everything.

Techniques for Waking that Should Have Worked

  1. Waking up at the same time every day. I tried this for a while with no noticeable difference. Now my body does this super cool thing where I have a terrible time waking up on weekday mornings, but on Saturday and Sunday morning I am wide awake and ready to go at 7am.
  2. Putting my alarm clock across the room. Guess what? You can also turn around and walk the same distance back into your warm, soft bed.
  3. Waking up between REM cycles. Is it possible that my entire night of sleep was just one mega-REM cycle? Because this did nothing.
  4. Getting more sleep by going to bed earlier. Early to bed and early to rise may make a man healthy, wealthy and wise but it mostly made me feel elderly and did not help on the waking up front.
  5. Waking up with natural light. Some mornings my cat bites my hair and yanks on it, and that barely registers. Light never had a chance.
  6. Drinking so much water that your bladder wakes you. I never time this right. I either have to go right before bed, or I have dreams all night about peeing and sleep through the discomfort.
  7. Establishing an enjoyable morning ritual that you don’t want to miss. There’s some good stuff in this world — a quiet cup of coffee by yourself, watching the sunrise, meditation. These are all nice. You know what’s better? BEING ASLEEP.

There are very real consequences to sleeping in. I’m lucky to work somewhere with a little leeway in terms of hours, but what happens when I get a different job? On top of that, I have a lot of stuff I need to do. If I sleep in, I miss the businesses that are open, the hours I need to get it all done, and life in general. I am sleeping years of my life away.

But then my brain chimes in, all seductive-like. “You’ve been working really hard, Stephanie,” it says. “You earned this. Just five more minutes. You don’t really have to make tea this morning, do you?”

No, I think. I don’t really need tea. I close my eyes and the five minutes are gone.

“Five more minutes,” my brain says. “It’s good to go makeup-free some days. For feminism, probably.”

Yeah, I think. For feminism. And I’m out again.

Before I know it, I’ve hit the snooze button five times and my brain is trying to tell me that if I stand far enough away from my co-workers all day, no one will notice I haven’t showered.

In this way, my scumbag brain is hijacking my morning and attempting to derail everything I’ve worked for. That’s right — my brain is a terrorist. This aggression will not stand.

And I am done negotiating.

And I am done negotiating.

I just need to find the SEAL Team Six of alarm clocks.


  1. Idigina

    Maybe you have to do the exact opposite of what I have to do to make sure I don’t wake up 6 times a night.
    I have to make sure I am absolutely calm, relaxed and zen before I fall asleep. So I listen to gentle music, focus on my breathing and try not to fall asleep too soon. I know, it sounds weird, I sleep better when I tried to stay awake and relaxed.

    So, for you that would mean…. Be as stressed out as you possibly can before you go to sleep. Don’t finish one of your daily tasks or something. Then listen to the loudest, fastest, noisiest crap that pretends to be music and force yourself to beat the world record of falling asleep. Think about EVERYTHING, while (mentally) screaming over it: “AAAAAHHHH I HAVE TO SLEEP RIGHT NOW!!! NOOOOOOOOW!!!!”

    What’s the worst that could happen?

  2. weebluebirdie

    I have to be careful about being horizontal or in a moving vehicle for more than five minutes, or I fall asleep. This wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t fall asleep on the bus, because I have a horrible feeling I’ve snored….I wake up to the sensation of a weird snuffly noise. I cover this up by sniffing to pretend I have a cold, and I try to sit beside someone wearing headphones.

  3. Miriam Joy

    I feel this SO MUCH. I sleep about ten hours if left to myself but, because I’m effectively nocturnal, this usually takes place from about 2am until midday rather than at a more sensible time. Maybe you should get one of those alarm clocks that runs away and hides and you have to chase it to turn it off?

  4. tartnotbitter

    I used to have this issue, when I was younger. Best alarm ever? My big fluffy tiger-striped kitty named “Leo” would lay his body across my face. When I registered the suffocation, I’d bolt upright and Leo would steal my warm spot on the pillow! Very effective, but I do see this may not really be a solution for everyone. 😉

    Thanks for the post. Love the car-parking vignette!

  5. Denise

    Me too. I’m also an excellent sleeper and a terrible waker-upper. I have 3 alarms which I use all at once at slightly different settings to upset the 9 minute snooze cycle as much as possible. One old fashioned screamy one that I have to get up to get, and two different ones on my phone, all of which I either sleep through or still snooze 10 times. It’s a way of life. Kudos to my boss for morning flexibility!

  6. Cheryl

    Finally, someone who shares one of my talents! I’m also an expert at holding down the couch. Those things will fly off if you aren’t careful…

  7. teethinpocket

    Just found your blog, and this is the first post I read. I had the same problem of not being able to wake up until a couple of years ago. Just by chance, I mentioned this problem to a friend who introduced me to a colleague of hers. This wonderful woman was a psychologist, and worked with kids and adults with learning disabilities. Bear with me, I’m getting there. She had just begun doing a kind of therapy called neurofeedback. Simply put, she hooked some electrodes to different spots on my scalp, and recorded my brainwaves while I watched something on a computer screen. After she had analyzed my results, she basically told me that my alpha, theta, and beta waves were all screwed up, so I had an extremely difficult time waking up, and felt sleepy most of the day. I started going for neurofeedback therapy a couple of times a week. Basically being hooked up again, and then watching computer games which rewarded me when my brainwaves were at certain levels. Apparently your brain begins to build new pathways. It probably sounds weird, and my simple explanation doesn’t do it justice. It really was pretty cool, and after about 5 sessions, I started noticing a huge difference in not only waking up, but in feeling more alert and energetic during the day. My focus really improved too.
    Anyway, good luck with that, and I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog posts.

  8. consultingdefective

    I’ve just sort of accepted that my body requires thrice the amount of sleep of a normal person. If people really cared for/valued me, they would understand.

  9. Pingback: Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) | Listful Thinking

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