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Taking rise and shine to another level

This is how I was able to wake up at 2:45 a.m. almost every morning for my job this summer

<p>Mario Rosales is a Life columnist for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Mario Rosales is a Life columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

It’s just before 2:45 in the morning and the moon is shining dimly through my bedroom window. Late-night restaurants and bars are pushing the last of their patrons out, and even my hyperenergetic golden retriever is undisturbable. Then, like a train thundering through my bedroom door, my alarm erupts and another day of work begins.

My job this summer as a mate on a charter fishing boat required this ridiculously early wake-up call. I had always considered myself a bit of a morning person — I enjoy being up early since I am able to focus well between breakfast and lunch without the social distractions that generally appear later in the day. However, it doesn’t matter how much of a morning person you are — getting up before 3 a.m. roughly every 14 out of 15 days is a completely different task.

When I first started this job, waking up before dawn wasn’t terribly hard — the summer was just beginning and I had plenty of energy. However, the days of waking up early turned into weeks, and the challenge of getting out of bed each morning grew exponentially by the day. Working for six or more days in a row became the norm, and it forced me to learn how to get up — and stay up — so early in the morning.

I first realized that one of the most important parts of successfully waking up early is getting rid of that morning grogginess. This feeling of being both tired and dazed was almost always present when I would wake up, just in varying degrees of exhaustion. It would beg me to shut my eyes for a few more minutes of sleep and call me back to bed when I was brushing my teeth. So, for me, getting rid of that feeling was crucial.

To get rid of it, I learned that I needed to wash my face and put my contact lenses in. Completing these two tasks purged the grogginess from my body like an evil spirit and ensured that I wouldn’t be fighting the urge to fall asleep for the rest of the morning. Of course, everyone is different, and odds are that you probably don’t wear contacts. Perhaps for you the trick is doing a bit of exercise, brushing your teeth, taking a cold shower or downing a cup of coffee — or all of the above.

This leads me to another critical component of being able to wake up early as, of course, I couldn’t write a column about morning routines and not include coffee. I would always have my one cup for the day on my drive to work, but to be completely honest, I don’t feel any boost or jolt of energy from the caffeine. Instead, drinking coffee played a different role in my routine — it helped pull me out of bed simply because I enjoy drinking coffee. I like the taste, the warmth and the smell. So, as I would open my tired eyes in the morning, the thought of drinking it would help me leave my cozy bed.

Setting up this small reward for the task of getting out of bed makes a huge difference every morning, and it doesn’t have to be coffee, either. It could be the thought of a delicious breakfast, or even simply checking your phone in the other room. The only requirements for the reward are that it has to be something you will always look forward to and forces you to leave your bed. 

Now, the last and easily most important part of getting up early is ironically something you don’t even do in the morning. Usually, more hours of sleep will translate into an easier time waking up in the morning, so going to bed early the night before is critical if you’re serious about waking up early. And I know what you’re thinking — this is obvious and not really valuable advice, which is why I’d like to point out that I knew you’d think that and I’m still mentioning it anyway just because of how important it is. For example, by the third week of my job, I was usually in bed at 8 p.m., as no amount of coffee or Redbull can make up for precious hours of sleep.

Following all the practices I’ve written about in this column might still leave you somewhat tired, a little bit sleepy and definitely still wanting to stay in bed if you’re waking up early each day. That’s inevitable. There’s probably only a handful of people in the world who truly enjoy the pain and difficulty of waking up early. However, these tips are here to help you make the tough decision every morning to leave your bed awake and ready to take on another day of life. So when you open your tired eyes for your 8 a.m. this semester just remember — if waking up early was easy, most people still wouldn’t do it.