Going Down and Getting Up

Like much of my non-magic advice—wait... like much of my magic advice too—I have no idea if this will work for anyone else or only for me. But here are two techniques I use in my life. One to fall asleep when I can't and one to wake up easier when I need to.

I'm fairly certain my body is on a 28-hour day cycle. Unfortunately the rest of the earth is not, so I need to conform to regular human cycles and can't adopt this idea.

So there are many nights I need to sleep when I have no inclination to, and mornings where I have to get up where I'd rather just choke myself to death on my blanket because it would mean staying in bed. Here is how I address both of those issues.

Going Down

Very little in life frustrates me, but not being able to fall asleep is one of those things. It's one of the few things in life that can't be addressed with action. If terrorists killed my non-existent wife and kids and torched all my possessions and left me naked in the desert 200 miles from civilization, I would think "Okay, what are the steps to move forward from this situation?" and start along that path. But not being able to fall asleep is a challenge you can't work your way out of.

One night, while frustratedly watching the time pass, I tried this technique: I started thinking nonsense thoughts. By that I mean, I started thinking the types of thoughts I would have if I was on the verge of sleep. Now, I assume most people's minds work the same way mine does (but how the hell would I know). As I'm falling asleep, my thoughts become very stream of consciousness, dream-like, bizarre and disjointed. They're not like waking thoughts, but I wouldn't consider myself asleep yet. So what I do is I force myself to think in that way even though I'm not tired. 

So, for example, I'll imagine an object, say a deck of cards, then I'll zoom into that object so my consciousness feels very small. I'm a speck on the back of a blue playing card. The playing card back transforms into the ocean and I'm on a raft. I'm cutting Oreos into slices, like pizza. And my first grade teacher is there and she says, "The last time we were here was the night Tina was born." And the ocean drains and I'm spiraling, spiraling down. 

And I just go from surreal image to surreal image and not long after, I fall asleep. I don't know how it works. Maybe my mind associates those kinds of thoughts with being tired or maybe those thoughts just prevent any real thinking from being done and my mind shuts off after a while. i don't know. But it works for me.

Getting Up

I have a lot of productivity techniques that just involve lying to myself, and this is one of them. Maybe you're too smart for this to work for you, but I'm not. 

When I had a regular day job I had to be there at around 9:30 every morning. So I'd set my alarm for 8:30, wake up miserably, get ready, and go to work. And it would get to the point where I would push the alarm forward as much as I could, trying to milk every precious moment of sleep possible. So I'd shower at night and make sure all my clothes were laid out and it would take me like 8 minutes to get ready in the morning. But then I was just miserable waking up and I was in a huge rush. So my mornings weren't any better.

Whenever something isn't working, I'll often try the opposite even if seems counterintuitive to what I'm trying to accomplish. And that where this idea came from.

If you have a hard time getting up in the morning, identify the ideal time you should be waking up, and then set your alarm for a half hour earlier. If you're like me (super cool handsome guy) you'll find you have less resistance than getting up at the exact latest time you possibly can. Now, you actually have to get up at that time. You can't hit snooze three times. You have to get up and you have to do nothing of consequence for that half hour. At first, after I realized it was easier for me to get up earlier, I tried filling that half hour with something productive, but that made it miserable to wake up again. So I removed the notion of anything useful and I'd just putter around my apartment, watch tv, eat cereal, screw around on the internet, and then I'd say, "Oh, it's time to get ready for work."

It wasn't a matter of my sleep cycle or anything like that, because I had no consistent bed time, so it must have been something else. Here is what I think was going on. Because I was setting my alarm earlier for no reason, I was getting up at a time I didn't need to. And I think my brain interpreted that as, "Well, if we don't need to get up at this time, and we're doing it, then we must want to get up at this time." And so I felt like I wanted to get up at that time, Is that a plausible hypothesis? Or does it make me sound like an idiot? Well, whatever, give it a shot. If you hate waking up when you have to, try waking up at a time you don't have to and see if it's more pleasant. It was for me.