How to wake up with a big smile every day (and stay up)

I’ve been working on getting bedtime right for years. It’s essential for anyone wanting to improve their health and productivity.

I’m currently tracking bedtimes with an accountability buddy. Find your own at

My bedtime goals right now

  1. Be in bed, lights out, no devices, no podcast, by 11pm.
  2. Stay out of bed after turning off alarm.

How to stay out of bed after turning off the alarm

Before bed

  • Don’t be cheap, set the temperature to something comfortable. Use a space heater on a timer during freezing months to avoid heating the whole house.
  • Put alarm across the room. The “Sleep As Android” app requires vigorous, sustained shaking to silence. Works!
  • Another reason not to keep devices next to bed: checking texts or social media first thing in the morning is a good way to ruin your morning. It can wait. If it can’t, they can call.
  • Of course avoid screens, blue light, screaming people, scary movies, etc., before bed. Of course exercise daily. And if you have ruminating thoughts that keep you awake, it may be worth talking to a therapist. I recommend IFS.

Wake up!

  • Put some minty gum (I like Trident Original) on your bedside table and have a piece the moment you wake up. It freshens your breath, rewards you for opening your eyes, and prevents you from falling asleep! It’s the least effort needed to stay awake.
  • Drink water first thing after getting to your feet. Add salt. It’s not nasty if you warm it up. Think: soup! Drink a lot!
  • Get moving immediately after that. I use a treadmill that I found for under $50 on craigslist, they are easy to find. It’s old and noisy but fine for a brisk walk. Yes, you could walk around the house or outside, but the treadmill goes automatically. It makes you move. I walk briskly until I notice I’m starting to break a sweat. That’s plenty to be officially awake.
  • Get 20 minutes of intense sunlight, first thing.* This one I haven’t tried much. My neighbors aren’t ready for my half-naked morning yoga

How to wake up with a big smile

I track my morning mood, as mornings are when I do my most important work, and, of course, e = E. That’s a formula I developed meaning Energy = Everything. More discussion on that in medblogs.

  • Make it a goal, a project, to wake up with a big smile every day! You have to start your day with something, right? So what do you want to start yours with?
  • Outline a mission that you can be excited about. It will evolve, and may never be finalized, that’s ok. Just decide on something, and boil it down to a phrase that you repeat daily. Write this phrase down at night on a post it note. Put it on your bedside table. See if you can recall what you wrote, first thing.
  • Leave a different note to yourself, every night. A prayer, a love letter, a quote. Again, see if you can remember it before you check it.
  • Find a dog you love and that loves you (or human, if you’re up for a challenge) and get them to be the first thing you see everyday.
  • Make a playlist, not of your favorite songs necessarily, but songs that make you smile. (My favorite music puts me in a state of awe, closer to crying than smiling.) Wake up to this music but DON’T make this the alarm that you turn off! The alarm should be irritating. The music should be inviting. By playing them at the same time, you’ll be even more motivated to kill the alarm.

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