Conquering the Snooze Button


I’ve learned that 95% of my workouts have to happen first thing in the morning, or they won’t happen at all.

Often, particularly in the Midwestern winter months, that means finishing a workout when it looks like this outside:


But you just have to do it. You just have to get up. And even if you don’t workout at the crack of dawn, you may have a war with the snooze button, too. And the only thing to do is conquer the snooze button.

I’m sure my husband is laughing at me right now because I have NOT conquered it, but I have gotten a lot better! And even though I may not always follow it, I know the trick:

Sleep cycles.

(nerd alert!!!)

Sleep cycles are among the most genius, wonderful gifts God gave us. They also happened to be my favorite topic in AP Psychology, and later, throughout my many college psychology courses.

So the facts:

  • Sleep cycles are typically about 1 1/2 hours, though they can vary a little bit depending on the person*
  • It is easiest to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle, so try to time your sleep in 1 1/2 hour increments (so 6, 7.5, or 9 hours would be best)
  • It is hardest to wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle, about 45 minutes in. Do not take 45 minute naps!! Keep naps under 20, so you don’t get too deep in, OR give yourself a whole 1 1/2 hours
  • REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is at the end of your sleep cycle. This is usually when you dream, which is why we often wake up knowing we were just dreaming (but usually forget pretty quickly)

In my perfect world, I’d be falling asleep by 10:00 pm and waking up at 5:30. I do pretty well with 7 1/2 hours of sleep, especially when I’m working out and eating clean. Test it out for yourself!

*The traditional way to figure out how long your sleep cycle is takes a bit of work, but set an alarm for 1 1/2 hours (maybe add an extra 10 min or however long you think it usually takes you to fall asleep), and when your alarm goes off, take note if you were just dreaming or not. If not, next time extend or reduce the alarm by another 10 min or so to try to hit that dream spot again. Once you do, you can count on that being a fairly consistent sleep cycle length for you. Cool, right?

But now, of course, there’s an app for that!

I recently downloaded the free version of “smart alarm.” I was skeptical, but after tying it only one night, it seems like it’s at least not just making it up. Here’s what my night of sleep looked like:

smart alarm

You can see the waves of deep and light sleep, and those brief moments where I woke up (but don’t really remember it). I bet the one spike in the middle, where I woke up from deep sleep, is probably when I took my sweatshirt off which I had NO recollection of at all.

Another cool feature is that you can set your alarm for say, 8:00 a.m., and tell it to give you a 10, 20, or 30 minute “wake window.” So if you give it a 30 minute wake window, and at 7:37 it notices you’re in a pretty light sleeping phase, it’ll start to softly set off the alarm.  Cool, right? In my graph, I was awoken by the sounds of the neighbors, and a few minutes later, the alarm started going off. I’m excited to try this app more often! One other thought – the hubster wasn’t home when I did this, so I wonder how having a hubster and a pupster in the bed may mess it up…we shall see!

And when you do find yourself wanting to get back in, your itty bitty pup will say, “NO! GO BE PRODUCTIVE!!” She is the ruler of this home.


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